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Antonio’s Corruption Was Clear from Day One

It was an historic moment, July 1, 2005, the inauguration of LA’s first Hispanic mayor in 133 years and there was a throng of dignataries from Al Gore to Jesse Jackson, the current and former governors of California, mayors from most of the nation’s biggest cities.

“Dream with me…” was the message of Antonio Villaraigosa as he inspired the city to reach for the stars, and promised to “be a mayor who takes responsibility and
…work as hard as you do every single day.”
antoniinaugural.jpg
“We need to start thinking big again, and facing up to our biggest
challenges. I intend to be a mayor who confronts those challenges…Let’s raise our eyes skyward.
Let’s imagine the pinnacles that we can reach together…let’s make Los Angeles a city of Purpose! Let’s dare to dream! Let’s dare to dream together!”

Five days later, he issued Executive Directive No. 1: Ethics in Government (AntonioExecOrder1.rtf). It starts:


As public servants to the
residents of Los Angeles,
we must commit ourselves to
a standard of conduct that maintains and enhances the public’s trust in our
local
government. To fulfill this mandate, our individual and collective decision
making
processes must be based upon the highest possible ethical standards
.”

That same day, July 5, 2005, Antonio held his first press conference, declaring:

“Let’s be clear. Honesty and ethics in City Hall start at the top. We are the public’s servants. We must set a higher benchmark by our actions to restore the public’s faith and trust in local government. Today, we have begun to do just that.”

He then appeared before the City Council which unanimously adopted four new laws aimed at issues “raised by the grand jury probes, including a ban on city commissioners participating in the process of evaluating and recommending city contracts that their commissions will eventually vote on.”




They also banned commissioners from earning money to lobby City
Hall, required paid campaign consultants and fundraisers to register
with the city Ethics Commission as well as requiring lobbyists to file
their quarterly activity reports online to make it easier for the public
to follow their actions.

“I believe the reforms passed today will hold political appointees
and politicians to the highest ethical standards,” said Councilwoman
(now Controller) Wendy Greuel, who authored some of the reforms.

There was only one problem with all that theater even as the mayor and
Council were acting to clean up the pay-to-play corruption of the Hahn
Administration.

Questions already were being raised about the
mayor’s ethics and potential conflicts of interest over allowing firms
that have business before the city to spend up to $100,000 to attend
Antonio’s lavish inaugural gala, $2 million of which “went to a publicly
funded charity that is run out of the mayor’s office,” as Patrick
McGreevy reported in the LA TImes on July 6.


So who were the “charitable donors”?

AEG, of course, who
else?

The DWP had just paid Phil Anschutz, owner of AEG, $300
million for natural gas reserves he owned in Colorado, needed city
approval for a pipeline he owned in LA, and was awaiting approval from
the mayor and Council of nearly $300 million in subsidies for LA Live.

“Others
currently seeking favorable action from City Hall who bought tables at
Villaraigosa’s dinner include developer J.H. Snyder, who is seeking
approval of large commercial and residential developments in the San
Fernando Valley, and Cerrell Associates, a lobbying firm with clients
seeking City Hall approvals,” McGreevy reported.

So why are we
surprised that the mayor scoffs at ethics laws that require reporting of
tickets, meals and fine wines he gets from people seeking city favors
and has turned City Hall into a back room deal  making machine,
politicized the bureaucracy and the commission system?

We can
only hope that city and state ethics probes will come down hard, and
that the DA and hopefully the US Attorney will see all the signs of
public corruption and launch extensive investigations that go beyond
“Ticket-Gate” to the “pay-then-play” dealings that have sold out the
public interest and pushed the city to the brink of bankruptcy.

The
great shame is that the mayor lifted our spirits with his easy rhetoric
and political posturing even as he was dashing our hopes for a greater
Los Angeles with his actions.

It was clear from the beginning
where this was heading. Where, and when, will it end?

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8 Responses to Antonio’s Corruption Was Clear from Day One

  1. Walter Moore says:

    The documents Villaraigosa’s lawyers produced this past Friday help pinpoint the date and source of the idea that Villaraigosa could circumvent the gift law merely by cranking out calligraphy certificates.
    You can read the email from the “Sage Advisor:”
    http://web.mac.com/waltermoore/PDF/QuoteOfficialUnquote.pdf

  2. The nature of the 420 pages of documents that Walter Moore references from time to time smells like they were prepared by a criminal defencse attorney. This is not the work on an in house attorney. And you know what that means!

  3. In Eagle Rock says:

    Villaraigosa just is unable to be forthright. He does not disclose anything properly or accurately which was his initial defense to L.A. Weekly’s “All About Me, the 11% Mayor,” saying that there was another calendar that had the right information- which caused Matt Szabo to later cover by saying that was a mistake, he misspoke or something to the effect that would negate the idea of keeping different books.
    But wasn’t the idea of pay to play one of the campaign issues that Villaraigosa claimed was happening in the James Hahn admistration and a reason he got into office? So what would the 2005 version of Antonio call the current state of affairs?
    And Wendy Grueul’s then-coucil member status put her in the middle of all things done by CMs to know the modus operandi when it came to finances and slippery deals. Presumably she would have had her own “street furniture account,” aka “slush funds,” and nothing should have been a surprise as she was elected to the City Controller’s office.
    So I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective on the problem, changing as one becomes elected to a different office, to see who’s a real crook and who’s only fudging.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not forget ANTONIO RAMON VILLARAIGOSA mislead his constituents when he ran for CD 14, saying he would serve his full term. Villaraigosa was a Councilmember for only 1 ½ years.
    It appears that some career politicians have a history of attempting to mislead their constituents, but eventually the truth should prevail (read Patrick McGreevey’s LA Times article dated Nov. 8, 2005 prior to news paper being censored).
    As MAYOR ANTONIO RAMON VILLARAIGOSA is his own misleading critic, “Let’s be clear about one thing: HONESTY and ETHICS in CITY GOVERNMENT start at the top. They START WITH THE MAYOR. The MAYOR SETS the TONE at CITY HALL THROUGH HIS OWN CONDUCT.”
    According to the LA Times, Mayor Villaraigosa currently has more staff on his payroll than former Mayors Riordian and Hahn, which does not make any sense as it appears his operators are incompetent. The lay offs should start at the mayor’s office.
    Mayor Is Criticized for Jet Use
    McGreevy, Patrick. “Mayor Is Criticized for Jet Use” Los Angeles Times, 8 November 2005
    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa faced criticism Monday for requesting the use of a jet owned by Ameriquest, a mortgage firm that has a City Hall lobbyist assigned to press its interests with the mayor.
    The mayor has long-standing ties to the company.
    Ameriquest gave $75,000 to a political committee that Villaraigosa controlled while he was speaker of the Assembly from 1998 to 2000.
    When Villaraigosa left the Legislature, Ameriquest paid him more than $10,000 in 2001 and again in 2002 to serve as a consultant for the firm. At the time, Ameriquest was trying to blunt proposed consumer legislation in Sacramento and at City Hall.
    Villaraigosa has said he did not advise Ameriquest on lobbying politicians but on “strategic thinking and problem solving.”
    Ameriquest and its employees have contributed more than $21,000 to Villaraigosa’s 2001 and 2005 mayoral campaigns.
    Villaraigosa was elected on a campaign to bring ethics to City Hall, saying, “Let’s be clear about one thing: Honesty and ethics in city government start at the top. They start with the mayor. The mayor sets the tone at City Hall through his own conduct.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Seems people are jumping off the Mayor ship. He lost city treasurer and now Gail Goldberg says she’s retiring. Even though a lot of people have left the Mayor he continues to hire more and more in this financial crisis. Too bad the Mayor doesn’t have good pr spinners. Little Matt Szabo is over his head on this ticketgate. He’s a snowball that can’t be stopped. I’m waiting for the announcement the Feds are now getting involved.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mayor’s European Trip: We Finally Have the Receipts *UPDATED
    June 22, 2010
    KTLA.COM
    L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa has been in the news lately for accepting free tickets to Lakers games and NOT reporting them as gifts.
    He’s a guy who definitely likes the finer things in life, as we have learned after obtaining the receipts for his trip to Europe in December.
    The City Controller’s office, responding to an Open Records Law request, sent over a 95-page bundle of receipts for expenses incurred during Villaragosa’s 9-day visit to Berlin, London, and the Climate Conference in Copenhagen.
    The official purpose of the trip: “to tell the world of the ground-breaking work that the city of Los Angeles is doing to combat climate change and build the green economy.”
    Villaraigosa flew first-class and stayed at some of the finest five-star luxury hotels, including the Mayfair in London ($406 a night) and the Adlon Kempinski in Berlin. The tab for his room in Copenhagen was $2214 for five nights.
    His delegation included an official photographer and a videographer as well as two LAPD officers, paid by the city to provide security.
    According to the documents, the Mayor and his staff employed a “full-service meeting and event management bureau” in Copenhagen at a cost of $33,899. The company organized transportation (3 minivans with drivers at a cost of $22,329), a hostess, dinners, and other nice perks, too, including passes to the Arndal Spa for workouts ($283).
    While in Copenhagen, the Mayor and his staff dined well. The receipts include expenses for three dinners totalling $3576. The tab for Restaurant Herman was $1128. A dinner at Bistro Boheme ran $1139, and a meal at a place called the Custom House cost $1316, including a $236 tip. The invoices did not detail how many people ate at those dinners.
    Some of the expenses for the trip were shared by the Port of Los Angeles and the DWP.
    One other interesting note: the mayor apparently brought along a key friend and campaign contributor on his London visit. The name “Brackpool” is listed on the official schedules for all of the meetings that took place there.
    I assume that would be Keith Brackpool, chairman of Cadiz, Inc. He’s pushed for years for a plan to store water under land he owns in the Mojave desert. To get it approved, he’d need support from the Metropolitan Water District’s Board (20% of which is appointed by the Mayor).
    I’ve asked Sarah Hamilton, the mayor’s spokeswoman, why Brackpool was a part of the Mayor’s delegation. I’ve also asked her how she can justify the luxurious travel during a city budget crisis.
    *UPDATE: Here’s the response I received:
    The overall cost for the trip, including hotel and airfare, was approximately $120,266. The costs were divided equally between the Port of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power.
    The hotel and ground transportation rates in Copenhagen were higher than average, due to the Danish government’s requirement of a minimum five-night stay in any hotel located in Copenhagen. Also, with leaders from around the globe convening there, ground transportation options were in high demand, hence the higher prices.
    She did not answer the question about Brackpool. I guess I’ll have to keep pestering.
    Expenses by City
    http://blogs.ktla.com/.a/6a00d8341c0d2753ef0133f1921fc6970b-popup
    KTLA.com
    http://blogs.ktla.com/news_custom_eric/2010/06/mayors-european-trip-we-finally-have-the-receipts.html

  7. Sandy Sand says:

    Looks like the pinnacles he dreamed of only reached as high as the nearest sky box at a sporting event.

  8. I would have to state, you plucked ur words well. The information you gave are well placed.

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