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The Curious Case of Bill Rosendahl and the Millions of LED Lights

It was enough to make our forefathers weep…

Here was the city’s political leadership, the fabulous 15
who rule over 4 million people in the entertainment capital of a world of seven
billion, cheered on by the business community as they groveled  before Maria Elena Durazo and other union
leaders who represent barely one in six workers – even less if you add in those
out of work.

The occasion was approval of a deal to tear down the
Wilshire Grand Hotel  and, with the gift
of more than a million square feet of city-owned land, rebuild it as a 45-story
luxury hotel and maybe someday a 65-story office/condo complex.

The beneficiary of this sweetheart deal was developer Jim
Thomas, the king of downtown skyscrapers, and the property owner Korean Air,
which gets to keep half the hotel tax, a second gift worth up to $79 million
over 20 years

To a man and a woman on the nation’s highest paid, highest
perked and highest staffed City Council, there was nothing but hyperbole in
praise of this development as if it will erase the city’s 14 percent
unemployment rate or the 14 percent unemployable rate.

Gift No. 3 was the creation of a “special sign district”
solely for this project to allow the buildings themselves to have millions of
energy-wasting LED lights embedded in their structures to sell advertising
worth millions of dollars a year.

Not just advertising but artistic displays of flashing
lights all the way to the top of the buildings for our visual pleasure. Yes,
this is about art for art’s sake, or so said Ed Reyes, the Council’s planning
expert who never saw a development he didn’t like. It’s just like the plan to
plaster the city’s parks with advertising signs in the name of beautification
of nature.

The Ban Billboard Blight folks objected to the
buildings-as-digital-billboards concept as nothing but visual blight and warned
they will distract freeway drivers but even they shied away from criticizing
the gift-laden deal itself.

No one said a word about the incredible waste of electricity
in a city that has appalling record of resisting in-basin solar energy and
faces billions upon billions of dollars in costs to rid itself of its
dependence for nearly half its power on cheap, polluting coal plants – costs
will send bills soaring for all those ordinary folks who matter so little.

Only one Council member questioned even a single element of
this $1.2 billion project, Bill Rosendahl., the same Council member who has
raised questions about the even more outlandish NFL stadium gift-giving plan
for AEG’s benefits.

Rosendahl wanted to know what the city’s cut will be from
the digital billboard display on Korean Air’s grand hotel at 7th and
Figueroa much as he wants to know what the city’s cut will be from the $700
million naming rights for the football stadium and all the digital billboards
AEG will reap huge profits from as part of the stadium/Convention Center

Those are good questions.

Rosendahl pursued the profit sharing angle with persistence
but his timing was bad.

After years of bungling on billboard policy to the benefit
of the companies that have profited handsomely by blighting the visual
landscape, the Council has still not gotten around to even considering taking a
cut of billboard revenues.

Noting he gets a lot of heat over billboard blight from
constituents, the city’s wealthiest, Rosendahl even sought to reconsider Friday’s
approval as a matter of urgency of the project itself as part of the billboard

He couldn’t even get a second to his motion, showing just
why there is no reason to hope these city leaders will ever do the job of protecting
the public interest.

Rosendahl’s performance did not sit well with his
colleagues, the dangerously ambitious Dennis Zine even mocking him and glossing
over the fact that the Planning Commission itself rejected this billboard plan
only to have Reyes bring it back to life in committee.

And when the Westside Councilman actually broke the
unanimity of the Council and voted against the billboard plan, you could hear
the groan throughout the Council chamber packed by union members because it
will take a second vote next week for final approval.

Jan Perry who rests her case for her campaign for mayor on
what she has done for downtown developers in the last decade was fit to be
tied. She has set an April 1 deadline to hand Jim Thomas and Korean Air a
signed and sealed deal – an appropriate date for such a foolish deal.

Poor Bill, he was standing in the way of this train and got
out of the way just in time by taking a walk out of the Council Chamber so a
second vote on the sign district could be held with unanimous support and it
could be rushed to the mayor’s desk for a signature, forthwith.

LA Times columnist Steve Lopez writes today about Rosendahl’s
campaign of questioning the stadium deal, noting: “Rosendahl isn’t always as
good at following through as he is asking the questions, so we have to hope
he’s willing to knock some heads, so to speak…”

Rosendahl is “a pest” with all his questions, Lopez writes,
ending his column: “Let’s hope he doesn’t stop.”

Right Steve, not much of a hope, is it”

Expecting a good-hearted fellow like Bill Rosendahl to put it all on the line, be shunned by his colleagues and commit political suicide is above and beyond the call of duty even for the nation’s highest paid city official.

Questions is all you will get, questions that get no answers.




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20 Responses to The Curious Case of Bill Rosendahl and the Millions of LED Lights

  1. KK says:

    We need to give Rosendahl real support for his aactions here. If we want the city to really change, then we need to support courage when it (too rarely occurs). We know that Bill will take crap from his colleagues for this. Witness the behavior already from Zine.

  2. Anonymous says:

    KK – I agree. It is time for us to rid
    ourselves of that charter and the whole
    staff at City Hall. THIS IS OUR CITY. WE DO NOT WORK FOR THEM.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As long as voters don’t care to vote, this isn’t our city. It belongs to all those people Ron so eloquently describes column after column.
    Look it folks, we are talking to ourselves.Go talk to your friends, neighbors, family members, fellow workers. Ask them to finally get involved. (If they have the time).
    The hope of this city rests on ordinary citizens stepping up to the plate. Not people like Rosendahl or the rest of the council.
    Eventually, the sky will fall downtown. Meanwhile, it is back to fighting for our neighborhoods, communities, etc., block by block, project by project.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good for Rosendahl for putting it to those losers. He came out like a shining star for the People of Los Angeles. He’s getting the media attention for being what council members took an oath to do and that is stick up for your damn constituents. Let’s all give Rosendahl a huge round of applause for taking heat on the Wilshire Grand and the AEG corrupt NFL stadium development. The more we applaud Rosendahl I hope the more he stands out on his own and shows those lame asses on council he’s not a follower

  5. Anonymous says:

    See how quickly Krekorian is transforming, now that he is assured of 12 more years. He can start raking in the money like the rest of them.

  6. Ms. Anonymous says:

    11:18 a.m.: The sky(scrapers) will fall alright…as soon as the Inglewood Fault awakens.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Any thoughts on Newtons piece in the LA Times about the DWP?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Corruption in LA is endemic due to the missing third part of government; the judiciary or legal where an honest DA or AG would prosecute the guilty. The Mayor’s tickets were forgotten as was Alarcon’s residency. Neither is CRA corruption of any consequence. One may ask what was so wrong about the DWP employees spending work time in strip clubs. When the leaders are corrupt, it has a multiplier effect. This will be the legacy of this Mayor and City Council. They’ll have taught a new generation that corruption and greed is good, and as long as you are rich and powerful, there is no price to pay.

  9. Anonymous says:

    2:58pm Thanks for reminding us about those crimes. Trutanich is going to run for DA and who knows what Cooley is going to do. The more the dialogue keeps going back and forth then its not forgotten. Why didn’t they indict Alarcon on those 8 felony counts of Voter Fraud and where does it stand now? Why didn’t Cooley go after Failure of Mayor on those Laker Tickets? What is pathetic is Im seeing a pattern of corruption that LA has never had. You have the Police Chief now doing the dirty work of the Mayor, Council doing their own dirty work, City Attorney listening to City Council and doing their dirty work, the DA doing the City council’s dirty work and The City Controller in lala land not doing her job but campaigning to be Mayor. Do you get the Picture everyone how screwed up LA really is??? There’s a reality show here

  10. Anonymous says:

    Without checks and balance, a society will perish. Future of LA.

  11. Scott Zwartz says:

    Things are horrible in Los Angeles and getting worse, but blaming the crooks and their stooges in City Hall is foolish. Of all the bad things LaBonge, Garcetti, Perry, etc can do the one thing they cannot do is elect themselves.
    The Voters consistently re-elect these bozos. Garcetti says more and more housing is need in his district (CD 13), yet his district has lost population during his tenure because he has so degraded the quality of life in CD 13, that people move away from a slum. When Garcetti builds another terrible CRA project, he steals millions of dolalrs from the entire city treasury. Does any councilmember complain that Garcetti is making life worse for San Pedro, for El Sereno, or North Hollywood? No.
    Does any voter outside CD 13 complain that the greed and corruption in Garcetti’s district harms the whole city? No.
    We just re-elect the same corrupt jerks. Why should they listen to Ron Kaye or anyone else? The Voters approve of the billions of dollars that the councilmembers have been stealing from Angelenos. But can we call it theft, when we approve of it? If I enter a 7-11 and the clerk is giving away money, am I thief because I take the money? I think not.

  12. In Eagle Rock says:

    Scott, I don’t know if you conclusion here is to let the Council members off the hook by shifting blame somehow for the corruption that these CMs enjoy.
    I hear it often said on blogs that the voters let this happen but as in the election just past and other city elections, you have voters set against re-election but are out-voted. It’s not that the majority wants them- you have most registered voters not even bothering to participate in elections and THAT is what prevents change.
    The incumbents have built-in advantages of name recognition, experience of sorts, and public money to conduct services that they claim as if they personally are helping you out- and that’s what’s typical, with Jose Huizar’s M.O. as an example.
    Further, there’s the special interests that include labor unions, developers and community members and organizations tha are recipients of deals and funding. They all come out to keep the flow of goodies coming.
    Until there’s some breaking point of tolerance reached by more people, the calculation will leave incumbents as likely winners for re-election. Check Mitch Englander’s case. His fundraising on the city election ethics website show fundraising very active from 2009- he was groomed by Greig Smith and stepped into his shoes easily with all the special interests and “friends” logically expecting a continuation of what they got from Smith.
    Even if a challenger is viewed as worthy of votes, these alliances built up with the incumbents are “sure things” as investments, so why should these folks take a chance on a newcomer who will require a complete start-from-scratch building of a relationship? And then what if the “alliance” doesn’t happen, and that’s very likely when you may have a challenger who has voiced any “independence” of action or similar rejection of patronage politics. No, the incumbent is a tried and true deal, and that factor gets some solid votes, bought and paid for with our tax dollars, of course.
    It’s all about the investment that special interests have put into incumbents that makes for some solid expectation of these voters showing up for the incumbent on election day. Any reform that other voters may present is often with lukewarm commitment and as you see, most voters either don’t care about city elections or are not motivated to get to the polls.
    I do not relieve the CMs from responsibility at all. Your Garcetti example is but one of many inconsistencies these CMs can pull off without being called on the carpet. Garcetti in my view is more dangerous than most CMs due to his agility with the spoken word and a huge propensity for social engineering with little regard for costs to the rest of us. Eric leaves little chance to put in a word edgewise if you have ever noticed his patterns. A very slick fellow, indeed.
    That greening of L.A. idea preached ad nauseum by CMs and the Mayor seems to have gone on hiatus while the Grand Hotel skyscraper approval process was underway, with the enormous lighting display capacity a major feature.
    We don’t deserve them but we don’t have to take all this self serving conduct quietly. Eventually, enough will arrive at the breaking point and a change will happen. Continuing to expose the corruption will expedite that arrival.

  13. Anonymous says:

    As you (Ron Kaye) pointed out on the radio, Rosendahl may not have been that great in that he apparently “caved in” and left the Council chambers so that the vote would be unanimous and not have to be brought back a week later.
    Whether he was threatened by Perry and others of if he was grandstanding, either way he is not a real leader when he backs down like that.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Actually, Rosendahl did not “cave in” as he just left in disgust. I think in his shoes especially
    after Zine’s ignorant and specious remarks, most of us would have done the same. I heard him on Channel 35 so I am fully aware of what I am
    saying. We must get out a special vote challenging the city management team and especially those staff members who think they are authorities, making no value judgements on our behalf, but strictly quotiing what they believe is law. My name today is DISGUSTED

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the voters didn’t come out and it was pathetic at 12% but one thing is certain. The bastards “meaning all politicians” read the blogs and know we are pissed off. Our voice may not be in the 100’000′s but our voices are LOUD and we have a great network of friends all over the City. That my friend is what the losers on council don’t like about us. If we started to disrespect them when they show up to events and meetings they would get the message. Unfortunately and hard for me to believe there are still a bunch of kiss asses who speak out against them in OUR circles then run up to them when they see them. The lack of leadership is not only in Council but our own neighborhoods

  16. Leslie says:

    Nothing wrong with the Community showing up to challenge the City DWP and Developers and support Rosendahl, because it’s in OUR economic interest..(subsidaries=taxes) and we can’t be like the GOP, we need INCOME not cuts, cuts, cuts, and fee, fee, fees.

  17. Scott Zwartz says:

    The power rests with the people, and when the voters, who are that subset of the people who have the power to change things, instead ratify the wrongful behavior, they have politically cleansed the wrongdoing. The Oaks Homeowners Association first opposed the downsizing of FS 82 by 75%, but after Labonge spoke to them, they changed their position and said anything Tommy Boy wanted was fine with them. Thus, the millionaires high on the hill curried favor with Tom leaving it to the folks who lived in the Flats to fight city hall and The Oaks. Eastwood Coalition members said that they weren’t going to fight to save the millionaires on the Hill when they would have to fight the homeowners whose homes they were trying to save from some future forest fire.
    HUNC then supported the downsized FS 82 because Tommy Boy promised them community parking which would help the stores and cafes in Franklin Village. Once HUNC sided with Tommy Boy, the city discovered that they couldn’t provide any community parking. Geez, who’d have thunked that Tommy’d double cross anyone?
    When LaBonge ran his fraudulent Save the Hollywood Sign Campaign, no one at HUNC worried that teaching school children how to operate a Bait ‘n Switch Scam might be a bad idea. Instead, they proudly proclaimed how they had involved the local school kids.
    Then look at Hollywood Studio District NC which approved the mega-CBS Development — with a 15 year time in which to flip the project. Oh, yes, they did pry lose a whopping $35K for the Freeway Park. That’s .000035% (35/10,000th of 1%) of the projected cost — about the cost of one off-street parking space.

  18. Anonymous says:

    From LA Weekly: “The March 11 vote by Krekorian and Reyes utilizes a much-criticized 2010 Ninth Circuit Court ruling that L.A. city officials have the power to create special “sign districts” in which the City Council’s ban on billboards does not apply. Krekorian and Reyes agreed to exempt megacorporation Hanjin from the citywide 2002 ban by granting the firm a “sign district.”
    A spokesman for the city attorney says the two Hanjin skyscrapers take up a city block, thus qualifying as a Signage Supplemental Use District”.
    Welcome to the new Trutanich; a political whore.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I was ready to call Rosendahl’s office to give him thanks, but then heard that he didn’t vote “no.”
    By voting “no” he would have taken a firm stand for what he pretends to be concerned about and would have delayed approval at least one week.
    Now I realize that either Rosendahl is either another phony politician trying to have it both ways – getting publicity for he next endevor without rocking the boat with his colleagues – Or he is incompetent.
    Either way, Rosendahl doesn’t deserve any thanks and should be called out for his actions.

  20. Hi there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics? Many thanks!

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