Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A New Vision -- Self Service

Antonio Villaraigosa gave 10,000 or so employees at DWP a really great pay raise, a minimum of 17.9 to a maximum of 31 percent, over the next five years. Villaraigosa had to know the pay raise exacerbated an already huge disparity between DWP employees and other city employees.

It is hard to believe that Mayor Villaraigosa having come up the hard way would foster and support the inequality of city workers. It is also hard to believe that Mayor Villaraigosa would not know the financial situation of the city having been a Los Angeles insider and councilmember for so long. It is especially hard to believe that Mayor Villaraigosa would think that he could give one group of city workers a sweetheart deal without considering that he would have to provide the same equal treatment to all his union brothers and sisters. One for all, all for one, and all that.

If he were concerned about the finances of Los Angeles, he would have concluded that an across the board increase in labor cost would have to be balanced by an equal across the board decrease in operating expenses such as infrastructure maintenance or long term development, or an increase in taxes or city revenue such as trash collection, business fees, lot cleaning, etc., which also amounts to a tax.

Moreover, Villaraigosa would have known that the Los Angeles infrastructure is in bad shape, potholes and such, foregoing infrastructure maintenance is not a viable option. Consequently, increasing revenues or tax would be preferred over decreasing operating costs. Villaraigosa realizes increasing city costs will cause more businesses and employers like Nissan to leave this area for other lower-cost business-friendly cities. And, those relocated businesses will transfer their prized technical and craft employees and layoff the rest – increasing the numbers of unemployed. In any case, it would result in a net loss in the number of highly skilled workers required by manufacturers and big employers. It also reduces the number of citizens that can buy high priced homes (causing prices to fall) and that pay taxes to support our schools and communities (speeding the decline of our communities).

It is surprising that Villaraigosa can visit so many places, meet so many people on the bus and private jets, and not realize that when he satisfies the short-term greed of his union brothers that he robs each one of us of the vision he promised to all the citizens of Los Angeles. And the inevitable city deficits result in the destabilization of the jobs and pensions that all city workers depend.

The possible bankruptcy of General Motors, the layoff of 30,000 workers, and the closing of 10 factories is a clear example of what happens to strong companies that neglect customers for self-serving management and union endeavors.

It is very clear to us at Civil Action Press that city managers need to be held accountable for their actions. Union leaders are not accountable to the citizens of Los Angeles and consequently they should not be running Los Angeles government as they have been permitted to do under Hahn and Villaraigosa.

In the next few days, Villaraigosa will demonstrate again who he serves. You should take notice. Tell him that driving up the wages of a few thousand at the expense of the millions that live and work here is not fair or right.


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