When Duty Calls, The Los Angeles City Council Doesn’t Listen

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Over half the City’s 2009-10 budget goes to support employees in 37 budgetary departments. The City Council voted for that budget, and based on Charter Section 242(b), it has a significant role to play in the management of those employees. But for the past 9 years and 4 months, the Council has failed or refused to honor that role. Consider.
Sec. 242. Conduct of Business.
(b): “The City Council, by ordinance or resolution, shall establish a sufficient number of committees to enable it to carry out its duties. The duty of the Council and its committees is to become fully informed of the business of the City so as to oversee all the functions of the City government, and to report to the Council any information or recommendations necessary to enable the Council to properly legislate…”
Based on Charter Section 242(b), reasonable residents would agree that the City Council is required to do three things: 1), become fully informed of the City’s business; 2), over- see all the functions of the City government; and 3), legislate appropriately. Reasonable residents would also agree that Council Committees are required to send the Council information or recommendations it needs to legislate.
But since July 1, 2000 (the day the new City Charter became effective), 3 law-breaking mayors—with help from the Council’s Personnel Committee—trampled Charter provisions governing personnel management. More specifically, those 3 mayors degraded the Board of Civil Service Commissioners and usurped its powers. And while all this lawlessness was going on, the Council sat and watched!
Currently, the Council’s Personnel Committee is chaired by Dennis P. Zine. Although he’s a retired  Police Officer, Zine does not appear to be “unduly burdened by principle.” He helped law-breaking mayors undermine the foundation of City government. He also helped them cover-up illegal activities that expanded the powers of the mayor’s office, as well as his own.
Chairman Zine seems not to take his Section 242 duties seriously. He’s clearly not well-informed about the City’s personnel function. And as Chairman of the Personnel Committee, he’s repeatedly refused to acknowledge major problems in the City’s management of employee performance. And so far as could be determined, Zine doesn’t inform the Council when he receives proposals to correct those problems.
Given his law enforcement background, Chairman Zine might be expected to insist that relevant civil service regulations be followed. Yet, he accepts and defends the violation of Charter Sections 541 and 1019(a). Those two provisions vest the Board of Civil Service Commissioners with enforcement, investigative and oversight powers. Violating those provisions stifles the Board; it turns the Board into a toothless tiger. That seems not to bother the Chairman. Nor does it concern him that the continued violation of Civil Service Rule 1.26, lets City departments mismanage employees and waste tax dollars.
But enough about Chairman Zine! He’s just one of 15 Council Members, all of whom know what’s happening at City Hall. They’re all aware that the Charter is being trashed—that the City’s civil service system has been dismantled. Moreover, all Councilmembers are aware that City employees are under-utilized and that scarce City revenues are wasted. Yet, to date, not a single one of those “Honorable” Councilmembers has had the guts to stand up for the people they claim to represent!
BY VIOLATING SECTION 242(b), COUNCIL IS BETRAYING THE PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES! Samuelmsperling@yahoo.com  (626)576-8396

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