Sat, May

With An $8 Billion General Operating Fund, How Come LA Can’t Fix Anything Without Asking Us for More Money?


RANTZ AND RAVEZ--Some readers have commented that I like to Rant a lot and seldom Rave about the positive areas of Los Angeles. While it is true that I focus on unnecessary taxes and fees on a regular basis, I do comment on the positive aspects of Los Angeles when I find them. The problem is that I don’t find them that often. 

There are so many social issues facing Los Angeles that the positive Rave issues are lost in the negative concerns impacting L A. I try and find the practical solutions to the problems facing our city using existing funds and not calling for new and or additional taxes and fees. The issue is using current funds to improve the living conditions in Los Angeles. 

Los Angeles City has a general operating fund of over $8 BILLION DOLLARS! This does not include Special Funds and other Federal and State dollars that the city uses to operate a variety of programs. Some necessary and many part of the fluff of city government. The money is there….it all depends on how it is spent on projects and programs. 

Knowing the City of Los Angeles’ operations for nearly 70 years, I know the issues and solutions to the problems. I have lived with them during my 33 years with the LAPD, two years as an elected member of the Charter Reform Commission and 12 years as a member of the Los Angeles City Council. In addition, I have been a Los Angeles resident my entire life. Born, raised and educated in the City of the Angels. 

While the issues that negatively impact our city are continuing to mount day by day, solutions without additional cost in the form of taxes and fees to the residents and business owners are never mentioned by our elected leaders. It appears that the only answer to all of the ills impacting Los Angeles come with increased taxes and fees and any other way of pulling more of your precious dollars to fund this and that and remedy the ills of Los Angeles. 

Take for example our gridlock transportation situation. Our local roads and freeways have all become huge parking lots. The 101 freeway holds the title of having the worst traffic congestion in the nation. It usually takes me around two hours to travel from the West Valley to downtown or the Westside of town by car during most times of the day. Saturdays and Sundays are not much better. The political solution is to increase taxes for all of us and all future generations in Los Angeles. Remember that when government raises taxes, they seldom if ever rescind them.    

Then there is the EMERGENCY Homeless situation surrounding Los Angeles. While Los Angeles City and County have declared the homeless an emergency, Governor Brown has not joined the bandwagon on this issue. So, no state money is appropriated to the Los Angeles region to address the homeless matter. Again our city leaders have a solution of more taxes, fees or bond measures or any other sort of tactic to take more of your money to address a situation that is without doubt out of control and getting worse. 

The DWP established, with a vote of the public, the Rate Payer Advocate position a few years ago. I did not support this measure when I was on the council since I saw it as just another layer in the system that was not working for the people paying their water and power bills. Namely you. The cost of the Rate Payer advocate and his staff is now many millions of dollars annually? This money is coming from your water and power rates. Rates that have already been increased and will continue to increase in future years.       

While the ratepayer advocate is a good man, is his position necessary in the big scheme of things? 

Now our city leaders want to establish a PAID WATER AND POWER COMMISSION. There is an existing Water and Power Commission that is appointed by the mayor and answers to the mayor. It is a volunteer position and one of the political payoffs for supporting the mayor. It is interesting to note that in Los Angeles when you are selected to sit on a commission, you sign a document announcing your resignation. It is used when your services are no longer necessary and you are being dismissed. Talk about a hammer over your head to have you follow the directions of the Office of the Mayor. 

This new paid DWP Commission will cost you more money to run with the staff and other personnel necessary to carry out the new duties. Is it necessary to establish a PAID Water and Power Commission in Los Angeles, I say NO. It will just cost you more in your Water and Power bills.       

The city lacks direction and priorities. This has been the case for many years. Everyday is a new day to develop ways to take more of your money with a promise to make it a better run city. Our sidewalks are crumbling along with our streets. When we check, we find that there is no agenda or focus on a continuing basis. Lack of coordination and priority setting has been a long-standing problem in Los Angeles that continues as I prepare this article.   

We see crime continuing to increase in our region with little impact by law enforcement. Is it time to exercise your 2nd Amendment Rights and purchase that gun before new restrictions are imposed on you and other Californians? Just saying!     

As we approach the November election, I will be providing you with my recommendations and logic on the ballot propositions and certain political offices. Hopefully our population will vote to make things better in Los Angeles, California and America! 

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

(Dennis P. Zine is a 33-year member of the Los Angeles Police Department and former Vice-Chairman of the Elected Los Angeles City Charter Reform Commission, a 12-year member of the Los Angeles City Council and a current LAPD Reserve Officer who serves as a member of the Fugitive Warrant Detail assigned out of Gang and Narcotics Division. He writes Just the Facts for CityWatch. You can contact him at [email protected].)


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