A fight between Mayor Tom Bradley and the Los Angeles City Council appeared possible Tuesday over the council’s decision to double the mayor’s proposal for 100 more police officers.
Watching in disgust as council members added another $1.5 million to the $2.13-billion budget, part of it for pet projects in their own districts, Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, warned: “We’re spending like we don’t have a bottom of the pit.”
He expressed fear that the additional spending might cut down the amount of money available for police. “It makes it easy for the mayor to veto the whole thing,” Yaroslavsky said.
Wary of Plan’s Cost
Bradley appears wary of the cost of the council police plan. “The council only provided six months’ funding (for the officers),” said Anton Calleia, Bradley’s chief administrative assistant and his top budget adviser. “But it becomes an ongoing obligation.”
In submitting his budget, Bradley proposed expanding the number of authorized police officers from 6,900 to 7,000. The size of the department was a major issue in his recent reelection campaign, with challenger John Ferraro charging that the mayor had not done enough to enlarge the department.
Yaroslavsky’s committee rewrote Bradley’s request, proposing to increase the department to 7,100 officers at a cost of $2.6 million more than Bradley wants to spend.
Calleia, in an interview, said the council had not provided long-term financing for the pay and benefits of the extra officers.
That failure will be particularly significant next year if President Reagan is successful in eliminating federal revenue sharing, which will reduce city income, Calleia said.
“Our biggest concern is with the lack of revenue sharing,” he said. “When you have 100 extra police officers, that’s long-term cost. That was the reason for submitting the budget as it was, the rationale behind putting equipment (in the budget) instead of personnel.”
Reduction in Purchases
The council proposed to pay for the additional 100 officers partly by reducing equipment purchases, including such police items as new patrol cars.
Calleia also said the council decision to reduce promotions and leave jobs unfilled in other city departments to finance the police expansion was short-sighted. As an example, he criticized a $500,000 personnel reduction in the city clerk’s tax and permit section. “Taxes have to be collected,” Calleia said.
Bradley has the authority to veto individual items in the budget. For example, he could reduce the council’s police appropriation to what he originally wanted. It takes the votes of nine of the 15 council members to overturn a mayoral veto.
‘The Council’s Turn’
Asked if he thought the mayor would veto the police provision, Calleia said: “It is the council’s turn to work the budget. We’ll see what kind of a budget comes back to us.”
Yaroslavsky objected to Tuesday’s council additions to the budget after members voted overwhelmingly on several culturally oriented items and some that were clearly pet projects in individual districts.
Among them were appropriations for support of the Joffrey Ballet, the Afro-American Museum of History and Culture, the Public Works Improvisational Theatre, the Los Angeles Public Theatre at the Coronet, radio station KPFK, a personal computer for the San Fernando Valley planning staff, the Watts Community Beautiful Project, the Sylmar Community Parade, the Mission Hills Community Festival and additional custodians for City Hall.