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City Hall Spends $1 Million on Calligraphy Services

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Los Angeles has been in a large deficit for the past year--this year it could up to $530 million--forcing City Council to raise parking meter fees, citations and cut or delude city programs. However, that hasn't stopped them spending $1 million each year on "hand-inked calligraphy scrolls that bestow commendations on everyday folk, celebrities and supporters," the LA Weekly finds:

The council and Villaraigosa recently cut back on such basics as city paramedic captains and library books, even as they continued to burn through a cool $1 million a year by ordering up a mountain of scrolls — 27,978 of them in the 2007-08 fiscal year alone. They are on track to repeat that feat this year. The elaborate scrolls often depict a glowing image of City Hall set among garlands and highlighted with gold inking of the sort associated with illuminated manuscripts. For years, these same council members failed to fund even one extra billboard inspector to help the three inspectors long overwhelmed by a proliferation of thousands of controversial and illegal billboards in L.A. And $1 million per year would have greatly helped pay for the testing of rape-incident DNA evidence that has sat, untested, on LAPD shelves for years. Instead, Angelenos have paid for hand-lettered scrolls honoring Sea Otter Awareness Week, commending a film based on Nancy Drew and thanking local police dogs.

Council President Eric Garcetti, who handed out the most of the last Fiscal Year, told the Weekly, via his spokesperson, “Some recipients [of the scrolls] have told me it’s one of the most meaningful recognitions they’ve ever received.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wanted to cut the services by nearly half last year, but City Council saved the program. This year he will try again. "We are hopeful that the council would understand that this service is a luxury and not a necessity," his spokesman said.