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Challenges Face Reorganized City Council

From the Publisher Clif Smith

Tuesday night we welcomed our newest mayor, Lili Bosse, during an outstanding exercise in local government.  Her speech laid out an ambitious program.  Some of her goals are easy to accomplish and just plain nice, as is she.  Others will be more difficult.

John Mirisch’s departure speech was a succinct summary of the council’s accomplishments during his year in office.  Much good was done.  He could rightfully claim the Cultural Heritage Commission to save our most valued buildings (a Mirisch idea).  The Roxbury Park community center rebuild is now underway (saving the park itself from overbuilding via tough stances by Mirisch, Bosse, and homeowner groups, supported by The Courier).  Throughout, Mirisch gave credit where credit is due.

New Vice Mayor Julian Gold offered his thoughts on the priority of bringing public pay and pensions under control.  We hope so.

All the speeches, thankfully, were of an appropriate length which allowed the overflow public audience at the new Wallis Annenberg Center to enjoy the surroundings, each other, and some appetizers and dessert afterwards.

Mirisch was a champion for “sustainable public pay and pensions.”  This week, he came two printed names and addresses short of qualifying to run for California State Senate, to the great relief of the California Democratic Party.  He would have been the only Republican in a field of 8 Democrats and “decline to states.”  Already, 2 Democrats are raising a ton of money to fight each other.  Mirisch would have had an excellent chance to make the final 2-person runoff.  He even had a real chance to win.

So, now it’s back to Beverly Hills – which is a very, very nice place to “go back to.”

What will Bosse face?  We can walk with her each Monday morning, but nothing generally changes in City Hall no matter who is mayor.

City bureaucrats are expert at delay, obstruction, diversion and confusion.  Whatever objectives our newest mayor has, she only has about 4-months to get it done.  It works like this:  first, she will propose something as she has already done.  Then the idea goes to City staff to “flesh out” things. That will take 1-2 months.  Next, to the city manager.  If he doesn’t like it, he sends it back for more work. That’s another 1-2 months. Bosse will finally demand that it come to the council.  Chances will be that the “staff report” won’t fly first time.  Then back to square one, or maybe square three or four, but either way another couple of months will pass.  Then she’s no longer mayor.

In the meantime, employee pay and pensions will keep rising and, despite the best speeches of the council, they’ll award more money and benefits.  Then they will need to “cut” the City’s massive $400+ million budget.  The only cuts will be things people want.  The City staff will play “hide and seek” to find the money.  Last time this game was played, City Manager Jeff Kolin “played” Bosse and Krasne to get his budget by “giving” them a couple of their pet items at the last second.  Both caved and left Mirisch high and dry.

All the while even the lowest-paid full-time employee of the City of Beverly Hills costs the taxpayers more each year than the median incomes of the residents of Beverly Hills 90211 and 90212.  The Courier will publish in the next few weeks the updated City employee pay and benefits report.  You can read it for yourselves and see what we pay.

#1 on our list continues to be the threatened ripping up of Beverly Hills for the Metro subway tunnels.  Two weeks ago, we published a reasonable checklist for issuing permits and monitoring Metro construction in our City.  We already know that City staff objects to our plan.  They want the subway, period, and do not care what happens to us in the meantime.

Mayor Bosse will have her hands full.  It will be a real challenge for her:  (1) to give her personal attention to everyone, which is in keeping with her kind personality, and (2) to prevent trivia and bureaucrats from blocking solutions to our real problems.  We know she works tirelessly and she truly studies what is before her.  But that can also work against her – the bureaucrats can just swamp her with detail.

We have confidence she will prove to be an outstanding mayor, but we also caution everyone that she really faces an uncooperative and obstructive bureaucracy.

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