LA’s Man of the Year: Dennis Zine — Symbol of City Hall’s Deceit and Dishonor

It was a tough call with so many people to choose from whose behavior embodied the ethical vacuum of LA’s greed-is-good, public-be-damned civic and political culture.

But in the year’s final days, one man stood out from the crowd.

None other than my own Councilman, Dennis Zine, the self-proclaimed “Super Z,” showed the spirit of all that is wrong with the way our city is run.

A retired motorcycle cop drawing more than $300,000 a year in salary, pension and benefits from the city he’s helping to bankrupt, Zine emerged as a rising star of the political spectrum.

He grew a goatee to balance his bald head, took over as the No. 1 substitute presiding officer of the Council and set his sights on becoming City Controller when Wendy Greuel is promoted to mayor in 2013.

The price of his ambition was to prove himself to be a more willing stooge of the forces that are ruining the city than any of his colleagues.zine-becerra.jpg

He broke promises to protect his constituents from over-sized developments, sought to let the Community Redevelopment Agency seize property and give it to developers anywhere in the city with additional subsidies, shielded the Department of Water and Power from public scrutiny and oversight, backed AEG’s football stadium plan sight unseen..

Indefatigable, the two-faced man of a thousand fiancees never passed up a civic event where he couldn’t force himself onto the stage or saw an elite party he didn’t like.

Here he is in October at the palatial home of  Ron Tutor celebrating the mega-contractor’s 70th birthday with his latest girlfriend, Veronica Becerra, lobbyist for Tutor-Perini, Tutor’s construction firm that has the political clout to giet big chunks of most major public works project in the area..

His romantic relationship with Becerra played the key role in making Zine “LA’s Man of the Year.”

“We date,” Becerra told LA Weekly’s Gene Maddaus. “It’s a dating situation. It’s not like we’re
living together… It’s a well-known fact that Dennis Zine dates quite a
few young ladies in downtown Los Angeles. It’s not like it’s an
exclusive relationship.”

On Dec. 17, in what would normally have been a routine and unanimous approval of a $271 million contract to design and build a new central air-heating system at LAX, Zine led the charge to try to scuttle the award because Tutor-Perini was disqualified for failing to respond properly to the bidding requirements.

Using phrases such as information that “came to my attention,” “I’ve been informed,” and issues “I’m hearing about” — all showing Becerra fed him Tutor’s complaints about losing the lucrative contract — Zine led the assault on LAX officials, impugning their integrity and competence, to buy two weeks for Tutor to arm twist and throw around political money to get his way as usual.

It was an inglorious moment, a blatant conflict of interest that was not disclosed.

It was exposed, however, four days later by Art Marroquin at the Daily Breeze who couldn’t get Zine to talk about it. All he got was an email exchange with Zine’s chief of Staff, Jimmy Blackman, the mayor’s former deputy and campaign cash bag man who has found a new job on the city payroll with the West Valley Councilman.

“Zine is seeking advice from the City Attorney’s Office on whether he should vote when the contract comes back to the council next month for further consideration,” Blackman told the reporter.

Using the old political gambit of claiming “sure I stole but I stole for you,” he issued a statement on the Councilman’s behalf that said: “I joined my colleagues in wanting to be sure that
process was fair and transparent and that the most qualified bidder was
awarded the contract  The decisions that I make as a
councilman are based entirely on what is best for my district and the
taxpayers of Los Angeles.”


Others took a dim view of Zine’s actions.

Kathay Feng of Common Cause found Zine’s lack of transparency about his relationship with Becerra and the influence she and her boss had on him troubling. “That transparency is important for lawmakers and the
public to decide whether any argument being raised is a credible one,”
Feng said.


Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies worried about the “perception of an ethical dilemma
. He shouldn’t be participating in a decision that
involves somebody he’s dating, and he certainly shouldn’t be the one
leading the charge on this.”

It wasn’t until Thursday of this week that Zine announced he was recusing himself from engaging in any further discussions or votes on the LAX contract, saying the City Attorney’s advised him that “the law is not entirely clear on
whether or not a legal conflict of interest exists.”

“My hope is that by voluntarily removing myself from this discussion,
it will not distract from the importance of this multi-million-dollar
contract,” he said.

Here’s a man who goes around dating a lobbyist who influences him — and other women who work for him or in City Hall — deceives the public and his colleagues, deflects all responsibility for his actions and drapes himself in the cloth of nobility.

If only he were the only one and not one of many.

Zine’s misconduct is not even the worst that goes on at City Hall, only the most nakedly contemptible.

For that reason he stands out as a symbol of the daily corruption of the city’s political processes and its policies.

Until such conduct is punished by the Ethics Commission and repudiated by colleagues, nothing will change at City Hall.

City Hall’s Iron Curtain: Disinformation, Misinformation, No Information

One of the hallmarks of repressive and failing regimes the world over is their refusal to allow differing points of view to be heard.Los Angeles City Hall is no exception.

Of all its crimes, of all the reasons for its failures, the greatest is
not its fiscal irresponsibility or managerial incompetence, the union
control of the DWP, the lack of smart planning or the CRA gifts to
developers who trash our neighborhoods.

Not even the sloth, stupidity and sleaziness of some of our elected officials can explain City Hall’s spectacular inadequacies.

What’s really at the heart of what is wrong is the iron curtain they have imposed on public information and public debate.

They
employ legions of political operatives and P.R. spinners to construct
fictitious narratives for public consumption, stories that have little
or nothing to do with the reality of what is going on behind the scenes.

They
pour millions into shadowy non-profits that are little more than
organizing tools for the preservation of themselves, nothing more than
an old-fashioned patronage system.

They treat concerned citizens
with such little respect that only gadflies show up to most City Council
meetings, meetings that are scripted to obscure the truth, not enlighten the public.

A case in point is how they have thwarted the efforts of two-time Emmy award winning producer Leslie Dutton to get her Full Disclosure Network’s four-part series on the jailing of attorney Richard I. Fine aired on the city’s channels.

These are investigative reports that call into question the integrity of the local judiciary over its taking of huge under-the-table payments from the county and how the jailed Fine for 18 months for daring to raise questions about the practice.

Dutton has until midnight New Year’s Eve to get the shows broadcast to be eligible for another Emmy award and had a commitment from Councilman Bill Rosendahl to help her get them on the air.

Rosendahl spent a big chunk of his adult lift as a cable TV executive,
hosting a public affairs show and supporting public access television.

But as one of the 15 people on the City Council, he has proven himself to be a poor advocate for what he
claims to hold dear to his heart, powerless to overcome his colleagues resistance to any resembling a healthy public debate on important issues

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Home for Christmas — Jeremy Marks Freed

Thumbnail image for jeremy-home.jpgVerdugo Hills High School student Jeremy Marks was freed late Thursday after being jailed for eight months on felony “lynching” charges on an LAUSD police officer — charges the District Attorney’s Office filed and pursued despite compelling evidence of his innocence.

It took a courageous citizen like Lydia Grant, a tenacious reporter like Katharine Russ, the love of his mother Rochelle, visibility of the case in the LA Weekly and a Good Samaritan in Google software engineer Neil Fraser who put up his bail.

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Gifts That Keep on Giving and Giving: Public Money, Public Assets, Public Policies

In his final act as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to sell 12 state buildings to investment bankers to cover 4 percent of the $28 billion deficit he’s leaving as his legacy.

A separate last-minute deal to sell the state-owned Exposition Park, including the land under the Memorial Coliseum and Science Center, to USC — the great private university with the clout to obtain so many public benefits — could add a few more bucks to the $1.2 billion in ready cash that office building sale is worth.

Incoming governor Jerry Brown has his own solution to budget woes. He’s getting rid of the watchdog inspector general on federal stimulus funds which should allow that $50 billion windfall to find its way to a lot of private hands without public scrutiny.

The City of Los Angeles with its own staggering deficits is conducting a fire sale of its public parking lots to private interests to raise $53 million to avoid layoffs for a month or two. prayla.jpg

The LA Convention Center also is up for sale or more likely to be given away as a gift to Tim Leiweke and AEG to build an NFL stadium downtown.

T’is the season forf giving and nowhere is the generosity greater than in the public sector even when it’s living on credit and borrowed time.

Tax holidays for new businesses in LA, tax cuts for Hollywood — and porn? — film producers, discounted water and power rates to businesses that create jobs, CRA subsidies to developers of unwanted office buildings and strip malls, job guarantees for union members, fast-track approvals of luxury condos and hotels with unlimited zone changes and variances.

We are witnessing something historic: A feeding frenzy at the public trough by many of the same private interests that brought down the U.S. economy and then were bailed out with public money which they are now using to buy up public assets.

The enablers are the public officials who deflect all responsibility for what has happened, for what is happening, and care so little for the public interest that they shamelessly will do anything in the interest of their own self-preservation.

How long this can go on before the bills inevitably come due is a matter of conjecture.

Inside City Hall, there are informed people who believe the bankers won’t foreclose on the city until mid-2012; others outside believe it could happen sooner.

It’s really up to the bondholders, the bankers who buy public debt and then leverage their position to buy public assets at the bottom of the market.

It’s a vicious circle that offends the sensibilities of at least some of the people.

The state office building deal that could cost the public billions of dollars in lease payments over time hit a snag because two of the officials fired from the oversight sued to block it after being fired, a problem compouned by the California Supreme Court being located in
one of the buildings for sale so the seven justices had to recuse themselves from
hearing the legal challenge.

Residents near Exposition Park only learned of the USC deal a week ago and their outcry prompted Council members Parks, Perry and Reyes to call for a slowdown in the process so Coliseum and Expo Park Commissioner William Chadwick — a real estate banker — was put in charge of quietly working out the details of the deal.

The city’s parking structure sale also has problems. Business leaders from Pershing Square to Westwood and the Valley are complaining about the financial impact on them of the high rates private operators will charge.

It’s same reaction residents have to having their neighborhoods destroyed by subsidized projects that add to slumifying  everywhere from Boyle Heights to the Valley.

Yet, nothing changes. The money from unions trying to protect what they got and from commercial interests trying to add to the riches they already have keeps flowing to support the politicians who dispense the favors to them.

Maybe if we all take a moment to pray for LA this Christmas Day, there will be a mass awakening and we will all come to our senses. If that doesn’t happen, we’re all just going to have to work a lot harder to resurrect our city and our state.

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Why the Rate Payer Advocate Won’t Fix the DWP: Government Hates Transparency, Accountability

Let this lesson on the history of inspector general watchdogs on government abuses be instructive if you think a Rate Payer Advocate is going to stop the Department of Water and Power from squandering, stealing and misusing your money.

When LAUSD’s scandal erupted over abuses in spending billions of dollars in school construction bond money, they hired tough ex-FBI agent Don Mullinax to restore credibility. After years of bureaucratic and political interference and resistance, they have just turned the post over to a corporate environmental lawyer who is downsizing and restructuring the office, making it the soup of the soup of the soup of an inspector general.

A few months back, the LA Community College District hired an inspector general to clean up widespread abuses in handling of its billions of dollars in construction money. They chose a construction consultant with no auditing experience to make sure the office was all hat, no cattle.chick-IG.jpg

Now Jerry Brown has acted decisively to get rid of his pesky watchdog, eliminating the nuisance of having Laura Chick hounding local and state government officials on how they are wasting $50 billion in federal stimulus money.

It was an important symbolic action, the governor-elect’s minions declared, since there are do-nothing state auditing departments already in place and getting rid of Chick will save $700,000 toward fixing the $28 billion deficit. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The last thing government wants is someone watching over their shoulder and telling the public what they’re doing.

Ability doesn’t count for much in government and accountability counts for even less.

What Brown did in getting rid of the inspector general, half of its $1.2 million cost paid by the feds, is what happens inevitably to all such posts.

In the face of scandal, they appoint a tough watchdog who faces constant obstruction and foot-dragging. When the fire of public anger dies down, they bring in a lapdog, cut the budget, water down the office’s authority.

That’s the history of inspector generals and it won’t be any different if the Department of Water and Power gets a watchdog.

The ballot measure going before voters on March 8 to create the Office of Public Accountability and Rate Payer Advocate was only given limited power and money and will be totally under the control of elected officials — watering down the post even before its created and keeping the watchdog on a very tight leash if it is created…  

Chick avoided directly calling Brown out but left little doubt about what a mess state government is or that elimination of the inspector general’s office will open the floodgates to waste, inefficiency and undoubtedly corruption.

“The state is not run by elected officials; it’s run by very powerful,
very knowledgeable civil servants,” Chick told the LA Times. “Things don’t
change unless they want them to.”

Her letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who created the post and put her in charge 20 months ago when she left office as LA City Controller, outlined what she found in trying to bring a measure of accountability to the handling of federal stimulus money, half of which is still in the process of being spent.

“It is a challenge here in Sacramento to know exactly what needs fixing and how to go about it, because of the embedded culture of “we don’t air our dirty laundry.” This is so pervasive that when you, Governor Schwarzenegger, issued your executive order for departments to post their audits on your transparency website, there were all kinds of excuses used to avoid complying. For example, compliance and monitoring reviews were not posted because they were not considered to be official audits. Some departments claimed they needed many years to scan and post their reports.”

“There is a misperception in government that unearthing problems is equivalent to “throwing someone under the bus.” I believe that it is government’s duty to find problems, put forward solutions and do so in plain view. I believe the taxpayers will support and rally around this approach.”

She goes on to describe how reports are “ignored,” how the “buck is passed,” lack of “an overarching plan,” the “silo mentality,” “confusing and conflicting regulations.”

“The key legacy of the Recovery Act is easily summed up in own word: Transparency,” she concluded. “There is no doubt that transparency is the lynchpin of improving government and empowering the people.”

No doubt, indeed. Is it any wonder Brown fired her?

Bruno, LA’s Watchdog: A Dark Shadow on the Moon

If you are like this star-crossed dog, you know a thing or two about omens and from what I heard around the breakfast table this morning as Saint Deb was packing up her batches of Christmas cookies for her office pals, auspicious events are happening tonight.Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for keeper.jpg

Auspicious is her word for it but I’m suspicious.

It seems that about midnight tonight something really scary is going to happen, a bunch of astronomical and astrological events all happening at the same time..

This old stray dog has seen a lot of scary things happen out on the streets around the midnight hour but nothing like this.

I’m never quite sure what Ron believes or whether he’s got his facts straight but for what it’s worth he says it’s only happened once in 2,000 years, back on December 21 in 1638.

He claims that within weeks Europeans were killing in each in wars and revolutions and the American colonialists started price fixing tobacco, subsidizing munitions plants, printing their first newspaper full of lies and propaganda for the rich and founding that bastion of miseducation called Harvard.lunar-eclipse4.jpg

Talk about a dark shadow on the moon, you can’t beat him.

But it is a dark shadow on the moon we’re talking about, the shadow of the Earth turning the full moon a coppery red right at midnight at the start of the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.

It doesn’t get any stranger than that.

I’m not sure what to believe but I’m not taking any chances. I’m sleeping on Deb’s side of the bed tonight and covering my eyes with my paws and hoping she’s right about this and it’s going to be the happiest Christmas ever with crumbs of cookies falling from the table and happy times for everyone.

The Futility of Resistance When the Winds of Change Are Blowing Hard

In the 1990s, public discontent over the failures of the schools and city government became the focus of LA’s political conflicts.

It manifested in South LA with people rioting in the streets over police brutality and City Hall’s neglect and in the San Fernando Valley with people demanding breakup of LAUSD and the city into manageable units that would give them a greater say over public policy.

Richard Riordan rode this discontent into the mayor’s office with his promise to “turn LA around,” a promise that went largely unfulfilled because of the resistance to change by the network of special interests that held power tightly for themselves.

Instead of heeding the public outcry, the power structure tinkered on the edges, dividing and conquering the populace without really reforming the institutions and sharing power with the people.

It took the Rampart scandal and federal takeover to reform the LAPD but neglect of the city’s poorest areas is still as pervasive as ever.

LAUSD responded by creating local mini-districts but failed to bring parents or teachers into a dynamic dialogue. Incremental improvements in test scores were achieved but dropout rates remained high and credibility of the district low.

District officials paid less attention to educational reform than to their massive construction program and the result was the chaotic breakup of the district by a thousand cuts: Charter schools, the mayor’s takeover of 22 schools and soon the “parent trigger” will cut the number of students in classrooms by the LAUSD bureaucracy from nearly 800,000 to barely half that.

The evolution of city politics has been far more tortured.

Reform of the City Charter that put most of the authority of the City Council was seized on as a way to head off secession movements in the Valley, Hollywood and San Pedro.

What came out of a process that was largely under the control of the same special interests that had long controlled City Hall was a mishmash of changes that shifted authority of department managers to the mayor while allowing Council members to continue to run their districts as fiefdoms.

Secession movements were crushed by massive spending by developers, unions, contractors and the vast network of political operatives but discontent only grew, fed by revelations of pay-to-play corruption and deepening perceptions that City Hall was inefficient and indifferent to the concerns of residents and businesses.

Today, with the city in perpetual financial crisis and slashing key services, the credibility of the mayor, Council and key agencies like the DWP and CRA are at an all-time low.

Dismantling of the planning process and massive subsidies to luxury projects have fueled controversies all over the city as community groups become increasingly organized to fight for their interests.

The response, as always, is for those who have a share of power to close ranks and resist calls for change, for a devolution of power to the neighborhoods.

It is a futile exercise. City Hall cannot fix what is broken because its huge budget deficits are forcing ever deeper cuts in public services, far more severe than what we have seen to date.

City Hall is impotent. It lacks the political will to confront its overspending head-on so it is in a downward spiral even as anger out in the community is growing.

There is nothing mysterious about any of this.

The LAPD is the only success story but it wasn’t city leaders who fixed it. It took the federal courts to impose stringent controls that took the political leadership out of the equation and allow professional police executives to restore competence and credibility to the department.

Bringing order out of chaos in the schools and the rest of city government will not be so easy.

It will take real leadership that is now totally lacking.

Funding cuts and union opposition to reforms likely will continue fragmenting LAUSD for years to come.

City Hall is different. Sooner or later, there will have to be a new deal with the unions and the public. The only question is how much damage will have been done before that moment comes.

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A Guide to Understanding the Baffling Changes to LA’s Planning Rules

Editor’s Note: Radical changes are being made to LA’s planning rules by First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner — changes intended to simplify and expedite approval of new developments as he explained this week in an LA Business Journal article. Already, community leaders have filed one lawsuit  and others are expected as elements of Beutner’s scheme are rolled out. What is going on is widely seen as a threat to quality of life in neighborhoods, nothing but an attempt to densify the city for the benefit of developers by bulldozing zoning protections and the environmental review process. If you want to know where the City Council stands read what Greig Smith and his chief-of-staff Mitch Englander, his wannabe successor, has to so say (smith-pleanning.rtf).

By Dick Platkin, former city planner

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning is currently preparing three related sets of detailed urban design guidelines. They separately address future residential, commercial, and industrial projects subject to a discretionary action.

Once approved by the City Planning Commission, these guidelines will become an appendix to the General Plan Framework Element, the backbone of the Los Angeles General Plan. These guidelines are not binding, but would be advisory for discretionary actions (e.g., plan amendments, zone changes) for which there are no approved or adopted design guidelines otherwise available to decision makers.

Full copies of these guidelines, including background information, can be found at City Planning’s web-site.

The preparation and on-going public information campaign to promote these Design Guidelines is baffling for at least three reasons, and I have little doubt that readers will find additional wrinkles regarding the preparation or use of these guidelines.

WHY THE PROPOSED DESIGN GUIDELINES ARE SO BAFFLING

Baffling Reason #1: 
The main problems of the General Plan Framework Element have absolutely nothing to do with the presence or absence of advisory urban design guidelines for residential, commercial, and industrial land uses. Therefore, why allocate so much time and energy to their development, promotion, and adoption?

The most serious problem of the General Plan Framework is that it has reached the end of its intended life span. This plan was based on 1990 census data, was prepared by the Department of City Planning in the early 1990’s, and was adopted by the Los Angeles City Council in 1995.  Its horizon year is 2010, which means that 2010 is the final date for which the plan’s demographic estimates, infrastructure data, goals and policies, and implementation programs.

According to my calendar, it will soon be 2011, and by the General Plan Framework’s own internal logic it ought to be sent to the City’s archives at Piper Tech. It also should be immediately replaced by a new General Plan element, one which is based on 2010 census data and which has 2030 or a later date for its horizon year.

Furthermore, because California State law (Government Code 65040.2), the City of Los Angeles Charter (Sections 554-558), and Los Angeles Municipal Code (Section 11.5.6) all require the City to have a current and accurate General Plan, and because the General Plan Framework Element is the heart of the Los Angeles General Plan, it is now crunch time. This is not a discretional project; it is a legal requirement!

The process of replacing the General Plan Framework with an updated General Plan document should have begun several years to assure that the new General Plan Framework Element would be adopted as soon as the old plan expires at the end of December 2010. This update would have, however, only assured formal compliance with state and local legal requirements because professional city planning practice calls for municipal general plans to be updated on a 10 year cycle, not the 20 year plus cycle which is the default practice of Los Angeles, and then usually in response to law suits.

In the meantime, however, despite the imminent end of the General Plan Framework’s period of intended use (1996-2010), and the City’s failure to update the plan, the Department of City Planning has undertaken a series of Community Plan updates apparently based on the rapidly expiring 1995 Framework document.  At this point, both Hollywood and Granada Hills are in the pipe-line and could soon be considered for adoption.

So, instead of waiting until an updated General Plan Framework document, which will be based on 2010 census data and its 20 year extrapolation to a 2030 horizon year, the outdated 1995 General Plan Framework is driving the update of local Community Plans.

In effect, this means that the original data base for the General Plan Framework, 1990 census data, will be extrapolated 40 years into the future to determine the growth trends, infrastructure needs, and implementation programs required for such dynamic Los Angeles communities as Hollywood.
The chance that a 40 year extrapolation of 1990 data could be accurate and a reliable basis for an extensive General Plan implementation program, including proposals to increase the density of zones and plan designations in Hollywood, is nil.  In fact, the Planning Department’s own data already indicates that the General Plan Framework was wildly inaccurate for Hollywood.  It predicted Hollywood would grow by 43,000 people between 1990 and 2010, but by 2008 City Planning’s own data revealed that Hollywood’s population had only increased by 12,700 people.  30,000 predicted people never materialized.

Similarly, the General Plan Framework had predicted that there would be 17,610 new housing units constructed in Hollywood between 1990 and 2010, but by 2008 the number had only reached 2,686, despite the active intervention of the Community Redevelopment Agency and numerous discretionary planning and zoning actions approved by the City of Los Angeles.

Furthermore, if the amount of affordable housing removed to make way for new construction in Hollywood had been factored into the analysis, the net housing gain in Hollywood would have been even smaller, and the Framework’s 2010 projections would have been even more inaccurate.

Conclusion: 
The resources used to develop these optional design guidelines should have been spent on remedying the Framework’s main problem:  it is an out-of-date General Plan document in urgent need of replacement.

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Smelling a Rat in a Hornet’s Nest: Council Plays Ball with Ron Tutor on LAX Contract

With its efforts to politicize the DWP without solving problems on hold for the moment, the City Council turned its attention to the massive construction program at LAX with questions about the integrity of its contracting practices and executive director Gina Marie Lindsey.

At issue was the awarding of a $271.5 million design-build contract for a new heating/air conditioning system to the Clark/McCarthy joint venture, the low bidder among the two qualified bidders.

A third bidder, none other than Ron Tutor’s Tutor-Perini formally protested the award back in August but was turned down after a City Attorney’s review.

That’s right that Ron Tutor, the contractor with an over-abundance of political clout and toughness to almost always get his way, the same Ron Tutor who not long ago traded in his Hidden Hills mansion for a $32 million 27,000-square-foot mega-mansion with 10 bedrooms and 13 toilets in Beverly Park while his two daughters are making do with a couple of new 12,000-square-foot bungalows priced in the $13 million range.

Led by a visibly angry and disdainful Tony Cardenas, the Council grilled Roger Johnson, LAX’s deputy executive director for airport development, like he was a suspect in a mass murder case.

Cardenas made it clear his real target was Lindsey, the highly regarded airport chief, because she might have had dealings with the winning bidder at her previous job in Seattle.

Johnson told him that he didn’t know if Clark/McCarthy was awarded a contract at Seattle/Tacoma Airport when Lindsey was there but assured him she had no involvement at any time during the contracting process.

“I beg to differ,” Cardenas retorted snidely.

Later, he resumed his prosecutorial posture, cutting off Johnson’s answers.

Even as his blood pressure was clearly rising, Johnson explained with
great patience the bidding process, how he set up 10 separate bid evaluation teams and got no direction from Lindsey who knew nothing about the process until he informed her of the winning bidder.

What’s even more amazing is why Tutor-Saliba was disqualified.

Johnson reported that unlike other bidders it used its own weather data — 20 degrees lower in the summer and five degrees warmer in the winter — to show the energy efficiency of its system.

Asked why, Johnson said the company offered “multiple conflicting responses,”  for its “misrepresentation of energy usage” and there were “discrepancies and misinformation” in its responses.

Then, just before the hearing on its protest, Tutor-Perini withdrew its proposal and dropped its protest, signing a settlement agreement with LAX without receiving any payment.

In other words, Tutor told LAX to go to hell and went to work on lobbying the Council — the same tactic used so successfully by well-connected insiders to politicize food and other concessions at the airport.

They found a willing ally in Dennis Zine who wanted to know why Tutor didn’t get the contract when he bid
$30 million less than the winner and built the existing heating/air
conditioning plant 50 years ago.

Huh?

Janice Hahn complained about Tutor-Perini’s heavily lobbying Council members to throw out the contract award.

Bill Rosendahl warned his colleagues they were jumping into a hornet’s next and politicizing the contract process in a destructive way by delaying a decision..

“It just allows another two weeks of politics around this horseshoe,” he said..

Eventually, the Council voted to continue the discussion until its next meeting on Jan. 4.

Before adjourning for the year, Council President Eric Garcetti offered congratulations to his colleagues for a “great, great calendar year” in which they solved the city’s budget crisis and did so much “to improve the lives of Angelenos” by voting on 23,675 measures — 99.93 percent unanimously.  .

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