John Chiang | Press Releases

Villaraigosa’s First Ad Fails to Mention How he Slashed Public Services, Put Public Safety at Risk


An independent expenditure backed by two multi-millionaires supporting Antonio Villaraigosa for governor and trying to buy the governor’s race for the former mayor has begun airing an ad claiming that Villaraigosa “brought both parties together to balance the state budget” as speaker of the state legislature. But the ad fails to mention how Villaraigosa took a heavy hand to Los Angeles’s Fire and Police Departments as mayor of the city, resulting in increased gang violence and a disparate number of firearm hospitalizations for African Americans and Latinos in the city.

“It’s the height of irony for Antonio Villaraigosa to be praising himself for balancing the budget as speaker when his fiscal mismanagement and cuts to public safety as mayor led to an increase in gang activity and disproportionate gunshot hospitalizations for communities of color,” said Fabien Levy, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for John Chiang’s campaign. “Slashing public services and endangering public safety should be the last resort, yet Angelenos suffered the consequences of Antonio’s dangerous decision making year-after-year. Californians can’t trust a leader who will take aim at their safety and well-being because of his own fiscal irresponsibility.”

During his tenure as mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa continuously slashed funding for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). In 2009, Villaraigosa forced the LAPD to cut $130 million in spending as a result of his self-created $530 million budget shortfall. Villaraigosa also implemented an LAPD hiring freeze, dropping the number of authorized civilian employees from 4,000 to below 2,900. Villaraigosa also cut the LAFD’s budget year-after-year, ultimately cutting 12 percent and leaving nearly 400 positions vacant. Villaraigosa even backed cuts to the LAFD’s 911 call center, reducing the amount of dispatch center call takers.

Villaraigosa’s budget slashing resulted in a 14 percent increase in gang crime and violence within his fist year full year in office. Additionally the percentage of Latinos and African Americans hospitalized for gun violence compared to whites were dramatically higher under Villaraigosa’s watch.

Levy added, “John Chiang is the only candidate for governor who has a track record of acting fiscally responsible, and is the only candidate we can trust to invest in our state’s public safety.”



“Antonio Villaraigosa brought both parties together to balance the state budget with record investments in public schools and new career training programs.”State had “little choice” but to fund public education, thanks to voter-approved proposition. According to the San Jose Mercury News in June 1999, additional funding for public education stems from voter-approved Proposition 98, which “gives the state little choice” but to fund K-12 education. [San Jose Mercury News, 6/20/1999]

1999 State Budget slashed funding for Employment Development and CalWORKS programs. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) analysis of the 1999-00 Budget Bill, the budget slashed funding for the Employment Development Department by $248 million, or 4.3 percent, compared to the 1998-99 budget. The LAO reports:

The Employment Development Department (EDD) is responsible for administering the Employment Services (ES), the Unemployment Insurance (UI), and the Disability Insurance (DI) Programs. The ES Program (1) refers qualified applicants to potential employers; (2) places job-ready applicants in jobs; and (3) helps youths, welfare recipients, and economically disadvantaged persons find jobs or prepare themselves for employment by participating in employment and training programs.

The same analysis reports that the budget reduced funding to the Department of Social Service’s CalWORKS program, which:

Provides cash grants and welfare-to-work services to families whose incomes are not adequate to meet their basic needs. A family is eligible for the Family Group component of the program if it includes a child who is financially needy due to the death, incapacity, or continued absence of one or both parents. A family is eligible for the Unemployed Parent component if it includes a child who is financially needy due to the unemployment of one or both parents.

The LAO reports that the budget cut funding to CalWORKS by $681 million, or 11 percent; when accounting for Department of Education funding transfers to the program, “total spending is projected to decline by $218 million, or 3.6 percent, in 1999-00.” [Legislative Analyst’s Office 1999-00 Budget Analysis, Accessed 4/19/2018]

Villaraigosa proposed ‘painful’ layoffs ahead of potential $600 million budget deficit in 2010. In April 2010, CNN reported that Villaraigosa proposed “‘painful’ layoffs and service cuts to close a $485 million budget deficit”:

The budget proposal for the 2010-2011 fiscal year calls for ‘initiating layoffs of more than 800 employees’ and reduces the number of full-time employees by some 3,300 when compared to year-ago levels… California’s economy has been especially hard-hit by the economic downturn. While the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 9.7 percent in March, the Golden State checked in at 12.6 percent. Coupled with collapse in the state’s real estate market, tax receipts are down significantly.

According to the Huffington Post in July 2010, Los Angeles’ budget deficit heading into budget negotiations was potentially as large as $500-$600 million. The Huffington Post noted, “The great promise of Los Angeles’ first Latino mayor in over 100 years has vanished in a cloud of disappointment and embarrassment.” [CNN, 4/21/2010; Huffington Post, 7/1/2010]

LA City Hall overspent by $1.25 million a day in 2010. In April 2011, LA Weekly reported, “Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his proposed 2011-12 budget, designed to stop City Hall from overspending by $1.25 million per day, or $52,168 per hour.” The Los Angeles Times reported on Villaraigosa’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, writing,

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled a $6.9-billion budget Wednesday that, despite lethargic tax revenues amid a struggling economy, expands an array of city services… The budget plan quickly drew sharp questions from Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who described its revenue projections as ‘overly optimistic’ and warned that it relied on gimmicks. And the plan prompted outright criticism from City Controller Wendy Greuel, who said she was troubled by Villaraigosa’s proposal to borrow $43 million to get through the coming year. That loan would help the city pay for a 2009 program that let 2,400 employees retire early, part of a larger effort to shrink the workforce. The city would also borrow money to cover $22 million in debt payments at the Los Angeles Convention Center, spreading the cost of this year’s payment over five years. ‘Clearly, we’ll wind up paying more in the future as a result of financing today,’ Greuel said. ‘Kicking the can down the road is not a solution when we can anticipate a growing structural deficit in future years.’

[LA Weekly, 4/27/2011; Los Angeles Times, 4/21/2011]

“As mayor of LA, he brought police and residents together to take illegal guns off the street”Los Angeles Weekly: Correlation between Villaraigosa’s gun buyback program and lower crime rates had ‘flaws.’ In May 2009, Los Angeles Weekly reported,

On Saturday, the city of Los Angeles and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were trading Visa and Ralph’s supermarket chain gift cards for hand guns and Uzi submachine guns, with Villaraigosa declaring that the gun buyback program was making L.A. a ‘safer city’… According to CNS, the Mayor’s Office, which receives its crime statistics from the LAPD, touted the supposed success of the buyback program by noting that, in 2008, nearly 1,500 city residents were gunshot victims and 1,698 guns were collected on Saturday. Villaraigosa and his handlers appeared to be making some kind of connection, suggesting the streets will now be ‘safer.’ But since the city hasn’t done a gun buyback for over 10 years, and there’s no recent data to conclusively show the program decreases gun crime, the link most definitely has its flaws… The Mayor’s Office also did not report on Saturdaywhether or not the 1,698 guns came from high crime areas. Out of the 20 drop-off spots across the city, eight were located in the San Fernando Valley, four in Central L.A., four in West L.A., and four in South L.A.  According to the Daily News, 792 weapons, or nearly half of the haul, were dropped off in the Valley–not  exactly the worst place in the city for violent crime.

[Los Angeles Weekly, 5/11/2009]

Firearm hospitalization rate for black people was 14.1 times higher than that of whites in 2008. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in 2008, the hospitalization rate for firearm injuries among black people was 74.6 per 100,000 people. This rate was 3.7 times that of Latinos and 14.1 times that of Whites. [Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 8/1/2008]

Firearm hospitalization rate for Latinos was 3.8 times higher than that of whites in 2008. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in 2008, the hospitalization rate for firearm injuries among Latinos was 20.2 per 100,000 people. This rate was 3.8 times that of Whites. [Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 8/1/2008]

Firearm homicide caused more than half of all African American youth deaths in LA in 2013. In 2013, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that 58 percent of all deaths among African American youth in Los Angeles were caused by “firearm homicide.” [Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 2/1/2013]

“Reduced violent crime by nearly 50 percent”Gang crime increased by 14 percent in LA in 2006. In January 2007, The New York Times reported on rising gang violence in Los Angeles:

Ethnic and racial tension comes to Los Angeles as regularly as the Santa Ana winds… But civil rights advocates say that the violence grew at an alarming rate last year, continuing a trend of more Latino versus black confrontations and prompting street demonstrations and long discussions on talk-radio programs and in community meetings. Much of the violence springs from rivalries between black and Latino gangs, especially in neighborhoods where the black population has been declining and the Latino population surging. A 14 percent increase in gang crime last year, at a time when overall violent crime was down, has been attributed in good measure to the interracial conflict. This month, the authorities reported that crimes in the city motivated by racial, religious or sexual orientation discrimination had increased 34 percent in 2005 over the previous year.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center interracial gang violence rose by 11 percent in LA County from 2002 to 2006, with “Latino-on-black attacks rising from 247 to 269 and black-on-Latino attacks going from 213 to 240.” According to Rabbi Allen Freehling, executive director of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, “The recent growth in hate crimes reflected a failure by government and community leaders to prepare residents for socioeconomic changes in many neighborhoods.” Freehling added, “Therefore people have a tendency to lash out, out of desperation.” [The New York Times, 1/17/2007; Southern Poverty Law Center, 4/20/2007]

Black leaders criticized Villaraigosa for focusing too much on schools, not enough on gangs. In January 2007, LA Weekly reported on Villaraigosa’s recent switch from focusing on education policy to gang reduction:

In a 15-day period, Villaraigosa held five different press events focusing on public safety. But by then, some community activists had already begun grumbling that the mayor had lost focus on his municipal portfolio. One group of African-American leaders, alarmed by last month’s allegedly racially motivated killing of a 14-year-old Harbor Gateway girl, complained that the mayor had gone missing in action. ‘He took on the LAUSD and the whole school board, trying to take over the district and make it the centerpiece of his administration,’ said Najee Ali, who staged a press conference Fridayin Leimert Park to chastise the mayor for his absence. ‘[Villaraigosa] became so engaged with that battle that he lost focus on other issues in L.A. that have been critical, and the racially motivated gang violence is the best example.’

[LA Weekly, 1/17/2007]

Villaraigosa ‘offered no help’ to gang-prevention group after 330 forced layoffs. In May 2010, Villaraigosa reported, “Gang-prevention group Homeboy Industries had to lay off 330 of 427 employees”:

Homeboy founder Father Gregory Boyle, who says 12,000 gang members have sought help from the nonprofit, says $5 million is needed in order for the group to survive. Villaraigosa, entangled in a bitter budget battle at City Hall Friday, offered no financial help and noted that the city gave Homeboy $500,000 last year… The group essentially gives jobs to gang members and ex-prisoners who want to leave ‘the life.’ The organization is especially important as the state has been ordered by a federal judge to release more than one-forth of its prison population as a result of overcrowding. Those felons will be back in the neighborhoods, looking for something to do. It’s a problem even Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has acknowledged as a top priority for the city. You know one place they can go? Homeboy Industries.

[LA Weekly, 5/14/2010]

Urban Institute found Villaraigosa’s anti-gang initiative to be ineffective in 2012. In April 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took issue Monday with a study that said there was no evidence a multimillion-dollar anti-gang program had reduced crime.”:

In response to rising rates of gang crime, [Villaraigosa] created the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, or GRYD, in August 2007. The office, which started its public programs in 2009, was given the task of stopping young people from joining gangs and finding alternatives for those who already had… The Urban Institute, which was hired by the city to assess the program’s progress, reported last year that there was no evidence that the gang reduction office was responsible for the decline in violent crime, and it said that people enrolled in gang prevention activities were no less likely to engage in ‘delinquent’ or ‘gang-related’ behavior. Despite the declines in crime and in the number of people deemed to be at risk of joining gangs, the study’s authors cautioned that ‘unequivocal attribution of these findings to the GRYD program is currently unwarranted’… The Urban Institute study noted that gang-related crimes were declining before the mayor’s programs started.

[Los Angeles Times, 4/3/2012]

Villaraigosa vowed to use trash tax hike to hire 1,000 police officers. In July 2008, LA Weekly reported that Villaraigosa vowed to hire 1,000 new police officers in 2006. According to the Los Angeles Times in 2008, Villaraigosa planned to fund new hirings by raising trash collection taxes by “more than $140 million since 2006.” To continue expanding the LAPD in the midst of an economic depression, Villaraigosa also called for “reductions in library hours and supplies, animal shelter hours, park rangers and maintenance, summer recreation workers and arts programs.” Speaking about the trash tax hike, Villaraigosa stated,

I want this money not to dribble and drabble [sic] and go to all the things that it can go to in that black hole… I want it to go to the men and women in blue. I want to make sure… that all the money generated by the trash fee… is specifically for building our police force.

[LA Weekly, 7/16/2008; Los Angeles Times, 5/5/2008]

Only 1/3 of trash fees went to hiring new police officers. In July 2008, LA Weekly reported on Villaraigosa’s promise to use 100 percent of a raised trash tax to hire 1,000 new police officers. According to Weekly, “A meager one-third of the new trash fees collected — $47 million so far — goes to hiring cops.” In addition, only 366 police had been hired at the time. Reportedly,

The rest of the quietly collected windfall — $90 million sapped from residents’ trash bills that have soared to $312 per year — has dribbled and drabbled [sic] into police overhead and back-to-back raises, according to a newly released audit… While Villaraigosa withheld how the trash-collection fee was being spent, he and Council President Eric Garcetti aggressively peddled a fat ‘cell-phone tax.’ On Super Tuesday, L.A.’s liberal voter base approved the new tax, buying into Villaraigosa’s and Garcetti’s claim that City Hall needed it to pay for cops and firefighters. But the phone-tax fine print doesn’t say that. Nobody knows whether a penny of those hundreds of millions of dollars swill go to police or firefighters… Angry residents suggest that Villaraigosa, however, has reached new levels of obfuscation, not just about the continually rising trash fee and mystery phone tax, but about Villaraigosa’s tomelike [sic] $7 billion budget, and the myriad ways taxpayers’ monies are shifted around in the budget’s endless columns.

According to Paul Hatfield, treasurer of the Neighborhood Council Valley Village, “I really think the City Council and the mayor’s office just rely on people being ignorant and apathetic.” He explained, “They don’t have the system in place that allows for an efficient follow-up on how the money is spent. The reporting structure is not adequate.” Lydia Mather, president of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, stated, “This is how L.A. functions. The purposeful mismanagement of the city of L.A. and its money is absolutely staggering to me. I’m almost at a loss for words. It makes me very, very sad.” According to LA Weekly, following Villaraigosa’s tax hike, “L.A. now has the highest trash fees allowed by California law.” [LA Weekly, 7/16/2008]

Villaraigosa slashed funding to LAPD and LAFD as mayor of Los Angeles. In December 2007, the Press-Telegram reported, “Los Angeles’ police and fire departments defied Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s call to cut their budgets for next year.” Villaraigosa previously called for LAFD and LAPD to reduce their budgets by 8 percent, however both agencies claimed they could not do this without “imposing draconian cuts, including layoffs.” Instead, the LAFD and LAPD “submitted budget requests to the Mayor’s Office that call for increases — $250 million more for the LAPD and $72 million for the LAFD.” According to Fire Commission President Genethia Hudley-Hayes, “You’re going to ask us to take 8 percent from our budget… In good conscience, I can’t do that. I won’t do that.” [Press-Telegram, 12/19/2007]

LAPD and LAFD defied Villaraigosa’s call to cut budgets by 8 percent in 2007. In December 2007, the Press-Telegram reported, “Los Angeles’ police and fire departments defied Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s call to cut their budgets for next year.” Villaraigosa previously called for LAFD and LAPD to reduce their budgets by 8 percent, however both agencies claimed they could not do this without “imposing draconian cuts, including layoffs.” Instead, the LAFD and LAPD “submitted budget requests to the Mayor’s Office that call for increases — $250 million more for the LAPD and $72 million for the LAFD.” According to Fire Commission President Genethia Hudley-Hayes, “You’re going to ask us to take 8percent from our budget… In good conscience, I can’t do that. I won’t do that.” [Press-Telegram, 12/19/2007]

Villaraigosa cut $241,000 from budget of LAFD discrimination investigation unit in 2008. In March 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that Villaraigosa cut $241,000 of a $360,000 budget for the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Professional Standard Division. The LAFD unit was “formed to better investigate employee discrimination lawsuits”:

The unit was a key reform launched earlier this year in response to city audits that found the Fire Department had failed to properly document and track allegations of harassment, retaliation and discrimination. Previously, there was no uniform standard for handling such cases… ‘It doesn’t make sense to cut something that is so overdue and is needed to stem the bleeding of lawsuits,’ said Controller Laura Chick, who released an audit two years ago documenting problems with the department’s disciplinary system. ‘It’s not a smart way to run the second-largest city in America.’

According to Steve Tufts, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, the LAFD’s Professional Standard Division “absolutely needs funding.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/5/2008]

LAPD forced to cut $130 million in spending in 2009. In August 2009, TIME reported that the Los Angeles Police Department “must trim $130 million in spending, a consequence of the cuts imposed by the City Council and mayor to close Los Angeles’ $530-million budget shortfall.” [TIME, 8/8/2009]

LAPD hiring freeze ‘thinned civilian ranks’ in 2010. In April 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that city officials “imposed a hiring freeze” in the Los Angeles Police Department due to the city’s budget crisis. According to the Times, the hiring freeze,

Thinned the civilian ranks of the LAPD, meaning that some officers must do desk work rather than patrol the streets. Though the department was authorized to employ 4,000 civilian employees in this year’s budget, the union representing LAPD employees said the number of filled positions is expected to drop below 2,900 by the June 30 end of the fiscal year. Those staffing shortages amount to fewer cops on the street, said Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. Reassigning 100 officers from fieldwork to back-fill vacant civilian jobs was the equivalent of removing about 30 police cars citywide, Weber said.

[Los Angeles Times, 4/19/2010]

Yale study found racial bias among LAPD stop and frisks in 2008. In October 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that the ACLU published a Yale study that analyzed “more than 700,000 cases in which Los Angeles Police Department officers stopped pedestrians and/or drivers of motor vehicles between July 2003 and June 2004”:

We found persistent and statistically significant racial disparities in policing that raise grave concerns that African Americans and Latinos in Los Angeles are, as we put it in the report, ‘over-stopped, over-frisked, over-searched and over-arrested.’ After controlling for violent crime rates and property crime rates in specific neighborhoods, as well as a host of other variables, we found the following: For every 10,000 residents, about 3,400 more black people are stopped than whites, and 360 more Latinos are stopped than whites. Stopped blacks are 127% more likely to be frisked — and stopped Latinos are 43% more likely to be frisked — than stopped whites. Stopped blacks are 76% more likely to be searched, and stopped Latinos are 16% more likely to be searched than stopped whites. Stopped blacks are 29% more likely to be arrested, and stopped Latinos are 32% more likely to be arrested than stopped whites. Now consider this: Although stopped blacks were 127% more likely to be frisked than stopped whites, they were 42.3% less likely to be found with a weapon after they were frisked, 25% less likely to be found with drugs and 33% less likely to be found with other contraband. We found similar patterns for Latinos.

Police Chief Bratton reportedly “rejected” the Yale study because it “used data that was more than 4 years old.” However, according to the Yale researchers, they “had no other choice,” because the LAPD had “not released the more recent stop data that it has been collecting, nor has it analyzed the more recent data to test for racial disparities.” According to the ACLU of Southern California, the LAPD rejected the Yale researchers’ offer to “work with the department to develop and refine efforts to identify racial profiling.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/23/2008; American Civil Liberties Union, 1/14/2009]