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Police union opposes library measure on March 8 ballot

February 10, 2011 |  6:00 am

The Los Angeles Police Protective League will oppose a measure on the March 8 ballot intended to create more revenue for the city’s cash-strapped libraries, an initiative that has drawn a broad coalition of support among the city’s elected officials and labor unions.

League President Paul M. Weber said in a statement that the measure was “ballot-box budgeting” that would “create more problems than it solves” by diverting a greater share of the city’s property tax revenue to libraries without creating a stream of money to replace it.    

Under the City Charter, libraries are allocated at least 0.0175% of the city’s property tax revenue. Measure L would guarantee nearly double that share without creating any new taxes, meaning the money would have to come from other city services.

City Council President Eric Garcetti and council members Tom LaBonge, Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry, among others, have been campaigning for the measure, arguing that it would shield the department from the deep cuts it has faced over the last few years, which have led to layoffs of librarians and reduced hours.

Proponents of Measure L have raised at least $150,000 for their campaign, primarily from the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, according to records filed with the city Ethics Commission. The league, which represents about 9,900 rank-and-file officers, has not said how much money it will spend, if any, to defeat the measure.

Weber said the Measure L campaign has concealed what the true effect of the proposal would be. By sidestepping the normal budget process, he said, leaders could achieve “an increase to library funding without the unpleasant and unpopular tax hikes needed to fund it, and without discussing how it would impact other city departments."

“Measure L simply mandates the movement of money from one pot to another and restricts its use. It does not solve any of the financial problems plaguing the city of Los Angeles,” Weber said in his statement. “If this measure passes, residents should expect to see further interruptions to police and fire services, and more cuts to parks and recreation, street services and other priority municipal services.”


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-- Maeve Reston