Each councilmember receives a pot of money that he/she can use for special projects in his/her district, and at his/her discretion.
The money comes from oil pipeline franchise fees, real property trust funds revenues and street furniture revenues. A fourth source is officeholder accounts, and each councilmember can raise up to $107,000 each year.
This initially came to light in June because it was suggested that since there wasn’t funding for police for the Pacific Palisades beach detail, Bonin could use some of his funding to help cover those costs.
District 5’s Paul Koretz spent $100,000 on LAPD ($30,000 on overtime in Wilshire, and $30,000 in West L.A., $10,000 in the West Valley and Pacific divisions, and $20,000 along Melrose) and Councilman Joe Buscaino directed nearly $1.3 million in District 15 funds toward police overtime to address crime.
Bonin’s office responded for a June 21 story (https://www.circlingthenews.com/discretionary-funding-transparency-sought-bonin-uses-his-for-homeless/), “The budget for the Los Angeles Police Department is at a record high, dwarfing expenditures for everything else in the city. For the remainder of Councilmember Bonin’s time in office, he is focusing use of his discretionary dollars on efforts to address the homelessness crisis and on strategies to prevent homelessness. He is funding shared housing programs and organizations doing outreach and providing casework to unhoused individuals, and he is providing money to groups working to prevent homelessness and support people at risk of homelessness, such as tenants, foster youth, and survivors of domestic violence.”
CTN reached out to Erin Darling and Tracy Parks, who are running for his seat in November, and asked how they would spend discretionary funds.
“To answer your question: homelessness is at crisis levels, and I agree with using discretionary funds to help address the homelessness crisis. As you point out, it isn’t exactly clear how the funds have been spent so it is difficult to take a small universe of examples and point out everything I would do differently.
“But here is what I would do that is different,” Darling said. “I would focus the discretionary funds to maximize the number of people we can help transition out of encampments and into shelter, housing and services. The focus must be getting people out of encampments, off the streets, and indoors where they can receive necessary services and treatment; we should not keep pushing people from one street corner to the next.”
“First and foremost, I would widely publicize my intention to solicit discretionary-funding proposals exclusively from nonprofit organizations that serve CD11 neighborhoods. This process must be transparent, and the organizations chosen in this competitive process must be held accountable for how they use the money they receive,” Park said. “These are tax dollars, and I will not use them to reward political allies/friends. It also might be the case that I would prioritize start-up programs that would increase CD 11’s public service resources instead of simply subsidizing existing, successful programs.
“I would welcome a wide variety of proposals, including but not limited to, programs:
- To serve the district’s homeless population. For example, the successful Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) could be a model for creating similar community-based programs in other parts of CD 11 that quickly identify and compassionately address the needs of the unhoused.
- To assist at-risk youth, including gang members, obtain mentoring support, job-training, graduate from high school or obtain a GED or CHSPE certification/diploma. The HELPER Foundation is one example of such a program but there are others.
- To enrich our neighborhoods with community art projects.
- To mitigate the impacts of climate change, for example, like Verdant Venice Group which is engaged in increasing our urban forestry especially in low-income neighborhoods.
- To improve the overall business environment for small businesses.”
(Editor’s note: How much discretionary money does each council district receive? When CTN sent a request to the City Clerk’s office for the amount, CTN received a copy of the City budget. If CTN has a reader that can discern how much each district receives from the budget . . .)