A generally friendly City Council on Tuesday overrode only two of Mayor Tom Bradley's 16 budget vetoes. The council also narrowly upheld Bradley's move to restore his Pride Lines bus program, but the plan still faces a battle when it comes to the council for final approval.
The council needed 10 votes to override any of Bradley's vetoes of previous council decisions on the budget. Council members Tuesday overwhelmingly sided with Bradley on most items, and the ones they bucked him on were relatively minor requests. They overrode his decision to cut funds for a public relations officer to handle police recruitment, and they rejected his plan to revive funds for a senior engineer to act as liaison with the council on high-priority projects.
The council split over a handful of items backed by Bradley, restoring them only after heated exchanges. Those items included Bradley's revival of $500,000 in funds for the first phase of a $1.5-million program to log every tree on city streets by species and address, and Bradley's request for $94,000 to add a fourth assistant general manager to the Department of General Services hierarchy.
The tree inventory program, which the Bureau of Street Maintenance claims is needed to help crews decide when to prune trees, was roundly criticized by several council members. Gloria Molina complained that it "just does not make sense . . . in a city that cannot afford to repair crumbling sidewalks or keep the streets clean." She was outvoted 10 to 5.
Lashed Out on Issue
On the issue of $94,000 to pay for an extra assistant general manager position, City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky lashed out at "the incredible ballooning of executive positions in this city" and said that when voters complain about fat government, "this is the fat they're talking about."
The high-end job was created after a management employee was promoted to temporarily fill the post. When that post was reassumed by the original executive, city officials said, the temporary employee and his superiors sought to hang onto his higher salary by getting a fourth position of equal responsibility created for him.
Yaroslavsky was joined by Councilman Nate Holden, who angrily noted that the General Services job, which includes overseeing maintenance in City Hall, is not much different in pay from Bradley's $97,654-a-year mayoral position.
2 Votes Short
"You don't need an assistant general manager to clean the floors," Holden boomed into his microphone. Eight council members voted to override the extra position, but that was two short of the votes needed.
On less contentious items, the council quickly agreed to the mayor's request for $250,000 to hire pollution experts to begin work on a city smog policy and to his earmarking of $287,765 for five new staff positions for his own office.
Despite the general atmosphere of consensus Tuesday, Yaroslavsky promised an uphill battle when Bradley's Pride Lines bus plan comes before the council for approval in the coming months.
Special Transit Programs
The $6.9-million program would use funds from a half-cent transit tax earmarked for special transit programs to hire youths for bus cleanup and to add buses to some routes.
Yaroslavsky said that using transit funds to clean up defaced city buses "is just not an appropriate use of transit money. . . . I don't think the city of L.A. should be bailing out RTD's poor management."
Molina and others argued, however, that the plan was badly needed. "This program goes a long way to meet transportation needs and offer an unemployment program to young people," Molina said.
Bradley issued a statement saying he was "pleased" that council upheld nearly 90% of his vetoes.