LA WATCHDOG - Wannabe mayors Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti have been kissing the feet of the leadership of the Service Employees International Union 721 (“SEIU”), one of the City’s most powerful unions, hoping to get its endorsement.
This endorsement would also be accompanied by significant cash campaign contributions.
On the other hand, the SEIU is already “negotiating” behind closed doors for substantial raises, increased benefits, and the rescission of previously implemented money saving measures as its current contract expires in June of 2014.
The SEIU also wants the City to adopt even more restrictive work rules that will severely limit the City’s ability to reform its massively underfunded pension plans and its inefficient and bloated work force.
Finally, the SEIU wants the next mayor to fire Miguel Santana, the City Administrative Officer, because he has been unwilling to kowtow to the self serving union leadership.
However, the City cannot afford these wage increases as it is already projecting an average annual deficit of $275 million over the next four years as a result of the $768 million in salaries, benefits, and pension contributions.
If the City were to grant annual increases in the range of 3%, the budget deficit in four years will balloon to $565 million (11% of revenue) while the four year cumulative deficit will explode to $1.7 billion.
This deficit does not include the impact of Wendy Greuel’s absolutely preposterous $400 million plan to hire 3,000 more cops and firefighters or the ill conceived phase out of the $450 million gross receipts tax on businesses without any defined offsetting revenue.
Needless to say, the SEIU (along with Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti who were unwilling to sign the Argument Against Proposition A) is not actively opposing this ballot measure, the PERMANENT half cent increase in our regressive sales tax to a job crippling 9.5%, one of the highest rates in the nation.
To the contrary, the SEIU is expected to endorse this regressive sales tax that will negatively impact hard working lower and middle income wage earners and that will only benefit the City’s 30,000 employees, representing less than 1% of the City’s population.
(As a side note, sources inside City Hall estimate that half of the City’s employees, who represent 60% of the payroll, do not live in the City, including Police Chief Charlie Beck and Fire Chief Brian Cummings, both of whom signed the Argument in Favor of Proposition A.)
Needless to say, Mayor Villaraigosa, the Herb Wesson-led City Council, and the leadership of the City’s unions support this $200 million tax increase, claiming that is absolutely necessary to balance the budget, ensure public safety and preserve jobs.
However, in reality, the new tax will fund only a portion of next year’s $300 million increase in personnel expenditures.
Furthermore, the City has the ability to eliminate next year’s $216 million budget deficit without a tax increase.
According to “City at a Crossroads,” the February 7 puff piece by the LA’s CAO that praised “the steadfast leadership of the Mayor, the resolve of the City Council, and sacrifice of the City workers and residents,” anticipated pension contributions will be $45 million less than projected and revenues will be $70 to $80 million higher than anticipated.
Combine these “savings” with previously discussed public private partnerships (the Zoo, the Convention Center, Animal Services, parking operations, and the golf courses) and modest health care contributions by the 70% of City employees who pay nothing for their very generous healthcare plan, the City’s budget is balanced without having to rely on layoffs or tax increases.
Rather than increasing our taxes now, the City needs to earn our trust and confidence by implementing budget, pension, and work place reforms that will require the City to LIVE WITHIN ITS MEANS.
On March 5, we have two ways to demand reform and, like Howard Beale in the 1976 Academy Award winning movie, Network, tell the City, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
For openers, vote NO on Proposition A, the PERMANENT half cent increase in our regressive sales tax to a job killing 9.5%, one of the highest rates in the nation.
The next step is NOT to vote for wannabe mayors Wendy Greuel or Eric Garcetti, the pawns of the self serving, the city-be-damned, campaign funding union leadership.
We cannot afford candidates who have entered into backroom deals with the SEIU and other City unions.
And we cannot afford four more years of Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel.
(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@example.com)
Vol 11 Issue 13
Pub: Feb 13, 2013