I am a teacher, father to three girls, and husband living in Westchester, home of LAX. My wife and I just recently celebrated our 7th anniversary and look forward to seven more wonderful years together. Prior to teaching, I worked in the financial industry.
We chose to run for city council because our local politicians aren’t making good choices with our hard-earned taxes. We expect a better government, one that exists to serve our community with the quality of life we deserve. I believe that we can break the trend we’ve experienced this last decade, a trend where we pay more taxes and fees each year in order to receive fewer and fewer services.
I once held a job in the Department of Parks and Recreation. It was during my training as a teacher, something part time while I completed my teacher credential program. The site director who hired me was actually looking for an accountant, but the city had eliminated accountants for park sites five years earlier. Because I had experience working in mutual funds, I was hired to reconcile the books. What I found was shocking.
Over the course of that year, small and seemingly innocuous accounting errors accumulated into a massive swing for the site’s books from around $50,000 in the black to around $60,000 in the red.
I share this story to illustrate a point. No one was fired. More frightening, my site director laughed it off. You see, their budget isn’t tied to goals or benchmarks. Year after year, they’re allocated the same pile of money and the system is either too opaque for anyone to notice accounting failures or no one cares.
That’s why we need Performance Based Budgeting, because the money we give to the city is hard earned and should be spent to meet clearly stated benchmarks that serve to raise the quality of our lives. And the way our local government is compensated should be tied to those benchmarks.
We also need to create a pension system for our police and fire departments that is sustainable, not one that promises hard-working people payouts that aren’t realistic. Moreover, I believe that it’s immoral to let people risk their lives day in and day out under the false promises our local politicians have given them. It’s also wrong to perpetuate a broken system just because it serves you politically.
How bad is it? As it stands, pension costs consume $1 out of every $5 the city spends. In five years, that will rise to $1 out of every $2. After that, bankruptcy will end the pension system as we know it, leaving firefighters and police officers destitute in their old age.
I can’t stand by and let that happen, not to the residents who are constantly asked to pay more to increase the city’s revenue to cover the explosion in pension costs. And I can’t stand by while politicians curry favor with our public safety workers by promising them pensions that will bankrupt our city just as soon as that politician moves on to higher office. It’s wrong and unfair.
We can do better and my community should demand more. Los Angeles has tremendous assets in the people who live here, the industries that thrive here, and the potential for growth. Our local government is not currently working, but it’s not broken. We just have to change course, electing people who understand the challenges of raising a family in a Los Angeles that continues to struggle through a hard recession.
Join me and let’s make a government that puts people first, politics last.