Will Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council adopt or put into effect… (Los Angeles Times )
Two years ago, when city leaders were finally coming to terms with the fact that they were out of money and might have to impose layoffs and service cuts, they began to scramble for alternatives. One was to rail about the poor job Los Angeles does collecting money it is owed, and about various inefficiencies and money-squandering practices — and to set up a commission to study what to do about it.
The rub is that the panel actually did its work, producing eight reports with dozens of recommendations. Will Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council adopt or put into effect any of the ideas? They should — although it's not a good omen that the Commission on Revenue Efficiency's final report is to be delivered Thursday morning not inside City Hall to a crowd of welcoming officials but outside, at a news conference called by the commission's seven members.
Reports like these are easy for elected officials to order up, but they seek cover when it's time to put the new ideas into place. One of the commission's recommendations has been out and public and supposedly in process for months: Simply appoint one person to shepherd collection of the half-billion dollars the city is owed — or whatever portion is collectible. But, like prosperity, the appointment seems perpetually just around the corner and never actually here. The commission found numerous other recommendations, already approved by the City Council, that haven't been enacted.
Controller Wendy Greuel no doubt feels the commission's pain. On Tuesday, she reported that the city spent $700,000 more than it should have on commodities. If it's like many of her audits, it will sink into the City Hall mire instead of being swiftly acted on.
The solutions aren't always simple. For example, Greuel faults the city for not always getting the best possible price for goods, while the commission takes issue with the failure to stoke the local job market by buying local, even when doing so may cost a bit more. But the two paths are not necessarily at odds. The people of Los Angeles need to know that their mayor and City Council — or the candidates who are seeking to fill those offices next year — can use the numerous studies and audits to make the city a more efficient and prosperous place.