The Operators Behind MTA’s Rail Car Deal
Beth Barrett in the LA Weekly goes behind the scenes of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s back room maneuvering to keep a $300 million deal for new rail cars in the hands of the Italian firm AnsaldoBreda that failed to fulfill the terms of its earlier contract.
The firm missed deadline after deadline and when it delivered its cars they were 6,000 pounds too heavy with seats too narrow and might not be operable on all the region’s light rail lines.
MTA management wanted to open up bidding on a new batch of cars to all comers but the Italians cut deals with billionaire Stephen Bing, the county Federation of Labor and LA’s mayor with promises of opening a factory downtown
“The case is a vivid example of how politicians, firms and unions are
grabbing for tens of billions of dollars expected to flow from the new
Measure R sales-tax increase,” Barrett writes. “The Italians have hired Chris Lehane, a
political spinmeister and former aide to President Bill Clinton, as the
firm’s media handler.”
Desperate Jack Weiss Sells Out to Developers
Mayor Sam’s Michael Higby takes apart Jack Weiss’ ordinance approved Wednesday by the City Council that virtually turns over the city to developers.
The measure, going far beyond a new state law, extends the life of developers’ entitlements on property by a year. The intent was to recognize the impact on development of the economic crisis and limit the extension to projects actually in the works.
But Weiss, who will do anything for the moneyed people so he can win the City Attorney’s race, went far beyond the state law in winning a blanket extension.
Higby writes: “Shouldn’t there be an analysis of how many and which projects will be
impacted by this ordinance? One would think that certain projects
should not be given a longer life for related entitlements, and that
the projects that do get an extra year for related entitlements should
have to pay a hefty fee for it. Don’t we have a budget crisis? Why are
we giving away significant value for NO consideration? The more
egregious the entitlements (or if they’ve already expired or they’re
close to expiration), the higher the fee should be.
Writing Is on the Wall for City Hall Calligraphers
Daniel Heimpel in the LA Weekly pens
a story about City Hall calligraphers who produce beautiful
proclamations — nearly 28,000 of them last fiscal every year — honoring people far and wide
at the whim of the mayor and City Council.
He suggests that with the mayor admitting to a $530 million budget deficit, the scrolls are a $1 million indulgence City Hall cannot afford any longer.
“For years, these same council members failed to fund even one extra
billboard inspector to help the three inspectors long overwhelmed by a
proliferation of thousands of controversial and illegal billboards in
L.A. And $1 million per year would have greatly helped pay for the
testing of rape-incident DNA evidence that has sat, untested, on LAPD
shelves for years.”
For the record, here’s the tally so far this year: Mayor 4,215, Eric Garcetti 1,926Tom LaBonge1,519, Jose Huizar 1,386, Dennis Zine 1,298, Jan Perry 1,134, Ed
Reyes 1,073 and Bernard Parks 1,067.