The last item on the Community Redevelopment Agency’s commission agenda for Thursday says a lot about how City Hall operates and why it is so badly manages the public’s money and bungles most of what it is supposed to do.
“Memorandum” to “All CRA/LA Staff” from Chris Essel, the chief executive officer, reads the document for the meeting, “SUBJECT: DIRECT APPOINTMENT OF MR ACKLEY PADILLA AS ASSISTANT TO THE CEO.”
Sounds like a pretty good job, doesn’t considering Essel’s salary in the $250,000 range and all the other bloated paychecks at the CRA? Surely, a newly-created job like this ought to be filled — if it’s even needed — by some sort of competitive process that makes sure the most qualified person is hired considering how many smart, educated and experienced managers and real estate professionals are desperate for work.
“How does an unemployed, non-college grad land an Executive gig at CRA-LA? Easy…be Alex Padilla’s little brother,” messages my insider informant.
“Senator Alex Padilla’s little brother Ackley is assuming a top position w/o any competition … All this sounds fishy, at the same time big brother Padilla is running for Mayor. Ackley will most likely be in the six figure salary range….not bad for a guy w/o a college degree who will be overseeing people with multiple degrees … All this sounds fishy, at the same time big brother Padilla is running for Mayor.”
The answer to the how does something like this happen is easy: Everything at City Hall is a ‘fix,’ a self-serving game for the benefit of the insiders at the expense of the outsiders, which is to say the taxpaying public.
Essel justifies her abuse of the hiring process by arguing “exceptional circumstances” exist that justify a direct appointment without even having to interview staff, let alone outside candidates for a position she describes as “Chief Deputy to the CEO.”
“Mr. Padilla will be charged with assisting the Office of the CEO in accomplishing various assignments in the daily management and technical administration of the Agency. In addition, he will be responsible for internal and external affairs duties as required which will include working closely with the CRA/LA staff, LA City Hall staff, City Departments, and other stakeholders in order to better accomplish the mission of the Agency. Importantly, Mr. Padilla will be working closely with
assisting me in our continuing efforts in facing the challenges in Sacramento.”
The changes in Sacramento she alludes to are Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to abolish CRAs statewide as an effective waste of money that don’t create jobs, remove blight from poor areas or create home ownership as much as they amount to welfare to the rich — something that is truer in L.A. than anywhere with the billions going for luxury hotels, condos, entertainment complexes in downtown and Hollywood.
Essel regards Ackley Padilla as “exceptionally qualified” for this important job “because of his qualifications, experience and
record of accomplishment” starting with his big brother hiring him as a field deputy when he was a Councilman.
In that job, “he developed and implemented strategies to address community needs by coordinating delivery of various City services and infrastructure improvement projects including sidewalk repair, street lighting installation, and street resurfacing. He also successfully engaged and empowered community residents through the support and development of community-based organizations, neighborhood watches, and parent centers.”
Those extraordinary achievements — ones that every one of the 300 Council aides could claim — were greatly surpassed during his service on Councilman Richard Alarcon’s staff, a job that was terminated about the time the indicted Councilman took out papers to run for the Valley Assembly seat big brother and his pal Felipe Fuentes regard as their own private property.
For his part, Alarcon has no qualms about nepotism having gotten his daughter in a six-figure job as a Public Works Board commissioner and positioned her to run for his Council seat when he goes to jail or back to the legislature.
But I digress from the citations of Ackley’s qualifications that include having “worked for various offices at the City of Los Angeles for over eight years having advised a number of elected officials while building a strong network of relationships.”
His illustrious service in Alarcon’s office included “assisting” in getting social responsibility policies included in requirements for bankers doing business with the city, serving as “primary contact” for the negotiations for Plaza Pacoima, “a $78M retail
development project with the CRA/LA and COD, and preparing “summary briefs that provided policy background, analyses, and recommendations for consideration during Council meetings and Council Committees.”
Playing by the rules, such as they are, Essel gave her staff five days to protest in writing against this nepotistic act of favoritism. Apparently, no one did the appointment is on the CRA agenda as Item 12.
In the grand scheme of the misuse of billions of taxpayer dollars by CRAs, this is a small matter, just one more reason Republicans in the legislature should stop protecting these redevelopment agencies and the wealthy developers who benefit from this corrupted program.
If they were true conservatives, they would heed the words of Congressman Tom McClintock and vote today — the deadline for action — to kill the CRAs and help balance the state budget without phony gimmicks and bookkeeping tricks: