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EDITORIAL FOUND MONEY SUDDENLY, CITY HALL IS AWASH IN CASH.

TWO weeks ago, Mayor James Hahn and most members of the City Council complained that without a sales-tax increase, Los Angeles would never be able to afford to hire enough cops.

The public didn't buy it. Nor did City Council President Alex Padilla, who withheld his support and kept a tax-hike measure off the May 17 ballot.

Now it turns out that the public and Padilla were right.

With the tax-hiking option cut off - and with the mayoral election less than a week away - Hahn and other members of the council have suddenly found vast sums of cash to pay for the cops that everyone agrees the city desperately needs:

--The council has already approved using $63 million in funds the state owes to the city to hire 278 more cops over the next few years.

--City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel claims to have found $20 million in program savings, which could be used hire 200 officers.

--On Tuesday, council members said they identified enough savings from city lease consolidations to hire about 90 more cops.

--Hours later, Hahn - fearing for his political life and mindful that he's done little to expand the LAPD in four years - announced that he can scrounge up the dough for 92 more cops from the city's general fund.

--And, finally, there are the 14 officers for whom city leaders have already socked away funds.

By our count, the mayor and the council, between them, have identified funding for 674 cops - more than half as many as Hahn promised if he got his tax hike.

Wow!

To think that only two weeks ago most of these officials said it couldn't be done. And they've barely scratched the surface. At this rate, they should be able to find the money for all 1,280 extra cops in time for the mayoral runoff election on May 17.

That's assuming, of course, that all these funding sources pan out. For politicians, abstract money is always easier to find than the real kind - especially once the pressure of an imminent election has let up.

But whether they deliver the new cops or not, their gig is up. They've conceded what everyone else already knew: City Hall never lacked the money to hire new officers; it lacked the will.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 3, 2005
Words:378
Previous Article:EDITORIAL LOOKING FORWARD.
Next Article:CROSS-ON-COUNTY-SEAL PETITION FAILS.


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