A bit of hocus pocus, or a fiscal conservative's wet dream? Not sure. But today L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (about as Democrat as you can get without being Dennis Kucinich) claims he erased the city's looming $336 million deficit.
Way to wave a wand.
Mayor V. says it was done by meeting up with his old union pals, palm up, and negotiating concessions. Not shy when it comes to hyperbole (or leggy television reporters), Villraigosa called the union give backs …
… the most far-reaching pension concessions package in the United States of America.
Villaraigosa signed the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, today.
If there's a catch, it's this: $41 million of the plan is tied to concessions that haven't been given up yet by the police union. Mayor V. said that if they don't accept the deal he'll shoot. Just kidding, he said he would impose furloughs.
(The union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, comprises a vocal and powerful bunch that even held some sway in the last gubernatorial election. There would be fireworks. We're not so sure the LAPPL will accept this $41 mil deal, too).
Under the budget there will be fewer firefighters staffing stations, and cops will have to take more time off instead of being paid overtime.
The mayor's office and city council people will see 10 percent reductions in their budgets, and about 600 city positions that haven't been filled will never be.
“In all of those situations where a bargaining unit does not agree to the concessions, we'll just have to make appropriate changes to reflect that,'' Villaraigosa said.
Anyway, $41 mil short, if the budget indeed ends up that short, isn't bad, considering that deficits in the $400-million-plus range have consistently dogged City Hall during this great recession.
Most importantly, this budget fixes a move that promised to scar Villaraigosa's legacy — the closing of libraries on Mondays. Under this deal, they're back.