A dozen public health clinics, youth sports leagues and job-training programs were guaranteed funding in next year's Los Angeles city budget, after an impassioned appeal Wednesday by Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg.
Goldberg also led a successful campaign--on the third day of City Council deliberations of Mayor Richard Riordan's proposed budget--to demand continuation of a $1-million project that provides mentors for troubled young people.
Social services and community programs took center stage in the daylong session, with several other council members winning money for special projects.
Harbor-area Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr. had $50,000 set aside to plan for decorative lighting on the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro--as an official "gateway" to the city. Councilman Joel Wachs, an avid art collector, set aside $25,000 to subsidize a program that provides occasional free night-time admissions to the Museum of Contemporary Art. And South-Central Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas locked up $38,000 for the Central Recovery and Development Project, a night basketball league that takes hard-core gang members off the street.
The council tabled or sent to committee dozens of items deemed to cut too deeply into a small $30-million reserve fund.
The lawmakers are expected to conclude deliberations today and to formally return the $4.3-billion budget package to the mayor next week. Riordan will then have five days to veto any additions.
Discussions that had droned on for the entire day Wednesday reached a sudden emotional crescendo in late afternoon, when Goldberg pleaded for continuation of the mentoring program.
The Hollywood-area councilwoman argued that Riordan's proposal to increase the Department of Water and Power's contribution to the city treasury by $75 million would not be as painless as the mayor's office had suggested. She said a $1-million DWP mentor program would have to be dropped to make the transfer, leaving troubled teen-agers without positive alternatives to gangs and drugs.
When several council members suggested that the budget could be thrown out of balance by such spending, Goldberg responded angrily: "These transfers have real-life consequences."
The council then agreed to direct the DWP to maintain the mentor program. And a short time later, Goldberg got her colleagues to approve continued expenditures of $560,000 for a host of other programs.
Among the organizations whose funding was guaranteed were: Chinatown Service Center ($25,800), Gay and Lesbian Community Service Center ($75,000), Venice Family Clinic ($50,000), Clinica Romero ($60,000), Los Angeles Free Clinic ($100,000) and Los Angeles Federation of Senior Citizens ($10,000).