Villaraigosa Orders Non-Essential City Agencies to Close 2 Days Per Week

In the continuing fight between the City Council, the Department of Water and Power, and Mayor Villaraigosa, the latest salvo is a big one from the Mayor:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for shutting down non-essential agencies two days a week Tuesday as he and City Council members remained locked in a standoff over the intertwined issues of electricity rates and the city’s worsening budget shortfall.

Villaraigosa’s action topped another day of threats and name-calling at City Hall.

During a morning news conference, the mayor said the council had caused the latest financial crisis by engaging in the “politics of ‘no’ ” and accused it of “the kind of demagoguery you see in the Congress.” (LA Times)

Ok, to boil this down as much as possible, the DWP wanted to increase electricity rates by about .6 cents/kWh. It looks small, but during the summer, that can end up costing some real money to operate A/c in the Valley.  The Council rejected the increase, saying that it was too much money.  In response, DWP moved to stop an expected payment of $73.5 million to the City.  And if the City doesn’t get that money, well, they can’t pay the bills for the rest of the fiscal year. In other words, Sacramento style brinksmanship trickles down…

The political feud between Villaraigosa and the council — and the threat to shut down services and stop paying employees — flabbergasted some officials. Councilman Paul Koretz called the mayor’s threat “bizarre” and warned that Villaraigosa and the council were engaging in “a crazier and crazier game of chicken.”

“It’s absolutely a manhood contest. That’s what it’s been from the very beginning,” said Koretz, who represents much of the Westside.(LA Times)

The Mayor instructed his staff to prepare closures of parks, libraries, and other general fund agencies, keeping open public safety agencies.  Seeing as this is brinskmanship, one of the parties is going to blink at some point. DWP could come to some sort of settlement for an amount less than the $73.5 million but enough to keep most services open. The Council could agree to some rate hike. The Mayor is jamming them together like something you’d expect at a particle collider. (sorry…i’m a nerd.)

Anyway, I’d expect to see some sort of movement from both sides over the coming week or two, the Mayor has forced both of their hands here.  It’s a bit extreme, and labor certainly won’t appreciate their being tossed into the middle of a fight that is basically out of most of their control. (Save Brian D’Arcy and the IBEW local that represents the DWP employees.)

To take a quick detour into the politics of public power, it should be pointed out that if this were PG&E, the money wouldn’t be going back to the ratepayers via the city. Instead, the money would end up in the pockets of Wall Street types. Ok, end detour.

Stay tuned, this one is far from over.

2 thoughts on “Villaraigosa Orders Non-Essential City Agencies to Close 2 Days Per Week”

  1. caught in the middle of this, as you can imagine, I’ve got plenty of thoughts. Most of them expletive laden.

    Villaraigosa is attempting to “save the City” by hitting the 30% of the City’s budget that has been squeezed over and over and over. I respect Fire and Police, but they haven’t shared the burden anywhere near the way the rest of us have.

    Going to stop here. ‘Cause I’ve got to get to work.  

  2. between the Mayor and City Council.

    The City is owed $100 million from the owners of the parking garages they sold off. But they haven’t bothered to go after those funds. Why not? Oh yeah, political donors don’t need to be bothered.

    Yes, I am Ms. Bitter, party of one.

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