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OUR OPINION; HEADS MAY, OR MAY NOT, ROLL CHARTER REFORM WILL WORK ONLY IF PUBLIC GETS INVOLVED.

Charter reform has city bureaucrats knitting and plotting as feverishly as Madame LaFarge, and wondering who's on deck for the guillotine.

Losing their heads looks like a very real fear.

A few supervisors, managers and so-called department heads, for instance, should lose their jobs when they lose track of millions of dollars in tax payments and send out threatening letters to businesses that followed the law.

That kind of incompetence deserves a little bloodletting.

But that won't happen until July 1, when the new charter becomes effective and Mayor Richard Riordan has more power to fire incompetent managers.

Even when it does take effect, it's doubtful anything will happen in the City Clerk's Office, where some unnamed supervisor, described as new to the job, misplaced checks from 11,000 businesses and sent them delinquent notices.

In unspeakable bureau-speak, the notices threatened to revoke the licenses of business owners for failing to pay.

The snafu cost taxpayers more than $13,000 in extra costs and added fuel to the sentiment that Los Angeles is anti-business.

It's not the first mistake to rile taxpayers in City Clerk Michael Carey's office. Last year, Carey blamed human errors for omitting proposed police and fire projects from pamphlets sent to 1.3 million voters for city elections.

The latest problem also was blown off as a human error due to an inexperienced supervisor, which is a little hard to accept since the system only promotes from within.

Is it too much to expect that when mistakes occur, someone owns up to it and offers a rational explanation?

Obviously, it is since no one at City Hall ever accepts responsibility for anything.

And that really won't change much under a watered-down new charter that will masquerade as reform unless members of the public get involved and use their local neighborhood councils, weak as they are, as leverage to demand accountability from bureaucrats and politicians alike.

Without vigorous public input, City Hall's greatest joke of all will turn out to be that reform isn't cutting edge. What City Hall wants is nothing but a bladeless guillotine.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 24, 2000
Words:349
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