Mon, Apr

Mayor Karen Bass’ $13.06B Budget Gets it Right –Mostly



THE VIEW FROM HERE - After Her Honor’s State of the City address on April 17, 2023, Angelenos may give a temporary sight of relief. Since Rome was not built in a day and a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, we must be vigilant that Mayor Bass is not thwarted in her desire to head LA in the right direction.  First, we need to recognize that Mayor Bass has no known allies on the City Council.  The recently elected progressives are not allies.  Angelenos can understand why progressive are not her allies by looking at the George Gascón, the progressive District Attorney. Gascón was elected to treat each person fairly and to stop the predatory culture infecting much of the County District Attorney Office. Instead, Gascón launched some bizarre wokeism. As is often the case, officials are voted out of office, as happened with former DA Jackie Lacey and former city councilmembers David Ryu and Mitch O’Farrell.  Their replacements were not voted into office in order to institute some woke agenda. 

The leftovers from the Garcetti regime may or may not want to root out the corruptionism which is looting Los Angeles and driving away our most valuable population, Family Millennials.  Time will tell which councilmembers assist Mayor Bass to elevate Quality of Life as Los Angeles’ priority. 

What Mayor Bass Gets Right 

(1) Homelessness: “That is why my budget breaks new ground to fund the purchase of motels and hotels by the city. The City must also lead with the land we own and control. It is also unacceptable that there are nearly two thousand housing vouchers that are going unused.” (Bold added) 

Mayor Bass recognizes that new construction increases housing prices and directly or indirectly increases homelessness: directly, by evicting poor people and indirectly, by increasing rents for low end housing.  Her first three approaches are not developer friendly, nor should they be.  As AIDS Health Care Foundation has shown, rehabbing existing properties houses people much faster and at lower costs.  Bass looks to city owned land so that the city does not escalate housing costs by funding private developers to buy up private property.  Vouchers place the unhoused into the existing thousands of vacant apartments.  When Bass mentioned new construction, she referred to old measures: Measures HHH and JJJ.  Hopefully, Bass ends our paying $1M for apartments which are worth only $250K. 

Without spelling it out, Mayor Bass recognizes that unless we stop the increase in homelessness and stop the exodus of Millennials, Los Angeles faces a terrible future.  Thankfully, Mayor Bass did not repeat LA’s Big Lie #1 – We have a housing shortage. 

(2) Los Angeles Needs More Police: “My budget proposal calls for urgent action to hire hundreds of officers next year on the way to restoring the department to full strength.”  Mayor Bass rejected the insane woker call to Defund the Police.  

The vital next step is to expand police officer training, which leads to her one error.  Mayor Bass’s idea that the city needs a separate Office of Community Safety is flawed. Los Angeles already has an agency for community safety – it’s the LAPD.  Mayor Bass has admitted that she was forced to make this error by the new woker councilmembers who are pushing a divisive and often racist political agenda. 

It is hard to fully articulate the folly behind having unarmed “ambassadors” – or whatever one wants to call them.  The LAPD is already miles ahead in training officers in a variety of ways to handle the many problems they handle each day. One may say that one-half the time, they deal with the mentally ill and the other half, they deal with criminals. The two categories often over lap. Unless Mayor Bass can hire psychics to be 911 Operators, there is no way to know when to send the cops or to send the ambassadors. 

When the cops and a safety ambassador both show up, who’s in charge? What happens the first time an ambassador gets a LAPD officer killed? What happens when a deranged person kills an ambassador? It is gross recklessness to separate Community Safety into armed police and unarmed ambassadors. While the whole world looks like a nail to a hammer, carpenters are not divided into hammer guys, saw guys, and screw driller guys who they are called out to jobs according to whether some dispatcher thinks a project needs a nail hammered rather than the wood sawed. 

LAPD Officers Can Master All the Skills to Deal with All Types of Community Safety 

If some cops lack those skills right now, that failure rests with the city council which has refused to properly fund the LAPD.  Civilians can die due to lack of police funding. When too few officers respond to calls, people are harmed. There is the example of the lone female officer who shot and killed a deranged homeless man who attacked her. If she had had a partner, the chances are good that he would not have attacked, or if he had, the two cops could have handled the situation without killing him.  Compton street take-overs and associated vandalism exist because there are too few sheriff deputies.  Under funding the police harms the poor much more than it does the wealthy 

There’s no gainsaying the need for more extensively trained officers, but that’s the fault of the City Council and the Board of Supervisors.  The reality is that when LAPD or Sheriff’s Department handles the entire scope of Community Safety, they can do a better job.  Community policing requires more police officers; cops do more than just show up “to bust heads.” Ironically, the term “cop” should not be a pejorative. It means Constable on Patrol – someone in the neighborhood who knows everyone.  

The mayor’s Safety Officers will only deprive the LAPD of funding which is required to upgrade officer training – Better training is crucial to hiring more cops.  As long as Mayor Bass acquiesces in the woker falsehood that police are the enemy, she will be unable to staff the LAPD. Broadcasting to the world, “Come join the LAPD so that we can blame you for all our mistakes” is not a wise recruitment theme.  

(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor.  You may email him at [email protected])