We said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa practically looked heroic earlier this month when he stepped up to call for the agonizing cuts -- 1,000 workers -- that the City Council avoided in the face of L.A.'s $212 budget deficit. But over the weekend La Opinion newspaper pointed out that Villaraigosa's own office budget has its own villainous attributes.
La Opinion staffer Isaias Alvarado reports that, despite the office taking a 10 percent hit this fiscal year in the name of belt-tightening, Villaraigosa's City Hall operations spend nearly $8 million a year -- $1.8 million more than predecessor Jim Hahn, and $1.4 million more than Mayor Richard Riordan before him. In early February Villaraigosa seemed quick to make a dubious order to cut 1,000 workers from the city's payroll, a move he might not have authority to make. But his own budget has been somewhat of a sacred cow.
Alvarado used California Public Records Act requests to find out that the mayor spent a whopping $9 million on his office, staff and salaries in 2008-2009 fiscal year. The mayor's office, according to the report, employs 173 workers. Hahn had 121. Riordan had 114.
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Villaraigosa's operations employ 12 deputy mayors (who have once assistant each), 10 financial advisers, eight communication advisers, seven energy-and-environment advisers, six transportation advisers and three international-trade advisers. The biggest divisions inside the office include neighborhood community services, with 25 employees, executive services, with 23, and legislative and intergovernmental relations, with 19.
(So if you can't get a local pothole filled because no one at the mayor's office is responding, you should be consoled by the fact that Villaraigosa has eight people working on "communications").
Villaraigosa notes the 10 percent reduction this fiscal year for his office's budget, and he says he's taken a 16 percent salary cut (his pay is $232,425) in the last two years. "We must all make the same sacrifices," he said.