After several years of swimming in red ink, the city of Los Angeles is now projecting a $119 million surplus for Fiscal Year 2013-2014, according to city documents presented at a news conference today presided over by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. (See Page 3 of the mayor’s Budget Presentation.)
City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and other officials also attended the media event at City Hall.
The surplus is dependent on the city receiving certain one-time revenues, much of them due from the state and federal governments.
Nevertheless, this disclosure dramatically rebuffs a steady stream of predictions, made by an array of officials, mayoral candidates and commentators, that L.A. faces the possibility of bankruptcy. Such predictions have invariably been accompanied by calls to reduce the pension benefits of city employees.
Later this morning Frying Pan News will post investigative reporter Gary Cohn’s analysis of what has produced the surplus – and of the motivations behind predictions of the city’s insolvency.
At first glance, it is one of the nation’s hottest new education-reform movements, a seemingly populist crusade to empower poor parents and fix failing public schools. But a closer examination reveals that the “parent-trigger” movement is being heavily financed by the conservative Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation’s largest and most strident anti-union organizations, a Frying Pan News investigation has shown.
Since 2009, the foundation has poured more than $6.3 million into Parent Revolution, a Los Angeles advocacy group that is in the forefront of the parent-trigger campaign in California and the nation. Its heavy reliance on Walton money, critics say, raises questions about the independence of Parent Revolution and the intentions of the Walton Family Foundation.
(See interactive infographic, left, for donations from 2009 through March, 2013. Sources: Parent Revolution; foundation tax returns; foundation grant reports.)
While Parent Revolution identifies the Walton Family Foundation as one of several donors on its Web site,
(Note: This feature first appeared September 21, 2012.)
On September 14 the Web exploded with news that billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch had donated $4 million in support of Proposition 32. A San Francisco Chronicle editorial noting the donation labeled the brothers “conservative ideologues” – a moniker often applied to the Kochs. This description, however, gives the Kochs far too much credit for their supposed philosophical purity—particularly as it relates to the Prop. 32 battle.
Despite their reputations as libertarian true believers, the Koch brothers are nothing if not practical businessmen, who have no trouble taking advantage of government subsidies when it bolsters their bottom line. (Koch Industries, for instance, was for years heavily invested in the $6 billion, federally subsidized ethanol industry.) That bottom line runs up and down the state of California, where Koch Industries has hundreds of millions of dollars invested through its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific—a gypsum,