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Krasne Assails City Manager For Warning About Deficits

City manager Rod Wood incurred the wrath of City Councilwoman Nancy Krasne for repeating to The Courier, warnings he has been giving to the City Council and Chamber of Commerce regularly for the past two years about the declining state of City finances. 

Krasne demanded that Wood be silenced and that she personally approve all statements by him in response to questions from the public. City expenses will ex-ceed City revenues in the near future, according to City staff.

In a letter to The Courier, Wood confirmed that City staff has prepared contingency plans for 10 percent across-the-board cuts in city services and funding.  Krasne, in reaction to Wood’s warning, called for a special meeting of the city council to contradict The Courier’s story which was based on Wood’s letter to the publication. 

Krasne wrote, “I have asked Barry to call an emergency Council meeting to assure the public that the story in The Courier is not true. Otherwise I will give my statement . . . to the World New tonight [sic] . . . Rod Wood’s statements as reported in The Courier were inaccurate, misleading and unauthorized by the City Council. . .   Rod is making statements on behalf of the city as an employee without my knowledge or authorization. . . .”

In response, Mayor Barry Brucker joined Krasne, claiming on Iran Radio Tuesday that there are “no plans to cut city services.” Brucker’s and Krasne’s statements are directly contradicted by videotapes of city council meetings and public statements by Wood.

The videotape of the council’s open study session on Oct. 14, attended by both Krasne and Brucker, clearly shows Wood telling the council, “There is a question on how fast the economy might decline . . . we monitor it almost daily- ..we have for each department a plan to reduce department spending by 10 percent.”  Wood confirmed directly to The Courier that the spending reduction plan involved “every city department.”

Wood’s Oct. 14 statement came during a detailed presentation by city chief financial officer Scott Miller who gave the city council an update on the potential impact of the financial crisis. Wood told the council exactly the same information he provided The Courier last week, “If the economy takes a sudden dive, we will have to make sudden adjustments and we are prepared to do that.”

Wednesday, CalPers, the California state employee retirement system which handles pension funds for Beverly Hills municipal employees, reported a $24.5 billion loss. The City remains liable for the pension payments regardless of performance by CalPers. Wood has attempted to warn the City Council for over two years that spending was exceeding projected revenues.

Krasne has personally told Hilton owner Beny Alagem repeatedly that, “If you build the project, I want to buy one of the condos.”  She has acknowledged the statement to many in the City, including Courier staff.

Mayor Barry Brucker, in a widely circulated e-mail distributed by the Citizens Right to Decide Committee, the “No on the Hilton” group, this week claimed that Wood had never told him or anyone on the council about the plan.

He also claimed that Wood was misquoted by The Courier and that his statements about the current hiring freeze and contingency plans for cuts in City funding were “taken out of context.”

Wood has confirmed to The Courier in writing that paper quoted him accurately and in context. In fact, The Courier printed verbatim Wood’s letter about City finances. See The Beverly Hills Courier, Oct. 24,  page 18, where the entire text of Wood’s letter appears.

The Courier stands by its article.

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