It's Thursday, March 4th and the city of LA is experiencing another demonstration that results in traffic jams and street closures. Usually for a story like this, it is related to immigration rights, police brutality, or some kind of world-related event. But on this day, it is all about teachers and the possibility of them losing their jobs with the LA Unified School District.
Now tell me if you remember this....It is the 2000 presidential race and candidate Al Gore is campaigning in the Latino neighborhoods telling residents, "educaci??n...muy importante"! This still makes me laugh.
Anyways, as most Angelinos know (and perhaps even those across the state and nation), the city of Los Angeles is in one of its worst times ever. Thousands consisting of teachers who work for the LA Unified School District and those who work for the city are about to lose their jobs and yet there are democratic idiots in both Sacramento and DC that insist the economy is fastly improving.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who at one time wanted control of the LA Unified School District, is nowhere to be found at this rally.
So where is he at while all this is going on?
He's at his mansion hosting a pre-Oscar party to a bunch of Hollywood big shots who will never know what it's like to fall victim to the recession, unemployment, or a home foreclosure.
Are you kidding me? Was this not the same Mayor who chose not to run for Governor after all because he was committed to finishing out his job as Mayor, or should I say, "was forced to drop out of the race for Governor because of his poor approval ratings"?
It has been roughly half a year since he announced this so-called commitment and all I could say is that things in this great city have gone from bad to extremely worse since his second term in office began.
And while LA teachers and city workers have been stressing out about the future of their jobs, their homes, and perhaps even their families, the Mayor seems to even have time to make a recent cameo appearance on the soap opera "All my children".
How funny it is that no LA politician had a problem with the Mayor's TV appearance but yet Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger contributes a story to a men's fitness magazine (a story he likely wrote in his free time) and all hell breaks loose among the democrats in both California and Los Angeles!
Now as for these soon to be laid off employees (some 4,000 by this summer), just stop and think about what is going to happen in the months to follow once these hard working Angelinos are given their pink slips. Take one minute of your time by putting yourself in the shoes of one of these individuals.
This is what happens....
Thousands of homes will likely fall victim to foreclosures.
Thousands of families will likely be forced to touch their life savings, money they hoped would have been used only for real emergencies.
Thousands of families will be forced to give up their cars they were still paying for, meaning they'll have to now rely on 1, 2, or even 3 bus lines to get them to school, the market, and other destinations.
Thousands of kids will be told by their parents, "sorry, we can't afford your school's tuition anymore, you're going to public school".
Thousands of families will have to turn down family vacations or school functions their kids were looking forward to.
Thousands of families will have to deal with sicknesses without taking a trip to the doctor since they no longer have health benefits.
So what does the City Council think?
They don't care. What they don't want people to know is that with each member making a yearly salary of roughly 180 thousand a year (the highest in the nation among council members), they have refused taking the same paycuts they have forced every city worker to take.
Of course, they have repeatedly avoided reporters who continue to ask why they refuse to accept these similar paycuts. One city council member would eventually be pressured into finally answering the question on behalf of the entire council.
Ready for the response?
This council member claimed the Council members were against the paycuts because they had children to raise and other financial obligations to deal with.
Did you know that all 15 City Council members are provided with city cars paid for by your tax dollars? And yes, tax dollars are also paying for their gas as well. The Mayor even has off duty LAPD officers driving him around (once again, your tax dollars at work). Don't expect these city cars or usage of gas to be on the city's "budget cuts for next fiscal year" list.
Can you say......"fill me up with supreme unleaded"?
And did you also know.....of the close to 4000 city workers expected to lose their jobs by this summer, every staff member working for the Mayor, the City Attorney, and all 15 City Council members are safe from these layoffs, proving that it's not about how excellent of an employee you are or where you rank in seniority but who you are. Sick!!!
Of course, though we have heard from the Mayor over and over again about how cops and firefighters are safe from these layoffs (as for now), one must ask...."is this fair"?
In case you are an Angelino resident who until now was in some frozen chamber for the last year or so, close to 20 million in LA tax dollars was recently wasted thanks in part to two well known incidents involving both the LAFD and LAPD.
To start, there was the dog food in-the-spaghetti incident involving black firefighter Tennie Pierce, who cried racism even though his fellow firefighters had proof he committed similar pranks in the past. Then there was the infamous MacArthur Park melee where several officers were seen committing brutality towards, of all people....MEDIA MEMBERS AND REPORTERS!!! The result....close to 20 million in settlements, several rich firefighters (Tennie Pierce and a couple of others who cried reverse discrimination), several demotions in the LAPD, the retirement of the fire chief, the retraining of LAPD officers, and the firing and then rehiring of 7 LAPD officers. Other than the retired fire chief and his rich firefighters, all other firefighters and cops involved in these incidents are still getting a paycheck to this day.
Now as for those 7 officers fired and then rehired, as I mentioned in a past story, the rehiring of these officers came the exact same day the Mayor was sworn in for a 2nd term in office, which I believe would have then made it far beyond impossible in getting the Mayor to comment on these rehirings. A pure coincidence? History shows that this Mayor is not going to comment on a situation like this. If you remember the melee well, you will remember that the Mayor simply said, "an investigation will take place". People need to remember that this man will dare not take sides. Should he side with the LAPD, he loses his latino and black votes (should he one day run for a higher office) and should he side with the latinos and blacks, he loses his endorsements from The LAPD, its chief, and its union.
Can you say....."two-face"?
Now though I do bring up the MacArthur Park incident, I am not here to bash the LAPD. Though I do believe that there are still bad and arrogant cops within the department, I also believe that there are still plenty of great ones out there as well. But still, we have to admit that millions of tax dollars continue to be wasted annually thanks in part to similar settlements involving the department, many of which never get mentioned on the news.
Speaking of tax dollars wasted, courtesy of both the LAFD and LAPD, those 20 million in wasted tax dollars could have easily covered the yearly salaries of roughly 200-400 teachers and city workers. So sad!
Note...before I can even get the chance to publish this story online, there has already been another story on the news likely to result in another couple of million in wasted tax dollars, courtesy of the LAPD. As many have already heard, LAPD officers patrolling the Koreatown area ended up killing a black man who not only was unarmed but was autistic.
Now here is something that may shock you regarding the LAPD....for a city like Los Angeles that has roughly 1 million more people than the city of Chicago, the LAPD has roughly 5000 less cops than the Chicago PD.
So why don't we fix this problem?
We have tried, but under Mayor Villaraigosa, it has gone nowhere!
With less cops on the streets of LA, the Mayor found a new way to raise the money to bring in more cops.....raising trash fees. A couple of years ago when the Mayor came up with this plan, he predicted that this increase in trash fees would put 10 thousand cops on the streets by 2009 and 10,300 cops by 2010. The fees (which back in 1988 were only 1.50 a month) have gone from 11.00 to 18.00 to 28.00 since this proposal began several years ago.
So is the problem solved?
As of now (and according to the LAPD's official website), there are only a little over 9900 cops currently in the LAPD. This number is unexcusable considering that in addition to the trash fees increase, the voters of LA had even approved a measure that would have improved services within the LAFD and LAPD (not sure if it was measure M or S but it was the one that had both the Mayor and Police Chief Bill Bratton in different commercials promoting it). What I remember about this measure was that while being interviewed by a reporter, the Mayor used scare tactics by saying that "if it not passed, expect possible layoffs withing the LAFD and LAPD".
With the number of officers retiring each month and with the city deficit worsening by the day, don't expect the number of cops to go up. Speaking of the needs of the LAPD, why are we still waiting after roughly 10 years for every LAPD cop car to get cameras installed? I suppose the Mayor is worried that the cameras may end up benefiting the abused black and latino residents more than the cops, resulting in even more tax dollars wasted from out of court settlements?
Just a thought.....why did Police Chief Bill Bratton really leave the LAPD? Who accepts a second 5-year term only to then say, "it's time to move on"? Remember the San Diego Fire Chief who suddenly stepped down because of the financial problems in his department? Makes you really wonder.
Now as for the fire department screwing over Angelinos financially.....there was this story a couple of weeks ago about a lady who was in a car accident. Her injuries were so minor that she ended up sitting in the passenger seat of the paramedic vehicle while heading to the hospital. A week goes by and when checking her mail, she discovers that she has a bill from the city for a whopping one-thousand dollars. She claimed she would have been better off just walking home from her accident.
Get ready for more bad news!
Also mentioned in this story was how the LAFD was considering raising that fee to fifteen-hundred dollars and how they were going to do it. The Fire Chief was at city hall explaining how once an injured individual is put into an emergency vehicle, the paramedic caring for him or her would get hold of that person's ID and swipe it through a device similar to one that a credit card goes through when making a transaction at a restaurant or department store. The injured patient would then be charged before even arriving at the hospital.
Now just imagine....a loved one of yours has just been in a mugging gone bad and is being driven to the hospital while badly bleeding from their injuries caused by the mugging. With no family members surrounding this loved one, he or she is quietly trying to talk to their maker during what may or may not be their last moments on earth and yet some union-protected moron is interrupting your loved one by telling them to hand over their ID before they pass out from the loss of blood. This can and will happen! Let's at least hope the bill collector has a conscience!
Think you can handle the above two fee increases? We aren't through yet!
Now the Mayor wants to raise water and power rates to as high as 28 percent because he wants to go green. He defends this raise by not only saying that these rates are still better than the rates of Southern Cal Edison but by saying that the money made from the rate increase will go to help introduce more conservation programs.
Conservation programs? Are you kidding me? This is the last man who should talk when it comes to conserving.
Last year, the Mayor criticized the residents of LA for not conserving water but yet was asked by a reporter why he was using roughly 3 times the amount of water the average angelino uses (the reporter had the Mayor's water bill on hand). The Mayor responded by saying it was damaged water pipes caused by gophers that resulted in a high water usage (SURE!!!). A few months later, while commending the same LA residents for their cutting down on water usage, the Mayor was once again confronted by another reporter who asked why he was still using roughly 3 times the amount of water the average angelino uses (the Mayor's latest water bill was once again on hand). The Mayor's new excuse.....he had no idea there was a glitch in his sprinkler system which was going on during the middle of each night. When then asked why his neighbors were able to hear the sprinklers each and every night, the Mayor responded by claiming he was a "heavy sleeper".
This Mayor is good! No wonder why he was able to fool around behind his wife's back for so many years!
Note: To read more about the Mayor's past history of lying to the public and media as well as dodging tough questions, check out my other latinola.com story, "No mas Antonio, por favor".
Other fees in the works that will hit Angelinos financially soon will include price increases when riding the MTA and increases in parking meter fees (more digitally-advanced meters and meters with less time limits on the way). History has proven that money raised from these type of fee increases instead end up going to supervisor raises, unnecessary overtime costs, union-related expenses, and work-related purchases most members of the public would likely consider as "non-necessities". History shows that since wasteful spending like this has happened in the past, it should likely happen again in the future, which by no surprise will again result in new fee increases.
Like every department in the city of angels, the LA Unified School District is also in need of that extra dollar. So what do they propose? A parcel tax that would bring in millions to the schools. Top boss Ramon Cortines said that for what the average person spends on several visits to a movie theater, this tax is well worth it for the children of LA. But did you know that this is the same school district that in recent times, has paid off many of its ex-employees? Teachers who ranked among the worst in the district or were accused of harassment towards students were given payouts somewhere in the mid to upper 5-figure range when being released from the district, kind of similar to "hush money". David Brewer, the man Ramon Cortines replaced, was given roughly half a million dollars when he was given the boot.
And speaker of "the children of LA", if they are so important, why is nothing being done about the health concerns of those children living at one apartment complex the Mayor has praised in the past?
For those who drive thru the 5 freeway in the Lincoln Heights area, you are probably familiar with those brown apartments you see adjacent to the northbound lanes (near where the 5 and 110 freeways meet). Though the Mayor touted this complex as an environmentally smart "transit-oriented" development (the goldline is adjacent to the complex), residents have since complained about the amount of dust they have to sweep in their units regularly, thanks in part to the thousands and thousands of cars that drive through this part of the freeway each day. If that is not bad enough, their children have fallen victim to asthma-related problems as a result of living in this complex, dubbed by one individual as "the black lung lofts".
Since these units are occupied by low-income blacks and latinos, don't expect any politician to come rushing to the rescue.....that is, not unless that politician needs their vote at election time. As for the Mayor, no chance of anyone getting a comment from him.
Now some of you are wondering why you never hear these stories on the news? First of all, I stand by everything you have read, which is all true. Second, these are stories your local TV news channels will dare not talk about since the last thing they want to do is anger anyone at City Hall (i.e....Channel 5's Lu Parker?). A good percentage of these stories come from the LA weekly, which I believe is a magazine no LA politician wants Angelinos to read. I am not hear to promote this magazine but I am here to bring awareness of the stories in it that both shock and anger its readers each week. For the latest in LA corruptions, wasteful spending, coverups, scandals, and politicians crying "no comment", pick up a copy of the LA Weekly. They are available at most 7-11's and newsstands and are free.
As I end this story, one must ask....who is to blame for this growing LA problem, which most Angelinos don't want to admit is only going to get worse next year. Is it the average LA politician we should put the blame on or should we honestly put the blame on the average LA voter who put the average LA politician in office? There are 15 council members at city hall, with all or the majority of them having no problem telling thousands of teachers and city workers, "you are out of a job" or "you are going to be out of a job".
Now ask yourself, what percentage of those soon to be or already laid off employees can say to these council members, "I voted for you and this is how you make it up to me"? One problem here is that many latinos and blacks (but not all) are suckered into voting for someone of the same race because they believe that politician will be looking out more for them that for than Angelinos of other races.
Talk about making bad choices in life!!!
I would be so curious into knowing the statistics on something like this.
And while these same latinos and blacks are or will soon be spending their entire days (and possibly nights) looking for a new job or standing in line at the welfare office or talking to some grouchy mortgage rep who doesn't care to hear about one's current financial struggles, these same politicians they voted for are out enjoying photo-ops with LA's rich and famous at some black tie, one-thousand dollar a plate event at one of the nicest hotels in the city.
I have said this once and I will say this again....politicians only value you when they need your vote!