Taking their contempt for the public and the law to new heights, Los Angeles city leaders will carry out an election day theft of nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money, jeopardizing the governor’s budget-balancing plan and running roughshod over even the pretense of deliberative processes.
The CRA Board — at a special meeting called with just 24 hours notice — unanimously approved Monday some $100 million in projects and deals to cement them in stone just three days in advance of Gov. Jerry Brown’s deadline for the Legislature to put his budget plan — spending cuts, tax extensions and abolishing the 400 community redevelopment agencies across California.
At the same time, State Controller John Chiang released a scathing audit of the LA CRA and 17 other CRAs in the state finding “reporting flaws, substandard audits, questionable payment practices
and an inappropriate use of affordable housing funds, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The report also
found no clear methodology or data to measure claims of job creation or other economic benefits to the state.
a government activity which consumes more than $5.5 billion of public
resources annually, we should be troubled that there are no objective
performance measures demonstrating that taxpayer’s are receiving optimal
return for each invested dollar,” Chiang said in a press release. “Locally-controlled economic development is vital to California’s long-term prosperity. However, the existing approach – born in the
1940′s – is not how anyone concerned with performance, efficiency, and
accountability would draw it up today.”
Despite the audit and looming legislative action on Brown’s proposal, the LA City Council called a special joint meeting with the CRA Board, also with just 24 hours public notice, for Tuesday to ratify the deals approved by the agency Monday as well as the locking up of the $930 million the agency board approved last week.
No public hearing has been held by the Council on either CRA actions. No analysis has been provided the public.
The actions are being done in defiance of the governor’s budget plan which would return the $930 million to the city’s general fund and the statewide education fund.
The urgency comes from the possibility the Legislature will act soon to block future allocations of the increased property taxes generated by CRA projects, allowing only existing contracts to be fulfilled.
The LA CRA has long been the target of controversy with most of its tax increment revenue going to downtown and Hollywood and very little going to redevelop the city’s vast expanse of poor and blighted areas.
Luxury hotels, luxury entertainments, luxury apartments and condominiums and high-rise office towers have gotten the bulk of the money with only the state-mandated 20 percent going to low and moderate income housing.
Nearly $1 million in the housing money was illegally used to reimburse the county for tracking the tax increments, Chiang found.
He also noted the LA CRA spent $160 million last year and claimed it created 2,500 permanent jobs — a figure he found no data to support.
In fact, the LAEDC has found that during the last years the city of Los Angeles has actually lost 100,000 jobs despite a population increase of one million people — a three-decade period in which billions of dollars have been funneled through the CRA.
Here’s Jose Aguilar’s video of the CRA Board’s action on Monday: