Do you think it was an accident CAO Miguel Santana’s waited until today to announce that the city would not be able to honor the pay raises promised to 20,000 city employees?
According to the LA Times, Santana warned that the raises could have dire consequences if applied this coming July 1. The raises will amount to $105 million over the next two years alone. The city is facing a budget deficit of over $200 million for next year, with more to follow.
Believe me, big numbers such as these do not creep up on financial executives and unexpectedly bite them in their rear ends. You can be assured the mayor, Controller Greuel, the City Council’s Budget Committee (including former chair Parks) have seen this coming for a long time.
Imagine the responses they would received through the budget survey had this announcement been made prior to its public release?
I’m sure that scenario played through their heads and they did not want to deal with the crush of irate responses.
So they pushed what amounts to a bogus survey on the city’s stakeholders. The mayor played the Neighborhood Budget Advocates like a bass fiddle (I would say a violin, but a bass fiddle has a deeper tone….and the mayor really went deep on them). They were drawn into playing along with him and his charade: making it appear there were choices to be made in the formulation of next fiscal year’s budget.
I am not blaming the advocates. I am well acquainted with some of them and know they are sincere. Although their belief in the process reflected a degree of naivety, the advocates truly felt something good would come out of the survey.
Santana’s announcement is a game changer. It exposed the disingenuousness of the mayor and others responsible for the city’s finances.
The advocates can seek moral restitution by confronting the mayor in upcoming budget discussions about the lies that have formed the basis for every budget the city has passed over the last several years.
Going forward, the advocates should consider their role as the citizens’ budget advocates, not collaborators with the mayor and his budget survey.