Voter Fraud, Part Three: The Neverending Scandal of the DWP

Nothing can fix what’s wrong with the city’s most important and valuable asset — the Department of Water and Power — until we elect a mayor and other city officials who will stand up to blackmail by union bully Brian D’Arcy

None of the dozen or so mayors-in-waiting deserve any consideration unless they demonstrate they have the courage to confront D’Arcy and his strike threats and his ruthless use of political money.

Nothing put forward by the gutless City Council to reform the DWP is worth a damn thing because they cowered before the mighty D’Arcy and let him dictate the terms of a meaningless political deal that will have zero impact on controlling rates or rebuilding the rotting and obsolete water and power systems.

We have the dirtiest municipal power system in America and 100-year-old water mains because D’Arcy has extorted our money out of the mayor and Council and put it into the pockets of his beer-swilling and strip club enjoying workers and the IBEW treasury.

The DWP is in chaos, going through general managers and policy swings on annual basis, operating in concealment and double talk.

They haven’t been able to hire a competent professional to run the DWP in more than a decade. It is now being run on a daily basis by a man who has gone through personal bankruptcy and been fired for misconduct in an earlier stint at the DWP while First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner serves as a part-time interim general manager who is giving away tens of millions of dollars of ratepayer money to developers and corporations to buy jobs no matter what they cost.

It is an unending scandal. The measures proposed to quell public discontent will do nothing to restore the DWP’s credibility or its efficiency at fulfilling its mission to provide the city with water and power. .

Jose Huizar was the first to propose a Rate Payer Advocate to protect the public from the DWP’s price-gouging but with his re-election very much in doubt in March, he quivered and hid when it came time to fight for real reform.

Council President Eric Garcetti was even more cowardly, leading the effort to water down and gut the public’s demand for a fully funded, independent and powerful advocate for the public interest who could stand up to the union and the entrenched bureaucracy.

He cut a deal with the devil D’Arcy to slash funding for the OPA/Rate Payer Advocate by 75 percent from $4 million to $1 million and limit its ability to break down the DWP’s wall of secrecy with access to full and complete information.

The measure going before voters defines the OPA/Rate Payer Advocate’s authority to providing a “public independent analysis of department actions as they relate to water and electricity rates” — a far cry from what was supposed to be an office with the broad power to evaluate all aspects of DWP activities.

Those maneuvers left the OPA/Rate Payer Advocate nothing but a shadow of what activists had sought — an office so weak and easily manipulated that Garcetti won a promise from D’Arcy not to oppose it.

DWP officials will be able to keep the Office of Public Accountability in the dark just as they have Neighborhood Councils and everyone else while they continue to pursue policies that keep rates low by depending on dirty coal plants for nearly half the city’s energy — the worst record of any municipal utility in the nation.
So much for the mayor’s boast about L.A. being the greenest city in the nation. So much for accountability, transparency and all the other words used so blithely by dishonest leaders.

If there were any doubt about whether to take this crumb from the table of power, remember this: Actual implementation of this measure will be up to the Council to decide through ordinances, the same Council that quaked in the face of D’Arcy’s threats.

With all his brilliance and choir boy demeanor, Garcetti also engineered a deadlock on a measure that would give the Council the power to remove the stooges who serve as the five members of the DWP Commission and the general manager on a two-thirds vote.
It comes back for a final vote on Dec. 7 when the nation’s high paid city officials — better paid even than members of Congress — return from one of their frequent vacations.

The removal authority itself is laughable.

The Council routinely applauds every mayoral appointment to the every commission and only on the rarest of occasions does even a single member object to a nominee.

At any point in the last year of heightened controversy and conflict with the DWP and its commissioners, the Council could have passed a “no confidence” motion that would have brought the issues of soaring rates and failed policies to a head.

They didn’t and they won’t use this removal authority because it’s all a closed system. Measure K is meaningless.

In the past six years, this mayor and this City Council have approved two long-term contracts with the IBEW that gave raises up to 6 percent a year and guaranteed at least 2 per cent raises even at a time of deflation.

At the same time, the DWP has sought and gotten massive rate increases that sent water and power bills soaring higher than many people’s mortgage payments.

The DWP outrage doesn’t end there. The city illegally transferred $130 million in “surplus” water revenue to the general fund and never paid ratepayers back and it increased the transfer to the general fund from “surplus” power revenue from 5 to 8 percent — a tax that comes on top of the 10 percent DWP utility tax on every bill.

Back in the spring, the mayor tried to take it a step further by seeking a 28 percent increase in electricity rates and the ever obedient DWP Commission and department leadership manufactured phony numbers to justify withholding $73 million in surplus revenue transfers to get the rate hike approved.

It was a blatant attempt at extortion that failed because for once the Council was so afraid of the wrath of the people that they stood up to the power of the DWP, settling for a mere 5 percent rate hike.

Measure J on its face is a clumsy attempt to set dates and timelines and procedures in the stone of the City Charter to prevent this kind of fiasco from happening again.

In reality, it is a power grab that is so full of loopholes and gobbledygook language it won’t achieve anything.

You cannot write rules to make elected officials responsible. You have to elect responsible people to office to achieve openness, honesty, accountability and good government.

Voter Fraud, Part Two: Phony Election Reforms and Power Grabs

When is reform not reform?

When the City Council, struggling with its total failure and loss of the public’s trust, stacks the ballot with 11 measures plus seven Council seats and LAUSD and Community College board elections.

The mayor, desperate for something, anything, to claim he has achieved anything during his two terms is going all out to control the school board and his claim to be the education mayor and to keep citizen candidates from knocking off his obedient Council supporters like Jose Huizar and Tom LaBonge.

Here’s my analysis of three more measures on the March 8 ballot:

ELECTION REFORM — MEASURE H

Measure H is a classic City Hall dirty ballot trick — like the one that gave Council members three terms instead of two and was supposed to bar lobbyists from making political campaign contributions so their wives hold the fund-raisers for their clients.

Nothing changed except we are stuck with these failures for 12 years instead of eight.

This new two-issue measure supposedly would bar contractors from making political campaign contributions and provide something close to full public financing of campaigns so that ordinary citizen candidates stand more than a long shot chance of winning.

But it won’t do any of that.

Its stated purpose:

“To
encourage a broader participation in the political process and to avoid
corruption or the
appearance of corruption in city decision making, and protect the
integrity of the City’s procurement and contract processes by placing
limits on the amount any person may contribute or otherwise cause to be
available to candidates for election to

the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and City Council and promote
accountability to the public by requiring disclosure of campaign activities and

imposing other campaign restrictions.”

Broader
participation, end corruption, protect integrity — why that’s exactly
what City Hall needs to restore public confidence and make the focus of
what City Hall does the public benefits that are achieved instead of its
slavishness to special interest.

Measure H, unfortunately doesn’t do any of that.

Contractors and sub-contractors bidding on city contracts from making campaign contributions to candidates but it doesn’t stop them from setting up independent expenditure committees and spending all they want on candidates and issues.

Even if it passes and meant something, the Council made sure it doesn’t apply to contracts with the DWP, Harbor and Airport — the “juice” departments where the big money contracts are and the big money contributions.

What a joke!

The other element of Measure H is even more cynical if that’s possible.

Poor Jose Huizar, he tried to so hard to make himself the clean money reformer so he could coast to re-election, cultivating genuine reformers like Common Cause and others who want to see an even playing field and fair elections.

His effort started out with six strong proposals, got whittled down to three for consideration for the March 8 ballot and he wound up only getting one to make it in a form so watered down as to be worthless in achieving the goals of anyone except the incumbents.

The goal was to provide citizen candidates with something like $100,000 to run their campaigns if the raised a modest amount of money from small contributors. But nothing like that is in this measure. It’s left to the Council to develop rules it likes someday if Measure H passes to enhance the matching funds now available for contributions of $250 or less.

What is left is the city will add $2 million a year — not the $3 million Huizar proposed — to the $13 million now available for matching funds but the council can take the money back any time it wants or even decide to withhold the money entirely.

All it has to do is declare “a fiscal emergency,” which is likely to the case for years ifnot decades to come..

The measure contains high-minded phrases about helping to “restore public trust in governmental and electoral institutions … to
avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption by providing
an alternate source of funding for campaigns and reducing real or perceived ties between elected officials and special interests.”

Now what kind of people would feel they can’t “trust” government or see “corruption” or the “appearance” of it or worry about the “real or perceived ties between elected officials and special interests.”

‘Just about everybody who has paid the least bit of attention, of course. None of them is going to believe the Council and mayor have any intention of implementing this measure to achieve its stated goals.

EMPLOYMENT RULES — MEASURE Q and CAMPAIGN FINANCE — MEASURE N

The employment provisions measure is as timeless as they get while the campaign finance is legally meaningless, so why now?

The answer is simple: There’s no better way to suppress the vote than to make it so long and unintelligible that special interests can pour money into independent expenditure committees can get what they want which is to re-elect the people who have served them so well for so long.

The campaign finance measure does utterly nothing.

The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted restrictions on what unions, corporations and individuals can spend on elections through independent expenditure committees so Measure N merely brings L.A. rules for city and school board elections in line with federal law.

The law is the same whether this is on the ballot or whether it passes or not. The rich and powerful will be able to spend freely to buy elections without even worrying about limits on contributions of $500 or $1,000.

One of the unintended consequences of Charter reform a decade ago was how making top managers at-will employees of the mayor has worked out.

The goal was to give mayors the power to get rid of ineffective top managers who no longer would have Civil Service protection.

But under the current mayor, that power has been used to intimidate and humiliate upper levels of every department, to make  them do the mayor’s bidding or face being fired.

Measure Q — instead of stopping mayoral abuses — extends his power to deputy  fire chiefs and increases the possibility of other patronage abuses by eliminating the need for full and open examinations and review of all candidates seeking promotions in every department.

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Voter Fraud, Part One: 11 Ballot Measures Ranging from Meaningless to Timeless

Richard Alarcon faces felony voter fraud and perjury charges for lying on his voter registration form about actually living in the district he represents.

His 14 colleagues on the City Council ought to be indicted for putting 10 and probably 11 measures on the March 8 ballot that are nothing but a fraud upon voters.

They range from the meaningless to the timeless and do little or nothing to solve a single problem the city faces.

Their only purpose is to confuse and tire apathetic and defeated voters into staying away from the polls so the six incumbents and the anointed incumbent for Greig Smith’s seat can eke out re-election despite the Council’s grotesque failures on every level and its total loss of credibility.

This is a swindle that makes the deceitful tricks that were used to befuddle voters into giving them a third term in office in the name of ethics reform or to hike the telephone tax by calling it a cut.

To keep things simple, I suggest just saying “no” to all 11 measures. Nothing would be lost that has a significant public benefit. They are all as phony as our elected officials.

Under the City Charter, libraries get 0.0175 percent of the city’s share of property taxes with the rest of their funding coming through the budget process from the General Fund.

The mayor and Council showed their utter contempt for the public by slashing funding to the libraries to the point that L.A. became the first big city in America to shutter its public libraries two days a week, denying this basic service to students and other frequent users on Sundays and Mondays.

The libraries need just $10 million to reopen but they chose to spend that money on all kinds of peripheral programs and giveaways, including many social welfare programs of questionable value to anyone — other than the politicians who prefer to buy support from favored constituencies rather than earn it by doing a good job.

This measure, if passed, doesn’t actually reopen the libraries right away because the increase to 0.030 percent is being phased in over five years and nearly all the money is being taken back by charging the libraries for every kind of direct and indirect cost that can be applied.

Beginning in
fiscal year 2014-15 and thereafter, the Library Department shall be responsible
for payment of all of its direct and indirect costs, which shall include, but
not be limited to, health, dental, pension, building services and utility costs,” the measure says.

In theory, the libraries eventually would have sustainable funding but that presumes that revenue from property taxes rises as fast as wages and benefits, cost of resources, water and power, maintenance and everything else that the mayor and Council decide to call “direct and indirect” costs.

POLICE AND FIRE PENSIONS — MEASURE G

The cost of public employee pensions and lifetime health benefits is bankrupting L.A. — an unfunded liability running into billions and billions of dollars that the public is liable for, costs that take hundreds of millions of dollars out of basic services and DWP infrastructure investment every year.

This is the heart of the budget crisis and all the mayor and Council can come up with to fix it is a deal with the police and fire unions that will require new hires to pay 2 percent of their salaries for health care while being guaranteed the same 90 percent pensions and benefits that existing cops and firefighters get.

‘Given the monstrous size of the looming budget deficits over the next several years, it seems unlikely there will be a lot of new hires for the police and fire departments without slashing other basic services even more sharply than they have been.

Quite simply, this does little or nothing to solve the pension crisis and won’t even have any impact for years to come. And it doesn’t even apply to the civilian work force or the DWP workers.

They know full well the public won’t put up with any more tax increases, not to support a government that costs too much and delivers too little, a government that panders to special interest without regard to the public interest.

So why not, a century after the vast oil and gas fields under L.A. were first exploited, get around to joining every other city in the region by imposing a tax that will produce all of $4 million a year in revenue or 1 percent of next year’s deficit.

Why not, why now? Because it’s an easy target, clog up the ballot that also has school board and community college board elections on it and confuse voters into thinking this will actually have any impact.

The tax on medical marijuana sales is far worse.

First of all, it’s medicine for seriously ill patients — at least that’s what the state law says — and medicine isn’t taxable.

Then, the state law doesn’t allow for selling marijuana, only recovery of costs and there’s not supposed to profits which is why only non-profits are supposed to be running dispensaries.

Thirdly, they are seeking to tax a substance that is illegal under federal law to possess.

This isn’t only a bad law proposal but an illegal one.

By practice in recent years, the mayor and Council raid the reserve fund accounts throughout the year and then repay it and the end of the fiscal year.

They are supposed to set aside 5 percent of general fund revenue but aren’t close to reaching that during this budget crisis.

This measure requires setting aside 2.75 percent of general fund revenue into an “emergency reserve fund” that they want to pretend is untouchable except in a catastrophe.

The truth is they can take money out of it any time they want as long as they “make a finding of urgent economic necessity” with a two-thirds majority — something that isn’t hard to reach when the Council votes unanimously 99.93 percent of the time.

“The basis on which a finding of urgent economic necessity may be made includes, but shall not be limited to, a significant economic downturn after the budget is adopted, a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, civil unrest, or other significant
unanticipated events requiring the expenditure of General Fund resources,” the measure says.

This is about as meaningless as you can get and would include, you can be sure, not having enough money to pay the city’s bills because they are overspending like drunken fools.

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Voter Fraud, Part One: 11 Ballot Measures Ranging from Meaningless to Timeless

Richard Alarcon faces felony voter fraud and perjury charges for lying on his voter registration form about actually living in the district he represents.

His 14 colleagues on the City Council ought to be indicted for putting 10 and probably 11 measures on the March 8 ballot that are nothing but a fraud upon voters.

They range from the meaningless to the timeless and do little or nothing to solve a single problem the city faces.

Their only purpose is to confuse and tire apathetic and defeated voters into staying away from the polls so the six incumbents and the anointed incumbent for Greig Smith’s seat can eke out re-election despite the Council’s grotesque failures on every level and its total loss of credibility.

This is a swindle that makes the deceitful tricks that were used to befuddle voters into giving them a third term in office in the name of ethics reform or to hike the telephone tax by calling it a cut.

To keep things simple, I suggest just saying “no” to all 11 measures. Nothing would be lost that has a significant public benefit. They are all as phony as our elected officials.

Under the City Charter, libraries get 0.0175 percent of the city’s share of property taxes with the rest of their funding coming through the budget process from the General Fund.

The mayor and Council showed their utter contempt for the public by slashing funding to the libraries to the point that L.A. became the first big city in America to shutter its public libraries two days a week, denying this basic service to students and other frequent users on Sundays and Mondays.

The libraries need just $10 million to reopen but they chose to spend that money on all kinds of peripheral programs and giveaways, including many social welfare programs of questionable value to anyone — other than the politicians who prefer to buy support from favored constituencies rather than earn it by doing a good job.

This measure, if passed, doesn’t actually reopen the libraries right away because the increase to 0.030 percent is being phased in over five years and nearly all the money is being taken back by charging the libraries for every kind of direct and indirect cost that can be applied.

Beginning in
fiscal year 2014-15 and thereafter, the Library Department shall be responsible
for payment of all of its direct and indirect costs, which shall include, but
not be limited to, health, dental, pension, building services and utility costs,” the measure says.

In theory, the libraries eventually would have sustainable funding but that presumes that revenue from property taxes rises as fast as wages and benefits, cost of resources, water and power, maintenance and everything else that the mayor and Council decide to call “direct and indirect” costs.

POLICE AND FIRE PENSIONS — MEASURE G

The cost of public employee pensions and lifetime health benefits is bankrupting L.A. — an unfunded liability running into billions and billions of dollars that the public is liable for, costs that take hundreds of millions of dollars out of basic services and DWP infrastructure investment every year.

This is the heart of the budget crisis and all the mayor and Council can come up with to fix it is a deal with the police and fire unions that will require new hires to pay 2 percent of their salaries for health care while being guaranteed the same 90 percent pensions and benefits that existing cops and firefighters get.

‘Given the monstrous size of the looming budget deficits over the next several years, it seems unlikely there will be a lot of new hires for the police and fire departments without slashing other basic services even more sharply than they have been.

Quite simply, this does little or nothing to solve the pension crisis and won’t even have any impact for years to come. And it doesn’t even apply to the civilian work force or the DWP workers.

They know full well the public won’t put up with any more tax increases, not to support a government that costs too much and delivers too little, a government that panders to special interest without regard to the public interest.

So why not, a century after the vast oil and gas fields under L.A. were first exploited, get around to joining every other city in the region by imposing a tax that will produce all of $4 million a year in revenue or 1 percent of next year’s deficit.

Why not, why now? Because it’s an easy target, clog up the ballot that also has school board and community college board elections on it and confuse voters into thinking this will actually have any impact.

The tax on medical marijuana sales is far worse.

First of all, it’s medicine for seriously ill patients — at least that’s what the state law says — and medicine isn’t taxable.

Then, the state law doesn’t allow for selling marijuana, only recovery of costs and there’s not supposed to profits which is why only non-profits are supposed to be running dispensaries.

Thirdly, they are seeking to tax a substance that is illegal under federal law to possess.

This isn’t only a bad law proposal but an illegal one.

By practice in recent years, the mayor and Council raid the reserve fund accounts throughout the year and then repay it and the end of the fiscal year.

They are supposed to set aside 5 percent of general fund revenue but aren’t close to reaching that during this budget crisis.

This measure requires setting aside 2.75 percent of general fund revenue into an “emergency reserve fund” that they want to pretend is untouchable except in a catastrophe.

The truth is they can take money out of it any time they want as long as they “make a finding of urgent economic necessity” with a two-thirds majority — something that isn’t hard to reach when the Council votes unanimously 99.93 percent of the time.

“The basis on which a finding of urgent economic necessity may be made includes, but shall not be limited to, a significant economic downturn after the budget is adopted, a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, civil unrest, or other significant
unanticipated events requiring the expenditure of General Fund resources,” the measure says.

This is about as meaningless as you can get and would include, you can be sure, not having enough money to pay the city’s bills because they are overspending like drunken fools.

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Happiness: The Real American Dream

A week in
the desert letting go of my obsession with all things L.A. has unfortunately done nothing to change
my dark view of our situation except to bring it into sharper focus…

We are in a
profound crisis economically and politically that is as nakedly visible to
everyone as the emperor who wore no clothes was to a small child.

We too are
in denial, particularly those with the power and wealth to provide the
desperately needed leadership to pull our city, state and nation together and
guide us through hard times that require major changes in the way we live and
work and deal with each other.

It is
business as usual as if nothing were wrong that won’t right itself in due time.
The growth economy based on the insane belief that anybody, that everybody,
could become a millionaire – or at least live like one on credit – isn’t coming
back.

What was normal
since the end of World War II has been and gone and isn’t coming back. American
imperialism and the military-industrial complex have entrapped us in endless
war that has consumed our resources and exhausted our strength.

The God of Materialism is dead… Hyper-consumerism is no longer sustainable or desirable
in an over-populated world suffocating in its exhaust fumes. Without a
manufacturing base, the middle class is shrinking and opportunities for the
young are diminishing even as their parents and grandparents seek to protect
what they have.

We are a
nation divided against itself, at war with ourselves, at a time that cries out for
unity. We are committing national suicide with every sector from Wall Street to
the unions grasping greedily for more and more for themselves when there isn’t
enough to go around, at least not in the way we have become accustomed to.

We are in
free fall spiraling downward out of control

Where have
all the leaders gone? Where is the business, civic, political leadership to
help us rise above our destructive selfish ways…?

We are
moving into a new era

You wouldn’t
know it from the mobs at the shops at the Palm
Springs outlet malls and the parking lots jammed more
than a mile away.

From all
appearances, American consumers — at least those with cash to burn or good
credit — were on a buying binge. The economic miracle that could fill the
empty treasuries of state and local governments was under way. 

Or was it?

Black
Friday sales were up just 0.3 percent and more people are expected to shop
online today on Cyber Monday, often without paying sales tax, to feed
their appetite for material goods Monday rather than will go to stores. How much of
the clothing, electronics and other sharply discounted merchandise will
actually be made in America?

The truth
is we don’t manufacture very many of the goods we consume, we import far more
than we export. The God of Materialism is dead. I’ve asked dozens of people
successful in various fields when they expect to economy to revive and they all
say the same thing: Normal
isn’t coming back, a new normal is forming and they don’t know what it will
look like.

Yet, our
local, state and federal government leaders keep going deeper in debt and
operating like good times are just around the corner and will bail them out,
save them politically, save us all economically.

Don’t
believe it. 

At best, we have achieved stability with the likelihood of another economic
downturn is much greater than the likelihood of a boom that will put people
back to work and lift all ships.

Unchastened
by their role in causing the worst recession since the depression, the bankers and
Wall Street look greedily at the prospects of profiting from soaring government
borrowing and the fire sale of public assets.

California and Los Angeles
are up for grabs and all our leaders can think of is their own
self-preservation.

They are
mortgaging the future by borrowing heavily to finance high-speed trains and
subways and, massive high-rise projects for the rich, hoping to cling to power
by feeding contractors, developers and the construction industry with the
public’s money.

It’s time
for Americans to come down to earth and wake up from the long narcissistic
dream.

It’s time
we face the truth that we have lost our way, forgotten this is a nation of
ordinary folks, not  those with royal
privileges, who respect honest working people and seek a balance of competing
interests, and believe that everyone has the same right to life, liberty and
the pursuit of their own happiness.

Happiness –
that is the point. It’s what America
is supposed to be about, not super-power and super-wealth, but a nation founded
on the belief that everyman has an equal opportunity to achieve a happy life
regardless of their background or station in life.

I’ve found
my happiness. I’m a lucky guy. But it breaks my heart to see what’s going on,
to see what should be the greatest city in the greatest state in the greatest
nation heading off a cliff that will cause, is causing, so much unhappiness for
so many.

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Weekend Update: Law and Order Report

Part One: Judges Judging Judges: Are Judicial Double Benefits Constitutional? Judges To Rule on Judges Benefits Round II

By Full Disclosure Network

The California Court of Appeal 4th District in San Diego heard oral
arguments on October 13, 2010 for the second time in ongoing case
brought by the non-profit public interest law firm Judicial Watch known
as “Sturgeon II” originally filed in 2006 as Sturgeon v County of Los Angeles.  The case has been a hot potato bouncing back and forth from Superior
Court where Judges recused themselves to Appellate Court and to the
California Supreme Court. Who had refused to re-hear the case that
resulted in Sturgeon vs County becoming case law. In an unusual move,
the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges decided to intervene and take the
issue to a second round battle.

This awkward court fight has judges pitted against judges. The Los
Angeles Superior Court hired Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher one of the
nation’s most prestigious lawfirms to fight to overturn the previous
decision in November 2008 that found the double benefits of $300 million
paid to L A Judges since 1987 were illegal. And, L A County would not
take no for an answer, they hired Jones-Day one of the largest lawfirms
in the world to continue the fight to give double benefits to the
highest paid judges in the nation. Apparently the costly court fees for
retrying the case is not an issue. There appears to be unlimited funds
for the top legal beagles.


Read and view more at Leslie Dutton’s Full Disclosure Network


Part Two: California Parole Policies Reward Criminals and Endanger Citizens


By L.A. Police Protective League, Board of Directors

A new report out of Marin County Wednesday has us wondering just how far the State of California will go – and what degree of danger it will deem acceptable – to address a budget crisis of its own making. A San Francisco Chronicle news story  revealed the impending release of yet another felon who, despite his deplorable crimes against children, has been designated a “non-violent offender” and will walk out of jail early, unencumbered by the supervision of a parole agent.

If all goes according to the state’s plan, Monday will bring the early release of Winnfredwinfredwright.jpg Wright, who in 2003 was sentenced to 16 years in state prison for the death-by-starvation of his 19-month old son and the physical abuse of his 12 other children. Wright’s abuses against his children, whose ages ranged from 19 months to 16 years, included binding and whipping, and even taping their mouths shut for things like “stealing” food and making noise. The Chronicle reports that Ndigo Campisi-Nyah, the toddler who was starved to death, “…suffered a skull fracture, other broken bones, malformed legs, a concave chest and a humped back. He also was found to have symptoms of rickets brought on by starvation.” Despite the sickening nature of his crimes, Wright will soon be out early and unsupervised simply because, according to the state and CDCR’s policy, he is a “non-violent offender.” The Marin County District Attorney has, quite commendably, not let up in its efforts to have the CDCR reconsider its decision to assign Wright no supervision. But as the story reports, it’s unclear what will actually happen, since as of late Tuesday a CDCR spokesperson said that “…the inmate’s status was still being assessed and that no decision had been made as to whether his parole will be supervised or unsupervised.”

In another case, two days ago, child rapist Lawrence Joseph Brown (see Facebook page) was released andlawrencejosephbrown.jpg then quickly taken back into custody after violating the terms of his parole by being in a car with a female. His inability to follow the rules of his conditional release, however, should have come as a surprise to no one, since it had happened before. He was freed in April, but as an OC Weekly News story  recounts, Brown “…quickly violated his parole by becoming transient and masking his GPS by failing to charge the battery to avoid being monitored. On May, 6, 2010, only 10 days after being released from prison, he was violated on his parole and sent back to state prison.”

Many might also recall that soon after the state started releasing prisoners under its Non-Revocable Parole Program, Kevin Eugene Peterson, released 16 days early, wasted no time in committing four felonies: assault to commit rape, sodomy, and oral copulation; sexual battery; false imprisonment and the violation of the terms of his probation. The person he held captive and attempted to rape was a female counselor he was meeting with – 13 hours after he walked out of prison!kevineugendpeterson.jpg

State officials must examine the process they use to decide which parolees will be supervised. Clearly, a better review of past offenses needs to take place, and perhaps a little more common sense should be brought to bear on the final determinations. The “non-violent offender” designation is being applied too narrowly. Determining a person’s non-violent status by only looking at the crime for which they are currently incarcerated, and whether it is deemed a “violent felony” by the Penal Code, versus examining their entire criminal history for violent behavior, is resulting in the dumping of violent prisoners into communities where little-to-no supervision leaves them too much leeway to commit new crimes. A tragic and painful reminder of this came earlier this month when Earl Ellis Green, out on parole from state prison with minimal supervision because he was deemed a “non-violent offender,” shot and killed Riverside police officer and Iraq War veteran Ryan P. Bonaminio. Green’s long criminal history included a conviction for domestic violence, and the behavior he exhibited had even prompted his family to seek a restraining order against him, but none of this changed the decision to release him with minimal supervision.

These parolees and their dangerous, repetitive, behavior are only a few examples of how the people of California are being placed in harm’s way to save a buck. As the number of prisoners who are rashly thrown out of jail with insufficient supervision climbs, so do the odds that the majority of them will commit new crimes against residents of this state. Californians deserve a lot better from their leaders than ill-conceived “solutions” that threaten their safety.

The Betrayal of Los Angeles: Who’s To Blame?

Welcome back, Ted Stein — City Hall surely missed you these last six years.

Stein resigned in a self-righteous huff as Airport Commission president back in 2004 at the height of the pay-to-play scandals that plagued the Hahn Administration.

“I’m hoping that this is the end of this kind of
conduct,” Villaraigosa said when Stein quit. “But if it’s not, we need to
ferret it out wherever there’s any appearance of impropriety.”

Controller Laura Chick has raised questions about Stein’s role in awarding LAX contracts and helping raise political money from the same contractors — questions that were seized on in the press and by Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa as he laid the groundwork for his mayoral campaign accusing Jimmy Hahn of leading the most corruption administration in decades.

“The tactics employed by the controller — including publicly
implying that the (Airport) Commission may have engaged in wrongdoing


wrongdo
….. Click the link for more information. yet refusing to produce any evidence to support her claim – represent
the worst traits in government,” Stein said in his bitter letter of resignation.

“I have been subjected to an array of false, defamatory and
unsubstantiated accusations suggesting that I engaged in or orchestrated
a plan to force URS (an airport contractor) to make political
contributions in order to continue doing business at Los Angeles International Airport — what has been dubbed ‘pay to play.’ ”

Well, time heals all wounds and it should be clear to one and all that the standards of ethical conduct move with the times as the corruption rampant in the Villaraigosa Administration makes the Hahn era misdeeds seem like child’s play.

On Thursday, Villaraigosa named Stein to be one of the 26 members of his  “Blue Ribbon panel to conduct a comprehensive security review of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and recommend improvements.”(LAX-Panel.doc)

It is a distinguished panel of judges, federal prosecutors, experts in
terrorism and emergency operations — and Stein, a San Fernando Valley
developer who focused on projects in Council District 12 where his
long-time friend Hal Bernson and his Chief of Staff Greig Smith held
court.

Smith, who succeeded Bernson and is doing his best to pass the torch of
power to his own chief of staff, Mitch Englander, is himself a member of
the blue ribbon panel as chairman of the Council Public Safety
Committee and nominated Stein to be a member as Villaraigosa’s press
release pointedly makes clear.

It is a small, small world this world of City Hall insiders and players and Stein has been part of it for a long, long time.

He was president of the Planning Commission when Tom Bradley was mayor and over-development first surfaced as a major issue.

He was a key player in the administration of Mayor Richard Riordan, serving as a special adviser, then president of  the Airport Commission and later the Harbor Commission while his wife served on the highly-paid Public Works Commission.

There’s never been another city commissioner quite like Ted Stein.

Intense, one-pointed, domineering, he always was a lightning rod for criticism and controversy as he went far beyond oversight to virtually run departments,often running roughshod over general managers and their executive teams.

That’s what made him so valuable to mayors who actually wanted to get things done — and kept getting Stein in trouble.

When Riordan was thwarted by the FAA to raise landing fees for airlines at LAX, Stein 
“took the lead …  and he hired (Webster) Hubbell, who had just been fired by the
Clinton White House as the Whitewater scandal worsened, to try to get
$50 million in federal funds,” Rick Orlov wrote in the Daily News in reviewing Stein’s career  in 2004.

Hubbell was under investigation for
overcharging clients from his work at a law firm with Hillary
Rodham

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2008 presidential candidate and current junior U.S.

….. Click the link for more information. Clinton and it led to a federal investigation and criminal charges. Stein, a potential target of the investigation, was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Arkansas, but was not charged in that case or in the later pay-to-play scandal in the Hahn Administration.

It was during that time period that Stein cultivated a friendship with me as managing editor of the Daily News — a friendship that ended shortly after Hahn took office, named Stein again to head the Airport Commission and I published a story raising questions about the propriety of the appointment in light of Stein’s past controversial role in that post. .

From that moment on, Hahn ignored the Daily News, refusing to even come to editorial board meetings and treating the paper as an enemy — which, of course, made it easy to take a critical view of his actions since there was no relationship and so much to criticize.

I bring this all up in the name of full disclosure and because it provides a small window into the small world of City Hall politics — a world in which the inter-connected self-interest of insiders has so ill-served the public interest for so long and caused so much harm to the city.

Laura Chick made an important point in her one-sentence response to Stein’s attack when he resigned in 2004, saying: “This is not about one airport commissioner or about a blue-ribbon commission’s report, it is about leadership from the
top.”

That was true then, and it’s just as true today.

The problem with city government in Los Angeles was never people like Stein or the circle of lobbyists, contractors, developers, unions, political operatives and all the rest of those who feed at the trough of the city treasury.

The problem is the leadership at the top, the mayor and City Council members who take a sworn oath to serve the people but routinely betray that oath and the trust of the people.Enhanced by Zemanta

The Betrayal of Los Angeles: Who’s To Blame?

Welcome back, Ted Stein — City Hall surely missed you these last six years.

Stein resigned in a self-righteous huff as Airport Commission president back in 2004 at the height of the pay-to-play scandals that plagued the Hahn Administration.

“I’m hoping that this is the end of this kind of
conduct,” Villaraigosa said when Stein quit. “But if it’s not, we need to
ferret it out wherever there’s any appearance of impropriety.”

Controller Laura Chick has raised questions about Stein’s role in awarding LAX contracts and helping raise political money from the same contractors — questions that were seized on in the press and by Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa as he laid the groundwork for his mayoral campaign accusing Jimmy Hahn of leading the most corruption administration in decades.

“The tactics employed by the controller — including publicly
implying that the (Airport) Commission may have engaged in wrongdoing


wrongdo
….. Click the link for more information. yet refusing to produce any evidence to support her claim – represent
the worst traits in government,” Stein said in his bitter letter of resignation.

“I have been subjected to an array of false, defamatory and
unsubstantiated accusations suggesting that I engaged in or orchestrated
a plan to force URS (an airport contractor) to make political
contributions in order to continue doing business at Los Angeles International Airport — what has been dubbed ‘pay to play.’ ”

Well, time heals all wounds and it should be clear to one and all that the standards of ethical conduct move with the times as the corruption rampant in the Villaraigosa Administration makes the Hahn era misdeeds seem like child’s play.

On Thursday, Villaraigosa named Stein to be one of the 26 members of his  “Blue Ribbon panel to conduct a comprehensive security review of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and recommend improvements.”(LAX-Panel.doc)

It is a distinguished panel of judges, federal prosecutors, experts in
terrorism and emergency operations — and Stein, a San Fernando Valley
developer who focused on projects in Council District 12 where his
long-time friend Hal Bernson and his Chief of Staff Greig Smith held
court.

Smith, who succeeded Bernson and is doing his best to pass the torch of
power to his own chief of staff, Mitch Englander, is himself a member of
the blue ribbon panel as chairman of the Council Public Safety
Committee and nominated Stein to be a member as Villaraigosa’s press
release pointedly makes clear.

It is a small, small world this world of City Hall insiders and players and Stein has been part of it for a long, long time.

He was president of the Planning Commission when Tom Bradley was mayor and over-development first surfaced as a major issue.

He was a key player in the administration of Mayor Richard Riordan, serving as a special adviser, then president of  the Airport Commission and later the Harbor Commission while his wife served on the highly-paid Public Works Commission.

There’s never been another city commissioner quite like Ted Stein.

Intense, one-pointed, domineering, he always was a lightning rod for criticism and controversy as he went far beyond oversight to virtually run departments,often running roughshod over general managers and their executive teams.

That’s what made him so valuable to mayors who actually wanted to get things done — and kept getting Stein in trouble.

When Riordan was thwarted by the FAA to raise landing fees for airlines at LAX, Stein 
“took the lead …  and he hired (Webster) Hubbell, who had just been fired by the
Clinton White House as the Whitewater scandal worsened, to try to get
$50 million in federal funds,” Rick Orlov wrote in the Daily News in reviewing Stein’s career  in 2004.

Hubbell was under investigation for
overcharging clients from his work at a law firm with Hillary
Rodham

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2008 presidential candidate and current junior U.S.

….. Click the link for more information. Clinton and it led to a federal investigation and criminal charges. Stein, a potential target of the investigation, was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Arkansas, but was not charged in that case or in the later pay-to-play scandal in the Hahn Administration.

It was during that time period that Stein cultivated a friendship with me as managing editor of the Daily News — a friendship that ended shortly after Hahn took office, named Stein again to head the Airport Commission and I published a story raising questions about the propriety of the appointment in light of Stein’s past controversial role in that post. .

From that moment on, Hahn ignored the Daily News, refusing to even come to editorial board meetings and treating the paper as an enemy — which, of course, made it easy to take a critical view of his actions since there was no relationship and so much to criticize.

I bring this all up in the name of full disclosure and because it provides a small window into the small world of City Hall politics — a world in which the inter-connected self-interest of insiders has so ill-served the public interest for so long and caused so much harm to the city.

Laura Chick made an important point in her one-sentence response to Stein’s attack when he resigned in 2004, saying: “This is not about one airport commissioner or about a blue-ribbon commission’s report, it is about leadership from the
top.”

That was true then, and it’s just as true today.

The problem with city government in Los Angeles was never people like Stein or the circle of lobbyists, contractors, developers, unions, political operatives and all the rest of those who feed at the trough of the city treasury.

The problem is the leadership at the top, the mayor and City Council members who take a sworn oath to serve the people but routinely betray that oath and the trust of the people.Enhanced by Zemanta

Planning: The Real Battle for LA’s Future

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday Nov. 17, the City Council unanimously approved radical changes to the planning process without allowing public comment. First, they voted 11-0 on Item 10 without any debate, one vote short of allowing it to pass without a second reading. A few minutes later, they reconsidered that vote, refused to allow any public comment, let Ed Reyes double-talk and deceive for several minutes and Tom LaBonge prattle unintelligibly and then failed to ask a single question of Planning Department officials.

“Sound the alarm” — that’s the cry raging through the activist community over the City Council’s rush to unanimously approve radical changes that short-circuit the planning process, cut out public involvement and sharply increase density.

With Planning Department staff slashed by nearly 40 percent and de facto Mayor Austin Beutner committed to giving developers whatever they want — fast-track approval, tax breaks, subsidies and reduced DWP rates — the stage is set for a battle that is far more important to the city’s future than all 11 March ballot measures combined.

Steven Leigh Morris in the LA Weekly on Thursday captures the issue clearly in an article headlined “L.A. May Say Good-bye to EIRs and Public Notice:

“The new ordinance could lead to buildings with at least 20 percent more density and parking than permitted by local zoning codes.

“But the greater issue is that the ordinance hastily approved by the City Council last week sets the stage to wipe out a long-standing legal and social contract between City Hall and L.A.’s dwellers: It does so by removing many requirements for public notices, public hearings and Environmental Impact Reports, which allow Angelenos to question what is happening or fight back.

“The plan the City Council approved is, in fact, a shrine to the rule of exceptions.

“It creates a new layer of bureaucracy that would ‘overlay’ the Community Plans by creating special administrative districts — Community Plan Implementation Overlay districts — in which the Planning Department will have exclusive jurisdiction, trumping neighborhood councils and anyone from the community.”

Morris calls this measure –Community Plan Implementation Overlay — “the most stealth legislation to sweep through Los Angeles City Hall in recent memory.”

It was approved last week just six weeks after being drafted and with just a 10-minute Council discussion while the public was banned from even offering its two-minutes worth of comment.

Worst of all, it is just the first of  a half dozen measures that Beutner and his hand-picked Planning Director Michael LoGrande are going to shove down the public’s throat in coming months — measures that will destroy even the pretense of transparency and public involvement in planning decisions while creating a denser, more congested and less livable city.

“What’s the point of buying a home in the city when nothing is protected?” — that’s the question posed by Studio City Neighborhood Council President John Walker at the conclusion of the Weekly article.

It is the heart of the matter, what investment banker Beutner doesn’t understand.

You can’t buy jobs with massive public subsidies. You have to create the environment for investment by building healthy neighborhoods and a city that believes in itself and its future — not one that is in a perpetual and escalating  uncivil war..

Cary Brazeman, leader of LA Neighbors United and a leading campaigner for rational and effective planning rules and processes, submitted a devastating nine-page analysis of this ordinance along with 240 pages of supporting documents.

The Council, in its haste to ignore the public, wouldn’t even allow him and other critics to speak during public comment. He argues that before any major changes are made, the out-of-date community plans need to be updated.

“Community Plan updates necessarily entail a high level of community engagement over a substantial period of time. The initiation of these CPIO Districts, however, will require a far lower level of engagement, including a potentially very limited period
of review,” he wrote.

“Especially since they can be initiated on a single-parcel basis, we are concerned that notice may be limited and there will be little opportunity for community involvement in the decision-making. Similarly, based on the new lower thresholds in the Core Findings Ordinance. it will be difficult to overturn a CPIO District designation. Thus, it is very important that the  community now understand and appreciate the implications of this new district designation, which can override underlying zoning through the new CPIO exceptions process.”
Enhanced by Zemanta

Planning: The Real Battle for LA’s Future

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday Nov. 17, the City Council unanimously approved radical changes to the planning process without allowing public comment. First, they voted 11-0 on Item 10 without any debate, one vote short of allowing it to pass without a second reading. A few minutes later, they reconsidered that vote, refused to allow any public comment, let Ed Reyes double-talk and deceive for several minutes and Tom LaBonge prattle unintelligibly and then failed to ask a single question of Planning Department officials.

“Sound the alarm” — that’s the cry raging through the activist community over the City Council’s rush to unanimously approve radical changes that short-circuit the planning process, cut out public involvement and sharply increase density.

With Planning Department staff slashed by nearly 40 percent and de facto Mayor Austin Beutner committed to giving developers whatever they want — fast-track approval, tax breaks, subsidies and reduced DWP rates — the stage is set for a battle that is far more important to the city’s future than all 11 March ballot measures combined.

Steven Leigh Morris in the LA Weekly on Thursday captures the issue clearly in an article headlined “L.A. May Say Good-bye to EIRs and Public Notice:

“The new ordinance could lead to buildings with at least 20 percent more density and parking than permitted by local zoning codes.

“But the greater issue is that the ordinance hastily approved by the City Council last week sets the stage to wipe out a long-standing legal and social contract between City Hall and L.A.’s dwellers: It does so by removing many requirements for public notices, public hearings and Environmental Impact Reports, which allow Angelenos to question what is happening or fight back.

“The plan the City Council approved is, in fact, a shrine to the rule of exceptions.

“It creates a new layer of bureaucracy that would ‘overlay’ the Community Plans by creating special administrative districts — Community Plan Implementation Overlay districts — in which the Planning Department will have exclusive jurisdiction, trumping neighborhood councils and anyone from the community.”

Morris calls this measure –Community Plan Implementation Overlay — “the most stealth legislation to sweep through Los Angeles City Hall in recent memory.”

It was approved last week just six weeks after being drafted and with just a 10-minute Council discussion while the public was banned from even offering its two-minutes worth of comment.

Worst of all, it is just the first of  a half dozen measures that Beutner and his hand-picked Planning Director Michael LoGrande are going to shove down the public’s throat in coming months — measures that will destroy even the pretense of transparency and public involvement in planning decisions while creating a denser, more congested and less livable city.

“What’s the point of buying a home in the city when nothing is protected?” — that’s the question posed by Studio City Neighborhood Council President John Walker at the conclusion of the Weekly article.

It is the heart of the matter, what investment banker Beutner doesn’t understand.

You can’t buy jobs with massive public subsidies. You have to create the environment for investment by building healthy neighborhoods and a city that believes in itself and its future — not one that is in a perpetual and escalating  uncivil war..

Cary Brazeman, leader of LA Neighbors United and a leading campaigner for rational and effective planning rules and processes, submitted a devastating nine-page analysis of this ordinance along with 240 pages of supporting documents.

The Council, in its haste to ignore the public, wouldn’t even allow him and other critics to speak during public comment. He argues that before any major changes are made, the out-of-date community plans need to be updated.

“Community Plan updates necessarily entail a high level of community engagement over a substantial period of time. The initiation of these CPIO Districts, however, will require a far lower level of engagement, including a potentially very limited period
of review,” he wrote.

“Especially since they can be initiated on a single-parcel basis, we are concerned that notice may be limited and there will be little opportunity for community involvement in the decision-making. Similarly, based on the new lower thresholds in the Core Findings Ordinance. it will be difficult to overturn a CPIO District designation. Thus, it is very important that the  community now understand and appreciate the implications of this new district designation, which can override underlying zoning through the new CPIO exceptions process.”
Enhanced by Zemanta