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Archived: Editorial: Is Los Angeles Broke or Not?

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s State of the City address on Tuesday continues the public’s confusion over what the truth is regarding the city’s finances.

Just a short time ago the mayor warned the City Council that if 4,000 civilian city employees were not immediately laid off the city would go bankrupt. Yet during his address on Tuesday, Villaraigosa said 750 positions would be targeted for lay off, a far cry from the original 4,000.

When it comes to the city’s finances, these types of inconsistencies are much too common. The predictions and solutions coming from City Hall are so confusing that the country’s credit rating agencies have expressed a lack of confidence in Los Angeles’ ability to climb out of its fiscal mess by dropping L.A.’s bond rating.

What really bothers us is that it is the residents of Los Angeles who have to pay for the city’s mismanagement, through diminished services and higher fees.  Reality seems to be something the mayor and the city council, despite their claims to the contrary, can’t quite grasp.

To be fair, however, city employees and residents are also having a hard time dealing with what the black hole of city debt — $485 million — represents. While we don’t want to see any more people added to the unemployment rolls or services cut, the truth is the city of Los Angeles can no longer support the same level of spending it has in the past. What’s fair is fair, and the burden should not, cannot, be at the public’s expense alone.

Angelenos are growing weary of the constant threats being leveled by public sector employees. Yes, job cuts hurt, just ask anyone who has lost his or her job during the recession. We are sure they would say that a cut in pay would have been easier to endure than the loss of their job altogether.  It’s a message many in public service need to hear.