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Proposition ‘A’ … as in Aiding and Abetting

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ALPERN AT LARGE - The good news:  Lenny’s Deli has replaced Junior’s Deli in the Westside, and it’s newer, more modern and better than its predecessor, while keeping all the great staff and menu features.

The bad news:  There remains as of now no replacement for the same old, ossified, detached and dismissive Downtown political and lobbying forces which clearly show a never-ending contempt towards its taxpaying constituents. 

As I stated in my last CityWatch article, there’s nothing good about Proposition A.  It’s an admission of failed budget management and leadership on the part of Downtown, and Proposition 'A' only lets Downtown get away with their incompetent, if not downright corrupt, way of operating.  

And, as Joseph Mailander stated in the last CityWatch edition, what’s making it harder for the great restaurants—and the great people—of the City of Los Angeles to thrive is the worsening income inequality and unaffordable rents that’s thrashing LA like we used to see decades ago in New York City. 

Unlike Lenny’s Deli, which is as new and improved a restaurant as any, there’s no new management of Downtown, and the same lobbying citywide developer and union influences and forces are still stepping on the little guy who just wants to survive, and perhaps save for retirement here in the City of the Angels. 

With the exception of outsider Kevin James, no serious mayoral candidate exists who wasn’t part of the meltdown that occurred in City government and budgeting for the past 10-15 years.  

When former Mayor Riordan came up with a bold plan to keep the City from bankruptcy, union thugs kept intimidated potential voters from even coming up with the needed signatures to just get his plan on the ballot. 

Also unlike Lenny’s, where the staff and ownership work 12 or more hours in a day (as do many of the rest of us working stiffs, who often work 6-7 days a week in more than one job), and who can look forward to uncertain if not reduced upward mobility and an equally-uncertain retirement, the protections to City and DWP workers’ benefits and pensions remain not only solid but downright unsustainable. 

Only new City employees will have to contend with more realistic and sustainable benefit/pension packages, while far too many current and future City and DWP pensioners have gotten away with sweetheart details that will make their lives very, very happy at the expense of us all…including many current City employees, to boot. 

(I remind you all that many City employees, some of whom I am truly honored to work with on a regular basis, deserve a RAISE that will never occur because of the past and ongoing budgetary management malpractice going on at City Hall—please don’t forget that they’re victims, too). 

So when City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana describes cuts to public safety as “unavoidable,” it should be noted that current and future public safety employees’ raises were and continue to be up for review at a time when any idiot with an understanding of math knew and still knows it never has added up. 

Do we want 50-something police officers and firefighters chasing bad guys and running into burning buildings?  Of course not!  But we do need building/safety inspectors, traffic/parking enforcement, park staff, school security officers and a host of jobs that could allow cherished and retrained civil servants the opportunity to stay employed until they reached a more fiscally-sustainable retirement age of at least 60. 

Furthermore, the fact remains that the thousands of City workers transferred to the DWP (with accompanying raises), and the thousands of City workers allowed early retirement (with accompanying sweetheart pension deals), ended up costing taxpayers and ratepayers MORE without addressing and rightsizing the budget and ensuring continued City services. 

In 2013, we’re still in the hole with a budgetary shortfall of $200 million, and anyone who’s taken the Mayor’s Budget Survey knows it’s clear that Mayor Villaraigosa presumes we’ll all come to the same conclusion that he has—which is to support a sales tax that was created entirely without the input of the neighborhood councils that actually DO represent the residents of this City. 

● The sales tax that was and is being promoted by the same City Council President Herb Wesson who so inappropriately disrespected former Mayor Riordan for having the temerity to care about the City and how to avoid bankruptcy. 

● The sales tax that was and is being promoted by AEG and other developers, as well as the usual culprits among the IBEW and SEIU, who clearly have the favored empathy and love of the Mayor and City Council over the low-level serfs who are the taxpayers of the City of Los Angeles. 

● The sales tax that was and is being promoted by a City culture that allows: 

1) Crumbling roads and infrastructure, and overpaid DWP workers who did and are getting raises while property tax and ratepayers’ bills continuously soar skyward. 

2) Encouraging the creation of an unnecessary Economic Development Department to create a new level of bloated and insider-favoring bureaucracy to replace the failed, corrupt and scandalous mess that was the Community Redevelopment Agency (fortunately defunded by Governor Brown). 

3) An Airport Commission to approve the unnecessary razing and rebuilding of the northern airline terminals at LAX to “create jobs”, and to approve an unnecessary northern relocation of a runway while large new jets are already safely using LAX’s facilities. 

So a few final questions: 

Are we getting MORE for our taxpayer dollars?  

Even if it’s concluded that taxes have to go up (as we did with a 2/3 approval with County Transportation Measure R, which I fought for and most of us still do support), has the City done MORE to deserve our money at a time when our utility bills and rents are UP and our own paychecks are DOWN? 

And does the “A” in Proposition A stand for “Aiding and Abetting” a Downtown City Hall culture that has grown accustomed to disrespecting its constituents? 

We can all take a lesson from the wonderful Junior’s to Lenny’s Deli transition:  

Perhaps instead of “Aiding and Abetting” City Hall, we can VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION A to help create a new City Hall culture that finally listens to both City workers (not just their union operatives) and the taxpayers who’ve been mistreated and denigrated for years, if not decades… 

…and who must finally be included in the budgetary process to answer our ongoing fiscal crisis in the City of the Angels.

 

(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)  

 -cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 13

Pub: Feb 12, 2013

 

 

 

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