Certain Los Angeles City Council members ought to take their lead from Ernani Bernardi, a real penny pincher when it comes to city money.
As Times staff writers Victor Merina and Richard Simon reported Tuesday, based on a review of fiscal documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, several members of council are spending beyond their generous budgets, then quietly raiding the budgets of city departments, where a councilman's wish is often interpreted as a command.
The Council spent the $11.6 million budgeted for salaries and expenses last year and then another $680,000 with no questions asked, no public reporting required. The Council ought to face the same tight budget controls and the same audits that regulate non-elected city officials. They should also be required to disclose what they spend in one, easy-to-follow and detailed summary of council expenses.
No one is accusing the Council of thievery, but Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores believes a system that allows members to hide their extra expenses is dishonest. She is correct. The deception and the budget-busting must end.