Back in July, Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood ran a nice little item about how Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pulled off a coup and got Warner Bros. to screen nine popular kids’ films in 24 city parks as part of his “Summer Night Lights” anti-gang program.
It was a do-gooder activity with participation of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles and involved six county parks as well.
How that program evolved into a deal by the non-profit LA Parks Foundation to plaster three city parks — Holmby, Pan Pacific and Sepulveda Basin — with signs promoting Warner’s upcoming 3-D “Yogi Bear” movie is far from clear.
But you know how one City Hall deal leads to another and then there’s the inevitable connection: —
Dennis Hathaway, the tenacious crusader at Ban Billboard Blight, broke the story a few days ago, a story you won’t find in your daily newspaper.
“Beginning next month, the city of L.A. will allow
supergraphic signs advertising a Warner Bros. kid’s movie to be
displayed on fences, shelters, and other structures in three city
parks. Ads for the upcoming 3-D movie, “Yogi Bear” will also be
displayed on trash receptacles, light standards, and picnic tables,” Hathaway reported..
“According to terms of a deal approved last week by the Board of
Recreation and Parks Commissioners, the city will receive $42,636 from
the advertising to run through the month of November in Holmby Park in
Westwood, Pan Pacific Recreation Center in Hollywood, and the Sepulveda
Basin Recreation Area in the San Fernando Valley.
“The advertising deal with Warner Bros. was made by the non-profit LA Parks Foundation,
which will receive $57,000 from the movie company. The foundation will
then deduct installation costs and an administrative fee before turning
over the remainder to the city’s department of recreation and parks.”
On Oct. 6, the Parks Commission approved the deal negotiated by the foundation in the blink of an eye despite warnings by the City Attorney’s Office that the signage would violate the billboard and supergraphic ordinance.
The question of whether it’s right to bombard the minds of children playing in public parks with advertising messages designed to get them to harangue their parents to take them to the movies didn’t seem to matter to anyone.
What mattered was the $42,636 that would go to providing programs in the parks, programs that are being slashed even as libraries are being closed two days a week because the city’s leadership regards such activities as unimportant to life in the city.
On Tuesday, the City Council took jurisdiction of this deal by asking the City Attorney to clear up “questions surrounding sponsorship and open advertising on City
property, along with the role this may play in other separate but
related legal matters.”
“In order to obtain a better assessment of the legality and benefit
of these sponsorship agreements, it is critical that they be fully
vetted by the City Council. In this manner, the City can ensure that
not only prudent financial decisions are being made, but that the City
is also protecting important legal interests and heeding neighborhood
concerns,” the motion by Paul Koretz says.
The Parks Commission then added a special agenda item Tuesday, and reversed itself, prompting a lot of hand-wringing Wednesday by Council members about how they actually need policies on signage and other maters that actually make sense and are in line with the law.
It was anger from residents near the parks that sparked that sudden respect for the rule of law on the part of the Council.
The issue of Yogi Bear advertising in the parks and the money involved are small matters by themselves but they are important as part of the larger picture of what’s going on at City Hall, a window into the pervasive City Hall mentality that everything is for sale.
In their desperation for cash now to avoid facing their egregious overspending for years, city officials are ready to sell parking lots in a fire sale instead of figuring out how to manage them properly to bring continuing revenue for decades to come, money that could keep parks and libraries open.
We are moving to cut a deal with AEG to trash the Convention Center to build a football stadium in hopes of propping up downtown property speculators.
We are “buying” jobs no matter what they cost.the public in subsidies and giveaways.
City Hall will do anything except deal with the problem our officials have created.
This is very dangerous for the future of the city.
Decisions about city business are being made by outside groups as in the Parks Foundation case which is not a donation but an advertising deal.
City commissioners are part of the system, not independent citizen watchdogs as they are supposed to be.
Objections on principle or on law are ignored.
The bureaucracy has been politicized to the point that they put their jobs on the line by standing up for good policies that serve the public interest.
These are big issues and symptoms of the level of corruption of public process that have become part and parcel of the way City Hall does business.