Los Angeles officials are trying to mobilize opposition to the federal Gramm-Rudman budget reduction law, complaining that it could eliminate many city programs, ranging from a new sewage treatment plant to meals for elderly people who are confined to their homes.
But a meeting on the controversial measure Tuesday evening drew only about 40 people to the Reseda Senior Multi-Purpose Center, about half of them government officials. Most of the rest administer programs that receive public funds.
Los Angeles City Council members Joy Picus and David Cunningham urged the audience to write letters to their U. S. senators protesting the budget-reduction law and to attend a rally Friday at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles.
The officials said they do not know how much money Los Angeles will lose because of Gramm-Rudman, which is designed to balance the federal budget by 1991. The first phase of the law calls for moderate reductions, followed in later years by "devastating cuts" of several hundred million dollars, Cunningham said.
'We Have to Mobilize'
"We have to mobilize now because we can't bear this burden," Cunningham said. "First, the federal legislators asked for our blood, and now they're asking for the marrow in our bones."
The meeting was the third of four that city officials have planned to tell residents about services that may be cut under Gramm-Rudman and how city tax increases may be the only alternative to restore those services, Picus said.
Douglas Ford, general manager of the city's Community Development Department, said more than 35 programs could be eliminated by the law in the San Fernando Valley, affecting more than 20,000 people.
But nearly half of the people in attendance Tuesday evening represented such programs and didn't need to be told to be worried.
"You know, I feel like I'm preaching to the converted," said Dixie Henrikson, director of Activities for Retarded Children, a small Studio City program that receives about $50,000 annually to care for retarded children on Saturdays while their parents run errands. "I feel like we've been helped so much, and now it's being taken away. . . . It's just not right."