following two articles provide differing views on the Los Angeles city

Dogs, Cats, Gang-bangers — and the City Hall Follies

By Ron Kaye

This is what we’ve come to: Four million people provide an average of
$1,700 each to City Hall for police, fire, paved streets and sidewalks,
parks and libraries and other basic services but all they care about is
dogs, cats and gang-bangers.

Welcome to the City Hall Follies — a burlesque that lasted 11 hours on
Monday and amounted to petty bickering and maneuvering to add another
$5 in fines for illegal parking so they can provide more jobs to
hoodlums and keep a closed-to-the-public warehouse with 167 unwanted
pets functioning.

Once again, the City Council signed off on a budget that carries out
the mayor’s plan for destroying the quality of life for the many to
protect the few.

Even the word budget is inappropriate since it’s largely a work of
fiction: Unrealistic revenue projections, revenue that doesn’t exist,
layoffs and spending cuts they have no intention of carrying out.

Why they even go through the charade of holding a meeting in public and
boring themselves and us to death is beyond me since it was always a
done deal and solves nothing.

They balanced the budget on paper, not in reality. They want us to
approve a tax on billboards so they can approve even more of them and
legitimize the thousands of illegal ones they have done nothing about
for years.

They make a mockery of government and fools of us.

It took them most of the day to come up the $5 illegal parking fine
increase so they could keep the Northeast Valley animal shelter staffed
to look after stray cats and dogs. It is the newest and costliest
shelter in the city but never has opened to the public, nothing but a
depot for animals destined to be euthanized.

A third of the dogs in the city are unlicensed so they impose a 50
percent fee on those who do license their dogs and do little or nothing
to penalize those who don’t.

They spend millions to keep gang members from killing each other and
the occasional bystander and plan to spend far more to train them as
"green doctors" and laborers so they can put them on the DWP payroll
and justify more rate hikes.

But the people who obey the laws and pay the taxes see their libraries
and parks closing and  the 75-year backlog in paving streets and
sidewalks heading toward the century mark.

Like bums cadging for money on Skid Row, they beg the city unions that
elected them to temporarily give back a little from the years of
sweetheart contracts just so they can get through another few months
without layoffs or furloughs.

They put themselves in this position by cutting a deal last year to
bribe 2,400 workers to retire early and signed a contract that deferred
wage increases with the promise that workers would get two years’ of
wage hikes totaling nearly 6 percent in 2010-11 if even a single worker
was terminated or furloughed.

The bills are coming due for those wage hikes just as they are for the
wage hikes they gave DWP workers at the same time, just as they will
for their plans to borrow heavily to get through the next 12 months.

They are digging a financial hole for the city so deep that the day of reckoning accounts will have disastrous consequences.

At the end of the day, they all voted for this budget except Alarcon
who objected that they didn’t do enough for the poor, the unions and
the special interests and Koretz who simply disappeared when the vote
was taken to no one’s surprise.

The instinct of many is to break up the city, slash their pay in half,
declare bankruptcy or refuse to pay your DWP bill like so many others
are doing with impunity.

We have come to this. We have become a global symbol of America’s failure and fading glory.

My only answer, for what it’s worth, is to throw these people out and
start again with new leaders and a new vision that will treat people
equally, restore trust in City Hall and offer a new deal that provides
for a healthier future for LA   Otherwise it’s time to sell off what
you can and pack your bags like so many families and businesses already
have done.

A Good Start for the City Budget, but More Tough Decisions to Come
By Gary Toebben

Monday the L.A. City Council approved next year’s budget
that included reductions in City services, new and higher fees on
Angelenos, and the possible elimination of at least 761 employee
positions. Difficult under any circumstances, these decisions are
necessary and responsible steps towards addressing Los Angeles’ serious
budget deficit.

Eleven councilmembers voted for the budget: Council President Eric
Garcetti, Tony Cardenas, Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, Tom LaBonge,
Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, Ed Reyes, Bill Rosendahl, Greig Smith and
Dennis Zine. These councilmembers prevailed over the misguided notion
that city government is an employment service, and the fiscal denial
about the need to pass a real budget now.

For the past few months, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City
Council have been struggling to make up another $400 million annual
shortfall in the City’s treasury. While exacerbated by the deep
recession, the City’s structural deficit resulted from years of
spending more than the City took in. The shortfall is compounded by the
multi-billion dollar unfunded public pension liability that is growing
larger every year.

Much work remains to be done. Negotiations with City union leaders are
ongoing, so the number of layoffs and furloughs could fluctuate by the
week. There will undoubtedly be more attempts at creative accounting,
along with plenty of political posturing. Let’s hope that the cooler
heads who prevailed yesterday will keep moving in the right financial

Angelenos deserve real action that ends this Groundhog Day repeat of the perpetual budget crisis.

It took years to put Los Angeles on the brink of financial catastrophe,
but Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council have the opportunity to
prove that they are the courageous and decisive leaders that Los
Angeles needs. Let’s hope yesterday’s actions are a harbinger of things
to come – especially real public pension reform and the development of
a long-term, strategic vision for how our City operates. Yesterday was
a good start.

The L.A. Area Chamber would also like to applaud the L.A. City Council
for creating the Office of Economic Analysis, as part of the budget