Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan will have trouble delivering on two of his campaign promises, after a City Council vote Monday preserving the full-time Board of Public Works and the council's threat to reduce funding for the Hope in Youth anti-gang program.
The action came on the first day of deliberations on Riordan's $4.3-billion spending package. Several more amendments are expected today.
In daylong voting Monday, the council did not tamper with Riordan's central new initiative--hiring 450 more police officers. It voted to postpone the mayor's proposed consolidation of eight commissions and departments into two new super-agencies--for economic development and community services.
That action was expected. But what had remained most in doubt before Monday was the fate of the Board of Public Works and the Hope in Youth program--two ubiquitous issues during last year's mayoral campaign.
Riordan had promised to eliminate the board, saying it symbolized inflated bureaucracy and mayoral patronage. And regarding Hope in Youth, he told several cheering rallies that he would double funding to $5 million for what he said was a bold and innovative program to reduce gangsterism.
Although Monday's action is not final, it appears the council will not embrace either notion.
City lawmakers voted 10-5 to preserve the full-time Board of Public Works and restored to the budget more than $1 million to pay for the agency's operation.
The mayor's office did not adequately justify elimination of the board and left doubt about whether the public's ideas would be adequately heard through two part-time boards, several council members said.
Councilman Richard Alarcon called it "absolutely not true" that elimination of the board would save more than $1 million, saying the mayor's office had not calculated the cost of the extra bureaucrats needed to replace it.
Bill McCarley, the mayor's chief of staff, said Riordan is not fazed by the defeat. "I think a lot of people say they would like to eliminate the board, but they are not quite ready yet," McCarley said.
On the Hope in Youth program, the council deferred final action until today. But a majority of council members appeared inclined to scrap the mayor's plan for doubling the project's funding from $2.5 million to $5 million. Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg offered an alternative proposal that would allow any organization to submit a proposal for a portion of the $5 million.
Hope in Youth was established a year ago with grants from the city, county and state. It is sponsored by 10 religious denominations and four community organizations that pledged to have 480 social workers counsel potential gang members, their families and teachers.
Opponents, led by Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, said the program has been given more money than any other anti-gang effort, even though it has no track record. City officials who have monitored Hope in Youth said they have received inadequate information to assure that the program is meeting its objectives.
Hope in Youth organizers denied there are problems with the program, saying they are just getting started.
The City Council also voted to:
* Alter Riordan's tax-cut proposal. Instead of businesses being the sole beneficiary, with the removal of a 7 1/2% surcharge on business taxes, the committee voted to cut the business surcharge in half and to reduce a residential refuse fee. The cut means homeowners would pay $54, a savings of $18, and renters would pay $36, a savings of $12. Business groups had opposed the change, saying the full 7 1/2% reduction is needed to promote economic growth.
* Increase staffing at more than 35 recreation centers so doors can remain open 38 hours a week, instead of 25. A $4-million increase in funding for the Recreation and Parks Department also provides staffing for new parks and permits restroom cleaning seven days a week.
* Stave off cuts in library service by adding 37 employees. The added expenditure of $2.9 million will assure that there is staff for a homework program, literacy tutoring and research assistance, and for three new libraries in the San Fernando Valley.
* Continue funding a nearly $1-million-a-year Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau campaign overseas to promote travel to Los Angeles.
* Reduce purchases of supplies by $10 million, after reports by Councilman Joel Wachs that the city has been paying more than retail prices for many items.