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By The Numbers: How Council Quietly Enabled Cutting LBPD's Gang Enforcement Unit...And How To Change This

Current Council action ties LBPD gang unit funding to Chief's discretion over non-discretionary underfunded PD overtime


(September 6, 2012) -- On September 4, the City Council's Budget Oversight Committee (DeLong, O'Donnell, Lowenthal) proposed, and the full Council approved, a sum roughly a half million dollars less than LBPD used for overtime for the past two budget years that is supposed to cover both FY13 overtime (a non-discretionary item) and allow "discretion" for the Chief of Police to simultaneously avert cuts to LBPD's gang item city management has separately indicated would require $3.1 million to fully fund.

The net effect appears to mathematically preclude averting all or some cuts to LBPD's gang unit (which were proposed in the Mayor/City Manager budget unveiled Aug. 1) unless the City Council, via an agendized item on any Tuesday to revisit and adjust its FY13 budget to fully fund LBPD's gang unit. The Council can legally do so on any Tuesday with an agendized item by at least one Councilmember followed by a majority Council vote, or six votes to override a Mayoral veto.

On September 4, a Council majority refused on a 3-5 vote (Yes: Austin, Neal, Schipske; No: Garcia, Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Johnson) to withhold the budget vote for a week, then approved a motion by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell (8-0) to allocate a roughly $9.4 million sum collectively for FY13 police overtime and LBPD's gang unit. A few hours earlier, the Council's Budget Oversight Committee proposed $8.4 million for both items. On Aug. 1, Mayor Foster/City Mgr. West proposed $7.05 million for FY13 overtime and no sums to avert LBPD gang unit cuts.

However official city budget documents show that LBPD police overtime (a non-discretionary item dependent on events) was $9.987 million in FY 11 (actual) and $9.87 million in FY 12 (estimated). [Source: LBPD FY13 budget section, "Financial Summary by Category," pdf p. 13]

And a memo dated Sept. 4 and presented to the Budget Oversight Committee by Financial Management Director John Gross indicates that fully funding LBPD's Gang Enforcement Unit (21 positions at $133,000 (avg.) per officer) would require $3.1 million [Source: attachment A, Menu of Potential Restorations, p. 3]

Asked about this by on Sept. 5 -- less than 24 hours after the Council voted to approve his motion -- Councilman Patrick O'Donnell (a member of the Budget Oversight Committee) was unable to explain how the sum he proposed in his motion could adequately fund both overtime and LBPD's gang unit in full, telling us to ask the Chief of Police about this. The exchange took place as Councilman O'Donnell was walking to his car to attend a Gateway Council of Governments meeting in Paramount (following a "Chat with Pat" public meeting in Los Altos).

For audio of this exchange [context: off-the-cuff comments while walking to his car], click here.

A day earlier, Vice Mayor Robert Garcia spotted the issue and raised it on the Council floor moments before the budget vote. In audio below, Vice Mayor Garcia accurately notes that of the total $2.3 million proposed to be added (via O'Donnell's motion) for overtime and the gang unit, $2 million will likely go to overtime. [The $2 million sum accurately reflects the sum in Financial Mgm't Dir. Gross' Sept. 4 memo to the Council.]

Councilman O'Donnell said Vice Mayor Garcia's statement this "wasn't true," contending it isn't known how much will be used for overtime because of verbiage that leaves the $2.3 million to Chief's "discretion." Councilman O'Donnell didn't explain at that time (or the next day with us) how the Chief could fund non-discretionary overtime and still avert cutting LBPD's gang unit.

Councilman DeLong then said the budget includes additional "salary savings" but didn't specify what items he was describing. [Among the salary saving items in the Aug. 1 Mayor/Manager budget was cutting LBPD's gang unit, but DeLong didn't mention this.]

Mayor Foster then argued that the Chief had said he would remain "within his budget" [which the Mayor presented on Aug. 1 with only roughly $7 million in overtime] but didn't mention that this included cutting LBPD's gang unit.

Asked by Vice Mayor Garcia if the Budget Oversight Committee had discussed this at its meeting earlier in the day, Councilman DeLong replied "over a period of time"...and the Council's 8-0 vote followed.

To hear the O'Donnell/DeLong/Mayoral exchange with Vice Mayor Garcia, click here.

As it currently stands, the Council's Sept. 4 voted budget action leaves to LBPD management's discretion a decision on cutting all or some portion of LBPD's gang enforcement unit...which LBPD management indicated on Aug. 1 it was prepared to do in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 in response to another year of Mayor/Manager/Council directed "proportional budget reductions."

Developing...with further to follow on

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