‘Progressive’ LA City Council Earns More than Governor, Congress

LA City Hall (Michael J. Fromholtz / Wikimedia Commons)
Michael J. Fromholtz / Wikimedia Commons

Each member of the Los Angeles City Council now earns more than Governor Brown and more than every U.S. Congressional member, according to a study from the Pew Charitable Trust.

The Los Angeles City Council prides itself in being a “progressive” leader in requiring all local employers to pay living wages that are above state or federal minimum wage levels. The supposed rationale behind L.A.’s recent ordinance is that city and county governments should use their legal powers to rewrite labor laws and legalize undocumented immigrants, so that employers reward hard work should with adequate pay and benefits.

In the spirit of fighting poverty and rewarding hard work with adequate pay and benefits, the Los Angeles City Council members pay themselves $184,610 per year. That is 12% more than the $165,288 paid to Governor Brown; 6% higher than the $174,000 paid to all U.S. Senators and Congressmen; and almost 100% higher than the $95,000 salary of State Assembly members.

The Pew Charitable Trust found that LA City Council members make 64% more than the $112,500 for New York City Council members; 70% more than the $109,261 for Chicago; and 105% more than the $87,500 for Boston. The LA city Council makes about 146% more than the $75,000 chump change paid to the San Diego City Council.

The Los Angeles City Council prides itself as an engine of job creation. In that spirit, the 15 City Council members have a paid staff of 320. As a comparison, the entire White House staff is only about 480.

The L.A. City Council’s salaries will not be detoured by a recent report from City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana that the city faces massive budget deficits through 2018. Although Santana’s prior projections have tended to be substantially rosier than reality, he does predict that Los Angeles will suffer a $165.2-million deficit in 2015-16; a $186.8-million deficit in 2016-17; and a $73.9-million deficit in 2017-18.

City leaders have also expanded the practice of delaying payment of police overtime years into the future. That strategy helped balance budgets in lean years but has left the Los Angeles Police Department with $112 million in unpaid employee hours.

Economic reality has not seemed to dissuade Mayor Eric Garcetti, who earns $232,425.72 a year plus benefits. To achieve his promised “expanded core services” during his four-year term he has 2 Chiefs of Staff that each earn $194,059.24 a year and 13 Deputy Mayors that each earn $148,561.20, plus benefits.

In reviewing the City Council’s and Mayor’ salary and benefits, most tax-payers can be reassured that the “living wages” that Los Angeles’ leaders pay themselves include at least “adequate pay and benefits.”



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