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Video: L.A. is 'a City Without Heart'

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Welcome to the most dramatic theatre show in town, the L.A. City Council

Hyperbole or not, Councilman Richard Alarcon was on a tear in today's city council meeting going after city staff (and perhaps himself in a round-a-bout way) for, what he says, was the easy way out of the budget mess: by proposing to layoff 1,000 employees.

Earlier in the meeting, he went after $100 million in taxes owed to the city by parking lot operators--that solves nearly half of the $208 million budget shortfall--and later after the lack of federal stimulus money coming into Los Angeles.

While Alarcon never mentions how much, if any, he has done to help secure stimulus money, he does bring up some interesting points. One: how is it that New York City and San Francisco are doing better than Los Angeles in bringing in recovery money for jobs? Interesting point and true in regards to transit funding, but many of those New York city jobs he refers to are likely teachers, something LAUSD has received money for.

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Alarcon's second point: city budget staff have two or three people assigned to letting 2,400 people retire five years early--another budget-saving move--while the whole office is focused on the budget proposal that includes the 1,000 layoffs. Alarcon would rather see that focus be on "scrambling" to save jobs, obtain owed revenue and apply for more stimulus money. However, what Alarcon fails to see is that the budget crisis is now. Every day without action means four additional employees to be laid off under the current plan. Applying for grants, while a good thing, won't solve anything today.

All the good ideas to create and save money are something that needs to be done and should have been done years ago. When Governor Schwarzenegger came into office years ago, smaller cities in the region saw the writing on the wall and began working towards today's fiscal crisis back then.

Who Alarcon is mad at, whether he knows it or not, is actually himself and his peers for not taking "focused" action years ago.

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