An Offer Even City Unions Can’t Refuse — Or Can They?

The City Council, faced with stiff union opposition, reluctantly takes up the issue Tuesday of outsourcing bill collection for ambulance services — contracts that could net the city tens of millions of dollars a year.

The unions oppose this although “no layoffs will result from this proposal as the Fire Department will absorb the remaining personnel by filling currently vacant positions in other divisions,” according to top city financial advisers (EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES.pdf)..

This is the dream deal of all time even by the standards of City Hall where sweetheart deals have become an art form, a destructive art to be sure.

How LAFD and other city officials have been unable to find 52 jobs at a time of layoffs, furloughs and job freezes is utterly miraculous, if not fiscally sound.

Even the city’s employee unions — who have yet to make significant concessions at this time of crisis with the city’s, and their own, futures at stake — ought to have a hard time saying no to the deal to outsourcing ambulance services billing to bring money needed to avoid more layoffs, more service cuts, more chaos.

True, the unions have suffered betrayal, endlessly mixed signals and duplicitous pandering by the same elected officials who have turned tough economic times into a fiscal calamity by slashing core services at the same time they have increased fees, taxes and rates and done next nothing about the underlying cost of city government..

Thousands of workers got sweetened pensions to retire or reassignment to other jobs, often with pay raises up to 50 percent, but all the unions have had to do is defer pay raises or at worst pass on raises for a year or two and contribute a little more to their pensions.

They have valid reasons for refusing to make concessions because the mayor and City Council have deceived them about what has to be done for years and now can’t even promise that the cycle of layoffs and furloughs now just beginning will ever end.

Now, the unions are fighting to preserve the wage and benefits deals they were handed at the bargaining table in exchange for electing city officials who do their bidding. Even in this crisis, they resist allowing citizen volunteers to fill gaps in services at the libraries and parks or the outsourcing of programs that have been beset by years of mismanagement by the grotesquely overpaid top officials, elected and appointed.

Among the vast array of managerial disasters that have come to light in the last year is the disastrous performance of LAFD’s ambulance billing and collection union.

A recent audit by Controller Wendy Greuel
, in line with previous audits and studies, found LAFD only collected $53 million of the $151 million for ambulance services.
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The city’s Ad Hoc Committee on Revenue Efficiency headed by Ron Galperin has done its own research and weighed in heavily in support of outsourcing to two companies the billing and collection of bills for ambulances services.

The Council has been paralyzed by opposition from unions that want a net $16 million investment in giving workers the tools needed to do a better job.

Apart from widespread skepticism about the city’s ability ever to collect any of the hundreds of millions of dollars owed it, there is the problem that the budget for this year — hypothetical and unrealistic as it is — counts on more revenue now from ambulance fees, not a risky investment.

As hard as it is to understand why the unions are fighting this, it is incomprehensible why the Council has stalled a decision this long and why there is so much doubt about how they will vote Tuesday.

It is a no-brainer that even the most brain dead Council member ought to be able to see.

Naked City: Two Things That Are Wrong at City Hall

Oops, There Goes Another $1.3 Million Thanks to DWP’s Bungling and Indifference to the Public

The State Court of Appeals flat-out rejected the specious arguments put forth by the DWP in a case involving a $1.3 million jury award to a motorist nearly killed because utility workers didn’t give a damn about public safety or the waste of water from a leaking water main..
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Despite numerous complaints from citizens and police, DWP officials allowed the water main to leak down the streets in Woodland Hills for two months without doing anything about until on a cold night in January the water turned to ice and a motorist skidded on it and then got hit by another skidding vehicle.

The DWP’s Defense is that its officials didn’t know water freezes at 32 degrees or that it could get the cold in winter. Read the full opinion of the court and have a laugh — or a cry.

Yikes, Does LaBonge Have a Clue to What’s Going On?

Read the Councilman’s Full Newsletter and Ask Yourself If This Is Leadership?

labongeheader.jpgBicyclists Look Toward the Future with LaBonge
On
Saturday, Councilmember LaBonge and the Los Angeles Bicycling Coalition
spoke to an audience of over 60 cyclists about the future of bicycling
sharrows, lanes and boulevards in Los Angeles. The day kicked of with a
ride down the 4th Street Sharrow. Read more here.

Councilmember Emcees Ceremony as ADA turns 20
Tom was the master of ceremonies for the 20th
anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act (Act) on Monday. The
celebration included special performances and speeches by actress and
comedian best known for her role on 1980s hit television series “Facts
of Life,” Geri Jewel, and from AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” R.J. Mitte. Read more here.


Paying the Price for Antonio’s Mistakes — The Mayor’s Damage Control Operation

Not long before he was whacked for betrayal  while saying Hail Marys in a boat on Lake Tahoe, Fredo Corleone complained to his brother Michael about the way he was treated.
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“I’m your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over …I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!”

Now that he’s resigned as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Jimmy Blackman has time to say his Hail Marys, watch “The Godfather” movies and feel a special empathy with Fredo Corleone.

Replace “older brother” with “most loyal soldier” and you can hear Fredo’s complaint in  Blackman’s dilemma as he was passed over for chief of staff, Austin Beutner’s team took power in the mayor’s office and the “Ticketgate” scandal erupted.

Loyalty, like Corleone family blood, no longer meant a damn thing.

Blackman was the guy who was always there for Antonio, connecting the favors to campaign contributors, arranging the tickets to sports and entertainment events, linking the mayor to the City Council and political world outside City Hall.

He was a trustworthy confidant, a pal. Yet, he was the odd man out when the mayor’s dreams of becoming governor were shattered, when his administration was branded far and wide as a failure, when outsiders indifferent to and ignorant of politics were brought in to run the show.

Who needs a bagman when there’s no money to raise for the next campaign, when the big-time favors are being dispensed by Wall Street types who think running a city is no different than making a deal, taking over a failing company or manipulating the stock market?

Continue reading Paying the Price for Antonio’s Mistakes — The Mayor’s Damage Control Operation

Jimmy Blackman’s Farewell Message: ‘An Honor to Have Served’

Mayoral Villarigosa’s long-time aide and most loyal supporter, Deputy Chief of Staff Jimmy Blackman sent out this email blast Friday afternoon after announcing he was resigning. In a statement and email he told the LA Times:  “I will always remain loyal to Mayor Villaraigosa and proud of our accomplishments over
the years…”I am not a part of any inquiry into this issue, nobody has asked to
speak with me about it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my
departure.” Here is Blackman’s email to friends explaining his departure:

From: Jimmy Blackman

August 13 will be my last day in the office working for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  

This decision is mine and mine alone and it came after a great deal of personal deliberation.  Public service, politics, and the Villaraigosa world has been near the center of my life for most of the past 13 years – more than one third of my life.  It is not easy to walk away. I plan
to take some time off and figure out what my next career move will be. I have solicited no job offers and have nothing lined up.  I will continue to work hard at this job until my very last day in the office.

Over the past years I have tried to stay true to my values and beliefs. I have tried to remember the reason why I got into this business – to serve others and create positive change, particularly in under-served communities.  I have made many mistakes along the way, but I have no regrets.

I ask that this email serve as my going away message to those that I have worked with and for. I will leave the office the same way that I entered 13 years ago.  I want no parties, no fan fare, and no long good byes.  Anybody who knows anything about me knows that I would not have it any other way.

I will be in the office for the next two weeks for those who wish to stop by or send me a message.  Other than that, let this message serve as closure from this chapter in my professional life.  If it is too long  I apologize in advance.

In April of 1997 I was given an opportunity by Assembly Majority Leader
Antonio Villaraigosa and his District Director Suzanne Manriquez to be a Field Deputy in Echo Park and the surrounding communities.  Shortly thereafter I became a Special Assistant to Speaker Villaraigosa, worked as the Field Director for his 2001 campaign for Mayor, served as his Campaign Manager in 2003 for his race for City Council, then as his Chief of Staff in City Council and most recently as his Deputy Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s office for the past 5+ years.  
 
An opportunity was given to me in 1997 and I have tried to make the most of it.  At each step along with way I have realized how fortunate I have been.  Hard work and loyalty has helped me to build my career, but nobody can ever make it here all alone.  With that in mind, I have many people that I need thank and acknowledge.

First and foremost I want to thank the Mayor for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.  It has been my honor to work with a great leader and a great team in an effort to create positive change in both the State of California and the City of Los Angeles.

I was there when we lost in 2001 and then again when we won in 2003.  I was there for the 24 hour bus rides and once again on election night in 2005 when I held the phone as Mayor Hahn graciously called to concede and wish newly elected Mayor Villaraigosa well.  I was right in the  middle of history as it all unfolded.

It has been a long and incredible journey.  I will always remain loyal to Mayor Villaraigosa and proud of our accomplishments over the years  I have thousands of stories that will remain with me.  Those who know the most say the least.

I want to thank Richard Alarcon for being the first one to give me a chance to have a leadership position in politics when I served as his Chief of Staff in the State Senate in 2002.  I remain thankful for the opportunity that he gave me and I will always be a supporter of his.
I want to thank the rest of the City Council that as a body has been very good to me over my past 7 years here in city hall.  In addition to Richard Alarcon, I want to especially thank Ed Reyes, Tom LaBonge, and of course my friend Dennis Zine for always being there for me
personally.

I want to thank all of the people that I worked with for Councilmember Villaraigosa from July of 203 to June of 2005 and the honorary members of the team like Michael Trujillo and Miguel Espinoza who were always busy working on “outside projects”. We built a great team and many of you are still with us today.  I will always have a connection to CD 14 and the team that we had.

When we started in the Mayor’s office in July of 2005 we had a limited staff and a small leadership team that included myself, Robin Kramer, and Marcus Allen.  Together we built a great team of staff, commissioners, and general managers that I remain extremely proud of.
The best part of this job has always been the people that I have had the privilege of working with.  Robin Kramer – a truly incredible leader.Marrcus Allen – the single smartest person that I have ever worked with.  And of course Larry Frank – the most effective person I have
ever worked with.

I want to thank all of the people in the Mayor’s office who stay behind the scenes and get the work done.  I am proud to be one of you.There have been so many unsung heroes over the years in this office, many of whom I have had the opportunity to personally hire.  People who
work hard to get the job done and ask for very little in return.  People like Mike Fong, Paola Valdivia, Margarita Rivas, Patricia Bryant, John Choi, Martha Preciado, Antonio Sanchez, Brenda Anderson, and many, many others.  I hope that you know that your work has been recognized and is appreciated.  You are the ones that have made this place work and you
are the ones that have made the journey worthwhile for me.

I want to thank all of my assistants who have worked with me along the way.  Cathy Finley, Serena Zeise, Angelica Ayala, Carla Martinez, Jessica Oleta, and Alvaro Pacheco – yes there have been many.  You have given me so much and taken care of me and my family at every
opportunity.  I am proud of each one of you as you have all moved on to bigger and better things.  Know that you are appreciated and I will forever be loyal to each one of you.

Most importantly I want to thank the very small group of people who have been through the battles and stayed loyal to both the Mayor and me at every single turn.  The people who have never let me or the office down.  The people who know the real story of this administration.
People like Areen Ibranossian and David Rahimian who I love like brothers.  People who knew the story before the words were ever spoken.

To my mother and father, Sam and Susie Blackman.  I have tried to learn from you.  You have kept me grounded and reminded me to work hard, pay my dues, and always remember where I have come from.  My mother came to this country from Taiwan, never went to school a day in her life, and rides the bus every single day – yet she worked hard to put my brother
through Columbia Business School and me through both Stanford and graduate school at USC.  And my father – if there is one person on the planet who is smarter than Marcus Allen it’s Sam Blackman.  I got my work ethic from my mother.  My brother got his intelligence from our dad.  Go figure. Thank you both for always being there for me.

To my ex-wife Maria – I will always be grateful to you for being there when I was not.  You have endured so much and remained true to yourself and our family.  You have supported me at every step along the way, even when I didn’t deserve it, and been the primary caretaker of
our beautiful daughter. I will be thankful to you for the rest of my life.

Finally to my 14 year old daughter Alyssa who has grown up with this job almost from the start.  Every day I remind myself that I am the luckiest man in the world to have you in my life.  Over the past 13 years this job has been synonymous with my struggles to balance the
demands of my work with my responsibilities as a parent. 
It has never been easy, but you have been worth it.  You are, and always will be, the single most important thing in my life.

From the Speakers office to the City Council to the Mayor’s office it has been a wonderful experience.

One day the real story of the Villaraigosa administration will be written (not by me) and it has truly been my honor to have played a small role in this history.

Department of No Comment: Central City Assn. Loves LoGrande

The Central City Association that boasts with justification that it has “L.A.’s most powerful rolodex” loves the appointment of Michael LoGrande as City Planning Director.

Here’s what the CCA email newsletter has to say about it:

At the invitation of Mayor Villaraigosa, CCA President & CEO Carol Schatz attended a press conference and reception for Michael LoGrande to announce his nomination by the Mayor to succeed Gail Goldberg as the Director of the Department of City Planning.  As the Chief Zoning Administrator for the department, Michael is responsible for reviewing major development projects. 

His work in the department has covered a variety of critical initiatives, including the creation of the Expedited Processing Section.  This section has successfully entitled many major downtown development projects such as Grand Avenue, Concerto, Luma, Evo, Hanover, and the Biscuit Company Lofts.

Michael understands the need to quickly move projects through the pipeline to bring more jobs, tax revenue, and economic development to Los Angeles.  Despite the Planning Department’s reduction in resources, Michael continues to be accessible and responsive to our requests for assistance. 

Michael has a strong track record in getting things done and we could not be more supportive of the Mayor’s decision to nominate him as the next Director.  The nomination still must be approved by the Planning & Land Use Management Committee and the City Council.

Who Is Michael LoGrande? Insights of a Planning Expert Who Supervised Him

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s nomination of Michael LoGrande, chief zoning administrator, to succeed tGail Goldberg as Director of the L.A. Department of City Planning won praise from pro-development interests and condemnation from many planning experts There was no nation search or inclusive vetting process as were used in selecting Goldberg. The man who headed that selection process and served as interim planning director in 2005 under Villaraigosa was  Mark Winogrond of Planmark Associates, a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Winogrond wrpte this article for David Abel’s Planning Report. He questions whether the nominee has the experience and the vision necessary to guide the city’s future development. Here is an excerpt of the full article at the Planning Report.

I’ve known Michael for some years: when I was Mayor Villaraigosa’s Interim Director of City Planning trying to restore hope in the Department and coordinating the recruitment for Con Howe’s replacement, I was impressed by his can-do attitude. Somehow he seemed fresher than the stale negative, “Our first answer is NO.” philosophy that permeated the Department of 2005.

I did not come to this naively. I had created and written San Francisco’s ground-breaking zoning code and maps, led the West Hollywood team that took it from a run-down industrial pocket to “The Creative City”, managed every concept and detail of the renaissance of Culver City, and helped numerous other cites and colleges get to a better future than they’d expected.

I put him in charge of the “Expedited Projects” unit, and was quickly disappointed. The skill of a good city planner – more importantly, of a good planning leader – is the ability to step away from a project and see how it fits into the context of the City’s vision, the Department’s goals, and the governing rules. At that time, I was disappointed to discover that Michael did not have that capacity. He had antennae very attuned, especially for his few years in public service, to the internal politics and pressure, and the importance of a particular project to the real power brokers.

Unions at War with City Hall and Each Other — A Scenario for Strikes

For the last two years, all we’ve seen and heard from our City Council is tears and pleas to save the jobs of city workers or at the least to shelter them from losses caused by a government that costs too much and delivers too little.

There’s no mystery as to why this is.
The Council, like nearly all our elected officials for the last few decades, owe their elections to the unions, developers, contractors, consultants and the army of political operatives who feed off of the public treasury and the politics and policies of City Hall.
What’s happened in the last two years is a travesty: Massive deficits papered over with heavy borrowing, deferral of costs, manipulation of accounts, sale of assets and revenue streams, increased rates, fees and taxes.
The mayor and Council cut one deal after another with the unions that weren’t worth the paper they were printed on: A sweetened early retirement package that fell apart within weeks, a second that handsomely paid off 2,400 senior staff without protecting areas of need, labor contracts that promised no furloughs or layoffs in exchange for delaying raises, a police union contract the deferred overtime payments and took hundreds of officers off the streets.

All through this period, they undermined the Engineers and Architects to aid the SEIU in its raid on the white-collar professional union, actions taken in gratitude for the blue-collar unions generous campaign contributions.

Now, with the mayor sounding like a corporate executive demanding city unions make concessions, the EAA is now back in the good graces of the City Hall power structure.

The 4,800-member EAA has agreed to pay a greater share of soaring health care costs in exchange for reducing furlough days from 26 to 10 this year — an action denounced by the SEIU as a sell-out of union interests and urges EAA members to reject the deal.

How much money this actually saves is far from clear. It’s certainly a lot less than what city officials are seeking from the unions: 10 percent contribution to health care costs, 10 percent reduction in payroll costs and an increase to 9 percent toward pensions.

All this is coming very late in the day with billions of dollars in budget deficits looming in the next few years and so much time spent cooking the books instead of sitting down and facing the harsh financial realities.

The result of the mayor and Council’s bungling of the budget mess is that they have cut worthless deals and now don’t the credibility to negotiate honest ones.

After so many phony deals, most union leaders can’t go back to their members now and tell them the truth that the only way out of this mess to protect their jobs and public services is to make significant concessions.

So the union leaders bluster and foment anger and resentment, inching toward the moment of truth when they call for a strike vote.

What choice do they have? After years of getting their own way, city workers think their high pay and lucrative benefits are an entitlement. They see the mayor and Council as betraying the deals they have cut. Many have lost confidence in their own union leadership.

City officials could impose various costs on their own by declaring an impasse in negotiation which would leave the unions to act.

“The only recourse will be to STRIKE: to disrupt the City’s work so much that the mayor and Council surrender,” the EAA said on its website.

For their part, the mayor and Council have lost all credibility with the unions and the public by their failure to deal with the city’s financial problems.

Unions at war with each other, workers discontented with their leaders, elected officials without credibility or backbone and most unions refusing to budget — all those factors come together to create a scenario for months of conflict and the risks of strikes or other job actions.

This is no way to run a city, the fruit of years of poor leadership and sweetheart contracts. The public already is paying the bill with libraries and parks closing and many basic services being slashed.

It will only get worse unless dramatic changes are made.

Bruno, LA’s Watchdog: The Best Gourmet Food and Politicians Money Can Buy

It wasn’t that long ago that Bruno declared Janice Hahn the dumbest person on the Los Angeles City Council for a stupid stunt she pulled using her city website to promote her campaign for lieutenant governor.
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Now she’s up to something even dumber – and this time she’s got company.

The LA Weekly reported last week that Tony Cardenas was set to hold a fund-raiser to kick off his re-election campaign at a restaurant owned by a company that is partnering in a bid for a $600 million food concession contract at LAX.

Showing how much respect he has for the city’s ethics laws and concern for what voters might think, Tony was holding the event on the same day as he was sitting in judgment on who gets that contract and seven others at the airport. He insisted he doesn’t take money from airport concessionaires but he doesn’t mind taking as much as he can get from the restaurant lobbyist’s other clients.

City Hall is such an ethical sewer that the concessions issue wound up in the hands of the Board of Referred Powers chaired by Tony because the Airport Commission could not vote on staff recommendations for the contracts because its president owns a chunk of one of the bidders.

Clearly displeased that his pals were not on the staff list of recommendations, Cardenas — supported by Janice — found fault with what was recommended and demanded answers to a long list of petty questions.

Is it any wonder that the Airport GM Gina Marie Lindsey is looking for a healthier working environment as far from LA as she can get?

For her part, the Queen of San Pedro has her own conflict of interest, having taken $40,000 from airport concessionaires for her failed lieutenant governor campaign.

This kind of conduct ought to have every dog lover in town howling in outrage, especially the top-dog Dog Trainer..

But in what must be the most lily-livered editorial in the history of the newspaper, if that’s possible, the Dog Trainer worked itself into a lather over the possibility Tony and Janice might queer contracts recommended for such “acclaimed L.A. chefs such as Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and Joachim Splichal, and a bakery from Homeboy Industries.”

Ethics issues, who cares? Gourmet food is what matters.

Tony moved his event for this Thursday to a neutral location so it’s not a problem, opines the Dog Trainer.

Then the editorial really lets Janice have it.

“There’s no evidence of anything illegal going on at the board — just politics as usual. “

Here’s the hammer that has the two one of them looking over their shoulders: “As carefully as Cardenas and Hahn are scrutinizing the contracts, voters will be scrutinizing their actions.”

Grrrrrrrrrrr!

Maybe the Dog Trainer doesn’t know it, but Janice’s vote would be illegal at the MTA, where board members aren’t allowed to vote on any contract if they’ve taken money from an interested party in the past four years.

I’m just a dog, and an ugly one at that, but I think this highlights what’s wrong in this town: Tony and Janice don’t give a damn about looking conflicted and the Dog Trainer has become so emasculated in it’s attempt to cozy up to the ruling class that’s it’s become toothless. (A mixed metaphor, I know, but a fun one, nonetheless.)

The Dog Trainer should have ripped them both a new one for creating at the leasat the appearance that influence peddlers and campaign cash are at the heart of how City Hall does business.

But why should they care?  The Dog Trainer – the only media outlet they seem to care about – soft-pedaled what they are doing (hat tip to those scrappy folks at the Weekly) and the only folks outraged are the rabble who has been complaining about this kind of behavior forever.

Oh, and me.  But I’m just a dog.

Woof!

Michael LoGrande, Planning Director — Hold Him to His Words or Pay the Price

Los Angeles — the city of sprawl and no planning or bad planning — long ago became a city of limits, a city that had filled its vast open spaces with homes, businesses and factories and wore out its infranstructure.

Smart growth became a necessity a quarter century ago, yet the city continued to regard every project on a case by case basis where political influence played a more important role than the value of projects to the quality of the city’s life and economy, much to the displeasure of many.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference Monday and spoke directly to these concerns, promising — as ke did five years ago — a new era in city planning that respected the neighborhoods while expediting developments that meet the highest standards.

The occasion then was the appointment Gail Goldberg as planning director, a position she surrendered weary from the endless battles with the mayor’s staff..

Monday’s news conference, heavily attended by pro-development interests and a handful of reporters, was to announce his appointment of Michael LoGrande as her successor as LA City Planning Director.

Many planning experts and current and former city planners question LoGrande’s qualifications since he is not a certified planner and has worked in various roles in city planning for barely a dozen years. They also questions his work ethic and his commitment to smart growth and full, open and inclusive processes in all aspects for city planning.

Here’s everything he had to say at today’s press conference:

Here’s the mayor’s announcement where he makes a commitment to smart growth:

An NFL Stadium Downtown? What a Riot!

By Jonathan Wilcox, guest columnist

Randy Newman may still be singing “I love L.A.”, but these days he might be in smaller company than ever.
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With the unemployment rate t nearly 14 12 percent and budget deficits the soar past $1 billion in two years, no one seemed shocked when former Mayor Richard Riordan casually predicted Los Angeles would be bankrupt by 2014.  In fact, the strongest disagreement came from economists who believe Riordan is dead wrong: The city will go belly up at least a year earlier.
 
Knowing this, Angelenos can be expected to do what they always do when the going gets tough: Embrace our local sports teams.  But even that refuge is being eroded.
 
The city is still very much in cringe-mode from the shocking scenes of violence, destruction and mayhem that marked the immediate aftermath of this year’s Lakers’ championship win.  From the beginning, city politicians have falsely claimed that what happened was a form spontaneous combustion.  It wasn’t.

I was there at noon on the day of Game 7.  Thousands of people had already started gathering near the Staples Center, at least six hours before tipoff.  Hardly any of them had tickets.  It may have been the first slow-motion riot in history.
 
The list of victims of the riotous rampage go far beyond the shopkeepers, hotels, restaurants and loft lobbies that just happened to be within a thrown-brick’s distance of the savage mob.
 
And the biggest loser may in fact be Anschutz Entertainment Group (known in these parts by the familiar AEG), the owner of the Staples Center and its mega-development L.A. Live, which includes the arena, adjacent Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels, the Emmy-hosting Nokia Center and several higher-end eateries.

Quite an array in one place, but for AEG, it’s not enough.  What’s their next big idea?  Tear down the West Hall portion of the Los Angeles Convention Center (mere steps from the Staples Center) and build a new NFL stadium there.

AEG should forgive if the public – having seen what a basketball game can produce – is a bit hesitant about a football-sized crowd that could be at least five-times larger.
 
Before the post-game Lakers riot, this had a real chance of succeeding.  But now important questions are being asked, leading to more than a few second thoughts.
 
The West Hall contains about 250,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space and its demolition would automatically eliminate the center’s ability to attract any national conventions or meaningful trade shows (such as the highly successful Electronic Entertainment Expo – E3 – which happened to be at the Convention Center the day of the riot).

According to media reports, the proposed demolition would occur in 2-3 years.  Seem like a long way off?  Major conventions and trade shows routinely utilize that much lead time, and while other conventions already booked during this period would likely have to relocate to other cities, wouldn’t L.A. have to pay millions in damages to these booked conventions and trade shows?

This also ignores the financial realities the Convention Center is today: nearly half-a-billion in debt, but employing 130 people; a realistic candidate for privatization, but locked into deals where 15 of its 16 facilities are government-run.
 
Even if all these obstacles could be cleared, the proposed stadium would be woefully short of parking for a football game for a city that embraces its cars as birthright.
 
It is difficult to believe this idea could survive even passing public scrutiny.  But public scrutiny is not how things get done downtown, where the real power is wielded far out of sight.  That’s where AEG throws as much weight around as anyone.
 
Now, a few pictures may be worth even a thousand lobbyists.  And the singular image that has captured the aftermath of the violence is that of Abraham Teferi – an Ethiopian immigrant and taxi driver who was stopped by the mob and dragged from the cab, which was then set on fire.
 
AEG’s president and CEO Tim Leiweke flamboyantly presented Teferi with a check for $10,000, saying, “On behalf of all the knuckleheads, we apologize and hopefully that helps you get on your feet a little bit.”
 
What a missed opportunity for situational seriousness.  Those were no knuckleheads on the streets that night.  It was a vicious gathering of violent criminals unopposed by police that nearly murdered Teferi and terrorized scores of others.
 
Whatever naming rights and concession deals the city may get out of a football stadium next to the Staples Center, many believe it will more than give it all back.
 
Hear that?  It’s the sound a foundation cracking, with gleaming L.A. Live, the JW Marriott and Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant giving way to the chilling images of tens of thousands of Angelenos (some carrying Mexican flags) taking to the streets to destroy their city.
 
Is a football stadium one tight spiral away from the worst of the rioting something to consider right now?  If history repeats itself, will Tim Leiweke be there to hand us a check, pat us on the head and help us get back on our feet a little bit?