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Some city officials take voluntary pay cuts

September 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The budget crisis in L.A. has prompted many city officials and staff members to volunteer for a salary cut. But not everyone is willing to make the sacrifice.Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says he's taking a 16-percent pay cut to lead by example. Thousands of city workers have taken pay cuts, along with no raises.

As of Thursday, 10 Los Angeles City Council members have volunteered to share the pain. Five council members have refused to cut their own pay. That includes one councilman who gets a $265,000 yearly city pension on top of his salary.

Councilman Bernard Parks stood stoically behind Villaraigosa as the mayor answered a question about why he volunteered for a pay cut. In Villaraigosa's case: two years of 16 percent cuts. He thinks it's important to lead by example.

"We should all share in the sacrifice. We should all take responsibility for a more sustainable budget," said Villaraigosa.

Parks is also former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, with nearly 40 years with the department. The pension he earned brings in approximately $22,000 per month. He makes nearly $179,000 per year as a councilman.

Asked if he thought he share the burden, Parks replied: "I think all of us have an ability to show leadership in the best way we can."

Four of Parks' colleagues on the city council also believe that voluntary pay cuts are not the way to show leadership. So far they've refused to take pay cuts.

Ten council members are taking voluntary cuts, seven of them, like council president Eric Garcetti, have cut their pay 10 percent. Included in that number is another former cop, councilman Dennis Zine. According to the controller three council members, including the two women, Jan Perry and Janice Hahn, have only volunteered for 5 percent cuts.

One of the 10-percenters is a relative newcomer: councilman Paul Krekorian.

"Both I and my senior staff have agreed to voluntary pay cuts and furloughs. In addition to that, my office has surrendered 100 percent of the staff cars that were allocated to my office," said Krekorian.

Parks said his staff works seven days a week, 80 hours, with no overtime or extra pay for the extra days.

There is only one other councilperson drawing a pension: Dennis Zine. Zine said he gives $40,000 a year to various charities. He thinks it's his duty to do some good with his council salary and the pension money he gets from the city.

Asked if he had considered charity donations, Parks replied: "I do, I have a great charity. Her name is Bobbie Parks and I contribute to her daily."

Bobbie Parks is the councilman's wife.

Also not volunteering for a pay cut is L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

The person in charge of monitoring the city spending is L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel. She is taking a 7-percent pay cut.


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