The LA Times today raises questions — finally — about whether massive subsidies and tax rebates for luxury hotels makes any dollars and sense for a city that has so much trouble paying its bills.
Toting up the long-term cost of letting the J.W. Marriott at LA Live and the planned Wilshire Grand on Figueroa and and Mandarin Oriental on Grand Avenue, David Zahniser comes up with a tidy $640 million figure — “money that otherwise would have helped pay for police officers, firefighters and other basic services,” he notes.
LA Business Journal Editor Charles Crumpley finds a lot more “gold in the gutter,”
as the City Council likes to refer to their annual effort to erase massive budget deficits, $457 million this year and even more looming next year.
In the last three years alone, the city has faced legal judgments totaling $45 million for LAPD management abuses involving 15 current and former police officers who were punished for such behavior as objecting to illegal orders to meet daily quotas for writing traffic tickets
Throw in the millions in judgments for similar action in the Fire Department plus the $260 million a year audits show city departments fail to collect and all of a sudden you have a lot of money in the city treasury.
Crumpley writes in his article at Fox and Hounds:
“The reason I bring all this up: People all over town, especially
business people, assume that sooner or later their city taxes will go
up. They assume the city’s stuff may be sold, more services will be cut,
more layoffs will follow. They assume fees will be ratcheted up,
potholes won’t be filled and quotas for traffic tickets will go up. Even
though quotas are illegal.
“We could send a river of money to the Los Angeles City Hall, but as long
as much of that money swirls down an immense drain of waste, well,
probably no river would be wide enough.
“Before we send more money to City Hall, or accept many cuts, maybe the
business community should demand that City Hall first show respect for
the considerable amount of money we already send in.”
Why the city is in trouble is becoming clearer to a lot of people, not just us perpetually critical ordinary citizens.
The problems start at the top with leadership that serves itself and the insider interests that keep them in office while politicizing the bureaucracy and turning every policy decision and action into an exercise in political manipulation without regard to the public interest.
The politicized bureaucracy for its part is incapable of doing the right thing for the right reason. No one is held accountable for failing the public, only for failing the politicians.
In a culture as corrupt as City Hall’s is it any wonder that there is no discipline down on the ground among the people who actually do the work, like the parking enforcement officers who participated in making a porn film while in uniform and on duty.
NBC Channel 4 broke the story last week and provided evidence that the people in charge looked the other way at the officers’ transgression until the TV cameras were rolling and the questions were being asked.
“The entire chain of command is in the discussion at this point,”
Councilman Bill Rosendahl told NBC4 in a followup interview.
“Who knew what when, and why wasn’t it shared?
They’re all part of the investigation.”I want a full-scale investigation. There are no limits to where this will go at this point.”
Based on City Hall’s past performance that is unlikely to happen but it would be a starting point.
What is really needed is a no-limits, full-scale investigation of how the flow of political money from special interests buys city’s leaders votes, corrupts the bureaucracy and creates a workplace environment that punishes honesty and efficiency.