Mayor Villariagosa is recommending 200 layoffs to close the city’s budget gap; 50 of those from the City Attorney’s office, or 25% of the total reductions.
Although Carmen Trutanich has been the subject of ridicule, some of which is his own fault, those who believe that his staff is more deserving of layoffs than the mayor’s would fall into the category of sycophants. Only Villaraigosa’s loyalists would support protecting the mayor’s bloated staff of 200-plus over attorneys that might actually protect the city’s assets.
The City Controller and the City Attorney are selected by the voters – not appointed. But they may as well be as long as the mayor and city council can connive to slash their budgets. Budget Chair Paul Krekorian is not challenging the mayor’s attempt to undermine an independent branch of the city’s government, which only shows how little he thinks of checks and balances. His remark that the decision might be “unpopular with someone” is not exactly the voice of democracy.
If we want the offices of the City Attorney and City Controller to function as independent voices of the people, we must protect them from the influence the mayor can exert through budgetary thuggery.
A charter amendment is needed to limit the power the City Council and mayor have to approve or reduce the budgets of independently elected citywide officials, especially the reductions. Perhaps there should be a requirement of ten votes to cut either the City Attorney’s or Controller’s staff.
Of course, we could also vote the current crowd out of office and replace them with responsible citizens.