Following many hours in meetings on Friday, May 14 and Monday, May 17, the City Council has adopted the outlines of a budget for the City’s fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010. The City Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst are preparing the necessary paperwork for the Council to finalize the budget next week.
In this very difficult year, there is some good news in the budget. Most importantly, the draft budget is realistic, fiscally conservative and puts the City on solid financial footing. The Council made the necessary hard choices to ensure the City's future. Second, the Council has made public safety its highest priority and has protected public safety budgets to the greatest extent possible. In particular, there will be NO layoffs or furloughs of sworn LAPD or LAFD personnel.
Councilmember Koretz, moreover, led the effort to greatly restore City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's office budget to ensure an effective City Attorney's Office. Finally, despite significant cuts in services, the Council was able to responsibly avoid even more draconian cuts. Councilmember Koretz has been a strong opponent of any unnecessary layoffs and needless cuts in services, and has helped the City avoid many such layoffs and cuts by finding tens of millions of dollars in efficiencies.
Despite some good news, the proposed City budget contains some very tough medicine.
The budget cuts virtually every City department and calls for both layoffs of City workers as well as furloughs for most non-sworn personnel. These cuts certainly are not good for services and are not good for our local economy. Over the next few days and weeks, the City's labor negotiators will be meeting with the representatives of the City’s employees to see if there can be labor agreements which forestall these cuts. In any event, next year is likely to be another belt-tightening year for City agencies.
Code enforcement workshop this weekend!
Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz.
Do you want to know how to protect your neighborhood from code violations? Now’s your chance to find out!
This Saturday, May 22, Councilmembers Paul Koretz (Council District 5) and Paul Krekorian (CD 2), joined by the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Services, will welcome any interested community members to an important event – a code enforcement training workshop. It will be held in the Cascade Room at Sportsmen’s Lodge, 12585 Ventura Blvd., in Studio City, and will last from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Come and learn how to work with the City to improve the quality of life in our local neighborhoods. Those taking part in this event will be shown how to identify, report and resolve problems, including illegal signs, potholes, graffiti and other code violations. City issues and priorities will be discussed.
People want to help their community. One way of accomplishing that key goal is by empowering them to help with code enforcement in a safe, knowledgeable, responsible and appropriate manner. Effective code enforcement is a crucial means for protecting and improving the quality of life of any local neighborhoods, but in these times of municipal budget crisis, the city’s capacity to enforce its codes is diminished. Allowing the public to play more of a role in a legal and safe manner will help ensure adequate code enforcement. This protects our neighborhoods while also contributing valuable revenues that help replenish city coffers when code violators are held accountable.
More such code enforcement training sessions are being planned for the future. Anyone who wants to attend this May 22 event is asked to RSVP if possible, with name and phone number, to Joan.Pelico@lacity.org (or to call Joan with any questions at 818-971-3088).
Keeping track of what’s where
Who loses a $60,000 video recorder? Or fails to keep track of equipment worth $250,000? Or buys and then doesn't use television sets, computer equipment and microwave ovens? The sad and troubling answer, evidently, is the City of Los Angeles.
That’s what was made public on May 3, City Controller Wendy Greuel (pictured above with Councilmember Koretz) released an audit that examined the City’s management of our City’s fixed assets and equipment.
Some of the audit’s specific findings included:
- Of the items the auditors tried to locate, 115 were not where they should have been.
- While 56 items were ultimately found, 59 couldn’t be located, which could ultimately cost the City $938,000;
- Of the 167 items that were located and that should have been in the City’s monitoring systems, 49% were not.
It is important to note that there has been no evidence of theft. But that doesn't excuse governmental wastefulness, nor permit bureaucratic indifference. As Councilmember Koretz pointed out, “Taxpayer funds should not be wasted on equipment that will ultimately be misplaced or that will end up sitting unopened in storage.”
That’s why Councilmember Koretz quickly introduced a follow-up motion last week, asking City Controller Greuel to come to the Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee he chairs, in order to describe this audit in detail. Also invited are representatives of the pertinent departments, so that they might discuss steps to be taken to improve the management of our City’s fixed assets and equipment.
Sweep the Streets Event in Melrose Village
Councilmember Koretz and Paul Lerner, co-founder (along with Peter Nichols) of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch.
Last Sunday, May 16, Councilmember Koretz joined with friends, neighbors, businesses and community leaders for the Melrose Village Sweep the Streets Clean-Up Event. This event was a great example of people working together to protect and improve a treasured neighborhood.
Councilmember Koretz said, “Melrose Avenue is a world famous thoroughfare, and it deserves the best. Today is just one great example of how the community is doing its best to protect and improve a vital and dynamic neighborhood.”
A special thanks goes to all those who helped make this event possible, especially Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch, Pacific Graffiti Solutions, Melrose Avenue Merchants Alliance, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Melrose Area Neighbors in Action, Melrose Elementary School Mathematics, Science and Technology Magnet, Fairfax High School and the LAPD Wilshire Community Police Station.
Westwood Rec Peace Day
Councilmember Koretz is joined by (l-r) Mike Eveloff, Department of Recreation Parks Asst. GM Kevin Regan, James Goodman and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich at Peace Day. (Photo courtesy of Jobe Benjamin)
Councilmember Koretz recently joined many community members, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and representatives from the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks at the 13th annual “Peace Day” at Westwood Recreation Center. Among the many who were responsible for this event were Friends of West Los Angeles, Trader Joe’s, Cheesecake Factory, AMC Theatres, Music Kids and Education, AMP 97.1 FM and PEACEQUEST.
A significant topic of discussion was how the community can work with the city to help maintain and improve our parks and recreation centers, especially at a time of troubling budgetary crisis.
Councilmember Koretz praised the involvement of Friends of West Los Angeles in support of Westwood Recreation Center, adding, “When we talk of war and peace, we often think of facing momentous challenges of a global nature, but I think what really has to happen is what is happening here – people stepping forward and sharing their efforts on a local level, to help solve problems and improve and protect a community’s quality of life.”
Councilmember Koretz stands with some of our local firefighters at the Peace Day event at Westwood Recreation Center. (Photo courtesy of Jobe Benjamin)
Feline Friday Finds Another Home
Shortly after Councilmember Koretz took office, he started "Feline Fridays" at City Council meetings during which he encourages the public to adopt cats from the City's overburdened animal shelters and brings a cat to Council for adoption. Pictured below is Lisa Gritzner with her new cat, Seamus. If you would like to adopt an animal from a shelter, please call 1-888-452-7381 or visit www.laanimalservices.com.