Now that Austin Beutner, the Co-Chair of the Los Angeles 2020 Commission, is the new Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Times, will the thirteen recommendations of this independent commission contained in its report, A Time for Action, see the light of day at the City Council? Or will these suggestions that were supported by all of the members of the LA 2020 Commission continue to be treated like mushrooms (in the dark and covered with manure) by our Elected Elite and their cronies that occupy the “barnyard” known as City Hall?

Since the LA 2020 Commission issued its report in April, the Herb Wesson led City Council and the Budget and Finance Committee chaired by Paul Krekorian have ignored the LA 2020 Commission’s findings and recommendations other than a brief presentation at a City Council meeting in May.  

Yet our City’s finances are in a world of hurt.

We have a persistent Structural Deficit as the City is projecting a budget deficit next year of $165 million and $425 million over the next three years.

The City is also burdened with over $30 billion in long term debt, unfunded pension liabilities, and deferred maintenance on our streets, sidewalks, curbs, parks, and the rest of our failing infrastructure.

To help solve the City’s financial quagmire, the LA 2020 Commission recommended the creation of an independent “Office of Transparency and Accountability” that would review and analyze the City’s budget and finances, analyze proposed legislation and its impact on jobs and the City’s budget, examine on a proactive basis issues facing the City, and measure the effectiveness of the City operations to make sure we are getting the proper bang for the buck.

The LA 2020 Commission also recommended that the City establish a “Commission on Retirement Security” to review the City’s pension and other retirement obligations so that we have an accurate understanding of the City’s obligations.  This commission would also make recommendations on how to achieve ‘equilibrium” on retirement costs by 2020.

We demand a full hearing on these two recommendations with the goal of increasing the transparency of the City’s finances and long term obligations as well as the efficiency of its operations.  The City Council also needs to investigate the other recommendations, including the Truth in Budget Ordinance and those relating to job creation through innovative economic development.

Unlike any previous publishers, Beutner has an excellent working knowledge of the City, having served as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development under Mayor Villaraigosa.  He was also the interim General Manager of our Department of Water and Power where he rationalized the capital expenditure program, saving Ratepayers billions, and was responsible for the hiring of Ron Nichols, a seasoned, straight talking utility veteran who was not tainted by the City’s political establishment.

Austin Beutner has an excellent opportunity to have the Los Angeles Times, our paper of record, be the catalyst for the rejuvenation of our City by creating a more transparent City Hall that recognizes that the City’s business is to serve its citizens, not the other way around.

Cross-posted at LA City Watch.