California

We Are Out of Money, L.A. Edition

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This is what you get:

Nice cover. Four years too late.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for shutting down non-essential agencies two days a week Tuesday as he and City Council members remained locked in a standoff over the intertwined issues of electricity rates and the city's worsening budget shortfall. […]

During a morning news conference, the mayor said the council had caused the latest financial crisis by engaging in the "politics of 'no' " and accused it of "the kind of demagoguery you see in the Congress." […]

The latest escalation of the financial crisis began Monday when the Department of Water and Power took steps to withhold a promised $73.5-million payment to the city's depleted treasury.

Villaraigosa blamed the action on the council's rejection of an electricity rate increase, which DWP officials said was necessary to cover the DWP's fluctuating fossil fuel costs and the mayor's renewable energy agenda.

City Controller Wendy Greuel has warned that, without the DWP payment, Los Angeles could run out of money to pay its bills and employees within weeks. […]

The mayor directed acting City Administrative Officer Ray Ciranna to prepare to shut down parks, libraries and other general fund services starting Monday. Public safety, trash collection and revenue-generating agencies would be exempt.

Love that "politics of no" line. That's what local Democrat-on-Democrat disputes in Democratic cities have been reduced to–insinuating that the other guys are acting like national Republicans. But care of the L.A. Times a few days ago, here's a sketch of how Villaraigosa's "politics of yes" with his labor pals helped bring L.A. to the brink:

The city's core 35,000-member workforce increased by at least 3,000 between 2000 and 2009. During the same time, Los Angeles' yearly pension contributions more than tripled to $723 million, fueled by investment losses but also by the larger payroll.

When the effects of the failing economy surfaced in late 2007, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council approved significant raises for union workers and pressed ahead with a police force expansion even as they talked openly of a need for cutbacks and threatened layoffs.

It can't be repeated enough: Governments are out of money not because of the recession, but because they spent too much during good times on stuff that didn't improve the quality of services.

Reason on Villaraigosa here.