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Budget hawks score victory over doves at L.A. City Council

May 18, 2010 |  9:42 pm

The 15-member Los Angeles City Council is well known for moving in lock step, approving large-scale development projects, lucrative labor agreements and even a boycott of Arizona with little or no dissent.

But this year's protracted fight over City Hall layoffs has shone a spotlight on the divide that separates the council's two ideological wings.

The council's budget hawks have sought to erase a $485-million shortfall by relying on the revenues that are in hand, even if that means dramatically cutting the workforce. The budget doves want to shield jobs and services at a time of high unemployment by banking on money from initiatives that are still in the works.

On Monday, the hawks gained the upper hand, finding enough votes to press ahead with a plan to eliminate 761 city jobs starting July 1 unless the unions find a way to close the gap through financial concessions or other strategies.

Since then, workers with the influential Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which threw its weight behind the doves early on, have been dropping hints that the budget vote would be viewed as a litmus test by its 22,000 members. The next election, one that could feature as many as six incumbent council members, is less than 10 months away.

The council's hawkish faction has four members, all of whom sit on the Budget and Finance Committee. The group has two council members from the more conservative west San Fernando Valley, Greig Smith and Dennis Zine, and two whose districts cover much of South Los Angeles, Jan Perry and Bernard C. Parks.

Smith and Zine are the council's only Republicans. Parks, a former police chief, is known for his more conservative views on economic issues, such as rent control. Perry aligns herself with the city's business leaders.

Read the full story here.

-- David Zahniser

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