Checks & Balances: Budgeting, Auditing, and a Sprinkling of Career Advice

A Budget Representing Our Principles

There’s never enough money in any City budget to fund everything that everyone wants. That’s why it’s crucial that we focus on key services, use the money that we do have effectively and make good choices about how the money is to be spent.

My office kicked off what we in City Hall call the “budget season” earlier this year with an annual forecast of revenues, a financial recap of last year, and a letter to City officials outlining my principles on opportunities to make our City government more business-like, efficient, and customer-focused. You can read my letter here.

Last month, the Mayor released his proposed L.A. City budget for fiscal year 2017-18. And, this month the City Council will adopt the new budget -- after holding hearings and making various adjustments. My office and I are keeping an eye out to make sure the City lives within its means -- and that other policymakers make the most informed decisions about how to spend your money. Here are the links to check out the Mayor’s proposed budget and to view the Council’s deliberations

Paths to Affordable Housing

We all agree that Los Angeles needs more affordable housing. By most measures, our City is one of the least affordable places for renters and homeowners -- and each year the problem becomes more acute. We need housing of all sorts, for low-income people, seniors, homeless, workforce housing and regular market-rate housing for everyone else.

There’s no one single solution -- but there are some clear ways to get more affordable housing. First and foremost, it comes down to supply and demand. We’re going to need to ramp up new housing construction -- particularly around public transit. We need a more sensible, consistent and predictable approval process. And L.A. needs to explore alternative housing models, like micro-units, and we should put some of the many properties the City owns to good use.

I’ve recently participated in various forums about housing -- including a program organized by the California Association of Realtors, the Milken Institute Global Conference, and several radio interviews. Check out the L.A. Daily News opinion piece about some of my recommendations, and my comments to Southern California Public Radio.

Tree Planting

I joined many of the City’s leading advocates of affordable housing at a tree planting on the South Lawn of City Hall to honor and remember the first director of the City Housing Department, Gary Squier. He made a difference for thousands of families by helping to create income-affordable apartments throughout L.A. in the 1980s and 1990s.

Should Close-Out Sales and Skating Rinks Need Special Police Permits?

The City requires special police permits of businesses that pose potential safety risks, such as pawnbrokers, ammunition vendors and key duplicators. More than 5,000 business in L.A. have permits issued by the Police Commission, in addition to their regular business permits. My office issued an audit questioning whether the City should require permits of all 59 categories of businesses it currently covers, including movie theaters, skating rinks and dancing clubs. The audit found spotty compliance among many types of businesses, with lax enforcement.

The Police Commission investigation division took up my recommendations and will look at whether to lift the permit requirements for some categories of businesses based on public-safety considerations. In addition, the Commission staff agreed to work toward a more business-friendly process that allows owners and operators to register and pay online.

Read coverage in the Los Angeles Business Journal here.

These Kids Have Class

Nothing could be more important than cultivating and encouraging the next generation of leaders. I spoke to the students at Birdielee V. Bright Elementary School for their Career Day. No matter what your career aspirations are, chances are there’s a City of Los Angeles job that matches your interest. We employ librarians, police officers, firefighters, accountants, road maintenance workers and many others among our 45,000 employees. And yes, we even have a few elected officials on our payroll.

The thank-you notes I received from students brought smiles to my face. Said one: “Maybe when I grow up I could use your advice for a job.” And another: “You are the first famous person that I’ve ever met.”

I also provided some information on my background and my thoughts on leadership to an eighth-grader at Bethune Middle School in the SPARK Program, which pairs students from underserved communities in seventh, eighth and ninth grades with mentors to help them succeed in high school and beyond.


Meetings and Greetings

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Speaking at Bishop Mora Salesian High School (top), with former U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Emerson and Councilmembers David Ryu and Paul Koretz at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (bottom left) and with Paul Chávez at the César Chávez Legacy Awards (bottom right).

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Left to right, top to bottom: Celebrating the birthday of civil-rights legend Dolores Huerta (center); with Shane Goldsmith, foundation president and CEO, at the Liberty Hill Foundation's 35th Annual Upton Sinclair Awards Dinner; celebrating Earth Day with fellow City officials; with Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell at the Los Angeles Police Museum’s annual dinner; with “bulky items” at Earth Day event.


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