One can only hope that the feds have bugs and wiretaps all over City Hall these days as they cut dirty deals to trash the city by approving a bunch of digital billboards as favors for Phil Anschutz’ Staples Center and L.A. Live and others who give so often and so generously to their campaigns.
Item 39 on today’s City Council agenda is an element in this conspiracy to undermine the public interest: File No. 08-2893, Closed Session “to confer with legal counsel relative to the case entitled World Wide Rush LLC vs City of Los Angeles.”
This is the federal civil rights case brought by — and won by — billboard companies against the city claiming regulations on signs were done in a manner that violated their right to free speech. It was no accident the city turned offensive billboard advertising into a free speech issue.
That’s right. The nation’s highest paid city officials — from the mayor on down to the lowly City Council members — lost this case and opened the door to the virtually unlimited visual blight of giant digital electronic billboards wherever the companies want to put them.
For nearly seven weeks now, the settlement of this case has been continued week after week and it will be continued again today
Dragging out the case is part of a City Hall conspiracy to delay imposing a moratorium on new digital billboards until next year while deals are being cut to get new ones approved for favored contributors before the moratorium takes effect.
“They need time for the mayor’s economic development arm to work out deals with the lobbyists so they won’t do anything until the horses are out of the barn.”
If that isn’t a crime, given the huge sums of money involved, what the
Illinois governor is accused of doing was just a smart business scheme
n tough economic times.
The digital billboard scandal was one of the issues cited by Jane Ellison-Usher in her letter of resignation (Jane UsherResignation.pdf) as head of the City Planning Commission on Thursday. In the letter and a Curbed LA interview,
Usher was all class about it, just as Nick Patsaouras was in resigning
as head of the DWP board, but behind the scenes she faced the choice of
becoming part of the scandal or walking away with her head held high
that she did all she could on behalf of the people and the city.
courage shown by only a handful of city commissioners or elected
officials, Usher repeatedly had challenged the destructive development
policies the mayor and his colleagues are using to destroy the quality
of life in L.A. A month ago, she engineered unanimous approval of a
proposed ordinance to impose a six-month moratorium on new billboards
and conversions of existing ones to the obnoxious electronic variety.
Anti-billboard crusader Dennis Hathaway raised the issue this week of what was going on in an article headlined “Is the L.A. City Council Fiddling While Rome Burns?“
“Despite the fact that more than 50 applications for new digital billboards are pending in
the city building department, the six-month moratorium…hasn’t even been
scheduled for a city council committee hearing,” Hathaway wrote.
Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) establishing the moratorium was
transmitted to the council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM)
committee on Nov. 25. That committee, chaired by Councilman Ed Reyes,
didn’t take up the ICO at its Dec. 2 meeting, nor is it on the agenda
of the next meeting, Dec. 9. No further meetings are on the city
calendar before the council recesses for the holidays.”
that 101 digital billboards are already approved, many of them in
Council President Eric Garcetti’s district, including one in Silver
Lake where the community uproar threatens to sabotage his campaign to
succeed Xavier Becerra in Congress.
What wouldn’t Garcetti do to
get that billboard removed in exchange for others in Hollywood or
around L.A. Live? What wouldn’t he and his colleagues do to approve the
massive digital billboard plan for the Convention Center if they could
raise a few million bucks to help cover the massive budget deficit they
caused with their sweetheart deals and giveaways?
city won the original case upholding its regulation of billboards but then City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, in complicity with others in
City Hall, destroyed their ability to enforce the ordinance by cutting
deals with the biggest billboard companies.
None of this is an accident.
is pure pay-to-play but don’t hold your breath for anyone to take a
fall. The fine art of political corruption was honed here. It will take
a revolution to change L.A. and bring open and honest government to the
city and leaders who put the public interest ahead of the special