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Three Questions for the City Council — Will They Deign to Answer?

!. Do you support or oppose the giveaway of more than $4 million in the public’s money for the questionable office project by a questionable developer at 1601 N. Vine St. in Hollywood?

2. Do you support or oppose the use of eminent domain to confiscate private property by the Community Redevelopment Agency to turn over to private interests for development?

3. Do you support or oppose the Planning Department’s efforts to short-circuit public involvement in decisions on new developments that impact the qualify of life in neighborhoods?

Those three inter-connected questions are being sent today to all 15 City Council members as LA Clean Sweep expands its campaign to help bring responsive and responsible government to Los Angeles.

They grow out of numerous articles on community blogs and and long email chains that involved dozens of people who see the Vine Street project as one example among dozens of abuses by the CRA, city planners and City Hall’s leadership.

Inspired by an article by “Richard Lee Abrams” on City Watch LA, Clean Sweep is going to mobilize to ask the questions the press never asks of our elected officials and their challengers about the issues that matter most, including where their campaign contributions come from and what favors are being sought from the city.

“LA Clean Sweep has the opportunity to stop the lunacy by asking all
candidates to publish campaign donations and to reveal their Known
Associates, often called a Kitchen Cabinet,” Abrams wrote recently..

“LA Clean Sweep’s request for full disclosure, at this time long before
we vote, will unmask each candidate who is too embarrassed to show the
money and too corrupt to admit who is behind his/her candidacy.”

As we have seen with the US Chamber of Commerce, foreign influence can
be easily concealed from the public.  Let’s be clear, while the Supreme
Court allows corporate influence to remain secret, no law stops any
candidate from disclosing who supports his/her candidacy.  

“Although LA Clean Sweep cannot compel disclosure of the people and
corporations behind candidates, it has the right to ask for full
disclosure.”

Among the questions he wants asked are these:

1. Each person who has contributed money.  This list would provide the
same data the election commission requires, and the cumulative list
should be updated monthly on the candidate’s website.  Candidates who
already hold public office or who have run for office should provide the
same data for the last two elections.

2. Identify each person who is a  Known Associate and/or a Kitchen
Cabinet member, i.e. anyone involved in any decision making role for the
campaign.  The list should be updated monthly on the candidate’s web
page. 

3. The background of each person who is involved in decision making for
the campaign (Known Associates and Kitchen Cabinets). The information
should be updated monthly on the candidate’s web page.

True ethics reform would require that every political contributor clearly identify who they are and their connections to any business or organization that has recent,  pending or expected business involving the city.

And reporting would have to be done in a timely matter on a weekly basis so voters could understand exactly what is going on and make informed decisions on candidates and the policies they are proposing or acting on.

As things stand now, searching campaign finance reports is like looking for a needle in a haystack — you have to know exactly what you’re looking for to have any chance of finding the connections.

We are already seeing on a daily basis how citizen journalists breaking important news by penetrating City Hall’s efforts to obscure what is going.

The Internet is the most revolutionary tool ever invented for revealing the truth and informing the public.

According to a recent Public Policy Institute of California survey, there has been a dramatic increase in how many people get their political news from the Internet.

“A plurality of residents (37%) get most of their information about
politics from television, a 10-point drop since 2007. Nearly a quarter
(24%) get most of their information from the Internet, 15 percent from
newspapers, and 10 percent from radio,” the survey found.

“Those who mainly get information
online are divided among those who read newspaper websites (47%) and
those who go to other types of websites (50%).”

You can volunteer to become an LA Clean Sweep:”Fact Finder” and help demand answers from our public officials. Just email me at ron@ronkayela.com if you want to join the team.

Here’s links to articles about the CRA deal with Hal Katersky’s Pacifica Ventures, a development company that has profited by runaway film production even as it has been hit with bankruptcies and lawsuits:

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Scent
of Swindle on Vine

October
22, 2010

http://citywatchla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4094

 

LA Weekly

http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2010/10/trutanich_vine_cra_corruption.php

 

Demand for a Criminal Investigation of the CRA Deal
for 1601 N. Vine St.

By
Ron Kaye & Richard MacNaughton / October 21, 2010

http://tinyurl.com/Katersky7

http://ronkayela.com/2010/10/-normal-0-false-false-7.html

 

The Art of the Deal: CRA, Molly’s Burgers, Hal
Katersky — and Your Money

By
Ron Kaye / October 6, 2010

http://ronkayela.com/2010/10/the-art-of-the-deal-cra-mollys.html

 

Still Rancid on Vine

September
24, 2010

www.tinyurl.com/Katersky5

http://citywatchla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3993

 

To Get Rid of the Stench, FLUSH KATERSKY

September
21, 2010

www.tinyurl.com/Katersy4

http://citywatchla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3976

 

The Stench on Vine

August
31, 2910

www.tinyurl.com/Katersky2

http://citywatchla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3912&Itemid=75

 

Albuquerque
Studio Weaves Its Way Through Legal Jungle

August
20, 2010

http://albuquerque.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/stories/2010/08/23/story1.html

 

The Unpleasant Aroma of a CRA Deal

August
17, 2010

www.tinyurl.com/Katersky3

http://citywatchla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3864&Itemid=75

 

Lawsuits, Failed Ventures Mark Developer’s Past

By
Richard Verrier / Los Angeles Times / August 17, 2010

www.tinyurl.com/Katersky1

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-katersky-20100817,0,5176114.story

 

Sweetheart Deals and Opportunists: How to Destroy a
City

By
Ron Kaye / August 10, 2010

www.tinyurl.com/Katersky

http://ronkayela.com/2010/08/with-the-complicity-of-our.html

 

The
following are the three current council files:

 

1601 North Vine (08-3458)

http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=08-3458

 

Environmental Impact Report (08-3458-S1)

http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=08-3458-S1

 

Settlement Agreement (08-3458-S2)

http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=08-3458-S2

This entry was posted in City Hall, Community Activists, Development/CRA, Hot Topics, LA Clean Sweep, Los Angeles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Three Questions for the City Council — Will They Deign to Answer?

  1. Miki says:

    Thank you for a good story with some bite in it. The other stories I am reading on this read like a reprint of the PR release the CRA sent out. Sad lack of actual reporting.
    Right now the CRA, the Mayor, Garcettii and Reyes are eying the old Kmart site smack in the middle of the proposed CRA area – and guess what is lead candidate as anchor – a Walmart. They can do the river revitalization without including so much of the surrounding property, property that has their pet high donor developers looking for a tax dollar give away for their private developments and licking their chops.
    It’s plain to see that their plans are for an upscale gentrified river close series of developments – with a Walmart tucked into the side. This does not bode well for the current residents who are, for a great part, what my father, who identified as a “working man” would have called “working people” – working class. This is LA style class wars with the CRA as weapon of mass destruction. On the East Coast this happened back in the 60′s and was called “urban renewal” and it usually involved the white affluent pushing out African Americans in those locations. It caused so much destruction and was such a mess that the CRA consciously tries to avoid being identified with it. Writer James Baldwin said “Urban renewal is Negro removal”. Update it as you like for our time and place.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ron great post. A really big question I want them to answer is how much did the DWP IBEW Union donate to each and every single council person who whimped out and refused to take up the issue of pension reform on the DWP? Dumb ass Koretz got $40,000 in 2009. They voted to place a ballot measure for LAPD union pension reform but were COWARDS and again allowed the drunks on DWP who are the most corrupt of all depts. to skate free. This is reason enough to GET RID OF ALL OF THEM

  3. Scott Zwartz says:

    LA Clean Sweep shows that voters are not powerless and we do not have to be lead around by the nose by the Koch Bros and Dick Armory.
    The Supreme Court that reversed over 200 years of constitutional law to allow private developers to steal anyone’s land also ruled that anyone in the world can make secret campaign donations to influence our elections. Well, screw the Supreme Court.
    (1) We have the power to vote out of office people like LaBonge and Garcetti who habitually help the CRA to Kelo private property.
    (2) We have the power to demand to know the origins of their secret money. If they refuses to tell, then we will vote against them!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A suggestion for the Fact Finders – follow-up will be vital. Council Members are really bad in responding to written communiques. Therefore, start building a tally sheet and report online the efforts it is taking to get a response, any response!!!

  5. Brad Smith says:

    1. Do you support or oppose the giveaway of more than $4 million in the public’s money for the questionable office project by a questionable developer at 1601 N. Vine St. in Hollywood?
    A. I oppose it. There is vacant office space all over the city, and $4 million in tax revenue would go a long way to restoring public services – library operating hours, for example, among many, many other needs.
    2. Do you support or oppose the use of eminent domain to confiscate private property by the Community Redevelopment Agency to turn over to private interests for development?
    A. I oppose it. Eminent domain should be used only for truly vital public needs, and the percentage of economic development projects that truly qualify as such is tiny. Redevelopment laws have been abused and mis-used all over California, and while cities need to be competitive, racing to the bottom and beggar-thy-neighbor ends up pretty close to a zero-sum game. Ask some of the cities that invested in “auto malls” in the 1980s and 1990s, for example.
    3. Do you support or oppose the Planning Department’s efforts to short-circuit public involvement in decisions on new developments that impact the qualify of life in neighborhoods?
    A. I oppose it. The legitimacy of government depends on open government and transparency, and local involvement in planning, zoning, and land use is key in a city as large and spread out as Los Angeles. Sunlight is most definitely the best disinfectant.
    There, that was easy.
    Best,
    Brad Smith
    smithforcouncil.org

  6. James McCuen says:

    I hope that the Clean Sweep candidates answer these questions honestly.

  7. James McCuen says:

    Thank you Brad Smith for answering.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Writer James Baldwin said “Urban renewal is Negro removal”.
    Baldwin therefore would consider the city of Detroit a wonderful, heart-warming success story!
    As for LA? More like Tijuna and Calexico on steroids, with a bit of the latte liberalism of West LA, whose residents cling to neighborhoods west of La Cienega, thrown in for a good laugh.

  9. Brad Smith says:

    James -
    You are quite welcome.
    Best,
    Brad Smith

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