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Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment eliminated

February 22, 2010 7:09:23 PM PST
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced new layoffs Monday as part of an effort to keep the city afloat. Monday's move is in addition to already-ordered cuts. As part of what is expected to be a major trimming of city departments, the mayor eliminated the /*Department of Neighborhood Empowerment*/, and along with it, 27 city employees. It will save the city $2 million as it tries to overcome a $212-million budget deficit this year and twice that next year.

The department's general manager, BongHwan Kim, is one of those losing his job.

"I am one of the thousands who face the prospect of losing their jobs," said Kim. "It's a very painful time for not just me, but for a lot of city employees."

His department will be consolidated with the /*Community Development Department*/. There are 90 neighborhood councils that meet and advise the city on how better to serve their neighborhoods. They tend to be active and passionate about their duties.

?*Councilman Dennis Zine*/ says the city needs to make serious cutbacks without cutting services too much.

"We need to consolidate and get down to the workers," said Zine.

The /*Los Angeles City Council*/ is looking at eliminating 3,000 positions. The mayor has already ordered the elimination of 1,000 jobs. Neighborhood empowerment is just part of the expected cutbacks.

"We're not cutting neighborhood councils we're cutting a bloated bureaucracy that spent too much time over-regulating the neighborhoods," said Matt Szabo, spokesman for the mayor.

The city council is also looking at forcing non-profits to pay more for renting city property. Currently, many only pay rent of a dollar a year. Nothing is being overlooked.

There are more than 40 city departments. By the time this is over and the budget is balanced, many of them will have gone the way of Neighborhood Empowerment.