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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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Four years ago, the city pulled the plug on Dutton hour-long show on
Saturdays for what Councilman Bernard Parks, who had sponsored her
efforts for three years. said was “contentious content,” according to Rick Orlov’s 2006 story in the Daily News. Here are links to the Full Disclosure Network’s own reports on what occurred one, two, three.)

Not
long after Dutton was banned, the state legislature,in the kind of
deceitful back room deal sweetened by lavish amounts of campaign cash,
freed cable operators from the burden of maintaining studios and
channels for public access video productions.

Legislators acted
in the name of creating competition for cable TV customers by ending the
system of local franchising, supposedly to allow giant telecom
companies like AT&T to compete against monopolistic cable operators
like Time Warner. 

Of course, they knew full well that the cost
of laying fiber optic cable was prohibitive in markets saturated by
satellite TV providers and cable service.

Supposedly, 20 percent
of the tax revenue from cable companies — roughly $5 million a year
from Time Warner in Los Angeles — was to be used by local communities
to continue to provide resources in support of public access TV.

Some
communities — mostly those smaller towns that are well run –
supported the public’s right to use TV to express themselves and inform
other others. Not in L.A.

City Hall in L.A. maintains a blackout
on public discussions informed by diverse points of view so the money
for public access TV has been confiscated and used for whatever purposes
our leaders find more beneficial to the teetering political careers.

There
is no way we can solve any of the issues that affect the quality of our
lives unless we make City Hall totally transparent and create the
structures for full and open public debate.

Leslie Dutton is
doing something. She’s formed the non-profit Public Television Industry
Corp. with a Board of Advisors that includes Stanley Sheinbaum, Ed
Asner, Xavier Hermosillo and me to seek funding to make possible an open
public access TV network — not the propaganda on city channels.

What are you doing to demand transparency in all things governmental?

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

  1. Bob G says:

    There’s this new thing called YouTube. There’s also Vimeo. They are available to people who don’t want to pay the cable tv providers. When RonKayeLA wants to showcase a video clip, do you link to Channel 35? Or do you just insert the link that YouTube helpfully provides, so your readers can click through to the show?
    Shorter version: Public access TV was always an incomplete and often unartful approach to making public communication into a 2-way deal. For the most part, it failed on either the production end or in attracting a viewing audience; usually both.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dutton has until midnight New Year’s Eve to get the shows broadcast to be eligible for another Emmy award
    So that’s what she’s fighting for? The right to compete for an Emmy? Sounds pretty shallow…

  3. The fire sale of our parking facilities without even consulting with the impacted communities of Hollywood, Westwood and Downtown; the $5 million giveaway to the inexperienced developer of the Cesspool on Vine; the true extent of the deterioration of our infrastructure; the phony baloney accounting for the City’s pension plans; the last minutue changes to the Ratepayers Advocate by the Dark Side, led by money bags DWP Union Boss Brian D’Arcy; and our opaque City budget that only a few can even begin to understand are just a few of the shell games our electeds are running.
    Happy New Year. 2011 needs to be the year that we send City Hall a message that transparency and fiscal responsibility are non negotiable.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The first two anonymous commentators may not be familiar with the entire history of public access and how the City caved in for the monopoly cable companies.
    And whatever you think of some of the eclectic programs on public access, Leslie Dutton is a true professional proving herself with her award wining program.
    In fact she had some heavy hitters behind the efforts to bring back independent public access (without political controls).
    In any case, Rosendahl is richly earning his reputation as a BS artist like most of his colleagues. With the blink of an eye, Rosendahl could have a Channel 35 program preempted to put on this show. Whether you like Full Disclosure or you don’t, that isn’t the point.
    Rosendahl shouldn’t pretend to do something, and then blame it on somebody else when he can’t deliver. Just like the Playa Vista vote or the DWP rate increase vote, its just a big fake.

  5. alan says:

    None if it will matter as the city goes into bankruptcy and is given a chance for ‘start over’. Can’t happen soon enough.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Richard Fine is a fraud, and so is Leslie Dutton. She is no journalist because she didn’t do her research. All she does is take his word as the gospel.
    That ain’t journalism, it is sensationalism and demogogery.. She is more like the tabloids you can buy on the stands at the supermarket than a real reporter.
    Shame on you Ron, you should know the difference.

  7. Anonymous says:

    And our judges are angels?

  8. anonymous says:

    How is Richard Fine a Fraud? And how is Leslie Dutton not doing research. Why don’t you do a little research and go to Leslie’s website and find the transcripts of Fine cross examining the judge who at the same time is presiding over the trial? Read it and explain to us who the fraud is.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This was my comment on LA Times re: an article by Christopher Hawthorne on “Critic’s Notebook: LA needs a game plan” re: the AEG Stadium on their website today. Since The site would not accept my comment, I thought I’d put it on a site that will accept honest comments.
    “Thank you Mr. Hawthorne for covering a crucial issue and recognizing the lack of planning where the vacuum is filled in by developers. Here is the problem. There is not lack of good official planning documents in LA but rather the lack of following them that is the root cause of poor planning decsions that affect everyone in the city. To ignore the strong intertwining of development and politics in LA is giving only half the story, ie. the lack of good planning, a conclusion, so half-baked, as to be meaningless. When good plans, planning practices and policies are not allowed to flourish because of the desire of the upper planning echelon whose job depends on the personal whims of the politicians, writing in more new policies or urban design guidelines, as advocated by you, is an excercise in futility.
    The Planning Department is gutted as you acknowledge, but perhaps for reasons you don’t know. Many planners left because at every turn they were thwarted for doing the right thing by communities and for following the Community Plans and the wishes of the community by the previous Director Gail Golberg and the current Director who in his power as Chief ZA exerted both internal and external controls. If you think it is easy to maintain your integrity and do the right thing, I’d like to invite you to a day in City Hall. Your decisions and career are affected on a daily basis by the politicians and the people they appoint to the Director’s job. While I do not wish to get into bureacratic details, suffice it to say that a Planning Department lacking in transparency, honesty, and desire to better the lot of communities it has been entrusted with and flailing at the whims and fancies of a Director appointed by the politicians for their own benefit is not even worth writing about. First, accept the political realities and the monsters they create and then talk about the civic spaces created by such policies or their non existence”.

  10. Bob G says:

    Back to the original topic for a moment: There is obviously a difference between the knock on the door in the middle of the night by the secret police, vs the city withdrawing funding for a marginal communications medium. The City Council did not outlaw newspapers or abolish radio or attempt to censor private communications. It just took the cable tv money and put it somewhere else. City government is not obligated to supply everyone a tv outlet, any more than it is obligated to give us each a newspaper column.
    By the way, I would be the first to agree that the commercial tv networks offer pablum. I don’t think that forcing them to run some particular program is the way we would like to treat this malady. Rather, the internet seems to have been the first communications medium that could at least partially counteract the effects of talk radio, and the smart strategy would be to defend net neutrality and freedom from net censorship. I think we should also use all these newly created social media to fight the effects of talk radio.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How is Fine a fraud?
    Because he perpetuates a myth that he was in jail for attacking Judge’s supplemental benefits. That is a bald faced lie.
    Once the suit was decided, the Legislature immediately rectified the situation and made it legal for the counties to do so, and 38 or the 58 counties in California now make supplemental payments to judges to keep good people on the bench.
    Fine was in jail because he refused to disclose his assets to a creditor to whom he owed money.
    There is a legal process by which a judgment creditor may exam a judgement debtor, and Fine refused to answer. The judge gave him many opportunities to comply, and said, during the year plus that Fine lived on our tax dollars, that Fine always had the key to his own cell.
    All he had to do was to disclose his assets. This had NOTHING to do with his lawsuits or his disbarment. Which brings up another fraud. He is NOT an attorney, he is a DISBARRED attorney, if any kind at all.
    Does Leslie Dutton mention any of this? Or Ron Kaye?
    You decide.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ron, who is the person of the year? This is the last day for you to nominate someone.

  13. Joebanana says:

    @Dec 31,6:32am
    “Bald faced lie”? What suit? The legislature snuck through a bill during an emergency session, that had nothing to do with the topic of the session, illegal. Retroactive immunity, also ILLEGAL, judges not disclosing income on the 700 form illegal. Judges taking money from a party before them, bribery. Who did he owe money to? Do you even know what the “creditor” your referring to was supposed to be doing? Did you know a mans papers can’t be used against him in court? Did you know yaffe defrauded the court? Did you know the maximum allowed time for coercive confinement is five days? Troll.

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