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Bobby Shriver will be the Fiscally Responsible Supervisor the Third District Needs

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LA WATCHDOG-I will vote for Bobby Shriver (photo-with daughter) to replace the termed out Zev Yaroslavsky because Shriver will continue the current Supervisors’ “conservative approach” to the budget that seeks to “maintain a stable budgetary outlook in an uncertain fiscal environment.” 

The County’s Third Supervisorial District has almost 2 million residents living in a 431 square mile area, stretching from Hollywood to Santa Monica and the Pacific Palisades and including the San Fernando Valley all the way to the Ventura County line.  

A significant number of the Third District’s residents live in the City of Los Angeles and have painful memories of the budget deficits and the cutting of basic services during the Villaraigosa era that were the result of City Hall giving away the store to the campaign funding union leadership.  Unfortunately, the City is still living with the consequences of this gross mismanagement as it projecting a $425 million deficit over the next three years. 

Bobby Shriver and his opponent, Sheila Kuehl, are both liberal Democrats who happen to agree on many policies.  But there is a major difference in their approach to the County’s finances. 

Over the last decade, the County’s finances were under siege by lower than expected revenues.  However, unlike the City, the County had prudent financial policies which allowed it to balance its budget without furloughs and layoffs and the dumping of surplus employees (and their unfunded pension liabilities) on revenue producing departments.  

The County is a complex organization, employing over 100,000 workers, of which approximately 85% are represented by 60 bargaining units.  It is charged with a number of difficult tasks, including health services where its hospitals and clinics are the provider of last resort for millions of indigent County residents; welfare and other social programs, including Child and Family Services; the criminal justice system; and public safety, including the Sheriff’s Department and the operation of the County’s troubled jails and detention centers. 

While its budget exceeds $26 billion, the County has limited flexibility as only 25% of its revenue ($6.5 billion) is from local sources such as property taxes.  The bulk of the remaining revenues are from the Federal and State Governments and Special Funds/Districts and are not discretionary funds as they are dedicated to designated programs. 

The County also has a significant unfunded pension liability of $40 billion when post-retirement medical benefits are included.  On a per capita basis, this liability is significantly higher than the City’s shortfall.  If this shortfall were adjusted to reflect a more realistic investment rate assumption, the unfunded obligation would increase to over $55 billion, lowering the funded ratio from 50% to a disastrous 42%.  

The County is also under pressure to develop and fund a Stormwater Master Plan that addresses urban runoff that pollutes the Santa Monica Bay and the County’s rivers and streams.  This looming liability may cost the County and its residents an estimated $40 billion over the next twenty years. 

While an improving economy helps, the County is not out of the woods.  It must maintain its prudent fiscal policies.  


 

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Yet at the same time, the public unions are demanding big time increases in wages and pension benefits.  This has resulted in over $1 million in contributions by the public unions to the “Local Experience We Trust” independent expenditure committee that is supporting Kuehl.   The unions include the SEIU (which represents the vast majority of the County’s workers), AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees), the Deputy Sheriffs, the Professional Employees, the Firefighters, the Probations Officers, and the Peace Officers.  

Significantly more contributions are expected in the weeks leading up to the November 4 election as these unions want to replace the prudent Yaroslavsky with Kuehl, a labor controlled politician with 14 years of experience in Sacramento.  Kuehl, if she is elected, will side with Mark Ridley-Thomas, who defeated Bernard Parks with the help of $8 million of union contributions, and Hilda Solis, another politician that is very friendly with the leaders of the County’s public unions. 

On the other hand, Shriver, who has considerable real world experience outside the realm of California politics, is independent of the public unions.  And like Zev, Bobby understands that a cash strapped government does not have the ability to address the pressing needs of the County and its 10 million residents.  

Shriver has also adopted a more job friendly stance than Kuehl by recognizing that over regulation, a favorite tactic of Sacramento politicians, does not create an environment that is attractive to employers and investors. 

In many ways, this election is reminiscent of the Garcetti / Greuel race for mayor, where the independent candidate won in large part because of his unwillingness to kowtow to the union bosses. 

The financial well-being of our County is at stake as the swing vote on the Board of Supervisors is up for grabs.  We cannot afford to have the leaders of the County’s public unions buy the election and then demand over the top increases in wages and pension benefits.  

We cannot afford Sheila Kuehl.  We do not want to relive the Villaraigosa years.  

That is why I am voting for Bobby Shriver, an independent candidate with real world experience who will respect our wallets. 

 

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, The Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  [email protected].) 
-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 12 Issue 83

Pub: Oct 14, 2014

 

 

 

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