L.A. City Council Aims For 4,000 Total Layoffs

The City Council on Thursday voted to order city departments to identify and layoff an additional 3,000 employees, above the 1,000 already targeted for cuts. The vote was nine in favor and three abstaining but, once again, layoffs have not been set in stone.

Based on a motion by Councilwoman Jan Perry, the council asked the personnel department to identify the positions in 45 days and schedule the layoffs by July 1 city administrative officer to return to the council within 20 days with a detailed list of a total of 4,000 city employees that could be laid off. The council also asked the City Attorney to return to it with language declaring a fiscal emergency surrounding its budget crisis.

"Today we took decisive action," the motion's author, Perry, stated. In reality, however, the council has yet to layoff a single person as the city's red ink piles up at a rate of $350,000 a day. It took a page from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's book by ordering department heads to make the cuts. The vote included three abstentions from council members Herb Wesson, Janice Hahn, and Dennis Zine.

After spending December and January in denial the council woke up to the fiscal crisis the city faces this week, a day after Moody's Investor's Service downgraded the city's credit rating to "negative."

Moody's and Fitch Ratings had warned the city that its failure to make deep cuts to come to terms with $212 million in red ink and additional $485 million deficit expected to hit in July would result in L.A. getting a black eye on Wall Street, which it has.

Still, today's move did not actually result in any cuts and represents another case of the council talking about it more than being about it. Even 1,000 layoffs, as previously planned (but still not implemented), would only save the city $65 million in a single fiscal year.

-With reporting from Gene Maddus.

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