In a September 2, 2020 L.A. Times Op-ed piece (“Los Angeles Is Going Off a Fiscal Cliff. This Is No Time to Give Pay Raises to the Police,” Councilman Mike Bonin writes that the police union is not negotiating with the City.
He warns that because the City will have a $600 million budget shortfall, the police need to forego raises.
“What’s on the chopping block? For starters, basic services, such as street resurfacing, adding traffic signals, sidewalk repair and maintaining parks and seasonal pools. What else? All the programs people have demanded in response to the real pain being felt by our neighbors: spending for affordable housing, renter assistance, lunch programs for our seniors and small-business support.,” Bonin writes.
He adds, “But that’s not all. The budget cuts will mean reduced emergency preparedness for wildfires and earthquakes, slow the purchase of Los Angeles Fire Department equipment and will cut gang intervention and youth development programs. The furloughs will increase cybersecurity risks. The cuts are an assault on public safety.”
In his latest monthly newsletter to constituents, Bonin writes: “Because the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) refuses to discuss delaying raises, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is beginning preparations to lay off hundreds of police officers. The action will dismantle units that patrol heavily populated and visited areas, like our beaches and nearby neighborhoods, and make deep cuts in detective bureaus investigating robbery and homicide.”
Let’s review. In July, Councilman Bonin joined his City Council colleagues in voting to cut the LAPD budget by $150 million, which resulted in the dissolution of the sexual assault unit, the animal cruelty task force, and reductions in air support, the Metropolitan division, gangs and narcotics and commercial crimes.
In a November Los Angeles magazine piece (“What We Know So Far about the LAPD’s Dramatic Cost-Cutting Measures”), LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission that LAPD’s ranks, which once amounted to 10,100 sworn officers, has shrunk to 9,854 and will be further reduced to 9,750 by March or April 2021 (the cuts are coming not through layoffs, but rather retirements, with openings left unfilled).
“There is a means of trying to minimize the impact of 350 fewer people, but there are 350 fewer people,” Moore told the commission.
Bonin complained in his Op-Ed that the police were not open to negotiating and that they were the only municipal group that was not cooperating.
In a December story, CTN reported: “The city’s firefighter union received a 4.75% pay increase on July 5 and is poised to receive another 3% next summer. And the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents a half-dozen non-sworn employee groups, is slated to receive a 2% raise in January and another 2% in June.”
The Coalition of L.A. City Unions is part of SEIU 721(Service Employees International Union) and includes Local 901 (City Recreation and Park Officials), Local 2006 (steel workers), Local 2626 (librarians), Local 3090 (5,000 City Clerical and Support Services employees), Local 3672 (communication workers), Local 741 (painters, stage building and construction trade), the Service Employees International Union, Local 721 (95,000 workers in hospitals, foster care, courts, libraries, street services, beach maintenance, sanitation water treatment and parks services), Local 501 (International Union of Operating Engineers), Localal 777 (Laborers International Union of North America), the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council; and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 911.
As much as I love our town’s library (which hasn’t been open in nine months) and our librarians and the Recreation and Parks staff, which hasn’t been able to run any programs, these city employees didn’t have to cope with rioters, who destroyed enormous amounts of property during the summer.
Most city workers don’t have to worry that their lives are in danger just by putting on a uniform and showing up for work. Not many people take potshots at a librarian checking out a book.
I sent an email to Bonin’s office in December and asked about the raises for the firefighters and the Coalition of L.A. City Unions. His Deputy Chief of Staff David Graham-Caso responded: “Regarding your questions about the pay scale increases that were approved prior to the pandemic and economic collapse — though details vary depending on each MOU, furloughs and other cost-saving measures will more than nullify any increases due to civilian employees in the foreseeable future.”
In his January 12 message to constituents, Bonin concluded, “Faced with a record $600 million budget shortfall, other city employee unions have made the choice to negotiate shared sacrifice; they have looked out for the needs of our neighborhoods, our residents and our small businesses. As a result, other departments are not facing layoffs. But our largest union, representing 9,900 sworn officers, refuses to even talk with the City.”
Hmm. Cut the police budget by $150 million, which results in more than 350 police officers disappearing from the force and you complain LAPD won’t talk with you?
So maybe seasonal pool workers will forego a raise, and you want police to do the same? LAPD personnel go to work every day and there is no guarantee they will return home at the end of the day.
Councilman Bonin, you’re looking for cuts in the wrong place, because there are bad people who use guns and sometimes a police officer is the only person between us and them.