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08
Sat, May

LA WATCHDOG--The Mayor’s Proposed Budget calls for an “investment” of $24 million in a Universal Basic Income (“UBI”) pilot program that will provide 2,000 low income Angelenos with $1,000 a month in unrestricted funds for one year, a total of $12,000 for each participant.  

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LA WATCHDOG-While the City is anticipating the cash infusion of $1.35 billion from the Federal government, the timing is uncertain, creating significant cash flow issues that must be addressed, especially in the upcoming fiscal year. 

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LA WATCHDOG--Despite the infusion of $1.35 billion from the Federal government, the City of Los Angeles still has a Structural Deficit that it is unwilling to attack.    

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LA WATCHDOG--The infusion of $1.35 billion of cash to the City’s coffers pursuant to Washington’s American Rescue Plan will allow the City to stabilize its finances, eliminate budget deficits, fund numerous one time projects, and establish a sizeable Reserve Fund. 

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LA WATCHDOG--The Department of Water and Power is planning a series of outreach meetings with Ratepayers and other interested parties to discuss the Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (“LA100”) that outlines various plans that will provide City residents and businesses with reliable 100% clean renewable energy by 2045.

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LA WATCHDOG--The Legislature is considering the establishment of BankCal that will provide no-fee debit cards to many unbanked and underbanked Californians. 

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LA WATCHDOG--Charter Amendment B: Shall the City Charter be amended to allow the City to establish a municipal financial institution or bank? 

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LA WATCHDOG--The Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study indicates that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power can provide the City’s residents and businesses with reliable 100% clean, renewable energy by 2045.

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LA WATCHDOG--The City Administrative Officer’s Third Financial Status Report recommendations on how to handle the City’s $1.354 billion windfall from the federal government pursuant to the American Rescue Plan (“ARP”) are spot on.

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LA WATCHDOG--It appears that the proponents of recalling Governor Gavin Newsom will have enough signatures to place a measure on the ballot to recall Newsom.

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LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti is “ecstatic” that the City of Los Angeles is expected to receive $1.35 billion from Washington under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. 

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LA WATCHDOG--Homelessness and affordable housing are major issues facing the City of Los Angeles

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WHO’S WHATCHING THE WATCHDOG?-A recent LA Times report adds fuel to the suspicions of some City Hall observers that the City Ethics Commission, instead of being a fierce watchdog of the public interest, is too often a myopic, fearful lapdog. 

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LA WATCHDOG--“This has to be about congestion relief, not revenue.” Mayor Eric Garcetti 

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LA WATCHDOG--The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by ageless (43) quarterback Tom Brady and a swarming defense, upset the favored Kansas City Chiefs, 31 to 9, in Super Bowl LV (55).  This was Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory and caused LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke to claim in his column, No more doubt about it: Tom Brady is the GOAT of GOATs, that Brady “became the greatest football player ever, and arguably the greatest American team sports athlete ever.” 

Many of us will agree that Tom Terrific is the greatest football player ever who, over 20 seasons and nine Super Bowl appearances, won seven rings.  But no way is Brady the “greatest American team sports athlete ever.”  That accolade, the Greatest of All Time (“GOAT”), belongs to Bill Russell, the Boston Celtics center who led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships during his 13 year career (1956-1969). 

After winning to two NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956 while playing for the University of San Francisco and captaining the 1956 Gold Medal Olympic team, Russell was expected to be drafted by the St. Louis Hawks. In his greatest trade ever, and maybe the greatest trade of all time, Celtics coach Red Auerbach sent All Stars Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagen to St. Louis for the #2 overall draft choice.  This allowed the Celtics to draft Russell, a defensive minded center in an age when centers were offensive machines.  

Russell changed the Celtics, a high scoring team with a porous defense, and the game with his emphasis on defense, rebounding, shot blocking, and the fast break.  In his first season, the Celtics defeated the Hawks for its first title.  And over the next twelve years, the Celtics won an additional ten rings, including eight consecutive titles (1959-1966). 

This success is reminiscent of John Wooden, who in his 27 years at UCLA, won ten national championships, all of those over a twelve year period (1964 to 1975), including seven in a row.  

Russell’s offensive statistics do not compare to many other great players.  He averaged only 15 points a game, had a field goal percentage of 56%, and a free throw percentage of 44%.  Offsetting his lack of offense was over 22.5 rebounds a game, numerous blocked shots, numerous fast breaks, and most importantly, a leader who led by example on and off the floor. 

While many Angelenos will question Russell as The Goat, possibly claiming that Magic and Kareem may be worthy of the title.  But together, they only won five and six titles, respectively, over 33 playing years.  Some may claim Michael Jordan, but he won “only” six rings over 15 seasons. 

When you ask long-time fans of the Los Angeles Lakers about the Celtics and Bill Russell, do not be surprised at a violent adverse reaction.  During Russell’s 13 years with the Celtics and his 11 rings (one for the toe), seven were at the expense of the Lakers (1959, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969).  They know that Russell is THE GOAT.

 

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw

LA WATCHDOG--Once again, Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Nury Martinez and the other three Councilmen (Koretz, Krekorian, and Buscaino) on the Executive Employees Relations Committee placed the interests of the City’s public sector unions ahead of the financial integrity of our City and the best interests of all Angelenos.

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LA WATCHDOG--On November 7, 2018, the FBI raided the home and offices of then Councilman Jose Huizar.  

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LA WATCHDOG--The Los Angeles Times, our paper of record, needs our help.

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LA WATCHDOG--On November 7, 2018, the FBI raided the home and offices of Councilman Jose Huizar.

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LA WATCHDOG--San Francisco based Carmel Partners, a multibillion dollar private equity firm, has “agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation that focused on the Company’s relationship with former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, who voted to approve its 35-story project” located at 520 Mateo Avenue in the low rise Arts District, just west of the railyards and the Los Angeles River, at the entrance to the iconic 4th Street Bridge. 

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LA WATCHDOG--Our Department of Water and Power will be hosting a series of virtual community meetings this week to discuss LA 100, its plan to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2045, and the updating of the Urban Water Management Plan (“UWMP”) and its goal to increase local supplies. 

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LA WATCHDOG-On March 27, former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander agreed to plead guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, federal probation officials are recommending three years of probation, a $9,500 fine, and no jail time or community service.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office is pushing for 24 months in jail, 300 hours of community service, and a $45,000 fine.  

Englander deserves the max: three years in the clink and a $250,000 fine.  He has violated the public’s trust and disgraced our City.  Now, if he could give up a few of the higher ups in the criminal enterprise known as City Hall, then he would deserve a lighter sentence. 

 

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Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced that the City has entered into deals with the Coalition of LA City Unions (representing 18,000 civilian employees) and United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (representing 3,600 members) to defer raises in return for no layoffs and furloughs during the term of the agreements.  The Coalition workers are protected until the end of this fiscal year while the firefighters are protected for two years. 

However, the Mayor and the City have not released any details about these arrangements and the financial implications for the City’s budget over the next two or three years.  More than likely, the City is kicking the can down the road, once again selling out the City to their Partners in Labor, just like they did when they approved budget busting labor agreements in 2019, entered into the Separation Incentive Program in July, and failed to implement the budgeted furlough plan that would have saved $140 million.   

 

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The City is not only facing a $675 million “budget challenge” for this fiscal year that ends on June 30, but must also eliminate $130 million of overspending.  But this is just the beginning because the City is looking at an estimated deficit of over $1 billion next year.  

But next year has not been a topic of conversation with Angelenos.  Why not? Most likely because it will require layoffs and furloughs, an anathema to the City’s Partners in Labor. But what the hell, it only concerns the financial integrity of our City.

 

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And speaking of Mayor Garcetti, he is scheduled to be deposed in February in the sexual harassment lawsuit where Matt Garza, a police officer on Garcetti’s security team, is suing the City for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.  Garza alleges that a senior Garcetti operative made inappropriate remarks and hugs that were witnessed by Garcetti and that the Mayor joked about the operative’s behavior.  Unfortunately, tickets will not be available, despite the fact that scalpers believe the prices would be in the five figure range. 

 

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On the brighter side, the Assessed Valuation of the City’s property increased to $696 billion, an increase of 6.6%.  This is good news because property taxes represent over one-third of the City’s budgeted revenues and are not overly sensitive to swings in the economy.  Of this increase, about half resulted from the sale or transfer of properties while the inflation adjustment represented about 30%.  One of the benefits of Proposition 13 is that property taxes represent a stable source of revenues, even during downturns in the economy.

 

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Next week, the Department of Water and Power will be hosting meetings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to discuss its 100% Renewable Energy Study and how the Department will be fossil free by 2045 as mandated by the State.  Unfortunately, there will be no discussion of the impact on rates of this program and the plan to upgrade the distribution system.  The link is www.ladwp.com/CleanEnergyFuture.

 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw

 

 

LA WATCHDOG--On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that it entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with San Francisco based Carmel Partners,

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LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles is in the midst of a financial crisis because of the impact of Covid-19 on revenues and unsustainable labor agreements.  This will require drastic action, including layoffs, furloughs, and the elimination of some vital services.       

This year, the City is facing a “budget challenge” of $675 million according to the City Administrative Officer’s Second Financial Status Report.  This does not include overspending of over $125 million. 

And for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1, the estimated deficit may well approach $1.25 billion.  This red ink, along will this year’s budget deficit, overspending, and other contingencies, will most likely exceed $2 billion. 

The Mayor and the City Council will have to make tough decisions, but first and foremost, they need to address their own budgets that together total over $110 million.  This does not include the City Council’s less than transparent discretionary slush funds that are estimated to be in the range of $25 million or more a year.  

Unfortunately, it is difficult to analyze the spending and staffing of the Mayor’s office and the City Council because, unlike every other City department, their budget requests are not available to the public. But it is possible to get a partial understanding of their budgets despite the lack of transparency. 

The City Council has a fully loaded budget of $55 million, the bulk of which is for salaries and benefits.  But there appears to be a disconnect between the 60 Council employees listed in the budget and the over 300 people on the Council rosters, or an average of 20 people per Council office. This is no doubt excessive, especially given that many of these employees are political operatives promoting the careers of the Council Member.  

The Mayor has a fully loaded budget of $56 million, the major component of which is $38 million of “other allocations.”  But there are no details on this item that represents about two-thirds of the Garcetti’s budget.  

The other disconnect on the Mayor’s budget is staffing.  The budget lists 94 positions, but the telephone roster shows over 270 names.  Why? 

Both the Mayor and the City Council need to justify their staffing levels by providing us with detailed information about why they are absolutely necessary during this time of crisis.  Until that time, the City Council and the Mayor should cut their budgets and staffs by at least 50% and their handsome salaries by at least a third.  Furthermore, the Mayor and the City Council need to be transparent about the $38 million and $8 million, respectively, in “other allocations.”  Finally, the City Council needs to come clean on its discretionary slush funds and allocate these monies to the General Fund for the benefit of the entire City.  

The Mayor and the City Council will be asking City departments and employees to make sacrifices.  But they need to be the first to endure the cuts and savings and set a good example for the City, its employees, and all Angelenos.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

 

-cw

 

LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council are at odds over how to spend almost $90 million of the $150 million that was reallocated from the Police Department to be reinvested in disadvantaged communities.

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LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles is facing a “budget gap” of more than $1 billion for the next fiscal year that commences on July 1, 2021. 

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LA WATCHDOG--Do the members of the Los Angeles City Council deserve to be paid $214,000 a year? 

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LA WATCHDOG--On Thursday, Harbor Gateway real estate developer Samuel Leung pleaded guilty to laundering over $600,000 in campaign contributions to Mayor Eric Garcetti, five members of the Los Angeles City Council, and County Supervisor Janice Hahn. 

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LA WATCHDOG--In 2014, the LA 2020 Commission recommended the establishment of a commission to address the “ballooning” costs related to the City’s two underfunded pension plans, the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (“LACERS”) and the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions (“LAFPP”). 

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LA WATCHDOG--The US Attorney announced the indictment of former Deputy Mayor Ray Chan along with two other real estate developers in connection with the criminal enterprise involving Jose Huizar and the pay-to-play corruption scandal that is enveloping a City Hall that refuses to reform its policies and procedures involving zoning in the City of Los Angeles. 

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LA WATCHDOG--Will he or won’t he go to Washington to be a member of the Biden Cabinet has been the topic of considerable speculation and comment.

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LA WATCHDOG--Despite the fact that Los Angeles is facing a $700 million “budget gap” this year, our cash starved City has managed to blow an estimated $250 million in its effort to overcome union objections to the planned furloughs for 15,000 civilian employees.

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LA WATCHDOG--You can imagine the fun the late night talk show hosts will have if the characters in Los Angeles have to live and work in the dark because of blackouts caused by the lack of renewable power. 

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LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles is still looking for a financial bailout from Washington, DC, despite the apparent failure of the Democrats to flip the Senate.

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LA WATCHDOG--“You don’t raise taxes during a recession…. The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of the recession because that would just suck up and take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.” Barack Obama, 2011 

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LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Nury Martinez led Los Angeles City Council were counting on the voters of California and many other states to bail the City of Los Angeles out of its budget crisis.

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LA WATCHDOG--The outcome of the race for Los Angeles County District Attorney between incumbent Jackie Lacey (photo above) and former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon will have a significant impact on public safety in the County of Los Angeles. 

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LA WATCHDOG--The First Financial Status Report prepared by the City Administrative Officer (“CAO”) estimated that the City’s revenue gap for this fiscal year would be in the range of $400 million to $600 million, up from the previous estimate of $200 million to $400 million.  

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LA WATCHDOG--Would you vote to increase our sales tax by 2½% to 12%? 

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LA WATCHDOG--An elected official’s experience may work in his or her favor as is the case for the incumbent David Ryu in Council District Four. 

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LA WATCHDOG(Political Perspective: Center Right) My primary focus is on the twelve statewide ballot measures as well as the two measures for the County (Measure J) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (Measure RR).

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LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles cannot stay out of the news unless it is engaged in a cover up.     

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LA WATCHDOG--If approved by the voters, Proposition 16 would repeal Proposition 209, a constitutional amendment that was approved by 55% of the voters in 1996.  Proposition 209 stated: 

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LA WATCHDOG-On Friday, September 18, Mayor Eric Garcetti released his Budget Policy and Goals for Fiscal Year 2021-22 to the General Managers of All City Departments (except Water and Power, Harbor, Airports, and the two pension plans).

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LA WATCHDOG--In his recent Update on the Status of City Finances, the City Administrative Officer estimated that “2020-21 revenue could fall short of budget by $200 million to $400 million.” 

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