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L.A. issues pink slips to 15 city workers

March 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Angeles has issued its first batch of pink slips as it prepares to cut up to 4,000 jobs to close a yawning budget gap.Thursday morning layoff notices were issued to 15 city workers.

The first layoff of the budget crisis is the person given much credit for making the historic Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro a tourist attraction.

Nearly eight month pregnant, Kristen Heather is the museum and historic site's first curator. She was told Thursday that in two weeks she no longer will have a job.

The mayor and City Council have called for the layoffs of thousands of city employees to balance the budget.

Meantime, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Controller Wendy Gruel ordered a citywide spending freeze on Thursday. The freeze means no department head can pay for much more than salaries until June 31.

Among the money saving measures they promote is decreasing things such as, contracted services, like the landscaping and tree trimming, at the lighthouse.

The mayor was in Washington D.C. Thursday on a taxpayer funded trip. Trips to lobby for the city apparently can bypass the spending freeze.

Meantime, Kristen Heather's supervisor would not let her talk on camera, but the lighthouse volunteers did. And they can't believe she's being laid off.

"There are other places they can cut, but not this place," said Marie Cooper, Point Fermin Lighthouse volunteer. "It's just been restored and open to the public which is nice."

"This is a very important facility," said Char Arno, Point Fermin Lighthouse volunteer. "I'm here every Sunday and there are hundreds of people that come here. They come from all over the country and all over the world."

Kristen Heather is one of the reasons the Point Fermin Lighthouse exists as a successful tourist attraction.

The lighthouse curator has a champion in City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

"I'm just asking our departments to make sure that we have cut every other place we can before we start laying off people who have such a direct connection to the public," said Hahn.

The lighthouse gets its money from the Port of Los Angeles not the taxpayers. But hundreds more Los Angeles city workers funded by taxpayers will soon start receiving their layoff notices.