Yet another budgetary dust up is developing at Los Angeles City Hall this week, this time involving Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Fire Department brass, whose 51 assistants may have to hit the streets to help fight fires due to a mayoral directive.

Fire Chief Millage Peaks hates the plan, which Villaraigosa hatched after he deeply cut the department's budget. Now Peaks is looking to the L.A. City Council to fend off the mayor, reports Rick Orlov of the Daily News, but we have another suggestion: Tell Villaraigosa to put his money where his mouth is and have 51 of the mayor's 206 staffers fill potholes, fix sidewalks, and do whatever else needs to be done but isn't.

What's good for the chief should be good for the mayor, no?

After all, working on potholes and cracked sidewalks probably only needs a day or so of training, and we know where those staffers can start immediately: Sunset Boulevard just west of Beverly Glen Boulevard and across the street from Los Angeles Fire Department Station 71.

We popped a tire there a year ago, complained about the pothole to the city, and it's still not fixed. In fact, it's only gotten larger. And as far as we can tell, the firefighters at station 71 probably have to dodge that pothole whenever they head west on Sunset Boulevard for a call.

Now with the rain coming down, that pothole is going to become a crater… and be even more of a hazard to the good citizens and firefighters of the city of Los Angeles.

We figure such Villaraigosa staffers as Jeff Carr or Matt Szabo or even deputy mayor for environment Romel Pascual would be happy to oblige their boss and join the good fight to keep Los Angeles out of fiscal ruin while also improving the city.

Heck, L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl recently suggested that enough volunteer workers could re-open L.A.'s public libraries on Sundays and Mondays. So why not get mayoral staffers Janelle Erickson, Larry Frank, and Celine Cordero checking out books and organizing magazines?

Who knows? Carr and crew may actually learn a few things about the city and its problems as they hit the front lines.

And with a nice chunk of those 206 staffers out of the office, Villaraigosa, known in some circles as the 11 percent mayor because of his controversial, P.R.-heavy work schedule, would have to stop hitting all of those press conferences and luncheon ceremonies, roll up his sleeves, and actually do work.

Sounds like a boffo idea to us. What do you think?

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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