Jewish World Review May 6, 2005/ 27 Nisan, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

How to Increase City Funds without Raising Taxes | I INTERRUPT THIS COLUMN WITH AN IMPORTANT CORRECTION: Last week, in my discussion on the stage show, ‘ You Can't Take It With You, ’ I said that I was born about 15 years before the original Broadway production opened. I lied. I meant to say I was born about 15 years AFTER the original show opened. I am not 85, I assure you, although some days I feel like it. NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED COLUMN.)

The Los Angeles Mayoral runoff elections are coming right up. Are you excited yet? I don't have a clue as to which of the two candidates will win but there s one thing I am sure of — whoever wins will do everything in his power to raise your taxes. I guarantee it. It's what these guys do for a living. And they'll justify it by saying it needs to be done.

We'll hear how difficult it is to run a major city these days. The high cost of maintaining roads, parks, libraries, schools and other important services has skyrocketed, they'll say. Our elected officials always say the same old things they would love to do something to help, but their hands are tied unless they are allowed to raise taxes.

Seems like the only two solutions these bureaucrats can ever come up with, are 1) to raise taxes or 2) cut vital services. You know the old song and dance; ‘If you don't vote us another tax increase we will be forced to make drastic cuts in vital services.’ Okay, cue the Dragnet theme: Dum, Da, Dum, Dum. Oh, no — they might close down all the police stations and fire stations and hospitals! Quick, vote in a huge tax increase! Hurry before all the police and doctors and teachers leave town!

Since nobody wants to see the libraries close, or have emergence rooms shut down or cut back on school funding or let our highways go to potholes, we once again reluctantly bite the bullet and take yet another tax hike. That's the way it's worked for decades. Well, I say enough is enough. We can maintain our vital, important, essential, necessary, crucial services without raising taxes. How? Boy, I'm glad you asked! The following are a few surefire ways to increase city revenue:

First things first. Let's knock off city spending on all those laughably ridiculous and highly expensive landscaped islands that they keep building in the middle of the streets throughout the city. Here's a thought — how about taking the money allocated for palm trees and oversized artistic boulders and use it to repair the potholes around town instead? Do we really need a sign craved out of polished granite in the middle of a busy street proclaiming, ‘Welcome To Toluca Lake?’ You want ‘beautification? ’ Fix the streets. That would really be a beautiful thing.

Next we can eliminate chauffeur driven limos and other assorted perks for council members and supervisors at taxpayer expense. Maybe some of them should start carpooling, whatdaya think? Also no more overseas trips — you work on city business, there is no real need to travel to foreign countries on the people's dime. If you can't work out city problems from city hall, well maybe it's time for us to look for someone who can.

Is it against the law to make a turn on a busy street without using a turn signal? If it is, start writing them up. The vast majority of people driving today do not use their turn signals. If the cops started giving out tickets for that, the city could add millions to its coffers. And don't forget, that would be a moving violation — which makes the fine more money than parking tickets. Replace those meter maids with turn signal cops and you'll rake in a lot more jack.

Save money by not changing all the regular white street lights to the amber ones, it's a waste of money and they don't give off nearly as much light as the old ones anyway.

Save money by leaving the L.A. County seal the way it was. Because three out of the five members on the County Board of Supervisors caved in to the demands of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the cost to our county to change the seal on everything it appears on will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Private attorneys offered to represent the County against the ACLU's threat to sue at no cost to taxpayers whatsoever, but the supervisors declined. The supervisors, who are either politically correct secularists or cowards or both, are Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Zev Yaroslavsky, and Gloria Molina. Get rid of them and you'll be saving a whole lot more.

Save money by allowing the cops to turn in illegal aliens to the Feds. The cost of keeping these criminals within our midst; in our health care system, in our school system, and ultimately in our jails, will at some point bankrupt the city. City services are for citizens and for legal visitors — not for illegals who crawl under fences.

There are plenty of Mexican Americans who totally agree that something has to be done to stop the illegal immigration problem, by the way. No matter what you may hear from the other side, this is not a ‘ racist’ thing, it is a legal thing. It is a national security thing. Desiring to protect the sovereignty of our boarders is just plain necessary to keep our country safe for all its citizens. Why is this such a hard concept for people to get? Why doesn't President Bush get it? Will the next mayor of Los Angeles get it? HA! Or should I say, JA?

So there you have it — a few ways to raise money for the city without raising taxes. I'm certain there are many, many more ways that can be found if our elected representatives are willing to look. Willing to look beyond their own political power base that is.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby