Pity the voters in CD 8.
They have a choice – a Hobson’s choice – which in this case is vote for a candidate or don’t vote at all.
You see, the results will be the same regardless of whomever they choose – a classic “take it or leave it.”
Parks, for all of his tough talk about the budget, has done little to deal with it.
His campaign website published this response to the Los Angeles Times candidate questionnaire:
The most important issue in the city is its fiscal solvency! The city’s general fund of $4.2B and can not sustain its current payroll, pension , health care and worker compensation commitments now and in the distant future. Next F/Y 2011/2012 the city will spend 1/4 of its general fund budget for pension and health care benefits for its employees. Health care has increased over 100% in the past 10 years. The only tools available to the city is to restrain expenditures, increase fees and eliminate personnel positions as over 93% of the city’s budget are personnel cost. Although, much has been done : eliminating over 4000 positions of which approximately 400 were layoffs and 2700 were given early retirement packages , initiating furlough cost saving measures, eliminating , merging and reorganizing departments , reducing, and eliminating city service contracts , increasing fees/fines to reach a full cost recovery for some city services which has eliminated over $1B of expenditures in the past two fiscal years.
Some of these measures have been one-time saving while others have been structural. In the future much still remains to be done for short and long term benefits :pension reform- higher employee contribution and change in the pension profile, healthcare cost reduction, reducing city subsidy and shared cost by the city and the employee for future increases, continued reduction in city staff, hiring freeze for all employees including police officers, reassessment of 70% of the city’s general fund budget allocated to pubic safety service , ensuring the city revenue producing positions are protected to gain maximum return on revenue recovery. These are just a few of the many budgetary actions that will be needed over the next several years to address the current $60M shortfall and the pending $350M shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.
He does not mention that many of the layoffs were actually transfers to the DWP, Harbor and Airport departments, essentially moving compensation off-the-books as discretely as Enron hid its liabilities by moving them to unconsolidated special purpose entities.
Parks seconded Garcetti’s benefits reform proposal, a rather tepid attempt to reduce pension and benefit costs that seems more window-dressing than substance in order to deceive voters into believing action is being considered.
Come on. Requiring a 2 percent contribution for health benefits is a tweak, not reform.
Garcetti’s “reform” measure mentions eliminating double-dipping, but not for existing instances, such as Parks’ LAPD pension and council salary. If Parks were a true leader on reform, he would take one or the other, but not both. I would respect a decision by him to receive his pension (the higher of the two) and work for a $1 per year, plus expenses, on the council.
Parks has questioned Forescee Hogan-Rowles’ knowledge of the city’s budget crisis.
I’ll assume Parks knows more, but what good is knowledge if you do not apply it?
Our current situation speaks for itself – we are facing a $350 million deficit, and that’s just for next year. Parks, as the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, as done little or nothing to change the course of the city’s mindless and irresponsible management of finances.
I realize he can’t be held responsible for the actions (or inaction) of everyone on the council. For certain, there are fiscally challenged members who probably can’t balance a check book. However, he has not used his position to take the crisis to the public in no uncertain terms. His colleagues might be more receptive to real reform if they were being besieged by constituents’ concerns over the lack of progress on this issue. We need someone with a little Egypt in him to raise public awareness and produce a tremulous outcry over the gross mismanagement of the city.
What do we get from Parks?
Hogan-Rowles is not exactly a breath of fresh air.
Her heavy union support guarantees little in the way of pension and benefit reform, without which the city will move closer to insolvency. Everyone will lose if it comes to that.
It’s nice for candidates to promise better service and responsiveness, but it is an empty promise if there is no money.
So what are the voters of CD 8 to do?
Here’s my advice: write in Thomas Hobson.
They can then make a true “Hobson’s Choice.”