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Signs of Intelligent Life at City Hall — Who Knew?

Somebody must have spiked the bottled water City Council members drink with IQ raising drugs, or maybe it’s just fear of voter retribution that has awakened them from their long, deep sleep of denial of the hell they have wrought.

All of a sudden, Ed Reyes is worried about how city policies are terrorizing the middle class and taking apart the mayor’s gofer Matt Szabo for the sins of his patron.

Tony Cardenas has become a folk hero with penetrating questions that expose the fallacies of city policies, exposes his colleague RIchard Alarcon’s abusive humiliations of bureaucrats and points the finger at the mayor, the rest of his colleagues and himself for the city’s descent into chaos and bankruptcy.

Who knew that within Jan Perry lurked the command of an army general and knowledge of a utility executive as she showed off Thursday when she left top DWP officials mumbling and grumbling in their endless sea of lies and deceits?

Even Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge have had moments when they have strung together two sentences that actually make sense.

There are exceptions, of course.

Janice “Sunday Fun Day” Hahn stills sounds like she is better suited to cheerleading at a school booster club.

Bill Rosendahl is finding that ignorance of what he’s voted for, even in areas like public access TV that he spent his career in, cannot be concealed by how deeply he cares for everyone.

And Eric Garcetti has the faraway look of a man who wishes he were in Congress where nobody knows what they do or off on a battleship somewhere as a Naval Reserve officer. He even stutters when he talks about city workers taking huge pay cuts and looks at the sky knowing what hot air he’s blowing when he declares that giving overpaid DWP workers raises of nearly 20 percent actually saves $164 million because utility executives budgeted for even bigger raises over the next five years.

Strange things are happening at City Hall, providing at least faint hope that some, if not all, of our elected officials are getting the message that their day of reckoning is coming.

Nine months into the fiscal year, the Council is spending day after day learning how badly they mismanaged the city’s affairs and how they paid no attention what they were voting on or the impact on the budget and city services to the public.

They are in quicksand and their struggle to free themselves is only making matters worse. Not a day goes by that doesn’t show their strategy to chase declining revenue numbers downhill is failing.

They tried sweetheart deals to get senior employees to retire early, then a shotgun approach to budget cuts, causing nothing but chaos and confusion since both tactics were untargeted.

Then, they resorted to announcing 1,000 layoffs, then more layoffs while weeping for the impact on city workers and hardly noticing the 14 percent unemployment rate and the hundreds of thousands of people in the private sector who have lost their jobs.

Now, they are hoping against hope that city workers who do have jobs and haven’t gotten pay raises from cops to civilian employees will take huge pay cuts while those in the IBEW keep getting more and more in their paychecks.

The mayor is oblivious to all that is going on.

He prefers to live in a fantasy world in the faraway future so all that matters now is talking about spending billions upon billions of dollars to build a subway-to-the-sea in and purify the air with green energy instead of coal power plants.

He doesn’t even seem to notice that he has lost clout with the Council and would lose in a landslide if he faced re-election today.




He wants a blank check for his green energy trust fund but there is
no trust. And there is no money. Did he not hear the business community
tell him that massive electricity rate hikes will mean far more jobs
lost than he claims might be created over time, maybe, by going green no
matter how much it costs? Did he not notice that the downtown
Marriott Hotel sold
yesterday for $60 million, half its value three
years ago?

Living like a multimillionaire in Getty Mansion at
taxpayer expense surrounded by servants and bodyguards and sycophants he
probably doesn’t know homeowners like all property owners and
businesses and workers have lost huge chunks of their paper wealth and
incomes. 

If he had even a small shred of leadership ability, he
could marshal the political forces of the city into coming to grips
with problems and avert this crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

In
the vacuum of leadership is opportunity.

It is up to the
community and civic and business and labor leaders to fill the void but
time is running short. In a few weeks, the mayor will present his budget
for next year with its deficit approaching $600 million — 15 percent
more than revenue — and then the Council will take it up.

The
decisions they make change the face of Los Angeles for decades to come.
They will do no better than we deserve if we sit on the sidelines as if
we were spectators in our lives.

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28 Responses to Signs of Intelligent Life at City Hall — Who Knew?

  1. Robert Noel says:

    Ron,
    I’ve only just signed onto your website this past week. I first heard you on KFI. Since reading your astute, brutally honest stories, I’m hooked. You are perhaps the only columnist in Los Angeles who has the courage to show us “the emperor does not have any clothes”. Thanks for your efforts — this is the work of a real journalist!

  2. Walter Moore says:

    You know why their IQ is rising?
    Necessity is a mother. They are realizing that unless the undo their years of mismanagement, their political careers will end permanently at the next election.
    They do not want to be ejected from the gravy train.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are right Ron. Leadership is going to come from the Council, the Mayor is powerless.
    I agree, Perry is proving her leadership skills. Poor Eric.

  4. ColeslawPatriot says:

    Another KFI 640AM listener now following your blog. Very compelling.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Today you liken Jan Perry to a general because she says what you want to hear and goes against the mayor for her own political opportunism maybe, as he claims in today’s LASlimes/David Zahniser’s article. But you’ve led the charge against her all year for now bowing down before your Carmine the “bully” and “clown” as he’s being called, both over billboards and the Jackson memorial events, both to do with AEG which you pillory even though they’ve gambled hundreds of millions by building a new movie theater/entertainment/hotel complex and providing jobs. This is the usual opportunism of the conservative bunch you speak for as OurLA.
    In this case I do agree with those tho think the mayor’s guilty of his own political opportunism when it comes to DWP rate hikes – tho you’re way off and decades behind as usual, bashing the subway “to the sea” when we’re in gridlock, yet you go on and on fighting the mass transit every other city in America has had for decades. And in Europe, for a hundred years – even in Moscow and Budapest, let along Paris and London. It’s about issues, not “this person is great today for suddenly going against someone I’ve dumped on forever,” or v.v. All politicians are opportunists – as you note even of the “like me! I’m a compassionate guy who just wants to make the world a better place!” – hope it gives him a platform for higher office, Rosendahl.

  6. Walter Moore says:

    To anon at 1:02:
    Ron’s position on issues has not changed.
    The City Council’s behavior has changed.
    He is commending them for doing so.
    Isn’t that the fair and right thing to do?
    I mean, when they take a position that helps the middle-class taxpayers, they should be encouraged for that, not criticized.
    Am I missing something here?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think 1:02′s point is that Ron has no real position on issues. Other to put a different politician in the hot seat every other day.

  8. And the City Council rightfully rejected EVIL-Raigosa’s Carbon Reduction Surcharge Plan, despite his threats to bankrupt the City.

  9. James McCuen says:

    This just shows that grass roots effort can make a difference with Kaye, Moore, Humphreville, and many other neighborhood activists.
    We should give praise when Council men and women they do the right thing despite their past. And you’all need to be on guard for the famous end run – the Carbon Surcharge (tax) was a darling of the environmentalists.
    However since most weren’t local, they didn’t realize that this money was going to be diverted into the general fund. That is what the Mayor is EXPLICITLY saying even as recently as today!
    And we would face another decade of either higher price energy or continued out-of-state coal.

  10. Walter Moore says:

    James –
    Exactly!
    I hammer them when they do the wrong thing, so it’s only fair to encourage and commend them when they do the right thing.
    No one’s forgetting or even forgiving their past. We’re just encouraging them to mend their ways and do better in the future.

  11. Kate says:

    Its like training a dog. Carrot and stick, etc.

  12. In Eagle Rock says:

    The council members can show courage now and then and still be bad. Perry and the rest are thinking about priming the pump for their respective campaigns – but none should be mayor. Nor should any stay on as CMs except MAYBE Zine. Koretz is not very encouraging, and Krekorian has his moments but still not settled down enough to any position to be sure.
    The subway to the sea is not going to change gridlock when it’s an east-west long term project that does nothing for the valley to basin routes and it’s expensive. If they wnat to spend lots of money, maybe monorails would have been an option and more easily routed. Don’t know, but L.A. is not like any other city layout and without cars for most people, they would not be getting to where they need.
    Council however uses “transit corridors” as an excuse for densification and cutting down any code-required parking since of course there is access to the “transit.” Still, a 2 car household is more commonly needed. And on weekends, there are non-bus or rail needs for travel.
    It’s all really to get development moving along and isn’t that what’s needed here with poor performing schools and strains on services including police and fire departments? I still think Tony had a real good chance to do so good if he had not been so wrapped up in himself. He could have been well off if he didn’t always try for the big splash.
    Now, Tony just looks like a Bozo how is trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again when he should have stuck around to take care of things when he was hired on. Has he been in the tanning bed too long and fried his brain?

  13. Anonymous says:

    The council hasn’t done anything. Except express alarm
    No decision making, no alternative plans to the rate hikes, nothing policy related. Just expressing alarm. WOW. Aren’t we a bunch of cheer leaders now

  14. James McCuen says:

    To March 26, 2010 9:39 PM,
    You don’t have to worship the incumbents of the City Council, but you also need to grow up and understand basic human interaction and sound business practices.
    If this legislative body, the City Council, does the right thing, it makes sense to give them support, especially in light of political pressure from the Mayor, the Union, and Environmental groups (the last two will give or withhold money to their future campaigns).
    That’s the basics of motivation — You don’t have to operate on a binary basis.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The talk of the city is how these city council members all of a sudden are coming alive and sounding like leaders. The problem is people are leary of them and wondering are they grandstanding or honestly thinking of the people and the corruption the Mayor is trying to sneak by. Will they fold in the end? If they do that’s the answer. You figure 5 will campaign to be Mayor. Even though Perry is coming off somewhat hard on the DWP issue, her baggage far outweighs that and no way should ever be re elected. The even number seats are up, so let’s see what they do on Tuesday.

  16. Anonymous says:

    6:52 — Excellent comments, agree 100%.
    Just because some of the clowns all of a sudden say the right things does not matter. NONE of them should ever be elected to ANYTHING.
    If you people have any brains, would ever TRUST any of these clowns to PROTECT yOUR interests?
    By the way, how about that hardworking City CEO or something Santana getting arrested on a dui in a CITY car? Nice. He’s making something like $250K+ and is getting a city car, gas, etc. Very nice.

  17. David in Tarzana says:

    I too applaud what the council did on Friday, BUT that was the easy vote. They have perfected the art of expressing surprise and disgust when certain abuses of the public are exposed. They have even condemned their own votes and actions after the fact. ERIP comes to mind, “We didn’t know all the experienced people would retire. How are we going to provide services?”
    I will reserve real accolades for them when I see what the final DWP increase turns out to be. And yes, there will be an increase of some kind. After all, how does the council beg DWP to bail them out by moving employees from the city payroll to DWP payroll while propping up their treasury with surplus transfers from DWP and then turn around and tell DWP they can’t raise rates? They’ll make some noise and then vote for increased rates all the while patting themselves their collective back for “standing up for the public.” Truth be know, there is probably already a target increase that both parties know they will hit in the end after the song and dance for the voters is done.

  18. While I applaud any good decision, it will take a steady pattern of them before I will support any CM.
    So far, no one is on my short list of leaders.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Council members are already putting it out there although they may not vote on Tuesday for the FULL rate hike they most likely will vote for the smaller rate hike at .08 per kilowatt and rethink the other raises in time. BULLSHIT AND A COVER UP. IF anyone of these clowns vote for ANY RATE HIKE on Tuesday, it will mean they were just bullshitting AGAIN and PRETENDING to care about the people. Let’s see who has the balls to stand up and fight for the People on Tuesday.

  20. Anonymous says:

    High Ball….Low Ball tactics….8 ball in the corner pocket…Pay UP!

  21. Anonymous says:

    And you thought Tony was behind the 8 ball…Why do think he’s Mayor? He is a great strategist. He will be the Greatest Green Mayor of all time. Instead of “Chillin like a Villian”….The Green Hornet has devoted himself toward creating a sustainable city for the 21st Century and beeeeyond….He is a true visionary…Go Green Hornet…Go….

  22. Anonymous says:

    If this legislative body, the City Council, does the right thing, it makes sense to give them support, especially in light of political pressure from the Mayor, the Union, and Environmental groups (the last two will give or withhold money to their future campaigns).
    That’s the basics of motivation — You don’t have to operate on a binary basis.

    And my point was, they haven’t done the right thing yet, because they haven’t done ANYTHING. Posturing is not legislating.
    On a practical level, what exactly do you think they’re going to do policy-wise? The money to green the infrastructure has to come from somewhere. Are they going to cut their own programs so ratepayers won’t take the hit? Are they going to end General Fund transfers? Are they going to tear into the DWP budget plan and restructure it? No they’re not because even as they express alarm, they rely on DWP revenue to fund their own programs and are too disorganized to create and push alternatives through. This whole rate hike increase is framed by the even bigger reality that failing to account for that surcharge means a greater rate hike in the future because of state penalties. The state penalties and deadlines are greater pressure than the lobbying institutions you mentioned. So these guys are most likely going to end up delaying and agree to the rate hikes in the end anyway because they can’t come up with anything else. But if you want to cheerlead because you had an emotional reaction to something they said as opposed to did, go ahead. It’s naive, but go ahead.

  23. anonymous says:

    8:05 PM wrote: “This whole rate hike increase is framed by the even bigger reality that failing to account for that surcharge means a greater rate hike in the future because of state penalties. The state penalties and deadlines are greater pressure than the lobbying institutions you mentioned”
    That won’t have to happen if they stop the transfers; bite the bullet and rethink the general fund depletion. DWP profits are more than enough to meet that state mandate.
    I agree with you. Posturing is not legislating. Well said.

  24. Kungfuzhun says:

    I think you drank some of that Cardenas Kool-Aid.

  25. Kungfuzhun says:

    Ron, I think you must have drank some of that Cardenas Kool-Aid. Seems like he’s always trying to bully his way around. Once he starts to go off, no wants to challenge him. He defended the CAO, even though the guy makes a quarter million annually yet still drives a city vehicle. Probably for law enforcement immunity reasons. As we now read, it didn’t work. He takes the blame on the layoffs but so what? No one challenged him. Everyone in the audience he was addressing this to were trying to save their jobs. Tony knows how to throw his weight around and sees himself superior to everyone.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion this is all for SHOW. These clowns don’t give a crap about anyone but themselves. DWP has $1 BILLION in its reserve but they still want to tax us. Yes, the Daily News is calling this rate hike a TAX. They will all fold like the weak ass council members they are. Not one leader in the bunch, not one man who can stand up tall to fight for the people. THey are called politicans for a reason. Why did this rate hike come out of nowhere???? Where is Wendy Greuel who is suppose to be the watch dog for the people? Is she hiding cause IBEW gave her $200,000 to be elected? They are all crooks.

  27. Anonymous says:

    File this under “Bedfellows of Necessity”, LA County Labor Federation Leader Maria Elena Durazo and Riordan Republican Steve Soboroff sitting together at Friday’s Council meeting, as they join forces to push for approval of the second stage of Soboroff’s Playa Vista Project.
    Scott Johnson in CD 14

  28. Anonymous says:

    Maria Elena Durazo the “mistress” of the Mayor. You think Jesse James and Tiger Woods has mistresses can you imagine if Antonio’s sleazy women came out? Soboroff’s is an idiot. Playa Vista is a scam and unbelievable the clowns on council voted to push forward except for two.

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