Make sure you get the facts straight before you leap to the conclusion that L.A. County Supervisors’ aides improperly tried to influence planning staff on land use decisions.
Such actions, after all, could be easily construed as criminal and could lead to prosecution, especially if campaign contributions or other money was exchanged.
But thanks to the sparse reporting of the L.A. Times we don’t have the facts to support accusing anyone of involvement in such a scandal.
Surely, the paper’s sharp cuts account for why the dismissal Friday of Bruce W. McClendon, Los Angeles County’s
chief land use planner, merits only seven paragraphs.
McClendon, the Times
reports, was called into the office of County Chief
Executive Officer William T. Fujioka and told he was fired effective
immediately and told he will get half his $191,028 yearly salary as
severance after two years as head of the Department of Regional
he believed the firing was likely in retaliation for becoming a
whistle-blower against the Board of Supervisors.
claimed he gave information to Fujioka that supervisors’ aides
routinely sought to improperly influence hearing officers’ decisions on
whether to permit development plans. “It was illegal, and they can go
to jail for doing it,” McClendon, 62, told the Times.
Fujioka denied that he received such information. Aides to
Supervisors Michael Antonovich, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina and Zev
Yaroslavsky declined to comment.
McClendon said that
he also protected his staff from day-to-day interference from
supervisors’ aides, an occurrence that was supposed to be reduced by
the implementation in 2007 of a new county structure.
But a citizens watchdog group last year said “the number of bosses
intervening in department affairs had actually multiplied,” the Times reported.
McClendon, author of five books and a past president of the American Planning Association, is credited with working to update the master planning document for the
county, which had been largely unchanged for 35 years.
Now if McClendon is going to have any credibility, he’s going to have
to produce incriminating evidence — emails, memos, recordings,
witnesses — to prove his accusation.
Of course, somebody would have to ask for his proof, or actually
conduct a complete investigation but it’s hard to see that happening.
Is District Attorney Steve Cooley going to bring down the power of the
law on the people who control his budget and keep him comfortably in
office without actually ever becoming visible?
Without hard evidence and a thorough investigation, nobody who has
watched developers get away with just about anything in the county –
or the city for that matter — is going to believe our politicians use
their influence to affect planning decisions on behalf of the people
who contribute to their campaigns and treat them like royalty.
So I urge you not to leap to any conclusions. Just because McClendon says it and just because there seems to be a clear connection between development decisions and campaign contributions, doesn’t make it true.
No Sir, we need an investigation to clear the good names of our public servants.