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Villaraigosa proposes merging 2 city agencies to save $2 million


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Monday he hopes to shave $2 million from the city’s budget by folding the department that oversees the network of 90 neighborhood councils into another agency.

The plan would push the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, created by voters more than a decade ago to increase citizen participation at City Hall, into the Community Development Department, which oversees the distribution of federal grant funds.

That move could draw a legal challenge from backers of neighborhood councils, who contend the City Charter calls for a Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

“I would be surprised if this is legal, and I would be surprised if the city attorney has been asked about this,” said Greg Nelson, who ran the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment from 2001 to 2006.

Nelson warned that neighborhood councils would be “the stepchild of a much larger department” under the proposed arrangement. A spokesman for City Atty. Carmen Trutanich did not immediately comment.

But Councilman Richard Alarcon pointed out that the City Charter prohibits the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment’s duties from being transferred to another agency only during the first five years of its existence. After that, the department can be moved into another agency by city ordinance, he said.

“I think it can be done legally,” Alarcon said of the mayor’s proposal.

Villaraigosa released a statement Monday saying the merger would eliminate 27 jobs and place the network of neighborhood councils into a “more efficient” department that works better with neighborhoods.

“The consolidation effort will not only create cost savings, but will serve to take the bureaucracy out of community empowerment,” he said in the statement.

The proposal led to the announcement by BongHwan Kim that he will resign by June 30 as head of the Neighborhood Empowerment Department. Richard Benbow will run the renamed Department of Community Development and Neighborhood Empowerment, according to the mayor’s statement.

-- David Zahniser

Photo: L.A. Times file

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Comments () | Archives (9)

On the surface it sounds like a positive step. The merger puts the workers who focus is on community empowerment closer to people who are writing grants to obtain federal funding for community development. An interesting follow up report would be to discover how much time the departments already spend communicating with each other for various reasons.

Save even more money by getting rid of these do-nothing agencies.

If "neighborhood activists" (who seem to be most concerned about giving themselves titles) fight this through lawsuits, all they will be doing is wasting city funds that would otherwise go to supporting their empowerment programs.

WE ARE OUT OF MONEY PEOPLE. Our city has overspent and we cannot keep everything the way it is. Something must change. Don't fight it.

CDD is a mess, a department that should have been shuttered long time back. On the other hand, Neighborhood Councils should be happy that they are free of City Hall shackles. The committed will know how to tackle city hall, the undeserving will fall by the wayside.

The Pint Size Mayor with his fake smile is just trying to save himself. His incompetent with the help of the city council, and his incompetent staff he picked has put us where we are today. Not one of them were born with common sense. This from the Mayor's puppet Miguel Santana, and I am sure no one else interviewed for the job. Miguel Santana received the job because of the Great Gloria Molina. The mess just did not happen over night. It started the first day the Pint Size Mayor took over the office of the mayor. People that did not have any decision in spending the tax payers's money are the ones taking the heat. He wants to continue hiring people officers while others are being hurt in the process. No wonder LAPD thinks they are above the law. Just put on a hiring freeze for All departments, and not just for a select few. If officers let go, and Beck's will have to go. The Mayor does not want to break the deals he has with the union, and Beck.


The Pint Size Mayor, and the city council will continue wasting the tax payers money. It will be wasted by hiring their friends, and family members. Miguel Santana is a good example of hiring a friend's friend. Our city government is just corrupt thanks to the Mayor, and the city council.

If the neighborhood activists were to sue City Hall they would not and could not use taxpayers money. If the City decided to fight it rather than follow the law, taxpayers money would be spent.

Voters of Los Angeles should understand this is a Corrupt Political Machine with a Patron of a Mayor pulling all the strings from all of his political appointee talking heads and General Managers that will parrot what ever the Patron wants. If they wish to keep a job.
The short sightedness of this Mayoral Administration and the voting block on the city council has caused this financial train wreck. Unions did not cause this mess. Blaming the back seat driver in a train wreck will not wash here.
Do the taxpayers of this city want this same group to sell off this city's future! These Part Timers are the richest elected officials in the nation and will not dream of reducing its own staffing budget or take pay cuts "equal to" if not more than they have robbed from the city employees this past year. There is more than 2 million dollars in savings in their budgets that can be cut.
And to have this Patron tell the news media, unions have never taken a pay cut. What about you Patron? and city council? Where is the Shared the Sacrifice for a job poorly done?

Anonymous says CDD is a mess,I think not, I think the entire City of Los Angeles is mess. At least CDD has had the courage to reorganize and streamline itself to become more efficient by doing more with less, lets not forget that many of the employees at CDD were of the first to get hit by furloughs and they continue to make things work inspite of whats being forcast. Lets face it, it is a bad time for not just the city but the state, and country so stop pointing fingers.


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