Nobody does know-it-all better than a know-nothing so when you get 15 know-nothings together in a semi-circle and empower them to set policy for four million people in the world’s most mythical city, it’s downright dangerous.
The ignorance of one compounds with the pretensions of another and the moral vacuum of a third on through the 15th power. The result is explosive.
The calculus of political failure at all levels is like a chain reaction that is engulfing the nation. I can’t do anything about the disasters in Washington or Sacramento but I believe I can do something about Los Angeles. That’s why I’m committed to the LA Clean Sweep Campaign (lacleansweep.com) to back a slate of candidates for the seven even-numbered City Council seats next March.
We have to change the people, or at least change their minds. The principles are simple: Financial responsibility, open and honest government, good planning for the future, safe communities with modern infrastructure.
I offer among the thousands of exhibits a piece of evidence for the need for change that came up Friday during a bizarre hour-long Council debate over the formal approval of the TRAN — Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes.
The TRAN this year is $1.2 billion, a 10 percent more than last year which followed several years of sharply rising short-term borrowing, loans that are needed because taxes come in sporadically while the bills for salary and operations come in day after day.
More than $700 million of this year’s TRAN goes for pensions, a figure that equals 17 percent of the entire general fund budget, a figure that is soaring because the Council as the policy-making body for the city spent the pension fund contribution in good years and now faces spectacular pension bills in these tough times.
Not a word was spoken about any of this during the hour-long debate on the TRAN.
What the Council was worried about was which banks would profit from underwriting the bond sale. As they crucified the bankers, they never got around to say which banks were the friendly ones that should be raking in the profits
It was clear enough who the bad guys were: JP Morgan-Citigroup and Bank of America which are among the 40 major banks that LA and many other cities sued two years ago for various nefarious practices.
Like junkies and their suppliers, they found lots of time and energy to blame the failures of the city on the bankers who took advantage of their desperation and stupidity and to berate the “little people,” the people who go to work in a stifling and undisciplined work environment despite the incompetence, and even corruption, of the elected officials who boss them around.
There was Bill Rosendahl sounding like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in his denunciation of capitalism. (Do the residents of LA’s richest district ever notice that their Councilman hates the system that has made them so well-to-do?)]
And the ever lovable Janice Hahn wanting to know why Goldman Sachs — the center of the nation’s financial scandal and facing possible criminal and civil charges — is the only major financial institution not considered for the TRAN sale.
Heaven help us all. She actually told the city’s financial experts, “You have to think like us.”
The CAO, CLA and City Attorney staffers came to the session murmuring to themselves and waiting to mutter, “Here it comes…”
It didn’t take long.
They were dressed down and shamed and abused because they chose the only firms on the Council-approved list of underwriters that could possibly sell, or buy themselves if they had to, the $1.2 billion in risky securities. Because of the city’s credit downgrades, serious questions about how it is dealing with the crisis and declining public support, they are the only firms willing to even give LA letters of credit.
It’s all part of an elaborate strategy to totally politicize the bureaucracy and strip it of all independence, a strategy that the mayor has taken the lead on..
The debate started out with Bernard Parks urging rejection of the TRAN plan. But that was never the goal because the $1.2 billion in bonds must go on sale next week and it would take a month to revise the deal, by which time the city would run out of cash.
It ended with unanimous approval of the TRAN but a commitment to eliminate BofA and Citigroup from getting any more deals out of LA except for the many already in the works like the parking lot sale and wastewater bonds and those that otherwise couldn’t go forward because they are the only lenders that will do business with the city.
I can’t do justice in a 5-minute video to the complexities of deceit used by the Council, to their ignorance of what they were talking about, to their indifference to the public interest they displayed.
Let it suffice to say that the only thing of significance they did Friday before adjourning to their lives of luxury filled with gifts from “friends” was to file into the oblivion of endless meaningless motions approval of four airborne LAPD officers to go to a conference in Arizona in defiance of their meaningless boycott in defense of illegal immigration.