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L.A. council backs a pay cut for many city workers, blocks request to target LAPD raises

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin cast the lone vote against furloughs, arguing that they would force LAPD officers off patrol and into desk duties.

By DAVID ZAHNISER,DAKOTA SMITH

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The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to seek furloughs for more than 15,000 city workers, despite warnings that the move would harm critical city services and push police officers out of patrol cars and into desk duties.

Council members approved a declaration of fiscal emergency, which helps clear the way for many civilian city employees to receive one unpaid day off every two weeks — a 10% pay cut. Councilman Mike Bonin cast the lone vote against the furloughs, saying they would force LAPD officers to pick up some of the work of their furloughed co-workers, reducing the number of neighborhood patrols and slowing police response times.

Bonin asked his colleagues to first instruct the city’s negotiators to start the process of meeting with the Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, and present a proposal for delaying their scheduled raises and bonuses. That effort should begin before the furloughs go into effect, he said.

“There are some people who want more policing. There are some people who want less policing,” Bonin said. “But I don’t know that there’s anybody who wants us to be paying more to the LAPD for less policing.”

The council rejected that proposal on a 9 to 3 vote after the city’s top budget official said negotiators are seeking savings from every employee union, including the league.

“We’re going to need to talk to all of our labor partners — civilian and sworn — and we have already started those discussions about how to solve the gap,” City Administrative Officer Richard Llewellyn told the council.

Councilmen Herb Wesson and Marqueece Harris-Dawson supported Bonin’s push to ask the police union to defer its new raises and bonuses, which are part of a three-year contract that’s expected to add $123 million to this year’s budget. But both also voted in favor of the furlough program, which will not apply to police officers, firefighters, nurses and librarians, among others.

LAPD union officials have previously said they cannot be forced to give up their raises and have no intention of doing so. On Wednesday, the league criticized Bonin for singling them out, noting that the council already cut the LAPD by $150 million in July, taking the department down to 9,757 officers — its lowest level since 2008.

In a statement, the union’s board pointed out Bonin voted last year to approve the raises.

“He’s having a tough time keeping track of all his flip-flops when it comes to public safety,” the union board said. “He voted to pay a competitive wage to police officers to recruit and retain them, and now wants to cut their pay to help his political ambitions.”

The debate over spending comes as the city faces its worst financial crisis since the last recession. Shutdowns following the outbreak of COVID-19 have left the city with additional costs and lower-than-expected tax revenue. Added to those pressures are a series of more expensive employee salary agreements.

Under the contract with the league, rank-and-file officers are on track to receive a combined 4.8% increase over the current fiscal year, which began July 1. The first of the union’s two raises — 1.5% — went into effect July 5. Another 3.25% is due in January.

On Wednesday, the council agreed to offer eligible workers up to $80,000 to retire, an effort expected to save $13 million. Meanwhile, LAPD officers are not alone in receiving raises during the ongoing budget crunch.

The city’s firefighter union received a 4.75% pay increase on July 5 and is poised to receive another 3% next summer, according to a city memo. The Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents a half-dozen civilian city employee groups, is slated to receive a 2% raise in January and another 2% in June.

Bonin said he is not seeking to have either the coalition or the firefighters union postpone or give up their raises. The LAPD is the “big kahuna,” he said, since it consumes more than half the city’s unrestricted funds.

“I wouldn’t support asking for concessions from the firefighters in Los Angeles,” he said. “Right now, they are the front lines of our battle against climate change and we have had a ... history in Los Angeles of decimating the Fire Department.”

Bob Schoonover, president of Service Employees International Union Local 721, made clear his union intends to keep fighting the pay cuts.

“We know the furloughs are illegal under our labor contracts and we will vigorously fight to defend our front-line heroes,” he said in a statement.

LA Sports (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
LA Sports (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

With LA Sports thriving right now, what has been the best year for the city in their storied history?

By the end of Saturday evening the sports landscape in Southern California seemed to ramp up overnight, sports fans who for many months didn’t get watch live sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic must have felt like it was Christmas in August.

During the day LAFC and the LA Galaxy re-started their MLS regular season facing off at Banc of California Stadium, while the Los Angeles Dodgers were reigning over the National League West with a walk-off home run, and the Los Angeles Lakers were asserting their control over their first playoff series since 2013.

With the Lakers, Clippers, and Dodgers all in position to bring home a title, this strange and terrible year could be filled with championship rings. If that happens it could turn out as a great sports year in Southern California.

The possibilities do bring up the question, what were the greatest years in Southern California sports.

Los Angeles Coronavirus Update: City Declares “Fiscal Emergency,” Furloughs Mayor Eric Garcetti Along With 15,000 City Employees Due To Pandemic

“This is quite a day and quite a time,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the beginning of his news conference on Wednesday.

Earlier in the afternoon, the L.A. City Council voted to declare a fiscal emergency and approved plans to furlough more than 15,000 city employees. It also voted to carry out early retirement buyouts for another 1,280 employees to try to recoup as much anticipated lost revenue as possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each pay period’s furloughs of city employees represents a savings of $5.79 million, or $104.2 million in fiscal year 2020-2021, according to city documents. The council may still have to find additional savings.

The furloughs, which equate to about 10% of an employee’s annual salary, are set to begin Oct. 11.

Related Story

Los Angeles County Coronavirus Update: Some Students Allowed To Return To School As Health Officials Warn Of Looming Flu-COVID

City Council members said without implementing the furloughs, they would have to consider laying off employees.

Asked if he would be furloughed Garcetti said, “The furloughs apply to us as well as all city employees. That effects us directly as civilian employees, including those who work in our office. So, yes.”

Garcetti also said he gave up 2 months salary earlier in the year at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I absolutely believe that we have to lead by example and we can’t ask more from folks than we’re willing to do ourselves,” said the mayor. He noted that this will be “the same as we did in 2009.”

But unlike 2009, “This will be the toughest budget year we have ever faced,” he said.

Revenues for the 2021 fiscal year are currently difficult to forecast due to the pandemic, with the City Administrative Officer’s staff reporting they could come in anywhere between $45 million to $409 million below the estimate of $6.68 billion.

City Administrative Officer Richard Llewellyn estimated that Los Angeles has already lost more than $50 million, while noting that revenue projections were based on the economy reopening more fully by July than has occurred.

“We know now … that the best-case scenario ain’t gonna happen,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. “So that means … even after we enact furloughs, we’re still going to have a shortfall in revenues that’s going to have to be accommodated.”

Although Los Angeles is set to receive about $694 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds, that money cannot be used to replenish lost revenues, only to respond to the pandemic.

For the early retirement program, the city set a minimum 1,300 participation number, but the council voted to get rid of that requirement as the number of those volunteering to retire came up just short. City staff estimates the buyouts could save the Los Angeles an additional $13 million.

“We can’t sit and hope that Washington will ride to the rescue,” Krekorian said. “We can’t hope that we can reopen negotiations with labor, and within a month, get a solution that is going to save hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s unrealistic and we have to do the realistic thing of acting on these furloughs so that we don’t have to act on worse-(case) scenarios in a few months, because I can guarantee you that if we don’t, we will be faced with choices that are much harder.”

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times, Councilman Mike Bonin laid out a proposal for the council to defer raises and bonuses for the Los Angeles Police Department’s union members.

“These police union raises are forcing budget cuts that will make Los Angeles less healthy, less secure and considerably less safe,” Bonin said. “Los Angeles cannot adequately protect, serve, or provide for its residents with these cuts and furloughs.”

According to Bonin, members of the police union are getting a 4.8 percent raise, plus $41 million in new educational bonuses, totaling about $123 million this fiscal year. LAPD officers will get an additional raise in 2022. Meanwhile, cuts to the salaries of other city employees through furloughs will “sharply reduce city services, including public safety programs,” he said.

Llewellyn said any adjustments to the early retirement program or the furloughs would have to be renegotiated with the city’s labor union — something that Los Angeles doesn’t have time to do amid looming budget deadlines, but he said further discussions could take place with certain departments on how to find additional savings.

“Our labor partners came to us and said, ‘We think we should look at a separation plan as sort of a long-term structural assistance with the choppy waters we were heading into potentially for several years,'” Llewellyn said. “Nobody likes furloughs and nobody likes separation plans, nobody likes service cuts, but the separation plan seems to be a reasonable way to proceed.”

Bonin’s deferral motion failed to get support, and he also failed to convince his colleagues to exempt Emergency Management Department employees from furloughs.

You can watch Mayor Garcetti’s news conference here.

Killing of Dijon Kizzee by L.A. County deputies in Westmont sparks outrage, grief

Los Angeles Times,

Ellina Abovian, and Wendy Burch

Anthony Johnson spent Tuesday morning cleaning blood from the sidewalk where his nephew was shot and killed by two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies the day before.

It was a familiar scene for some in the Westmont neighborhood — Dijon Kizzee was the second man in three months to be killed by deputies within a block.

“Right now, I’m sad, and I’m mad at the same time,” Kizzee’s aunt Fletcher Fair said. “Why us? … We are tired. We are absolutely tired.”

Many questions remain about what led to the shooting of Kizzee, 29, who relatives said was visiting the South L.A. neighborhood from his home in Lancaster.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

An L.A. County sheriff’s deputy stands behind a caution tape as a group of mourners stand on the other side after the deputy killing of Dijon Kizzee in the Westmont neighborhood on Aug. 31, 2020. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

FBI investigating pilot's report of 'guy in jetpack' flying 3,000 feet in air near planes at LAX

By Phil Shuman

File photo of a person with a jetpack. (Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
File photo of a person with a jetpack. (Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
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Tap to see full image

LOS ANGELES - The FBI will be investigatingan incident that took place near Los Angeles International Airport after an American Airlines pilot reported seeing a mystery person in a jetpack flyingin the path of incoming jets Sunday evening.

"The FBI is aware of the reports by pilots on Sunday and is working to determine what occurred," a spokesperson told FOX 11 on Tuesday.

The American Airlines pilot reported via radio to the control tower seeing a "guy in a jetpack" as he was approaching LAX at about 3,000 feet and ten miles outfor a landing. In the video on this story, you can listen to the actual call to the control tower.

A second pilot also saw the incident. The plots reporting it using 'visual flight rules',meaning there was plenty of visibility, and it wasn't dark at the time.

Based on research, jetpacks can fly that high but is pretty uncommon. There's an assumption that peoplewith the technical and financial ability to fly at this extreme height and near an airportwould also understand the regulations around flying in LAX'sflight path.

One theory suggests that the incident couldbe an internet or social media stunt.

No one has come forward to say they wereflying a jetpack, and normally the promotional or fun videos we’ve seen of them are much lower in the sky, aimed at vacationers or thrill-seekers who blast off with a pack attached to their backs for a few seconds of low-level flight.

RELATED: Stories related to Los Angeles International Airport

Efforts to find out more from the pilot went nowhere, and representatives from American Airlines told FOX 11 to contact the FAA.The FAA saidthey turned the report over to the LAPD for investigation, possibly trying to locate the person via a helicopter or ground patrol. The LAPD says they performed a flyover in the area but were not able to locate anyone that matched that description.

Two retired pilots who currently teach and consult on aviation safety say they would absolutely believe the pilot in that situation, given their trained eyesand visual awareness.

The pilot estimated the jetpack was only about 300 yards out of his window.

For now, it’s a mystery on many levels. Some are suggestingit was a mylar balloon or a small helicopter. Years ago a man in a lawn chair flew aloft with dozens of helium balloons tied to it.

All this is a very puzzling and potentially dangerous mystery, as you can imagine the consequences of that kind of mid-air collision.

If you have any information related to this story, please call the LAPD.

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