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How L.A. Could Have Avoided Our Budget Troubles

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San Jose and Pasadena offer lessons for L.A.'s budget mess, an analyst argues in the L.A. Weekly.

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Among the things L.A. should have known, but apparently didn't, are:

*"It's much easier to stop yourself from making new hires than it is to make layoffs later." Yet Mayor Villaraigosa hired 5,000 new people in his first term.

*"The unions will respect you more if you don't give them everything." Yet in 2007 L.A. "gave 25 percent raises to most employees over five years" in contracts that trap the city--"with revenues cratering, the city is locked into promises it made in more prosperous times."

*"Find long-term solutions for long-term problems." Yet what the city did last fall "was full of onetime solutions, including borrowing from reserves and deferring payments."

*"You don't have to be a Republican to care about pension reform." When stock markets tank, city pension obligations become more obviously unsustainable. Yet unions don't want to make any pension concessions. Still, the city will have to keep fighting for ballot proposals that allow voters some direct say in this, "if only because going to irked, recession-slammed Los Angeles voters is one of the few credible threats city officials can use as leverage in negotiations" with their workers.

The full article gives details about how the fiscally responsible cities of Pasadena and San Jose avoided all L.A.'s pitfalls.

You can follow the slow tightening of L.A.'s fiscal crisis in City of Angles from last April to last week.

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

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