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Garcetti, Greuel still dodging the big questions

Commentary

April 12, 2013|By Steve Lopez

Los Angeles has a looming budget deficit estimated at between just under $100 million and as high as $160 million.

A committee led by a former Clinton administration official has been convened to look for long-term cures for the budget headache.

And the city's chief administrative officer has warned that although revenues are increasing, they're being outpaced by spending, with personnel and retiree costs taking bigger bites out of the budget each year.

So all I wanted to hear from mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel in Thursday night's debate was this:

What exactly are they going to do about it?

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

It's a question they need to answer, not that they were asked it last night, though  we got to hear what they think about the state of animal shelters and a possible return of the NFL.

Not only have both these candidates made decisions on the City Council that helped create the deficit, but both have said they'd like to dump a business tax that brings in more than $400 million a year.

How does this add up?

It doesn't.

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Neither Garcetti nor Greuel would be the first politicians to avoid specifics in the heat of a campaign, but that's not good enough now. Not when Los Angeles has more than 8,000 miles of chuck-holed roadway and more than 5,000 miles of sidewalk cracked by untrimmed trees.

All right, so it was only the first debate. But it wasn't very satisfying, and reminded me too much of too many primary debates, in which the candidates parroted the same lines endlessly.

The city needs and deserves a detailed discussion focused on strategies and solutions, not safe performances punctuated with prepared bromides and useless generalities.

Can either of these candidates deliver?

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Steve.Lopez@latimes.com

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