It was embarrassing. There's no other word for it. The Mayor of the second largest city in the United States entered the Council Chamber to a resounding chorus of "Boos" that drowned out the thunderclaps that shook Downtown LA through much of the day.
When Jan Perry, sitting as President Pro Tem, finally convinced the audience to quieten down, the Mayor of Failure proceeded to stumble, stammer, and struggle to read the speech that one of his 263 staffers must have prepared for him.
It sounded phony and frankly looked like a seventh grader could have done a better job. The speech was nothing but a string of platitudes, sound-bites, and catchphrases, all interspersed with false praise and thanks to the Council for "working together" and "making hard choices." The Mayor of Failure's speech was as devoid of fact, as it was lacking in any ring of truth.
As the Mayor spoke, he was joined at the table by his CAO Miguel Santana and a few other staffers. It looked like the defendant's table in a criminal courthouse.
When the Mayor finally finished his rambling monologue where he referenced his 1,000 job layoff list, he took 'questions' from councilmembers. If one were a conspiracy theorist, one might have thought the questions were "gimmes" easy answers for the Mayor, but frankly, the councilmembers themselves seemed incapable for asking simple, succinct questions, preferring to ramble incoherently.
All the while the Mayor touted his idea to layoff 1,000 City workers. Earlier, the Mayor had 'leaked' the list of 1,000 City employees in various departments (none in the Mayor's Office, nor any in the 15 Council Offices), including 100 City Attorneys.
Nobody asked the Mayor where this magic number of 1,000 comes from. Was it a real calculation of what is necessary to save the City from bankruptcy, based on hard figures? Or was it simply a nice round number, like 10,000 cops?
If it truly was a calculated figure, how come it wasn't 987 or 1,012?
The answer, folks, is that it was just another empty catchphrase. Something to be used down this failed politician's career where he can proudly proclaim to be the Mayor who made the hard choice to fire (layoff) 1,000 City workers to save the City from bankruptcy.
But the truth, of course, is very different. There will not be 1,000 firings or layoffs. The Mayor sort of hinted at that himself. He plans to shift 360 jobs to the DWP, Airport and the Port. The remaining 540 will be early retirements. Wait a minute, 360 + 540 does not equal 1,000. That's only 900. What about the other 100?
The other 100 are the City Attorney employees on the Mayor's list. After City Attorney Carmen Trutanich reminded the Mayor of Failure that he does not have the authority under the City Charter to fire City Attorneys, any more than he has the authority to hire City Attorneys, the Mayor had to admit that he could not fire them. But that fact (like so many others) was not discussed during the Mayor's incoherent ramblings.
At one point, the Mayor used the word "Heretofore" in some stupid attempt to make him sound lawyerly - he did take and fail the Bar 4 times. It did not impress.
As he maintained the pretense of commanding the firing of 1,000 City employees, not one of the 15 councilmembers ever asked him or his 'co-defendants' at the table, what precisely, the effect of firing 1,000 would be on the City's current budget deficit of $212M?
Was that because they knew it was a phony firing, or was it because they had actually looked at the Mayor's list of 1,000 jobs and realized that firing 1,000 workers only saves the City $24.7M in 2009-2010? $24.7M against a $212M deficit is nothing. It's a sham, a trick, a ruse. It's not true.
Remember, over the past few years the City has added 4,000 workers. In 2007 the City employed 26,000. Today it employs 30,000. According to the Mayor, the City's income has now fallen to that which it received in 2007. So logically, if the Mayor is going to balance it's budget, it has to return to the workforce level that it had in 2007. That would mean firing 4,000 City workers, not 1,000.
So what's up with the Mayor's math? And why wasn't there a single councilmember who had the brains to figure this simple equation out and ask the Mayor "Isn't it true that to balance the budget you have to fire 4,000 City workers?"
What happened today was a monumental failure in our elected officials to address the serious financial plight of our City. It's really no surprise. After all, they are the ones who got us into this mess with their faulty logic in the first place. Why should we believe they have what it takes to get us out of this mess?
When Wall Street failed spectacularly towards the end of 2008, heads rolled. Sure, they got sizable payoffs, but the management of the failed corporations of America all got the axe. That's not happening with the Mayor or the sycophantic Councilmembers. They all ignored the warning signals, and now that Los Angeles's financial chickens have come home to roost, they're all just playing word games.
We all know that the Mayor is incapable of making real decisions and being fiscally responsible, he spends our money like a drunken sailor to support his elaborate lifestyle. He maintains a staff of 263 aides and deputies, to do what? Write speeches that he no more understands than he can read?
It's time to call an end to the hypocrisy and deceit that has underscored the Mayor of Failure's tenure. When will Los Angelenos realize that?