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EDITORIAL BETRAYING PUBLIC TRUST PARKS GEARS UP TO LOOT TRASH FEE INTENDED TO HIRE COPS.

PUTTING aside Bernard Parks' ambitions for higher office and his bitterness over all things LAPD, the Los Angeles city councilman raises a very good point about Police Department overspending and its lack of cost controls.

The LAPD is one of several city departments that's overspent its budget this year. And Parks, as chairman of the council's Budget and Finance Committee, wants to rein in the spending -- something that's become critical as the city's budget hole gets ever deeper.

In that regard, Parks is doing what people expect from their elected officials: recognizing problems and suggesting how to fix them. But he betrays that status by suggesting City Hall solve its budget crisis by diverting the trash fee raised last year to hire 1,000 extra cops.

For all intents and purposes, that would be stealing. And it would compound the felonious assault on public trust that City Hall committed by imposing the trash fee as a service charge when it was really a tax for more cops and thus should have been put before voters.

Last year, the mayor proposed raising trash fees by $7, to $26 per month for homeowners to pay for 1,000 new police officers. Parks' council committee endorsed the idea, and so did the full council, although Parks took pains to make sure the subterfuge to get around a public vote would stand up.

Don't worry, the city's elected officials assured the people. The money will be used to hire more desperately needed officers.

Well, that's what they said up until the moment the measure passed. Then council members said they would probably use it all for cops, unless they decided to use it for other things.

That was the lie. Now comes the betrayal, with the casual proposal to divert some of the money to help the city out of the money jam it got into by overcommitting to years of high employee raises.

Perhaps we should thank Parks. He's exposed to the public the lie that was at the heart of the trash-fee hike rhetoric all the time.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa opposes the diversion of the trash fee from hiring cops, and hopefully that will be enough to put the kibosh on the proposed betrayal. At least this time.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 7, 2007
Words:376
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