In the era of scandalous daily headlines inspired by President Trump and his clan, Los Angeles is looking more and more like a bastion of benevolent government, a place where transportation is expanding, respect for the environment is prioritized and immigrants can thrive.
Except that L.A. ranks as having one of the worst-run city governments in the nation, according to a new analysis from personal finance site WalletHub. In "2017’s Best- & Worst-Run Cities in America," Los Angeles ranked 131st out of 150 big cities nationwide.
L.A. ranked particularly low when it comes to public spending per citizen (145th), financial stability (105th) and the state of our economy (100th). WalletHub numbers crunchers looked at 33 metrics and used federal data, Moody's credit information, GreatSchools.org info and other statistics. Key metrics, besides those listed above, included education, health, safety and the environment. (The city of Los Angeles does not have jurisdiction over local public education, which is the domain of the Los Angeles Unified School District.)
"L.A. ranked low across multiple metrics," WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said via email. "For example, L.A. ranked 143rd in traffic congestion, with 80 annual hours of delay per auto commuter; 140th in average commute time; 119th in quality of roads, with 60 percent of major roads in poor condition; 131st in median annual household income (adjusted for cost of living) at $35,281; and 145th in hospital beds per capita."
Public affairs consultant Howard P. Cohen, a longtime critic of city government, says the sad showing isn't surprising. "When I see this ranking, it's par for the course," he says.
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"The roads are lousy," he adds. "And all the California cities are ranked low. Things don't get done in Los Angeles. It's gone downhill in terms of what people in L.A. think about their local government."
To be fair, it's a big city with a relatively low-earning population (the median individual income is about $28,000) that demands a lot from City Hall, including trash pickup, water, power, parks, police and fire services.
On top of that, the best-run cities in the nation, according to WalletHub's ranking, aren't exactly destinations for the average Southern Californian. They include Nampa, Idaho (first); Provo, Utah (second); and Boise, Idaho (third). Clearly, there's a price to pay to live in a place like L.A.