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Cut Politicians' Pay, Save L.A.?

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A local political gadfly, and possible future City Council candidate, launches campaign to cut city officials' pay--in half.

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L.A. Weekly profiles Douglas Epperhart and his nascent cost-cutting campaign for L.A. taxpayers:

Spurred largely, he says, by an L.A. Weekly exposé of council salaries and perks published on February 26 ("Los Angeles on $300,000 a Year"), [likey 15th Council District candidate Douglas] Epperhart and others in the city's 88 Neighborhood Council groups are embarking on what some might call a quixotic attempt to force a pay cut on L.A.'s elected officials. They hope to put the issue to voters on the November 2010 ballot.

The city's constitution currently links the salaries of elected leaders to raises the Legislature grants to Superior Court judges. Without even having to do a good job, a council member automatically receives a raise whenever judges do; Villaraigosa receives the judges' pay -- plus 30 percent.....

Epperhart's plan is to insert the word "half" into the formula -- four potent letters that would slash the City Council's and three other elected officials' pay by 50 percent and save L.A. taxpayers close to $2 million a year....

Numerous phone calls from the Weekly yielded very few City Council members willing to comment on the plan, as if they hoped the awful thing would wither and die on its own. Nor did Villaraigosa's office respond.

....To qualify for the 2010 ballot, Epperhart's burgeoning organization -- right now technically titled the "Los Angeles Citizens Compensation Committee for Yes on Unknown Measure" -- must collect valid signatures from 240,000 registered voters, which is...very difficult.

Epperhart....jabs a finger at a flier that shows how L.A. City Council salaries, at $178,789, now outstrip even those of U.S. senators ($174,000), and leave New York City Council members in the dust ($112,500). It might, in fact, be the highest-paid city council in the world. ["Slashing L.A. City Council Pay to $90K," L.A. Weekly]

And it's not entirely clear L.A. is getting its money's worth. At the L.A. Times, Ryan Coonerty proposes a similar cost-cutting measure for the state legislature---cut their pay in half, while doubling their number to increase citizen representation.

Past City of Angles blogging on L.A. politicians' pay and on the city's fiscal crisis.

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

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