With the city election a month away, Councilman Dennis Zine announced a $1 million program on Monday to repair the 50 worst sidewalks in his west San Fernando Valley District.
Zine, a candidate for city controller at the March 5 election, insisted the program -- funded with savings in his office account and redevelopment money allocated to his district -- is a continuation of other public works efforts his office has paid for.
"I have been able to use the savings in our office account to pay for streets and sidewalks and tree trimming," Zine said. "If I don't do anything, they say I'm lazy and ignoring my district. If I do something, they say it's for political purposes.
"They will say what they want to say. The truth is we have been saving money all along and using it to supplement the budget for streets and other projects. None of those got the attention they deserved, but we have been doing this all along."
The sidewalks to be repaired were identified by the Bureau of Street Services as the worst in his district.
"These are where we get the worst trip and fall cases," Zine said. "In the long run, this will save us money."
Cary Brazeman, one of Zine's opponents for controller, said there was a direct link between Zine's announcement and the upcoming election.
"Zine's neglect of the problem for 12 years is shameful," Brazeman said. "The fact is money should have been allocated to fix West Valley sidewalks long ago, instead of being hoarded by the councilman until a month before the election."
Ron Galperin, who also is competing for the job, questioned how the program will work.
"Dennis Zine is spending the taxpayers' money on a patchwork political stunt that has no real plan and no real cost controls," Galperin said of the redevelopment money allocated though Assembly Bill 1290.
"As a 2010 audit by the current controller found the city has been playing fast and loose with how they spend AB 1290 money, and this is just another example of a council member focusing on photo-ops instead of real systemic solutions that will adequately fund street and sidewalk repairs in Los Angeles."
The AB 1290 program makes funds available annually to those council districts that have redevelopment areas, and the amount is based on the number of redevelopment projects. Council members have wide latitude in deciding how the money is spent.
Zine this year received $1.38 million in AB 1290 funds and previously set aside $700,000 to trim trees, remove tree stumps and make street repairs in his district.
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