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.

NEXT: D.C. Teachers Might Actually Get Paid More for Doing a Good Job, Fired for Sucking

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  1. Villaraigosa is a great, great man. Maybe even the greatest. Certainly the greatest US mayor ever. He’s doing a fantastic job, especially on the jobs front:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXinlfsKykA

    Anyone to say otherwise is just an anti-latino racist bigot.

    1. Mmmmm… Susan Lucci, hubba-hubba.

  2. Confronted with the complaints of angry ratepayers, [Brian D’Arcy, powerful head of the IBEW Local 18] responds that “…generally how they feel is not relevant.”

    pure balls

  3. Democrat-on-Democrat

    Got the vision in my head of Rachel Maddow and Rosie O’Donnell doing unspeakable things with garden tools. Thanks, H&R!

    1. That’s…. that’s….. just.. not….

      (interrupted by gag reflex)

      just not right.

    2. Scissor me!

      1. I was thinking more of hedge trimmers, actually.

        1. Is a gas-powered trencher considered a garden tool?

        2. A Bush-Whacker? surely gets the job done.

  4. If the agencies are non-essential, why are they there in the first place?

    1. Too obvious a question. You fail the test, you’ll never be a politician.

      1. If I were mayor of LA, I would send out a memo instructing all non-essential employees to take 3 days of paid vacation.

        Next time they show up for work, pink slip.

        1. all non-essential employees

          You know who you are.

          1. Dilbert covered this one way back. Declare an emergency and then tell all non-essential employees to vacate the building. RIF!

            1. I believe that was done at a Wallmart recently.

        2. I seem to recall during the Great Clinton Budget Showdown that they put all non-essential employees on leave. I remember thinking how handy it was that the agencies already had identified who could be laid off.

          Didn’t work out that way, dammit.

    2. Unlike the agencies themselves, the expression “non-essential” is outdated.

      We’re considering legislation to officially change it to “so-called non-essential”.

      1. We prefer “employees eligible for extended paid leave”.

  5. Nota bene: $723mm / year pension contributions for 35,000 employees > $20,000 per year per employee.

    Everybody who gets a $20,000 yearly pension contribution from your employer raise your hand.

    1. Thanks for your contribution.

    2. I have been promised a pension by the bankrupt Tribune Company. It should be worth about $7.95/month, in 2001 dollars. Oh, the things I plan to do.

      1. Just think, in four months you could go to the movies. By yourself.

        1. Assuming he can retire now. If he’s in he’s currently in his 30s, when he retires $31.80 might not even be enough to get an extra-small popcorn.

        2. Or I could wait four more months and get a carton of Goobers.

    3. Everybody who gets a $20,000 yearly pension contribution from your employer raise your hand

      Your employer makes a pension contribution?!

      1. I’m thinking it was a rhetorical question. Not that I’m letting Tribune off the hook for that $7.95/month they owe me.

  6. Look what my local gummint is up to.

    Under an agreement last year, the county makes contributions to the pensions of general government workers, firefighters and police based on raises they did not receive. Ending that unusual practice would save $7.2 million in the next fiscal year and more than $200 million over 40 years, Andrews said.

    “It’s bad practice to tie pensions to salaries that aren’t provided, and this is the year to change it, before it gets established and when there’s a very clear rationale because of the extremely difficult fiscal year,” Andrews said. “The county needs the money.”
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    Meanwhile, council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), a former labor organizer, joined three council colleagues at the rooftop rally and led employees in chants of “No Justice, No Peace!”

    “Look around you and see who’s had your back,” Ervin said.

    Oh yeah, we know who’s had something sharp and pointy up to our back alright.

    1. It’s so irritating when people act like losing even the smallest amount of public money is akin to being excluded from lunch counters or something.

  7. LA is the future of America.

    1. The coming class war between public unions and private citizens is going to get–as they say on the cable news–ugly. Democrats have solidly and irrevocably allied themselves with the unions. Republicans have traditionally been cool to union extortions, though both parties are culpable in the inevitable crash that awaits us. Another opportunity for the Tea Party? Or will they blow it?

      1. The coming class war between public unions and private citizens is going to get–as they say on the cable news–ugly.

        Gawd, but I hope so.

      2. Interesting that in NJ, which is in similar public-sector-union-induced straits, Christie is getting significant support from union members. Turns out they understand they pay taxes as well.

        1. Cannibalism isn’t quite so peachy a prospect when you put it that way.

      3. It’s not going to happen. The unions have been too successful at spinning this shit. People don’t just want an “us and them” society comprised of public employees and little people, they demand one. Any proposal to change it gets spun as punishing firefighters, police officers, and teachers. Despite the fact that all three jobs tend to pay above market they have successfully spun the lie that they are underpaid and are therefore making a deep sacrifice for the public good. The public perceives and reduction in government salaries as evil politicians turning their back on public spirited do-gooders, and imagines that it will result in a landscape of uneducated children murdering people and burning down buildings. The public sector unions to nothing to dispel these perceptions.

        1. We always win, eventually.
          It won’t be pretty.

  8. “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.”

    I blame all the racists in the Tea Party.

    1. Not just racists. Nazis.

  9. Apparently, the Dept. of Water & Power has a $1,000,000,000 (yes, billion) “reserve fund” that they are unwilling to tap to cover the $73M dollar payment. And they also do not have a budget yet for next year, but they assume they will need the money from the disputed rate increase in any event.

    1. Thank God, way to go DWP!

      Bring those damn government union employees to their knees.

    2. That money is for the annual barbecue.

      1. Sending my resume. I NEED to attend that shindig!

  10. Won’t someone think of the trolley inspectors?

    1. I think of them a lot.

  11. 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.

    So they don’t spend too much during bad times?

  12. “an electricity rate increase … was necessary to cover … the mayor’s renewable energy agenda”

    The mind boggles.

    1. Paging Chad! Paging Chad!

      I thought we could all get renewable energy for free!

      1. They are. You’re paying for it.

  13. You libertards are always calling for deregulation, and look what happened. The unions got what they wanted, and now everyone is broke. It’s a failure of the private sector not to say no.

  14. 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.

    Quality of services provided is irrelevant. Even if they were super-duper-fan-freakin-tastic the problem is still spending.

  15. 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.

    Stop right there…

  16. What an appropriate day for this story, since Moody’s has just downgraded L.A.’s credit rating from to Aa3 from Aa2.

    1. I can’t believe its that high.

  17. Maybe the city of Los Angeles can get Liberal Hollywood to foot the city bill. They seem to have plenty of money…we can start with Michael Moore, James Cameron, Demi Moore…you all get the picuture.

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