FRIEND OF ANTONIO’S GOES BROKE, WHO GETS THE BILL?
Antonio benefactor and profiteer Richard Meruelo is back in the news — it turns out even the $50 million payoff from the LAUSD board wasn’t enough to keep the downtown property owner out of bankruptcy.
His company Meruelo Maddox Properties expects to follow its subsidiaries into Bankruptcy Court as early as today, the Times reports.
You might remember it was Meruelo who was Antonio’s biggest contributor back in 2005, donating $193,000 to his cause — and that he got a healthy return from Antonio’s school board last summer when it agreed to pay him $50 million for the Taylor Yard property. The Downtown News broke the story two months after the board’s secret vote..
Back then, I posted about it, noting Meruelo bought the property out from under LAUSD’s nose at the of the property boom and sold it when the market had crashed and still made a $20 million profit.
Since Meruelo is the largest downtown property owner and the CRA has been so generous in funding his developments, it will be interesting to see just how much money the taxpayers have lost
CONFLICT OF INTEREST OR JUST OUR CIVIC CULTURE?
That’s the question Jerry Sullivan asks in a headline in LA Garment & Citizen in the latest story about questionable dealings involved in the purchase of a property in the 400 block of Spring Street downtown for a park.
The article focuses on role of Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., Director of Asset Management for the city’s Department of General Services and whether the city overpaid when it bought 0.8 acre for $5.6 million.
He is also secretary of the state Democratic Party and serves on its finance committee which connects him to such major local and state politcal contributors as developer Tom Gilmore, the Central City Association and Bill Witte of Related Cos., which is having so much trouble getting the Grand Avenue project going.
“Jones-Sawyer’s dual roles are the latest circumstances to raise questions about the deal, following concerns expressed by some local real estate professionals and others over the price of the land on Spring Street as well as the timing and approval process for the proposed acquisition,” Garment & Citizen says.
GOOD JOBS, GREEN JOBS — LET THEM EAT PROMISES
“It seems like we’re getting a stench of Chicago politics to have a continuation with an unreliable vendor.” — County Supervisor Mike Antonovich on the two-month extension MTA granted Italian rail car mark AnsakdoBreda.
If only that were true, maybe we’d actually have a crooked political machine that works like Chicago instead of the one we have that doesn’t work.
In getting his way, Antonio had to shake up the MTA board and use his clout to keep alive a $300 million deal to build 100 rail cars that based on AnsaldoBreda’s past performance will be too heavy with seats too narrow and incompatible with the rest of the light rail system’s cars — if they ever get built at all.
But even the mayor was cautious as he brushed aside the recommendations of the MTA management, according to the Times.
He admitted there are “real questions” about the company which has promised numerous cities it will build local factories if the get lucratives contracts and presumably lucrative subsidies.
But having overseen creation of a budget deficit rapidly approaching $1 billion and one of the nation’s highest urban unemployment rates at 12 percent, the mayor is desperate to show he can attract businesses that pay more than the “living wage.”