LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Citing a need for bolder action, Mayor Eric Garcetti vetoed a City Council spending plan that outlined how to reinvest millions of dollars from the Los Angeles Police Department budget into communities of color, his office said this week.
The vetoed spending proposal would have allocated funds to “highest need census tracts'' as identified by the city's Economic Workforce Development Department, according to a Budget and Finance Committee report.
The remaining $88,804,526 of the $150 million the City Council approved to cut from LAPD would have been available for city services and beautification, recreation and youth programming, jobs and economic development, and nonprofit community investment in those areas.
“Los Angeles should be leading America by piloting bold ideas like exploring a guaranteed basic income, confronting the stark Black-white disparity among people experiencing homelessness, driving racial reconciliation, protecting jobs held by people of color with new opportunities in the city workforce and working in closer collaboration with our communities on allocation decisions,'' Garcetti said in a letter to the City Council Monday night.
“Instead, this plan in too many places elevates what should be routine over what could be revolutionary.''
Garcetti said he would approve a spending plan that would:
-- set aside funding for pilot programs with local organizations and other partners that would address community safety, equity, reconciliation and other racial justice and income inequality issues;
-- accelerate and expand intervention and prevention work to restore peace in neighborhoods with high levels of violence;
-- reimagine public safety, starting with funding a 24-hour, unarmed crisis response pilot program so that mental health workers are dispatched to certain nonviolent 911 calls instead of police officers; and
-- protect the most vulnerable city employees from layoffs, particularly those hired through the city's Targeted Local Hire program.
The City Council voted on Dec. 8 to move forward with recommendations to try to pull Los Angeles out of a potential $675 million revenue shortfall this year, and layoffs of city employees were on the table.
Garcetti said in his letter to council members that he wants to ensure that potential layoffs do not disproportionately affect employees hired through the Targeted Local Hire program, and he called for protecting them in the next spending plan.
Garcetti called the City Council's current spending plan “more business-as-usual'' as opposed to the fundamental change that Angelenos are ready for.
City Council President Nury Martinez said she was “shocked by the mayor's veto on a package of long overdue community driven investments for disenfranchised neighborhoods that came after months of discussions with city leaders and community members.''
“Residents from Black and Brown communities told us they needed more from their city, and this package is one step forward in that process,'' Martinez said. “Core repairs and services sound basic to those who have always had them.
“From re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated community members, to street repairs and park improvements -- this spending plan would deliver the kind of basics our communities never had, and never got back to. The City Council will continue to lead and honor our commitments to our communities as we find a path forward. This is only the beginning.''
Regarding the redirected funds potentially being used for park improvements, street resurfacing, tree trimming and other repair and beautification initiatives, Garcetti told the Los Angeles Times: “Don't get me wrong, it's critically important to someone's quality of life, but I don't think people hit the streets for us to fix the sidewalks. They hit the streets for us to get out there and make some lasting change.''