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Public Mum on L.A.’s ‘Budget Solutions’ Document

Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate Heinrich Keifer finds the apparent public apathy "amazing."

Although the April 20 deadline looms for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to present his proposed 2012-13 budget for Los Angeles to the City Council, community representatives who assist the mayor in this vital exercise have yet to receive any public comments in response to a “budget solutions” document that was unveiled March 29.

That was the message communicated to the at its monthly board meeting Tuesday night by Heinrich Keifer, one of the 28 Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates for L.A.'s 95 neighborhood councils. Keifer represents both Eagle Rock and Highland Park in budget negotiations with the mayor and has been a budget advocate for the past three years.

“It’s amazing,” he said, waving a copy of the so-called white paper on budget solutions as ERNC board members looked on. “This has yet to generate even one comment from the public.”

Titled “A Culture of Excellence: Recommendations for a Sustainable Future,” the 33-page document is the result of more than 15 meetings with City departments, bureaus and labor unions as well as numerous Budget Advocate Committee discussions aimed at developing what Keifer calls “a united voice.”

The document offers a 21-point “summary of recommendations” designed to bridge a $220-million gap in the City’s budget that has already been reduced from a high of $250 million. (See attached PDF for document details. And click here to read our March 21 story about L.A.'s cost-cutting challenges.)

Among the Budget Advocates' proposals:

• Declare a fiscal emergency that allows the mayor to reduce City salaries for one year.

• Begin pension plan reform by raising the retirement age from 55 years to 65 or 67 years.

• Fund a comprehensive information technology system that improves City services and enhances government interaction with the public.

Tuesday night’s event was held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at , which replaces the , as the new and permanent venue for future ERNC board meetings. (The move enables the ERNC to save the $50-per-hour rental fee, plus $75 cleaning fee, that the Center for the Arts charges for community meetings. As an extension of the City Council, the ERNC is entitled to use Eagle Rock City Hall for meetings free of charge.)

Do you wish to comment on the Budget Solutions document or propose your own solutions? If so, contact Heinrich Keifer at HKeifer101@sbcglobal.net.

Emerald April 04, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I responded as well, however I'm sure 'hizzoner' didn't like my answers. Besides I don't think he really cares much, as he'll be gone shortly. Rumor has it he's running to be on some type of Democratic ticket in 2016. I can't think of anyone more repulsive or runious to have a big position politics. I haven't heard much about the 'new budget' it in the so-called nightly news. I think they say that generally, the budget will be cut, but not much else. Local News outlets are weak, flaccid nothings, deathly afraid to actually report political controversies.
Ajay Singh April 04, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Yes, Bob, I for one do think that the 5,000-plus people who responded to the Budget Survey, including more than half the members of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (and at least half-a-dozen from our sister council in Highland Park), made a collective comment of sorts (simply by the act of responding to the survey). The Budget Advocates' white paper is less than a week old—understandably, people don't know about it because word about it hasn't gone around as much as our hard-working B.A.s would probably like. Heinrich Keifer's point, I think, is that although the Budget Solutions document (or word about it) went out to everyone on the Advocates' e-mailing list, it hasn't yet met with any response. (Maybe the word "Excellence" in the title is the problem—after all, as I told Heinrich last night only half-jokingly, who could possibly oppose that buzzword.)
Julie Walmsley April 04, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Maybe you haven't heard much from budget hawks because those that follow fiscal policy closely already know that performance based budgeting passed the full council (though revocable under Rule 51) and PBB and its principles are major components of the suggestions in the attached PDF.
Julie Walmsley April 04, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Kathy, I'm curious about your experience in trying to get salient issues covered. I'm a reporter and I've been surprised about the difficulty of finding stations/papers with freelance budget for very important issues. On one story, I was even willing to hand over what was then months of work (now over a year) just to help sources find some avenue of advocacy. But nothing! Can you write about what you think is important that has not been dealt with, and specifically which outlets fell short?
Ruben Del Portillo April 05, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Part of the what will help the budget is if the city employees that make over $100,000.00 per year as salary (which is really our tax money), should take a pay cut.

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