In a previous “Trouble-Finder” column, I reported that the Los Angeles City Council seems willing to cut city services, but unwilling to cut 200 exempt council aides they’ve employed. Today’s column on the Mayor’s Office exposes the potentially corrupt use of exempt employees.
Now, determining the size of the mayor’s workforce and tracking his expenditures can be frustrating. One cannot be sure which, if any, of the available statistics are credible. Consider: The current city budget declares that the Mayor’s Office is authorized to fill 93 positions. Yet, an official report from the city controller indicates that the mayor’s workforce is more than twice that big.
According to the controller’s report on “exempt positions and compensations,” the mayor controls an exempt workforce which includes 16 deputy mayors, 2 chiefs of staff, 1 chief administrative assistant, 1 legislative representative, 1 chief legislative representative, and 180 mayoral aides.
But how are all those 201 exempt employees paid? According to the current city budget, the Mayor’s Office received a $7,904,807 appropriation for salaries. That’s hardly sufficient to pay a workforce of 201 employees. Moreover, according to the controller’s report, 29 of the 180 mayoral aides are described as “grant reimbursed.” Together, those 29 employees are paid $1,837,418. At that rate, the mayor would need a salaries appropriation of over $12,000,000! The question is, where’s the mayor getting the money to pay all his employees?
The figures just don’t add up! Nor does it make sense that city management — the mayor and the council — pursue their plan to reduce city services by cutting 4,000 civil service jobs out of next year’s budget while protecting exempt employees who were hired — NOT TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES, BUT TO SERVE THE OFFICIALS WHO APPOINT THEM!
It’s time for Mayor Villaraigosa to tell the truth about his excessive reliance on exempt positions. It’s time he proves the work his aides do actually serves a legitimate public purpose — that it benefits the people of Los Angeles. It’s time for the mayor to explain how his aides are selected, what, exactly, they are assigned to do, and how their work is supervised and appraised. And it’s time for the mayor to explain how his aides’ salaries are determined, where the money comes from, and why aides should be protected while city services and the workers who provide those services are cut out of the budget.
And while Mayor Villaraigosa explains his use of exempt aides, maybe he’d also be willing to comment on what may be called “GAS” in the current city budget. In each of the city’s budgetary departments, “general administration & support” includes, among other expenditures, the compensation of the department head and his/her assistants. The following figures were taken randomly from the controller’s report; they suggest another way to cut the budget WITHOUT cutting city services!
General Manager Animal Services—$170,000; Asst GM Animal Services—$159,147
Superintendent of Building—$211,994; 3 Deputy Superintendents of Building—$496,170
City Administrative Officer—$256,803; 3 Assistant CAOs—$541,652
General Manager Personnel Department—$220,284; 3 Assist Gen Managers—$496,170
General Manager Information Technology Agency—$241,122; 4 Assist GMs—$671,035