At an April 6 town hall meeting on the Los Angeles City budget for 2009-2010, those in attendance heard a constant reminder from the man answering the questions, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “Shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.”The meeting was organized by the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, a coalition of 11 neighborhood councils who are working on finding solutions to common problems. The topic of budget solutions was a preliminary to the Mayor’s State of the City address on April 14, and the presentation of the City budget on April 20.“These are the most difficult times our city has faced from a budget perspective,” said Villaraigosa. Stating that a budget solution based on cutting jobs only injures the economy more, because of the cuts to essential services necessitated by the job cuts, he promised to preserve as many jobs as possible through the “shared sacrifice” of pay cuts and deferred raises. “Every one of us will have to be part of the solution,” he concluded. “And it will begin with me.”Questions on the budget were fielded in seven categories, with only two or three questions per category. The Mayor had to leave at 7:30 p.m. but the meeting ran slightly overtime as long questions received long answers. Among the issues touched upon:Under “Land Use and Planning,” a resident commented about the currently controversial issue of 24-hour parking permits in Venice, which allowed for a “dangerous situation” of increased nighttime crime in the beach area. “I know Bill [City Council member Rosendahl] has been working really hard on this,” said Villaraigosa. “I know there’s a whole other group who feel very strongly the other way.” He believed that Rosendahl would come up with a solution that would be fair to both sides, but that solution would still have to pass the Coastal Commission. “I have to have a plan to convince them.”Under Public Facilities, a woman asked about repairs to potholes in streets. Villaraigosa said that during the last 12 years, the City of Los Angeles had filled 300,000 potholes. He agreed that street repair is a “shovel-ready project” that can create jobs and should be made “a priority for stimulus dollars.”He also approved of a citizen’s suggestion that volunteers can help with the City’s maintenance of parks and green spaces, and that everyone should take a day of service to “put on their jeans” and work the land.Under Education, a question was asked about the future of adult education (senior and skills centers).”We have to have work force training,” Villaraigosa agreed.He also assured audience members that he would clean up graffiti because to not do so suggests a “we don’t care” attitude, that he would not abandon the fight for preservation of areas like the Ballona Wetlands, and that he would continue to work on traffic issues of gridlock at intersections.Above all, Mayor Villaraigosa emphasized that he is open to ideas from the public. To contact the Mayor’s office go to lacity.org/mayor.
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