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City Council rejects LAPD hiring freeze

April 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A divided L.A. City Council rejected a proposed hiring freeze for the Los Angeles Police Department Wednesday. Despite a critical budget situation, the council approved more officers.

There won't be a hiring freeze at the LAPD. Despite a desperate budget situation, the city council voted to let the LAPD continuing hiring. However, the council decision didn't come easy. It also involved the DWP.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck got to the city council early Wednesday to defend his department against a proposed hiring freeze.

The man who proposed the freeze, councilman Paul Koretz, was being lobbied to pull back his proposal. And he did pull the freeze off the table because his colleagues wouldn't support him.

"But I am committed to maintaining public safety in the city, and if we renege on that 9963, we are jeopardizing the people of Los Angeles and we're putting a knife in the back of the chief of police," said councilman Dennis Zine.

"On the police hiring, I also believe that we should hire to attrition. It was a commitment that, as Mr. Zine said, we have made with our chief," said councilman Jose Huizar.

In the meantime, it was announced a deal was in the works with the Department of Water and Power. The city-owned utility has been refusing to transfer $73 million to the city, money the city needs to balance its budget.

The city will give the DWP a total 0.6-percent rate increase. The DWP is expected to go along.

Councilwoman Jan Perry voted against it. "I don't feel comfortable making a deal and not including the ratepayers in the public process," said Perry.

Perry was in the minority. The council wanted the long fight with the DWP and over the budget on the way to better health.

Council president Eric Garcetti thinks it also will lead to new leadership and city control of the DWP.

"Give us detail on what you are doing to go 'green,'" said Garcetti. "Don't just say, 'Trust us.' Telling who's leading this place. Tell us who the ratepayers' advocate is going to be and where he or she is going to rest, and move this forward, bring this to a close so we can get to the important business of doing the budget."

Next week there will be new numbers and budget projections, and Mayor Villaraigosa will reveal his proposed budget. The fighting can start all over again.

"I do not want the council to blindly support the police department. They shouldn't do that," said LAPD Chief Beck. "We should have this discussion. We should talk about the value of public safety."

The mayor, who helped work out the deal with the DWP, is now urging the DWP commissioners to support it, to pass it Thursday afternoon. If they don't, it all goes back to square one, but they do have a deal. The $73 million will be transferred some time in the near future.


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