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Fewer furloughs for L.A. street repair crews urged

Three members of the Los Angeles City Council called Friday for fewer street repair crews to take furlough days so the city can get a better handle on the damage caused by recent rainstorms.

Surrounded by organizers with Service Employees International Union Local 721, council members Richard Alarcon, Eric Garcetti and Jose Huizar said they want budget officials to explain why certain employees of the Bureau of Street Services are forced to take unpaid days off even in cases where their work would be covered with federal money that can’t be used to balance the city budget.

The three councilmen said they want to eliminate furloughs for any street worker who is paid entirely with "special funds" -- money that comes from the state or federal government that must go exclusively toward road repairs or other specific projects.

"Nobody is denying that we have to make cuts," Alarcon said. "But we are saying that we must be surgical."

The comments came one day before the Department of Public Works begins Operation Pothole, an effort to eliminate thousands of potholes that have formed or grown in size since last month’s storms.

The remarks also are at odds with the recommendation from City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the city's top budget official, who called on council members earlier this week to add, not subtract, furlough days to help the city cope.

Santana wants some employees to take an additional 10 furlough days before June 30, bringing their total to 36 for the current budget year.

Meanwhile, Bill Robertson, the head of the Bureau of Street Services warned it would be "more costly in the end run" to exclude any of his 900 employees from furloughs, given the way in which his workers are paid.

Robertston said his department receives enough stimulus money from the Obama administration to pay for 67 full-time workers. But employees who are paid with that money also have a portion of their salaries covered with other funds, such as state gasoline taxes or the city's general fund, he said.

Separating the stimulus money from the other sources would be "just too difficult to manage," he said. "I don’t have enough crews to say, you guys do nothing" but projects funded with federal stimulus money, he added. "If we did that, we would become inefficient and actually increase our costs."

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Comments () | Archives (10)

Hey AlarCON, your SPENDING should have been more surgical.

Oh no....let's not furlough them, but it's ok to give more furlough time to the 911 operators and LAPD detention officers. Don't get me wrong, I understand that the streets need to be maintained, but people, they are making serious cuts to your access to public safety. If there are additional furlough days given to detention officers, this will mean more officers pulled off the streets to staff the jails. The same can't be said for 911 operators...the officers don't backfill into 911 positions...there will just be far fewer operators, and possibly a much longer wait time to have emergency calls answered. And how about the rolling closures of fire stations? I sure hope that you don't need the one in your area on the day it's scheduled to be closed for the day. But yeah, let's make sure the street services don't get cut.

L.A. has street repair crews?

let's furlough the mexican councilmen, permanently.

And to keep your 911 operators on furloughs:
Future 911 recording: "You have reached 911, but all our operators are on furloughs- for better service, please drive yourself to the hospital, or run if you are being shot at. - Thank you for allowing us to serve your needs"

Also, we keep forgetting, that to keep officers on the streets, they need police cars. which needs the Mechanics. Without them, there will not be any police cars to respond to emergencies

We shouldn't furlough these folks we need to cut their salaries. They are paid too much.

Keep the same number of hours work and pay them less.

Doesn't take a genious to figure that out.

Richard Alarcon still not in jail,

The $500 Million dollars in federal stimulus money would not be used to balance the budget, if it were directed at the City's infrastructure. The whole purpose to having infrastructure, like Libraries, Parks, General Services, Public Works, maintaining a Police and Fire Department is so that we can have some standards of living. What happens to everybody's property value if blight takes over. What happens to our quality of life when gangs take over, when our City streets can't be cleaned or maintained, when City trees start falling on your house, car or power lines, when someone illegally dumps trash in our neighborhoods and blocks the sidewalk, when the sidewalk is raised or broken and the elderly trip and fall over it. And, of course, when a small pothole is allowed to grow into a crater and damage the wheels on your car. The list goes on and on.
All this is maintained by departments that comprise the City's infrastructure.
Bill Robertson's comments are not supported by the facts. He cannot maintain the City's Street without the materials, equipment and Human Resources ....and he knows it. This "operation pothole" is, itself, paid for by the ARRA federal stimulus funds. These funds can and have been accessed when the political will and public pressure is there. He is one of the Department heads whose job can be terminated, at will, by the Mayor. We know were his loyalty lies.
The bottom line is that the City Council and the Mayor need to stop playing politics and brinkmanship with the City's best interests.

Don't furlough these guys. Fire half of them and get the other half to work harder. There are thousands of unemployeds that want their jobs.


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