05/10/2010 04:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Our Long Term Budget Strategy: Correcting the Record

In an editorial on Monday, the Los Angeles Times argued that City Hall lacks a clear vision of what city government should look like, implying that layoffs, cuts and consolidations are being made haphazardly and without an eye towards long-term strategies. This could not be further from the truth.

First, as I have articulated since being sworn into office, the primary responsibility of any city government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Currently, we have the largest police force in the history of our City, and the lowest crime rates since the 1950s. And I have made it clear that I will not advocate for or support cuts to our police officers and first responders.

Second, I have said all along that balancing the budget means prioritizing. Just as any household must tighten its belt during tough times, the City must conduct a thorough review to determine which services or agencies are indispensable to Angelenos, which have become obsolete, and which might be better managed by outside parties. As I have said many times, if it comes down to choosing between public safety or managing a golf course, I will choose public safety every time.

The bottom line is that the City is employing strategies to deliver services cheaper, smarter, and more efficiently. We must downsize. We must sacrifice. And we must make sure we are not duplicating our efforts. A fine example of this kind of thinking was demonstrated in the recent decision to consolidate the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) with the Community Development Department. Instead of maintaining separate agencies with overlapping missions, we combined them to ensure better efficiency and cost-savings.

So instead of asking what exactly our government ought to look like, we should be asking how it may best serve all Angelenos. As a society, we are grappling with problems that have never existed before and the old matrix of big versus small government no longer applies. To be successful and restore Los Angeles on a path to fiscal sustainability, we must first ensure the safety of our citizens, and then discontinue managing the services where we are unable to maintain a cost advantage while providing core city services in a financially sound way. That is my long-term budget strategy and the way we will preserve the financial health of this city.

Cross-posted at