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Mayor’s Top Financial Adviser Recommends Slashing Graffiti Removal Budget ~ L.A. Times

We're used to breathing snorts of frustration when we hear about budget cuts targeting our schools and health facilities, but a report in L.A. Times last week has us in glee over one suggested snip to the budget. One of Mayor Villaraigosa's top financial advisers is recommending that the city slash its graffiti-removal budget by half through 2011, something that instantly raised a ruckus. So why support such a thing?

Besides the fact that we hate seeing the city's more colorful productions buffed by overzealous, money-hungry agencies and temporary workers trying to fulfill their community service, the economics surrounding municipal graffiti removal seldom seem to add up. Who can forget the $4,000.000 price tag attached to the city's removal of an MTA piece in the L.A. River? Slash that price tag indeed! Similar to the media's perpetual marrying of taggers to gang members, these sky-high costs only ever seem to add up to scare tactics and wonky math that remind us all too well of those $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers supposedly once purchased by The Pentagon.

In an age where graffiti and street art have become such huge buzz words, it's time L.A. embraces its gifts and finds a way to raise money by promoting so many unique and talented artists (rather than that statue-thing on Santa Monica Blvd. that literally looks like a bronzed dog turd), surely something that can be done at a lesser cost than zapping artworks from buildings with the same zeal saved for erasing turf-markers from criminal syndicates and tags from the signs of mom-and-pop stores. Anyway, the cuts were recommended and the types of narcs that utilize the call-and-its-gone system had a cow in the comments as expected. The Mayor himself called this attempt at belt-tightening "way too much." When it comes to denying our students legit art classes, however, it's a different story.

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