Despite impassioned pleas, a sharply divided Los Angeles City Council once again on Friday defeated a motion to put a half-cent sales tax increase on the May 17 ballot to fund more police. The 9-6 vote was unchanged from Wednesday and was one vote shy of the 10-vote supermajority needed to place the measure on the ballot.
The motion, spearheaded by L.A. Mayor James Hahn, is now dead. Friday was the last day under city election statutes to place a measure on the May 17 ballot.
The debate before the vote was unusually heated. Janice Hahn, the mayor's sister and a supporter of the tax, sharply criticized mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, accusing him of playing politics with his "no" vote on the proposal. "Save your crappy speeches for the campaign trail," Hahn said.
Villaraigosa said he opposed this motion because it wasn't comprehensive.
"I supported the countywide sales tax because it included money for more sheriff's officers, for more prosecutors, for more people to staff our jails. That's why this council supported it unanimously," he said. "This proposal is something different... It doesn't have the support of the city and it won't work. Sometimes in life you have to have the courage of your convictions, even when your constituents disagree."
Councilmember Dennis Zine accused Mayor Hahn of trying to drive a wedge between the councilmembers.
"I am angered and disappointed that a minority of the council who all trusted the voters of this city to elect them to office chose not to trust the voters with this crucial decision," Mayor Hahn said in a statement. "The citizens of this city have told me time and again that their number one priority is to make this city safer and a minority of the council today told them that they have to wait."
On Wednesday, Hahn had said councilmembers Villaraigosa and Jack Weiss should be recalled from office. Villaraigosa and Weiss had voted against the sales tax motion, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of voters in their districts voted in favor of a countywide sales tax measure that ultimately went down to defeat last November.
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