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Beutner criticizes L.A. council for not moving quickly to erase $404-million budget deficit [Updated]

Using some of his harshest words yet, a top aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa accused the City Council of lacking a strategy for eliminating a $404-million shortfall.

First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, who is weighing a possible run for mayor in 2013, told an audience at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce that private businesses would not allow themselves to have such a large shortfall and no solution so soon before a decision is needed.

“We’ve just reelected half the City Council, and I’ve not heard one of them propose a solution to a $400 million problem that’s 60 days away,” he said.

Voters on Tuesday reelected council members Paul Krekorian, Tom LaBonge, Tony Cardenas, Herb Wesson and Jose Huizar. Ballots remained to be counted in the race involving Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who earned just slightly more than 50% on election night, according to unofficial results.

[Updated at 3:45 p.m.: Parks, who heads the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, disagreed with Beutner’s assessment, saying he talked during much of his reelection campaign about the need to reduce the size of the city workforce. The council already took 4,000 positions out of the general fund budget -- which pays for basic services -- by adopting layoffs, transfers and an early retirement program, he said.

The council also sought to rein in retirement costs by putting on Tuesday’s ballot a measure to trim pensions of newly hired police officers and firefighters. Beutner should have done the same during his eight months running the Department of Water and Power, Parks said.

“We were hopeful as interim general manager of Water and Power that he would have taken a role in cutting down the substantial … [DWP] pensions, but that didn’t occur,” he added.]

If he runs for mayor, Beutner could face two council members -- Jan  Perry and Eric Garcetti -- as well as a former council member, City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Beutner, a former investment banker whom Villaraigosa appointed to help attract businesses to the city, has repeatedly promised to make a decision on his candidacy by the end of the month. But his comments, both in his speech and in questions afterward, already sounded like well-honed campaign rhetoric.

The Pacific Palisades resident repeatedly described Los Angeles as being at a crossroads, with 13% unemployment and only half of its high school students graduating--a statistic he described as a “damning indictment” of the school system.

Beutner suggested that the council should have gotten out of the business of operating city parking garages--something he said the private sector could do better. The council rejected such a move last month.

And he waded into the debate over dramatically rising retirement costs, saying that the city should make good on its commitments to its existing workforce. “We made promises. People are owed their pensions,” he said.

Beutner’s most pointed comments focused on the budget gap, which must be decided in the next three months. Although Villaraigosa will propose his budget in April, a wide-ranging plan for making cuts is expected from City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana before then.

As it tackles that shortfall, the city should create a “new paradigm” with its labor unions by working collaboratively with them, Beutner said. “They’ve got ideas. They’ve got ways to close that gap,” he said.


Parks says his campaign left no stone unturned

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner at City Hall on Feb. 17, 2011. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (11)

"First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, who is weighing a possible run for mayor in 2013 . . .," Now why am I NOT surprised. I guess runner up Acalde isn't good enough.

sounds like an adult coming to the game, who knew

“We’ve just reelected half the City Council, and I’ve not heard one of them propose a solution to a $400 million problem that’s 60 days away,” he said.

They said, "Let's do lunch."

The race amongst the Democrats to cut anything except whoever donates to their election. What do they think is going to happen when voters reject higher taxes for another 5 years?

When has the city council ever been problem solvers? They continue to be a tax and spend organization, who is about to run out of tax/fee revenue. If they were good business people, they would be in business instead of at the public trough. They are only beholden to their campaign contributors and lobbyists and only worry about the taxpayers during reelection time.

The only solution they seem to want to implement is more furlough time for employees already taking 26 days a year. This includes the 911 operators, emergency equipment operators, and facilities maintenance workers. Most police stations have very little custodial service, and just try getting lighting fixed. But gee, how many council aides or staff are taking furlough time? The Mayor and Council tell you they are furloughing "non-essential" employees...since when are some of these job classifications "non-essential"? Also, the money that Smith "miraculously" found to get the detention officers off of furloughs runs out when the new budget is due, so that means furloughs for detention officers again, and more officers pulled off the streets to staff the jails. Where is the fiscal sense in any of this?

Why did he not tell the Chamber what he has been saying to business leaders privately, that he expects the City to file for bancruptcy in 2012, under his boss` stewardship?

Just what we need . . . . another Wall Street hustler swooping in to tell how he can do it better. We saw how that turned out. Main Street bailed those crooks out and now we're suffering while they're raking in record profits. Thanks but no thanks, Super #1 Fantastic First Deputy Mayor Beutner. Just like the 35% DWP increases, huh? Maybe nothing to a billionaire, but it's something for us little guys!

All of the Mayors cronies, the Mayor himself and each and every council member are full of Sh...! They have not cut their own spending, they are all way overpaid and I am sorry 10-15% paycuts (by only a few council) are nothing! Their salaries need to be decreased by atleast 40% to start matching the rest of the nation! And LAs Mayor should not be paid alomst double from what our Governor gets paid!! When is a paper going to do an article on how much the city has "saved" by the furloughs of their lower level city employees durring the past 2 fiscal years and find out where all the "saved" money in salaries has gone? Tell me why the Mayor feels his "staff" and the council members "staffs" should be exempt from any furloughs or paycuts? Really do they seriously believe their staff employees are more important than those who answer 911? Do an article on how short staffed LA's 911 centers are running short-staffed every day and how long callers are on hold (Hearing a recording) every minuet of every day! The Mayor is an idiot, he only wants to attack the lowest paid employees and exempts himself, his staff, his councilmembers from any real cuts in salary, perks, etc!! It would be nice if the LA Times did a real article. Oh and one more thing, only 12% of LA residents even voted on Tuesday, so it proves the majority of residents just don't give a damn and refused to get off their lazy butts and do something that could have helped start correcting the mess our "Hired Leaders" have created and keep creating!

When you call 911 Los Angelinos, you'll now have to hear a recording all because you folks gave the powerful minority voters to place the same ones in charge who bungled everyone's City Budget. Now there will be less paramedics in the field and now replaced by large pumper trucks. Now there will be less supervisors in the field policing your officers because they stopped the promoting the rank and file. Thanks Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Hey did the mayor fire the gang banger chick that was arrested for domestic violence a few months ago or is she still on the cities payroll?


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