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Villaraigosa Wants You to Play Budget, Just Don't Touch the LAPD

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In the debate between Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the L.A. City Council about what to cut, police has become a major issue. That's because pubic safety takes 70% of the city's general fund, which pays for basic city services, leaving the rest up for grabs. "How can you fix a problem in the hundreds of millions with only 30% of the pie?" one might ask.

Villaraigosa wants to strictly protect public safety, which means other things have to go in large numbers, such as tree trimming and library services. Even positions and programs that support public safety are slated to disappear: 100 prosecutors, LAPD support staff, neighbor conflict resolution sessions and arts programs that help keep kids off the streets. If you look at it like a teeter-totter, enforcement and other programs can balance each other out. If the programs side get cut, does that prompt more crime? That's a question some hope never to test out.

As part of the city charter--think of it as the constitution of Los Angeles--the mayor must reach out to neighborhood councils for input on the budget. He's also asking the community's opinion in the slick online survey.

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"This whole surveys about engaging the public," he said this morning at the Silver Lake Library, where he promoted the online tool. "What I've said to people is this: don't give me "no" to every option. Don't say to me, "I want you to solve this budget crisis, I don't wnat you to raise taxes, i don't want public-private partnerships, no to layoffs, no to furloughs, no to employee cuts, no to no. That won't work."

That being said, the funny thing is this: Villaraigosa's survey doesn't let you say "no" to police cuts. That's because that decision has already been made for you.

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