Stephen Box may be a bright guy, but he has absolutely awful political instincts. Unfortunately, his latest direction sees him drifting off even more in the direction of the Valley pitchfork people, and further away from downtown political reality.
Box is now heading up Budget LA, an organization devoted to "fighting to develop a sustainable budget for the city of Los Angeles." In other words, he now heads up an organization devoted to fighting to develop something for which not a single notable political figure in City believes there is a legitimate political need.
While our budget problems are indeed pressing, facing a five percent deficit for the next few years means that they are already far from unsustainable. It happens that every now and then that a Paul Krekorian or a Wendy Greuel grandstands about the City's budget, to appease and allay their pitchfork-ready constituents; but they rarely freight the same message to downtown or westside audiences. More perilously, an irresponsible union-busting former Mayor has screamed the b-word to Wall Street, to the City's peril, and all Councilmembers are indeed emphasizing "$350 million" while the Mayor emphasizes even more, and nobody is really telling the public the truth, that this is actually a much smaller deficit than the number makes it sounds (for instance, the City tries to float bonds between $100 million and a billion all the time, and sometimes succeeds).
It could be that Box is budget-savvy enough to know already that the City will emerge from its budget difficulties in a few years relatively unscathed, and that he hopes to cajole and acquiesce the role of city savior at that time. But I really doubt, given Box's own personal budgetary fiascos, that this is very likely to happen in 2015 or whenever it happens that Box takes the next step, whatever the next step may be. It would be far better to see Box working bike lanes than Box working budget messes. This is make-work, and make-work rarely works to enhance political profile.