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Chief Bratton's Awkward Goodbye

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Police Chief Bratton finally leaves L.A. for New York, amid recriminations over police hiring and the actual use of a trash fee hike that citizens believed was meant to hire new cops.

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Details from the L.A. Weekly:

Bratton came out swinging on October 6, when he told a swarm of reporters that "once again the political leadership of this city has told a lie. ... They told the public we were going to grow this department with your tax dollars. If they're going to shrink the department, well, they better give those tax dollars back."...

City Council members who sit on two powerful committees -- Budget and Finance, and Public Safety -- wanted to cancel a November LAPD cadet class for recruits and halt the LAPD's largely successful recruiting efforts. Council members insisted it's merely a "temporary" hiring freeze to help plug a $405 million budget shortfall....

The budget battle...calls into question whether city leaders publicly lied when Villaraigosa, City Council President Garcetti and then-Councilwoman Wendy Greuel in 2006 pushed through an exceedingly controversial trash-collection fee hike, and then in 2008 a near-unanimous City Council pushed through another trash fee hike....Downtown's pols assured Angelenos that the extra cash raised would not vanish into the general fund but would be used to hire 1,000 additional police.

Now, with trash bills soaring to $435 per year for an average household....Council District 8 representative and former chief Bernard Parks, a longtime Bratton critic, goes so far as to say the chief "does not understand" the legalities of the trash tax, saying "it's illegal to raise (garbage) fees for specific allocations."...

To tap into the trash fee, the City Council would mine perfectly legal loopholes included in the language approved in 2006 -- fine print L.A. residents didn't hear about until former L.A. City Controller Laura Chick released an eye-popping 2008 audit. Chick discovered that only $47 million, or about one-third of the new trash-fee revenue then pouring into city coffers, went to hiring cops, and 366 officers were hired instead of the promised 1,000. The rest of the money -- another $90 million also tacked onto residents' trash bills -- paid for LAPD overhead and raises.....

Now, City Hall appears to be abandoning all pretense that the tax was ever meant for LAPD. The chief spokesman for the latest spin appears to be Koretz, [who says]: "The tax-hike fee is not an earmark (for police)."

Ron Kaye on another Bratton departure issue--whether there is a conflict of interest related to his being hired by Michael Cherkasky, who also helped release LAPD from its federal consent decree. The problem, as Kaye quotes Tim Rutten from the L.A. Times, is that "the monitor [Cherkasky] gave the court advice that helped cement Bratton's reputation as the country's leading police chief, then just weeks later the two enter into a lucrative business arrangement built on that very reputation."

Past City of Angles blogging on Bratton's departure.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Ericrichardson. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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