We have a mayor who last month trekked to Europe and this month made a cameo appearance on the soap opera “All My Children.” All this was happening as the city faced its worst budget crises in many years. So you can hardly blame the city's department heads for bristling when L.A.'s absentee leader, Antonio Villaraigosa, came knocking with an order to give him a layoff list to help him reduce the budget.

With $400 million in red ink, city layoffs seem inevitable. Rather, it's the way they're being done that seems to ruffle the feathers of department heads. They want discretion to come to budget goals on their own, without the mayor parachuting in last-minute with a dictate. The Los Angeles Daily News' Rick Orlov reports that the mayor is scheduled to meet with these leaders Tuesday, and that “the department heads are joining forces to complain about what they see as a meat ax approach.”

These heads include the leaders of Streets, Sanitation, Recreation and Parks, Personnel, Orlov writes. “Give us a dollar figure to manage to and we will do it,” one manager told the paper. “They hired us to run the departments, then they should let us do it.”

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