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No Way to Run a City: Underhanded Approval of Autry Museum Expansion Creates Uproar

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Southwest Museum Coalition has sent out an urgent request for supporters to call and email key City Council members to take jurisdiction over the Recreation and Parks Commission’s approval of renovations and expansion of the Autry Museum without a plan to fulfill its commitment to restore the Southwest. The Commission approved the Autry plan last week in an underhanded manner without proper notice or public discussion. Here’s the Coalition’s urgent call to action and draft letter demanding a full Council review (CALL TO ACTION–DRAFT LETTER.docx).

City Hall can get away with almost anything and frequently does with every single person in power nodding in agreement no matter how destructive their actions are, no matter how angry it makes the public.

That’s what makes the latest moves on behalf of the Autry Museum so hard to understand.

If the Autry’s latest plan to expand and actually make the museum an attraction that might draw visitors is such a great idea, why was approval by the Recreation and Parks Department and its Commission done in a manner so lacking in transparency and honesty?

All that was achieved was to inflame the wounds of the Southwest Museum Coalition and leave its supporters — betrayed time and again by the Autry — no alternative but go to war in the political arena and go to court with a lawsuit to tie up the project for as long as possible.

The Coalition has to put together a coherent narrative of all that has happened in the long struggle to bring the city’s oldest museum back to life as exhibition space for the vast collection of Indian and Western artifacts.(Southwest Museum-Back Story.docx)

The short story is that two years after abandoning its plans for a massive expansion of its Griffith Park facility, the Autry is back with a major renovation and expansion within its current footprint in the park but still refuses to offer a plan or assistance to revive the century-old Southwest Museum on Mount Washington in the Arroyo Seco.

Rather than taking the plans to community groups, Autry officials took their case behind the scenes to Rec and Parks officials and Commission President Barry Sanders — architect of the advertising signs in city parks plan — called a special commission meeting and slipped the Autry deal into a long list of items, none of which required an urgent special meeting.

What makes it more sinister is that Southwest Museum Coalition activists never received email notices of the special meeting, apparently because their emails were deleted from the Rec and Parks list without their permission.

Attorney Dan Wright of the Coalition pleaded Wednesday before the City Council for an investigation of this apparent illegality and for the Council to take jurisdiction over the Rec and Parks Commission’s approval of the Autry expansion.

Such a review would at least allow for a public discussion about the project and what can and should be done to bring the Southwest back to life.Enhanced by Zemanta

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10 Responses to No Way to Run a City: Underhanded Approval of Autry Museum Expansion Creates Uproar

  1. Kristin Sabo says:

    Wow – they took me off the notification list, too. I usually read Rec and Parks agendas cover to cover the moment they pop up in my email… never saw this one.

  2. Anonymous says:

    All the Commissioners are the Mayor’s appointees. When the head of the fish is rotten—–

  3. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone smell the slime of Latham & Watkins? Barry Sanders is a former law partner of the firm and in 2009 he and his entire Board of Rec and Parks were disqualified from hearing anything about Autry expansion ambitions in Griffith Park. Now, without ever having presented this new project proposal to any community organization, good ole buddy Sanders supervises a series of actions to declare there was no quorum for the regular meeting, use a special meeting notice so it could be posted a much shorter period of time to discourage public participation, delete the email addresses of known Autry expansion opponents from the registered meeting agenda email list, and then then send the email list notice with almost no notice of the meeting.
    Mr. Sanders must resign for these actions. He is the President of the Commission and we cannot have such deception and decent operating at our City Commissions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Kristin -
    Send an email or letter to Huizar, Reyes and Garcetti if you can verify that you were a vocal opponent of the first Autry expansion and you did not receive the Rec. and Parks. normal email distribution of the meeting agendas.
    For our city Boards or Commissions to delete someone’s registered email is the lowest of the low.
    Last Thanksgiving, Jackie Autry was driving home in Palm Springs from dinner out with friends and she ran over and killed a pedestrian. The accident information was not released by the Palm Springs police for several days and the Chief of Police declared that Mrs. Autry was not tested by police for alcohol because “she had obviously not been drinking.” Ironically, the police announced that the poor pedestrian’s body was being tested for drugs and alcohol. Nice.
    Congratulations Kristin, you’ve just been run over politically by Jackie Autry. Will our City Council investigate or will it cover it up?
    Why isn’t our “ethical” Mayor demanding an investigation? Oh, that’s right. His staff may have ordered Rec. and Parks to make the deletions.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sent my comment letter into Huizar, Reyes and Garcetti. I cannot believe one of these guys has not taken to the floor of Council to express outrage at how sneaky and underhanded this thing was slipped onto the Rec and Parks agenda.

  6. Kristin Sabo says:

    Unfortunately, without subpoenaing City email server records, I can’t prove anything. In touching base with other park advocates, 1 in 4 seem to have received the agenda notice.
    Turns out, in the same agenda, the Rec and Parks commission handed over Bette Davis Park – parkland that is part of the Griffith Park land deed – to Glendale to manage. I would have liked to have known about that one, too.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This just in from the Coaliyion:
    Today, Councilmember Jose Huizar heard your voices and introduced a motion, seconded by Councilmember Ed Reyes, to be considered at City Council next TUESDAY. This is very good news. But it is just the beginning. This motion requires 2/3’s vote to pass – that’s 10 councilmembers. If the motion does not pass, all this advocacy will be for nothing.
    Support and action is needed in whatever way(s) you can, starting this weekend:
    Plan to attend Council – Tuesday 5/31 starting at 10 a.m.
    Leave messages or emails for all City Councilmembers BEFORE Tuesday’s meeting (message just below; email addresses at bottom)
    Thank Councilmembers Huizar and Reyes, in person Tuesday or with another email/call – tell them you appreciate their working together to save the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe.
    Help us get people to City hall by spreading this email and requesting action and help
    On Tuesday the motion must pass, so our focused message must be:
    Please pass this Motion (11-0884) to assert jurisdiction over this matter so the public can have a fair hearing, with proper time for consideration, and with a transparent public process.
    LA CITY COUNCIL SUPPLEMENTARY AGENDA TUES MAY 31 2011, ITEM NO. (21), Council File No: 11-0884
    MOTION (HUIZAR – REYES) relative to asserting jurisdiction over the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners action on May 20, 2011. Read the motion:
    For the complete list of councilmember email addresses, visit

  8. Antonio from Hancock Park says:

    Hey, what’s this crap about a museum in Griffith Park? Did I give it to AEG, I don’t remember it?
    Oh, that thing near the Zoo! Okay guys and gals, sure, I’ll tell Zine to vote yes on Tues, since then maybe I can get something in it for AEG like digital billboards visible off the 101 to the 5! Thanks again Ron for keeping me on point.

  9. brianantony82 says:

    the Rec and Parks commission handed over Bette Davis Park – parkland that is part of the Griffith Park land deed

  10. Ned Phan says:

    This is actually a great deed..The Rec and Parks commission handed over Bette Davis Park..ocoee river rafting

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