August 2, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Garcetti vetoes spending plan for reallocated LAPD funds

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has vetoed a proposal backed by the city council to spend money diverted from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget on an array of services, including sidewalk repairs.

Employing a veto power that he rarely uses, Garcetti called for the money to be focused on community engagement programs, saving city jobs and more.

“Far too many of the proposed expenditures do not meet the demands of the moment or the call of history,” Garcetti wrote in a letter to the council late Monday about its proposal.

The City Council earlier this month backed a spending plan for tens of millions of dollars that was originally budgeted for the LAPD, but reprogrammed in response to protests this summer over policing and racial injustice.

That plan, passed on a 13-2 vote, set aside $88 million for youth and recreation programs, neighborhood beautification initiatives, job and business programs, nonprofit services and more.

The spending list wasn’t final and was expected to come back before the council in February. Still, it drew fire from LAPD Chief Michel Moore and the police union, who criticized it for including funding for public works project at a time of rising homicides and shootings. The union also accused council members of creating a slush fund for their districts.

The bulk of the money was slated to be spent in South L.A. in three districts but still allowed council members to fund tree trimming, for instance.

Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, whose district would receive $16.6 million under the proposal, put hiring programs on his potential spending list, as well as park improvements, street and alley resurfacing, tree trimming, parking enforcement, illegal dumping investigations and other initiatives, according to the council report.

Garcetti, in an interview Tuesday, said the proposed list included “a lot of stuff that’s just kind of business as usual.”

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s critically important to someone’s quality of life, but I don’t think people hit the streets for us to fix the sidewalks,” he added. “They hit the streets for us to get out there and make some lasting change.”

Garcetti, in his letter, said he would support a revised spending plan that focuses on community engagement (issues such as racial justice and income inequality); protects jobs for city employees facing layoffs, particularly employees hired through a program that targets individuals from underserved populations; antiviolence programs and a pilot program that has mental health workers respond to nonviolent 911 calls.

Council President Nury Martinez didn’t immediately provide comment.

Previously, she had defended how the City Council allocated the money.

“We listened to our Black and brown communities as they asked for more resources — the same resources they see in affluent communities and are easy to take for granted unless you’ve had to push a stroller through dirt in the dark, unless you live in a garage and your kids rely on parks as their only play space,” Martinez said earlier this month.

Following massive protests during the summer over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Martinez and her colleagues said they would cut $150 million from the LAPD to help “disenfranchised” communities.

Some of the money went to help address the city’s financial crisis, including $40 million to to delay furloughs and $10 million for the city’s reserve. Another $10 million was earmarked for jobs programs.

The bulk of the remaining money was earmarked earlier this month, with a final spending list set to be released in February.

Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing roughly 9,800 LAPD officers, came out against the spending plan, which comes as the city weighs laying off hundreds of police officers.

On Tuesday, Lally said that Garcetti’s veto “validates our concern that the $90 million City Council slush fund does nothing to reduce the dramatic increase in shootings and murders in our neighborhoods and reeks of old-school political patronage.”

“We’re pleased that the mayor is placing a priority on protecting employees of color from disproportionate layoffs,” he added, noting that the vast majority of police officers targeted for layoffs are people of color.

Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.