Over the past few weeks we have seen repeated articles and headlines about the mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis in California, but particularly in Los Angeles.
A recent LA Times article highlighted how LA bus drivers were protesting outside of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters, “demanding hazard pay for transit employees who are working during the COVID-19 pandemic.” So far, almost four dozen bus drivers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and tragically one driver has passed away.
An especially biting article titled “It’s Pretty Hard to Run a City, Mayor Garcetti, When You Have No Credibility” went through a checklist of the many failures of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. From the corruption in city hall happening under Garcetti’s watch, to how quickly the mayor ripped away jobs from hardworking Angelenos at the outbreak of the coronavirus, the picture painted of Garcetti’s tenure as mayor during this crisis is not a pretty one.
And it’s not just LA media that has taken notice. Politico recently explained how Garcetti, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom, “face political distress as California locks down again.”
At a time when neither side of the political aisle can seem to agree on anything, the one thing that both conservatives and liberals recognize is that Mayor Eric Garcetti has failed to lead the city effectively through this crisis.
For conservatives, and frankly all Americans, the skyrocketing taxes and anti-business record of the mayor is unacceptable. A recently released study showed that over 300,000 people lost their jobs in LA since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. With an unemployment rate of 20.3 percent, Angelenos are unemployed at a larger rate than California at 15.5 percent, and the rest of the country at 14.7 percent.
Given how expensive it is to live in a city that is tied for the sixth highest cost of rent in the nation, with Angelenos also paying one of the highest sales tax rates, these job losses are particularly devastating to local residents.
And despite how important it is to support small businesses at this critical time, Governor Newsom recently announced a task force whose “sole charge is to police businesses out of compliance with the state’s public health orders.” While businesses should not be behaving negligently or in a way that puts their employees or customers at risk, businesses are trying to adapt rapidly to ever-changing rules and regulations instituted by California politicians with little information or advanced notice. Given California’s crippling budget deficit, they should be spending their resources supporting businesses. And in a surprise to no one, Mayor Garcetti issued his full-throated support for the governor’s policy.
Democrats on the other hand were largely disappointed with the budget Mayor Garcetti unveiled mid-pandemic, which imposed cuts across an array of city agencies, with nearly 16,000 city workers being furloughed in response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. This has led LA’s employee unions to lobby aggressively for a program to provide cash payouts to employees to encourage them to retire, describing it as “a way to avert Garcetti’s furlough plan.” Either way, this will result in a potentially devastating reduction in much-needed social services during this already challenging time.
This reduction in the civil service workforce could also exacerbate the already unimaginable homeless crisis that has grown under Mayor Garcetti’s watch. LA has fallen “far short” of their plan to use hotel rooms to house 15,000 medically vulnerable homeless individuals. So far, only 3,600 rooms have been secured. For reaching only 25% of the program’s goal, it’s safe to say that the city, and Mayor Garcetti, have earned a failing grade on this issue. In fact, Mayor Garcetti’s unacceptable record on the city’s homeless crisis has resulted in a concerted effort to recall him, with a Change.org petition garnering nearly 50,000 signatures.
During this politically divisive time, it is exceedingly rare to find something both political parties agree on. But Mayor Garcetti seems to be doing the unthinkable, and he has his failed record to thank for that.
Jesse Grady is a former Regional Field Director for the Texas GOP and a former staff member of President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign.