Leftovers Column: From our readers

Welcome back to the work week!

Here’s this week’s column inspired by the great dialogue by our readers last week. Thanks to everyone for participating in the conversation. There were many ideas that we’ve not heard from our elected leaders:

They say drastic times call for drastic measures.

We’ve certainly seen a lot of that as local leaders struggle with faltering revenues and excruciating budget cuts.

In West Covina, every department head was asked to cut five percent from their budget to make up for a $2.1million deficit.

In El Monte, facing a $400,000 deficit, council members slashed the Police Department’s funds, maintained hiring freezes and cut back on recreation programs.

And in cities like Pico Rivera, El Monte, San Gabriel and Covina, taxes seem to be the only answer to supplement wavering incomes.

Many city council members have said this undoubtedly is a difficult time and it never is easy making cuts.

But what you would do if you were running the show?

Here are some ideas readers came up with, and they’re nothing like what our elected officials have suggested:

Eliminate all car, travel and cell phone allowances for council members, as well as car allowances for city employees. “Stop paying for trips to China, Paris, Mexico, etc.,” according to one reader.

Cut back on recreation departments, including youth and senior programs.

“Seniors tend to be better off than most non-retired working age folks. Seniors, though they are on fixed incomes, usually have a lifetime’s worth of savings and investments accumulated … and they also enjoy many discounts that non-seniors do not enjoy,” another reader wrote.

Turn off at least half of street lights.
“We’re figuratively throwing our money into the sky with all the lighting that goes up where it is not needed,” one reader wrote.

Cut back on overtime for public safety, review every contract that has been in place in the city for at least three years and consider cutting staffing of “non-essential things such as school resource officers or farmer’s markets,” according to another reader.

Require those on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to use public transportation to attend meetings. “They’re in charge of the MTA; they should be able to get to the meetings using the same public transit they govern. If it’s not good enough for them, it’s not good for us, either.”

While some of these ideas are downright impossible others are more feasible.

Elected officials say city government is a labor of love.

So maybe they should think outside of the box a little more often. And maybe readers should get up from behind their computer screens and attend council meetings a little more often, too. Give those councils a piece of their minds.

  • gilman

    Makes sense to me….can’t really be involved, unless you get involved and go to the meetings.

    I think you will be shocked by what you see and the “quality” of the people running your local government.

    Take the time and go to a Council meeting…and bring your older kids – it will be a great learning experience. (just remember, it will be a lot of things, but exciting isn’t one of them)

  • Anonymous

    The quality of people is right….some of them could end up being Vice Presidential nominees before you know it.

  • gilman

    Heck, VP nothing….they could well end up being the Presidential nominee of the Democratic party….that’s a job that apparently doesn’t require much in the way of experience.

  • Anonymous

    Good ole Gilman. So predictable.

  • yeah right….

    Love the way someone makes a snide partisan comment and points the finger at the other guy for being “predictable”.

  • MonteBoy

    Whatever happened to investigative reporting? Why does the Tribune not go forward and expose at least something of this magnitude? Are you also afraid of the El Monte Police Department?

    It’s a shame that you bought out the former El Monte Herald, at least there would have been a better chance of real reporters getting down and dirty and exposing blatant corruption such as this. Remember that when we needed your help …you looked the other way.

    Chief Weldon’s salary, by Armstrong’s words, is somewhere around $260K plus benefits. When he retires it will be considerably more. There is a rumor that he will continue for two additional years at $230K/year. If this is the case, the RICO law should be applied as these are certainly MOB tactics. The City knew long ago what the real financial condition was. The Finance Director, then Clara Wong, warned many times that this would happen. She was criticized by Weldon, Armstrong, Mussenden and others as a ‘chicken Little’ and was forced out unfairly with just a few months prior to her retirement. This is the cold, hard greed of these people. Make no mistake, however, there are many excellent city employees dedicated to provide great service and they are not the ones that are raping the City in its most vulnerable time.

    We need your help Tribune!