The LA Community College Board members responsible for the fraud, waste and mismanagement in the handling of $5.7 billion in taxpayer money escaped being held accountable by voters thanks in no small part to the financial help of the same interests they allowed to do shoddy construction work.
But just a day after the election they found a fall guy for their own failure in facilities director Larry Eisenberg.
It’s not that the LA Times expose of the LACCD scandal didn’t show over and over that Eisenberg was a boob but nothing in the series of articles was unknown, or should have been unknown, to the people elected to provide oversight.
What went wrong is their fault but even as they were unanimously voting to sack Eisenberg and promise to end some of the most blatant abuses they tolerated so long, they were still patting themselves on the back for all the wonderful work they have done and criticizing the Times series as unfair.
Such is what passes for accountability in government these day.
The LA City Council, overseeing mismanagement of just about everything the city does, occasionally pays lip service to the concept of accountability, but never even seems to be able to find a fall guy to blame.
A case in point is the Cesspool on Vine office project in Hollywood they approved Wednesday despite numerous lingering unanswered questions that the nearly $5 million gift to a private developer with a questionable track record.
The most important question involved the vanishing $4 million appraisal of the 1601 N. Vine St. property the Community Redevelopment Agency paid for five years ago before buying it from developer Hal Katersky for $5.45 million based on his own appraisal.
Council President Eric Garcetti, who blinked 13 times before finally bringing the tainted project to a vote, piously whitewashed every question Hollywood activists have raised about the Cesspool on Vine with little more than his personal assurance that everything wrong about this project was the CRA’s fault.
He assured everyone there was no collusion between his “friend” Steve Ullman who owned the property and Katersky who bought it and immediately flipped it to the CRA with the promise he could buy it back some day for $825,000 — a $4.7 million discount — if he ever could get financing.
What happened to the $4 million CRA appraisal is anybody’s guess but it was never properly evaluated by staff or presented to the CRA or the Council. In fact, it was only revealed when the activists filed a public records request — something Garcetti implied was his own doing.
So who in the CRA screwed everything up? It’s anybody’s guess.
The CRA’s Calvin Hollis said those employees moved on to other jobs elsewhere and procedures were strengthened just a year ago, four years after the fact.
Pressed by Garcetti, he acknowledged no real investigation was ever conducted but he will do so some day — an answer which satisfied the Council President and all of his colleagues with the exception of Paul Krekorian who voted against the project.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the CRA to find a fall guy. The deal is done and the stench of the Cesspool on Vine will still linger a long time..