How could anyone in their right mind question the good intentions of United Way and the generous contributions of Goldman Sachs, CB Richard Ellis, AECOM consulting and Herbalife to create jobs in LA working with the mayor and his jobs czar Austin Beutner?
Just because Goldman Sachs reaped a windfall paper profit of $145.6 million a week ago when the City Council approved upzoning the massive Playa Vista project that Goldman Sachs, union pension funds and others own “to allow about 2.6 million square feet of
luxury housing, a smattering of senior housing and about 341,000 square
feet of retail, offices and public buildings,” as LA Weekly reports, is no reason to question its motives.
After all, what’s a piddling $80,000 contribution mean to the firm’s chairman, Lloyd Blankfein, when he earned $77 million last year after being saved from bankruptcy by U.S. taxpayers.
That Beutner was put in place by a committee that included Playa Vista president Steve Soboroff and that approval of the development’s expansion won’t be final until next week and that the people trying to save Ballona Wetlands are set for a last-ditch fight are surely just coincidences.
Only a cynic would wonder about the enormous generosity of the giant real estate firm CB Richard Ellis’ tax deductible donation of $500,000 to United Way to bring six “young business executives and workers into city government
to assist with efforts to create jobs and help companies,” as the LA Times joyfully reported.
That the firm has enjoyed serving as the city’s long-time real estate broker under contracts with the General Services Department and other agencies could not possibly have anything to do with this.
“In these tough budget times, hiring people is just not the easiest
thing to do; in fact, we’re moving in the other direction,” Villaraigosa
said. “So looking for public-private partnerships that will bring fresh
ideas, new energy and not cost the city any money on the general fund
is my kind of new idea.”
One might quibble with how new an idea it is to bring insiders further inside City Hall’s dealings but really what’s the point.
The same is true for AECOM Corp., the global management consulting firm, and its handsome contracts with LA World Airports for hundreds of millions of dollars.
It has every reason to be proud of the $25 million initial contract that its subsidiary DMJM Aviation got in 2008 for “program management services supporting the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).”
That contract has blossomed today so that AECOM is unashamed to note on its website that it is “planning for design and phased construction to modernize the airport…Our management tasks included conceptual design, detailed phasing plans; scheduling; cost estimating; program and design criteria development; all necessary research; modeling; assessment; project definition; and pre-construction management.”
AECOM is involved in everything from “Bradley International Terminal Expansion, New Midfield Satellite Concourse, Relocation of south runway; addition of center taxiway to accommodate new large aircraft; and improvement of airfield movements, A new Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC) to improve land access to the central terminal area, Consolidated rental car facility serving over 16 rental car companies, with a total capacity of over 20,000 cars.”
We should be thankful that their fine work has avoided disruption and inconvenience at our wonderful airport and give double thanks for their $100,000 contribution.
As for Herbalife and its $100,000 donation, the piddling subsidies they got last year for street services and other special events dispensations for the “Herbalife Facility Tours” and later their Triathlon clearly would not represent a conflict of interest unless city unions negotiate a benefit that includes free lifetime supplies of their products or the firm has some land use needs.
The nobility of the rich should never be questioned which is why the Times felt no need to mention of this.
I, for one, agree. They are above reproach. My only concern is for how much it is going to cost me for these six charity consults and Austin Beutner to “buy jobs” in a city near bankruptcy, torn by dissension and facing billions of dollars in bills to fix the mismanagement of its far from charitable municipal utility.