Strange. The same mayor who last week ordered 1,000 city layoffs, and who said he had the authority to make the cuts, on Tuesday urged the City Council to do the deed, begging the question, who is in charge here? “We can't keep saying no to layoffs, no to furloughs, no to department eliminations,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the council Tuesday in a rare parliamentary style Q&A with the body.
The mayor looked almost heroic last week after he took the reins of the city and declared that he would make the painful cuts that our weak City Council would not (the council pushed off any hard decisions for 30 days). While the City Attorney's office opined that the mayor does not have the authority to cut city employees this way, the mayor's office shot back that it did. So why, in the face of a more than $200 million deficit, is the mayor now begging the council to make the cuts that he said he would handle?
“There is no situation — none — that exists where layoffs will not be a part of the solution here. None,'' Villaraigosa said. “Layoffs will be a part of the resolution of this three-year deficit.''
So, is this an admission that the mayor is, in fact, powerless to make the cuts that he said he would order? (We don't know the answer).
Another strange twist: The mayor told the council, “we can't sustain this business model.” The business model that has fallen apart for the city depended a lot on residential development, the crux of a burst bubble that has hit the city with a declining tax base (and thus increasing red ink). Villairaigosa has been criticized for being in favor of turning manufacturing and industrial-use areas into residential developments at the alleged cost of jobs and, arguably, tax revenues. (Read more about that here).
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