Prisoner of Conscience: Richard I. Fine

I wasn’t prepared for what I encountered when I met Richard I. Fine for the first time.

Here was a distinguished and brilliant 70-year-old attorney who was disbarred and locked up in the LA County Men’s Central Jail downtown 15 months ago without charge, without bail, without the judiciary or the leadership of LA or the civil liberties community rallying to cause.

Fine is an anti-tax crusader who has exposed one scandal after another involving abuses of the public’s money by those elected to public office, and saved taxpayers more than $1 billion along the way.

He ran afoul of the law revealing that LA County Superior Court judges were being paid more than $40,000 a year under the table by the Board of Supervisors without reporting these payments on their financial disclosure forms and the potential for a conflict of interest with regard to cases involving the County of Los Angeles.
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He filed writ after writ in one county case after another questioning the integrity of judges getting these secret payments and their right to try cases involving their hidden benefactor.

He was proven right and when he was, the legislature with the governor’s signature legalized these payments and exonerating the judges for their past illegalities, and the legal fraternity took away his license to practice law because he was making a nuisance of himself.

And then the judges delivered the final blow intended to silence him.

The particular judge was David Yaffe, a jurist well known for his erratic legal rulings and occasional fits of rage in the courtroom.

Yaffe held Fine in contempt of court in March 2009 for refusing to answer detailed questions about his personal finances in a case involving a well-connected developer’s highly questionable project in Marina del Rey

Richard I. Fine was led out of court in handcuffs and booked into the county jail where he has been ever since.

I’ve written and done interviews on the case which has been closely followed by Leslie Dutton’s Full Disclosure Network and attracted followers who share the outrage over his jailing. CNN’s recent extensive report on Fine’s case has given it a higher profile.

It was my first visit to the Men’s Central Jail downtown. It gave me the jitters.

The cold indifference of the Twin Towers hit me when I entered the courtyard and scanned for signs of where to go.

I saw two rows of benches against the wall to my left with dozens of people sitting on them, mostly poor or working class, mostly Latinos. The one exception was a nervous white guy in a cheap suit. It turned he was a Brit with an expired passport, probably an illegal immigrant. He was having a hard time getting past the deputies.

I took a seat on the benches and waited for most of an hour until our group was called. Then, I stood in line as three deputies went individually through each visitor’s identification and paperwork and sent them to the appropriate line to spend a15 minutes or so chatting with their friend or family member.

It was all impersonal and professional. I was told Fine was in the infirmary which led me around a corner, far from the long lines of men, women and children paying a visit to a loved one locked up on a holiday weekend.

Two-way mirrored windows with a small slot at the bottom surrounded what I assumed was the guards’ room. I could hardly hear the deputy’s muffled words but handed over my license and then a loud slam allowed the iron-barred gate to open and I went up the elevator to another room with two-way mirrors and eight or so caged glass booths with telephones so visitor and inmate can talk.

Fine knew I was coming and as we talked, we found our lives had cross paths at the University of Chicago when he was a law student and I was an undergrad and in Cleveland when I was a reporter and he was an attorney trying a price-fixing case against GM and Ford. We live just a couple of miles apart in the Valley.

As we talked about his career and his case, he kept emphasizing there’s always a humorous side to every story. I watched his eyes and the expressions on his face as he rattled off the details of his, citing the state laws by number that were being violated, reciting with precise memory the language of the legal writs he has filed in an effort to win his freedom.

Continue reading Prisoner of Conscience: Richard I. Fine

County Supervisors Slam Door on Public at Secret Board Meetings in Nation’s Capital

EDITOR’S NOTE: When all five members of the LA County Board of Supervisors went to Washington, D.C., on May 5 and 6 to lobby the local Congressional Delegation it posted a “PUBLIC SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS.” Government watchdog Leslie Dutton of the Full Disclosure Network was curious and hired reporter Janet Levy and a camera crew to cover their “special meeting” agenda, much to the amazement of the supervisors who expected to meet as as full board far from home and public scrutiny and the requirements of the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law. Levy was turned away when she tried to cover many of the meetings, which were then marked canceled. The board later posted this report of the results of its meetings but did not post transcripts of the meetings as they do routinely. Here is the first part of the Full Disclosure Network’s report on what happened.

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By Leslie Dutton, Full Disclsoure Network

Washington DC The public and the press was
barred from attending five of the ten official public meetings called by
the L A Board of Supervisors on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on May
5th and 6th 2010, Traveling with the Board was the County’s Chief
Executive Officer, the County Counsel and at least a dozen of the
highest ranking administrators all of who were on hand to discuss agenda items such as the Obama Health Care Plan,
Funding for needy families and criminal alien assistance programs. But
when the Full Disclosure reporter and camera crew showed up all hell
broke loose.

County Supervisors had ten meetings scheduled in the Senate and
Congressional offices and the White House for the two day event. Full
Disclosure’s Reporter Janet Levy and the three-man
camera crew were prohibited from entering the public noticed meetings by
county staff and were told that it was the members of Congress who
objected to having the public and camera crew in the meetings. However
as Federal officials they are not subject to the California Brown Act
that prohibits a majority (three or more) of the County Supervisors from
meeting in private under the “Open Meeting Law”.

Full Disclosure showed up to the Capitol Hill offices of Senators
Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Congress Members Henry Waxman, Judy
Chu, Jane Harman, Maxine Waters, Linda Sanchez and Xavier Becerra they
were met with county staff objections, restrictions and outright cancellations and were completely barred from the
White House meeting. They were told that two Supervisors would be
meeting “privately” with the Congress Members. However in the case of
the White House, they apparently all in attendance but the public was
barred. Watch this ten minute video of what happened.

The two-half hour Full Disclosure Programs covering these meetings
will be shown on community cable channels throughout California and in
major cities across the United States, including Washington D.C.and on
the world wide Internet. DVD copies of the two-part series covering
the meetings and events can be ordered from the Full Disclosure website
here.

Antonio the Scofflaw: Freebies, Gifts and Favors — It’s All Part of the Job

The Attorney General of the State of California and the District Attorney of the County of Los Angeles both want your votes June 8 to move them forward on the road to higher service, to greater opportunity for public service.

But do wannabe governor again Jerry Brown and wannabe state attorney general Steve Cooley deserve your vote on the basis of their vigorous efforts to end the the blatant corruption that infects every agency from City Hall to the County Board of Supervisors to the schools and community colleges?

The answer is as plain as the higher taxes you’re paying one way or another and the shrinking of services you are facing.

City Hall is my beat and I’ll stick to that for the moment and the issue of freebies, gifts that our elected officials take as if born to royalty with all its special privileges. They all take all sorts of gifts and freebies from  expensive meals with fine wines at the Pacific Dining Car and Mozza to name a few to trips to Super Bowls and tickets to Lakers games.
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If they are aren’t on the take, it’s because they are so irrelevant nobody would even buy them. Corruption in LA politics is that pervasive.

The king of takers is Antonio Villaraigosa. As ineffective and out-of-touch as he is, he is still the mayor and certainly not irrelevant.

Phil Willon in the LA Times, despite being scooped on the story by TV reporter John Schwada, examines years of records and offers several examples of blatantly illegal gifts the mayor has taken like tickets to the Oscars, Dodgers and Lakers games and others.

“(He) has sat courtside next to movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg at three Lakers games at Staples Center. He has cheered alongside Tommy Lasorda and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in the owner’s box at Dodger Stadium. Rarely has he missed an awards show: the Academy Awards, the Grammys, the Emmys and the BET Awards –anywhere there was a red carpet in Los Angeles, odds were Villaraigosa was photographed standing on it.

It’s no surprise that the mayor attends many of the city’s premier sporting and cultural events. But Villaraigosa acknowledged this week that he goes to some of them free of charge. He said he considers those appearances to be part of his official duty to promote and represent Los Angeles.”

Read what I bold-faced again: “He considers these appearances to be part of his official duty to promote and represent Los Anegles.”

Has there ever been a clearer expression of regal privilege than that?

Continue reading Antonio the Scofflaw: Freebies, Gifts and Favors — It’s All Part of the Job

Clueless at City Hall: Beutner Sees DWP, Economic Development as Just Another Private Deal


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published in the North Valley Reporter.

For better or worse, the fate of Los Angeles
is in the hands of Austin Beutner, a Wall Street wizard
who made his
fortune
taking over distressed companies and bringing them back to life.

As
interim
DWP General Manager and de facto mayor in charge of a dozen key

departments,
Beutner’s
hands have never been this full.
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He is a
man who says the past doesn’t matter, it’s what you’re doing now to solve
problems that count. Yet, the past corruption at the DWP, a renegade utility
that has operated outside of public control, and the long-time overspending
throughout city government haunt his every move.

Strip
clubs, drinking on the job, theft at the DWP and our elected officials
commitment to protecting city workers while cutting services and squeezing more
money out of the public – Beutner seems powerless and not very interested in
delving deeply into what’s broken, or carrying out the dramatic changes needed
to turn LA around.

This
isn’t like anything Beutner has ever faced before.  He has no political experience nor shown any real
sense of the understanding that government isn’t just a business.

Continue reading Clueless at City Hall: Beutner Sees DWP, Economic Development as Just Another Private Deal

Bruno, LA’s Watchdog: Envying Antonio’s Freebie Lakers Seats

Where the hell is Stevie Kaufman when you really need him?
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As Ron reported a couple days ago, Stevie, an attorney who specializes in campaign and fund-raising law, represents just about every Democratic politician from San Diego to Sacramento – including Mayor Antonio.

According to Fox 11’s John Schwada, a one-time ink-stained wretch who thought he was too good looking for print, Antonio and his girlfriend Lu Parker, a former beauty queen turned TV reporter who is without doubt way too good looking for print, are sitting courtside in $2,000 seats at Lakers playoff games for free.

The story angle was that the tickets are not reported on the mayor’s gift disclosure forms, and that if they’re a gift of Staples Center he can’t legally accept them (or any gift) because arena owner AEG lobbies the city and get subsidies so big they could solve the financial problems of all the hundreds of thousands of people Antonio’s policies have sent to the unemployment line.

The mayor told Schwada that at the last game he was a guest of his “friend” Jeffrey Katzenberg, and insists that because he’s at the game in an “official capacity” as mayor the tickets don’t have to be reported as gifts.

Holy pooper-scooper! An official capacity? Did he play? Referee? Sing the national anthem?

I can only guess Antonio was answering on the basis of Stevie’s legal advice that he could  bring his honey to game and sit courtside without having to dig deep into his own pocket (ouch!), or, better yet, use his Officeholder Account, if there’s anything in there.  Under state rules that would be a bad dog’s trick, but in LA, you can use the dough for virtually anything – except campaigning.

I also wonder if the Dog Trainer has failed to notice his honor holding court courtside? Before it was decimated by layoffs of half its staff, the city’s paper of record like to think it didn’t miss such dirty tricks. Now, we need a TV reporter to tell us what’s going on.

Six years ago when the Dog Trainer was eviscerating Fleishman Hilliard’s relationship with the DWP and the office of Mayor James “Never Touch Me or Call Me Jimmy” Hahn, the Dog Trainer put a team of reporters on the job to find out if the DWP was secretly paying for Hahn’s seats behind the Dodgers dugout.

Continue reading Bruno, LA’s Watchdog: Envying Antonio’s Freebie Lakers Seats

Thanks, Nuch — Appeals Court Upholds LA’s Supergraphic and Freeway-Facing Sign Bans

A year ago, LA was in the unpleasant position of having opened the floodgates to digital billboards, supergraphics and freeway-facing signs.

There were 11,000 off-site billboards, more than a third illegal, and visual blight from signage was everywhere — the result of poorly crafted legislation, miserable enforcement and the corrupting influence of money on City Hall politicians.

On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals restored a measure of law and order by overturning a lower court ruling and finding the city’s bans on freeway facing signs and supergraphics.

There were 11,000 off-site billboards, more than a third illegal, and
visual blight from signage was everywhere — the result of poorly
crafted legislation, miserable enforcement and the corrupting influence
of money on City Hall politicians.

The key issues were the free speech rights of billboard companies and the exceptions granted by city officials that allowed Staples Center and a few others to use supergraphics and digital signs that face freeways, creating potential traffic hazards,

In a 25-page ruling (worldwiderush.pdf), the appeals court in a ruling written by Judge Kim Wardlaw and supported unanimously by Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Stephen Trott, the court reversed District Court Judge Audrey Collins ruling against the city and the contempt of court finding.

“The City’s exceptions to the Freeway Facing Sign Ban do not undermine the City’s interests in aesthetics and safety,” the court ruled. “Indeed, the exceptions were made for the express purpose of advancing those very interests. Allowing billboards at the Staples Center was an important element of a project to remove’ blight and dangerous conditions from downtown Los Angeles. Similarly, the Fifteenth Street SUD (special use district) was an outgrowth of the City’s efforts to improve traffic flow, and thereby safety, on Santa Monica Boulevard.

“Not only did the agreement to allow signs in the Fifteenth Street SUD advance that project, it also resulted in a net reduction of billboards inthe City. Ironically, the most significant denigration to the City’s interests in traffic safety and aesthetics might result, not from allowing the freeway facing billboards at the StaplesCenter and in the Fifteenth Street SUD but instead from strict adherence to the Freeway Facing Sign Ban, which might have severely hampered, if not completely defeated, both projects.”

Frankly, I think the court gave the city the benefit of a lot of doubts.

But after a long series of legal defeats and a seemingly unenforceable sign ordinance when he took office less than a year ago, City Attorney Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich and his team deserve a lot of the credit. Even his critics ought to be able to acknowledge that.

Continue reading Thanks, Nuch — Appeals Court Upholds LA’s Supergraphic and Freeway-Facing Sign Bans

Bruno, LA’s Watchdog: Why Can’t Anybody Get Along with the DWP?

It looks like the lack of green power at Harbor College is a result of a lack of brainpower.
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Thanks to the Daily Breeze’s Melissa Pamer for the kind of story this old dog likes to chew onm we learned the Los Angeles Community College District has installed $25 million worth of solar panels five months ago at Harbor College – but can’t turn them on.

“That’s because the Los Angeles Community College District is still sorting out how to pay the eye-popping price tag for the solar panels – and how to get the local utility to approve their use,” Pamer says.

The district’s intention had been that Chevron Energy Solutions, which installed the panels, would own the solar equipment and sell the resulting power to the college district, using federal and state alternative energy incentives to bring down the cost. After six years, LACCD would have bought the equipment.

But district officials failed to get that arrangement approved by the Department of Water and Power, which unlike most other utilities in the state doesn’t like third parties owning rooftop solar because it would break up the monopoly it holds in safe-keeping for my pit bull pal Brian D’Arcy.

So DWP declared that a third party could not sell electricity to the college, causing Chevron to demand LACCD pay its construction bills.

Pamer said the “conundrum” (she was being polite) represents a small portion of an ambitious, nearly $6 billion bond-funded construction campaign that college district officials have heavily promoted as the nation’s largest “green” building effort.

Branded as BuildLACCD, the campaign grew in 2006 to include a proposal for one of the biggest solar installations in the country.

Behind the grand plans, the nine-college district has encountered the proverbial devil among the details. Right now, the question is: Where will the money come from for projects – at Harbor College and Pierce College in Woodland Hills – that are already built?

“That’s the big screw-up,” said Mona Field, president of the district’s board of trustees who never before saw a deal she didn’t like if it benefited the unions, special interests and political machine.

“I didn’t know we were approving projects without having the money. … It has turned into a bit of a mess, I must admit.”

A bit of a mess?  Reporters can work a lifetime without encountering a public official that can dish out dumber quotes than Mona Field.   

For the past few weeks, the nine-campus community college district — the nation’s largest — has been negotiating a complex deal to get a division of Citigroup to pay off Chevron. The bank, which has already provided a short-term loan to pay most of what is owed Chevron, would lease the solar equipment back to the college district, which would eventually buy it.

Larry Eisenberg, the man some call the “visionary” behind BuildLACCD’s green tinge, said he expects DWP to approve the lease and grant a state rebate to the project this week. (A spokeswoman for DWP said department officials had received the district’s application but would not comment on a customer account.)

Eisenberg, executive director of facilities planning and development, acknowledged the district had experienced some difficulty, but he said it was encountered while helping to pioneer a new kind of financing arrangement for solar installations.

“We’re sort of learning as we’re going. It would be nice if there had been a road map, but somebody had to go first,” Eisenberg said. “In the process of going first, you wind up exploring a fair number of dead ends.”

Pamer must be ecstatic covering the LACCD.  Eisenberg’s quotes are almost as dumb as Field’s and he botched another deal Pamer came across right after the Harbor College fiasco

It was called the “Green Hive” and was the brainchild of business partners Kim Robinson and Kris Kimble who had this idea to create “a unique resource center for homeowners,
city planners and commercial builders to get hands-on learning about
eco-friendly design.”

They spent two years and $1 million in LACCD money developing their idea with Eisenberg’s help before the district suddenly pulled the plug because Eisenberg hadn’t checked to see it was illegal to use even a penny of LACCD’s billions in taxpayers money for the project.

“I was inspired by the possibilities and inspired by
Larry. He was portrayed as a visionary. … I was
excited to be a part of that,” Robinson said.

Field offered this verdict: “It’s a big old mess.”

Next time the district puts a bond measure on the ballot, Pamer should interview him and Field — at length.

Woof!

Why Are These People Laughing at Alarcon’s Political Hypocrisy?

What sane person could oppose Proposition 15 — the pilot project for clean money campaigns for Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018?

What kind of scoundrel would use the debate over such a small step toward ending political corruption and bringing fair elections to California that he would go into a moralistic diatribe against the Republican candidates for governor while ignoring how union and special interest money has made LA City Hall a mockery of democracy?

Richard Alarcon, that’s who…the Council member under criminal investigation because he doesn’t or at least didn’t live in his district.

Meanwhile, if you want to support Prop. 15, Rock the Boat and Common Cause are holding a fund-raising event Tuesday June 1 at the Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd. at 8:30 p.m. with Jeremy
Dawson
of Shiny Toy Guns (DJ Set), White Apple Tree, & Buddy Akai, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

Antonio’s Great Ripoff: 1,000 New DWP/IBEW Jobs, College Bond Misuse, Community Betrayal

“Fuk em”

That was the immortal email response from LA Community College District Chancellor Mark Drummond 13 months ago when Assemblyman Kevin de Leon raised questions on behalf of the Northeast LA community about betraying the commitment to build a badly-needed satellite campus in the old Van de Kamp’s bakery site in Glassell Park.

Drummond’s contemptuous words are set to become official policy of the LACCD board when it meets Wednesday to approve the centerpiece of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s political agenda for job creation, anti-gang programs, clean energy — a strategy that tramples on the rule of law, makes a mockery of public policy and benefits the few at the expense of the many.

On the 365th day after the contemptuous response from Drummond (who was axed for misconduct last summer), Deputy Mayor Larry Frank told the LACCD Board of Trustees exactly what the site was going to be used for.

“This is the holy grail of all our new jobs…that is 1,000 jobs at the DWP that would be IBEW Local 18 jobs,” Frank said.

These workers would do the “solar and all the municipal, commercial and residential retrofit work that happens in the city of Los Angeles,” he added.

In other words, the monopoly on local solar installation and energy efficiency work would be achieved by the DWP despite the defeat of Measure B last year. It will be paid for by raising the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor by the full 20 to 30 percent despite the “meltdown” over the hike in the City Council, Frank declared.

In a deal negotiated over the last three years with the IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy, these unemployed workers, many of them current or former gang members, would be hired after training at the Van de Kamp’s site as $16-an-hour “green doctors” in a pre-Civil Service capacity. After a two-year probation period, they will become full-time, permanent employees at much higher salaries.

It’s all part of what the mayor calls his job creation program, which is nothing more than taxing the public to create more jobs on the city payroll at inflated costs

How the Van de Kamp’s site came to be used for this purpose is far worse than even the abuse of the DWP and its ratepayers, particularly home owners and businesses that are being stuck with the bills.
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Under two bond measures voters approved for LACCD, $60 million was promised specifically for turning the historic Van de Kamp’s building into classrooms and building a ew building for LA Community College classrooms for the educationally under-served Northeast LA.

In one of several “no-bid” arrangements, the LACCD Board flipped the new state-of-the-art building over for use as a technology charter school although paid for out of college bonds. Although architectural designs were approved by the state and structural reconstruction of the Van de Kamp’s building already was completed,  construction of new classrooms was suddenly halted.

Instead of classrooms, the second floor of the building was rebuilt as executive offices for LACCD officials and the DWP/IBEW work force development program.

So instead of a college, the Northeast Valley got a high school and training program that served no local community need.

What it served was the mayor’s plan to give jobs on the public payroll for hoodlums or reformed hoodlums who will some day come to your home or business and advise you how to reduce your energy use or install solar panels — jobs that could be done cheaper, faster and with a more positive economic impact by the private sector.

The Van de Kamp Coalition formed by Northeast LA residents who want the college campus they were promised put out an email blast Monday urging the public to email the LACCD Board to reject the “no-bid sweetheart lease” of the facility before Wednesday’s 3:30 p.m. meeting at West LA College.

The mayor’s message, the email says, is that “executive offices for my programs are more important than your access to educational opportunity.”

The email accuses LACCD of “giving a no-bid sweetheart lease to the City of Los Angeles after $6.3 million” in bond fund “to illegally convert classrooms into executive suites for unemployment programs funded by federal economic stimulus funds directed by the mayor.”

You can read the draft letter, Drummond’s email exchange and the LACCD Board resolution after the jump:

Continue reading Antonio’s Great Ripoff: 1,000 New DWP/IBEW Jobs, College Bond Misuse, Community Betrayal

City Hall Money Games: How Personal Slush Funds Work, Officeholder Accounts

Poor Wendy Greuel, she’s down to the last few hundred bucks in her officeholder account and needs your help to pay some personal office expenses, phone bills and mostly her lawyer-treasurer Stephen Kaufman — the man who connects the dots for so many local and state politicians, unions and special interests.
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If you got $500 or $1,000 to throw away, former Mayor Richard Riordan will be hosting a “reception” at 6 p.m. Tuesday for Wendy at his Riordan’s Grill around the corner from his Pantry restaurant downtown. You could be a sponsor yourself for $5,000 and that might even buy you more than the 90 minutes allotted for the anointed next mayor of LA.

Wendy does need your money. She’s raised $688,181.22 for her officeholder account over the last decade but spent even more
$878,382.25, according to city ethics records.

With running for citywide office and the heavy demands of signing off on tepid audits and out-of-date financial advice to deal with the city budget, her fund-raising has fallen off — only raising $25,750.00 last year for her personal slush fund while spending $27,491.67 .

Most of that money — $16,259.56 — went to Kaufman, the election and campaign finance law expert who like the small coterie of insider fund-raisers and political consultants provide the points of connection for money and influence to find each other. Nearly all our city elected officials and even some well-connected wannabes like Mitch Englander, who expects to inherit Greig Smith’s seat without any questions being asked, turn to Kaufman.

City records show Kaufman Downing LLP, his former firm, got paid $1,169,355.66 over the years for their services to city campaigns and officeholders. Even in these tough times, business is picking up for his new firm, Kaufman Legal, which hauled in
$417,050.50 from these same sources.

Even as he was providing his services to the elected officials, Kaufman boasts on his website that he also provides related service to many organizations,
committees & businesses.
Among those he cites are Assembly Democratic Caucus,
Conservation Action Fund, California Labor Federation, Central City
Association of Los Angeles, Clear Channel Outdoor, Democratic National
Committee, IBEW Local 11, IBEW Local 18, Los Angeles Area Chamber of
Commerce, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Los Angeles
Dodgers, Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, SEIU Local 6434,
SEIU Local 721, Sierra Club, United Firefighters of Los
Angeles City, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), Women’s Political
Committee, Working Californians.

Who says business and labor and environmentalists and politicians don’t mix?

It’s not at all clear what services Kaufman actually does because those don’t have to be reported online beyond saying Wendy’s officeholder account paid him $14,384.56 on Jan. 1 for “professional services” through March 31.

Nice work if you can get it, I’m sure, with so much more to come.

Since becoming mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa has spent $294,177.35 from his officeholder account while raising $259,425.00.

This has allowed him to take billionaire Eli Broad to lunch, pay for his cellphone use and his LA TImes subscription, reimburse Jeff Carr and others for various expenses, spend $3,280.09 for a fund-raiser at the Jonathan Clubs pay $2,000 for Sparkletts and nearly $5,000 for Arrowhead water, presumably because he and his staff don’t like what DWP serves up anymore than the rest of us.

Kaufman did just fine as well with Kaufman Downing getting $90,277.12 and Kaufman Legal taking in $23,702.04. That adds up to $124,000 or nearly half of what was donated to his officeholder account.

You might ask why but that is protected by attorney-client privilege.

This isn’t kids’ games these people are playing, just a fraction of all the millions that come from people and businesses who want all kinds of favors and advantages for their largess.

Money is the name of the game and the return on contributions is often in the range of 100 times or more what the politicians got. It’s all brokered through a narrow circle of operatives that include the lawyers, political operatives and strategists, fund-raisers, lobbyists who pimp the system.

The beauty of it all is the politicians write the rules and appoint the people who enforce them so only fools could ever get caught doing anything wrong and if they do, they just set up a legal defense fund and raise more money.

I’m not going to bore with by reprinting all the provisions of LA Municipal Code SEC. 49.7.12.  OFFICEHOLDER CONTROLLED FUNDS.

Suffice it to say, it allows just about anything except what is expressly barred by state law by in SEC. 3: (a) Expenditures in connection with a future election for elective City office; (b) Membership in any athletic, social, fraternal, veteran or religious organization, (c) Supplemental compensation for employees for performance of an act which would be required or expected of the person in the regular course or hours of his or her duties as a City official or employee.

While the complex provisions of city ethics law are a nightmare for ordinary citizens who seek city office, draining their energy and limited resources, they are no problem when you have Kaufman aboard since he probably helped write most of them.

It’s not like the City Ethics staff doesn’t audit the filings but the standard language found in the review in February of Greuel’s officeholder account is this: “The (Greuel) committee did not have any findings that auditors concluded were material.”

It’s not all that easy digging out information about officeholder accounts. You have to go to the City Ethics page, click campaign/elections, click Search Expenditures, and put in the name of the person paid, like Kaufman Legal or Kaufman Downing, and the name of a candidate like Janice Hahn to find out she’s paid him more than $100,000 over the years.

Then, you have to look for which payments came from her officeholder account and look for the little six- or seven-digit number of the account to plug in to the Committee I.D. box when you search just so you can see she paid him $12,683.01 from her officeholder account.

If you want to know how much she’s raised for her officeholder account, go back to where you started but click on Search Contributions, pick out the official, plug in their Committee I.D. so you can learn Janice has raised a total of $677,483.34 for her slush fund during her time in office.

While I’m being so helpful, you can read more about what Kaufman says about his firm:

Continue reading City Hall Money Games: How Personal Slush Funds Work, Officeholder Accounts