Friday, April 11, 2003
Cooley Decries Potential Budget Cut, Says ‘Most Vulnerable’ Will Be Hurt
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Several specialized prosecution units will have to be consolidated or reduced in size if the county imposes a proposed $4.6 million budget cut on his office, District Attorney Steve Cooley said yesterday.
In a memo addressed to the office’s personnel, Cooley reported that he had been told of the proposed cut by Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen, whose proposed budget for fiscal year 2003-04 is to be unveiled Monday morning.
The budget is scheduled be officially presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, and the board is to begin public hearings on the budget next month.
“We will make it very clear that—if the Board adopts the CAO’s recommended budget for this department over our strongest objections—it will be abandoning specialized prosecution efforts that have been developed over many years by successive administrations to benefit the most vulnerable crime victims,” Cooley wrote.
The proposed cuts are unfair, Cooley said, because the office has “been fiscally responsible and lived within our budget,” despite pressing needs. Janssen, he said, “acknowledged these facts and without blinking” said he was going to recommend the cut anyway.
“Line operations have already been reduced to minimum staffing levels and are further stretched by court unification, which resulted in this office staffing more courts,” Cooley wrote. “Requests for staffing increases to correspond with the court unification plan have regrettably not been acted on.”
In order to meet the reduced budget without layoffs or pay cuts, and without reducing the level of staffing used to prosecute violent crimes, Cooley said, the Quality of Life, Environmental Crimes, Elder Abuse, Arson, Asian Gangs, Hate Crimes, and High Tech Crimes units would be consolidated or reduced and the Family Violence and Sex Crimes divisions would be reduced in size by one-half and limited to “the most serious, difficult cases.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company