The more Miguel Santana forecasts financial apocalypse for Los Angeles, the more the city’s Administrative Officer reminds us of the late Harold Camping, the fundamentalist minister who a few years back predicted the end of the world – erroneously, it turned out, much to the chagrin of disciples who had quit jobs and given away wealth and possessions as they awaited the Rapture.
In a new report issued yesterday by his office, Santana warned L.A.’s leaders against the “temptation” to expand city services, much less think of adding any new ones. And pay raises for city workers? Forget about those. Indeed, Santana recommends cutting entry-level salaries for city workers and raising the health care costs of municipal employees. The reasoning behind Santana’s report is that despite the economic recovery, Los Angeles isn’t out of the woods yet and should only party like it’s 2009 – Year Zero of the Great Recession.
You wouldn’t know it from the Los Angeles Times’ recent coverage, but the labor contract with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18 currently under consideration by city officials is a good deal for Department of Water and Power (DWP) customers and the city as a whole, and city officials would be wise to approve it, even if there are minor changes made to the deal. A regular reader might also miss the fact that Los Angeles has some of the lowest utility rates and most reliable service in the region.
A cursory review of the L.A. Times website reveals that the newspaper has published some 18 stories on issues related to labor costs at DWP over the last year. (This accounting does not include the Times’ coverage of the mayoral campaign in which IBEW Local 18’s support of Wendy Greuel became an issue.) Meanwhile,
For days before Thanksgiving, 2009, Santa Ana winds had been blowing up ash and dust from the massive Station Fire that recently burned north of Los Angeles. The scorching, high-pressure weather system seemed a suitable climate for L.A.’s financial meltdown as the city entered the third year of America’s recessionary slump. Inside City Hall on that Wednesday before the holiday, government representatives and members of the news media listened to the testimony of a man who was on his way to becoming one of Los Angeles’ most powerful figures. He was only 40, held no elective office and had started his job as the City Administrative Officer just three months before.
Yet on this Thanksgiving eve Miguel Santana held the rapt attention of the City Council and journalists as he delivered shocking news: Los Angeles faced an imminent shortfall of $98 million and, based on his projections, the city could be burdened by a $1 billion debt by 2013.