LA WATCHDOG - Tuesday, 55% of the voters rejected Proposition A, the Herb Wesson and Paul Krekorian inspired permanent half cent increase in our sales tax to a job killer 9½%, one of the highest rates in the nation.
This stunning victory was even more amazing given that the special interests controlling the Yes on A cabal spent over $1.3 million bombarding us with misleading mailers, intrusive electronic billboard messages, scare mongering TV and radio ads, and bogus polls.
The outcome is also a vote of No Confidence in the Mayor, the Herb Wesson led City Council, the campaign funding union leadership, and their cronies that occupy City Hall.
Last November, 66% of the voters of the City of Los Angeles approved Proposition 30, Governor Brown’s tax plan designed to raise $6 billion to help the State balance its budget.
But in only four months, only 45% voted for an increase in our sales tax, a dramatic shift, indicating that the citizens of Los Angeles do not trust our Dear 11% Mayor and the self-absorbed, all knowing City Council to act in our best interests.
This lack of confidence stems from a variety of causes, all of which, taken together, support our extreme distrust of City Hall.
For example, Proposition A was rushed to the ballot in less than two weeks without any public hearings. The City Council did not consider a temporary increase in the sales tax or the impact of the regressive 9½% rate on working families, retail sales, the economy, jobs, and the City’s already terrible reputation in the business and investment communities.
Or perhaps voters were turned off by Herb’s $1.3 million sleazy slush fund whose contributors were seeking billions in special treatment at our expense. Leading the parade were AEG of Farmers Field and LA Live fame and SEIU 721, one of the City’s largest unions, as well as the Police Protective League, the United Firefighters of Los Angeles, real estate developers, digital billboard operators who are threatening to sue the City for $100 million, parking lots operators, trash haulers, lawyers, lobbyists, and numerous other ring kissers.
Voters are also concerned by the deterioration of our streets and sidewalks that are being short changed to help fund the increase in salaries, benefits, and pension contributions of $2.2 billion (July 2005 to June 2014) that far outstrip the growth in revenue by a staggering $850 million.
Or maybe Ratepayers are just mad as hell as we are being ripped off for over $750 million a year as City Hall plunders our Department of Water and Power.
The Mayor Who Broke LA and the fiscally irresponsible City Council have an uphill battle to earn our trust and confidence.
The first step is to dethrone the fiscally challenged Herb Wesson as City Council President who, as a favor to the parking lot operators and the real estate industry, was leading advocate for the permanent increase in the sales tax.
Wesson’s track record on government finance is a disaster as he was the Speaker of the State Assembly that was responsible for the budget that led to the recall of Gray Davis.
Also, as the prime arm twister for his sleazy slush fund, Wesson is a symbol that the City is for sale at the highest price, the citizens be damned.
A No Confidence vote in Herb Wesson will show the citizens of Los Angeles that the City Council is serious about cleaning up its act in light of resounding No on Proposition A.
The second step is for the City to address the upcoming budget immediately and not wait until April 20, the day the Mayor is required to submit his budget to the City Council.
For example, the City has the ability to balance the budget without any layoffs and service cuts by recognizing that lower pension contributions and higher revenues will reduce the budget deficit from $216 million to $100 million.
The remaining budget gap can be eliminated by requiring employees to contribute at least 10% towards the cost of their very generous healthcare benefits; entering into public private partner ships for the Zoo, Convention Center, the operation of the parking lots, Animal Services, and the golf course; restructuring the City’s ambulance service; and establishing a franchise fee generating non-exclusive trash franchise.
The City should also address Council Member Bernard Parks’ Catch 22 Budget Fixes.
The City Council should also place on the ballot a LIVE WITHIN ITS MEANS charter amendment that will require the City to develop and adhere to a Five Year Financial Plan, approve two year balanced budgets based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and, over the next ten years, fix our lunar cratered streets (and the rest of our deteriorating infrastructure) and fully fund the City’s pension plans that $11.5 billion underwater.
Finally, over the next 74 days, we must demand specific answers from wannabe mayors Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel on how they intend to balance the budget, eliminate the Structural Deficit, fix our infrastructure, and fund our pension plans.
And we are joined by The Los Angeles Times, The Daily News, and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association in demanding details and not platitudes about waste, fraud, and abuse.
Our vote of No Confidence is loud and clear. Now Eric, Wendy, and the occupiers of City Hall need to earn our trust and confidence.
It is our City and we will not tolerate burdening our children and grandchildren with $20 to $30 billion of debt, unfunded pension liabilities, and deferred street and infrastructure maintenance.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: email@example.com)
Vol 11 Issue 20
Pub: Mar 8, 2013