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Olvera Street — The Movie: When the Public Story Is Not the Real Story


There’s a reason I go to all the trouble of interviewing people, googling deep into what’s published, culling public records and trying to make sense out of what the hell is going on in this city.

It’s for love, not money, I assure you, out of my own compulsive need to know and to share what I know. It’s been the passion of my life for so long I don’t know how to do anything else.
But that isn’t why City Council meetings are the background noise of my life on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, why I go to the trouble of recording virtually every meeting on DVR, fast forward through the parts I missed and ultimately make movies to share with you.
The words I write are just so much hot air in the smoggy political atmosphere. But the videos allow you to see for yourselves the charade of our city government and make up your own mind.

The issue in this case is El Pueblo de Los Angeles and how we are treating the birthplace of our city and the merchants of Olvera Street.

City Hall, in its two decades of control, has made a mess of Olvera Street. Favoritism, neglect, waste, inefficiency, corruption — those have been the hallmarks of how Olvera Street has been managed much as they have been with just about everything the city has done in recent years.

The City Council debate Friday (see article below) on a new concessionaire agreement for the merchants of Olvera Street revealed how officials have used the same heavy-handed extortionist techniques on them as they have on city unions to create the appearance — but not the reality — of solving problems caused by long-term city mismanagement and financial irresponsibility.

In the case of El Pueblo, the stated goal was to bring the rents up to market rates from the ridiculously low rents they have been paying and to make it financially self-sufficient.

This agreement doesn’t achieve those goals. It merely sets the stage for the city to turn this historic monument into a Disneyland-like parody of  history by driving out families that have operated businesses on Olvera Street since socialite Christine Sterling started the movement more than 80 years ago to turn what had become a dingy alley into a place that celebrates the city’s past and now attracts two million visitors a year.

There were so many lies told during the Council debate — which resumes Tuesday — that it is hard to catalog them all.

City Attorney David Michaelson and El Pueblo head Robert Andrade, with assistance from Councilman Bernard Parks who admitted he was only doing the absent Jose Huizar a favor and didn’t really know what he was talking about, portrayed the seven-point motion amending the concessionaire agreement was all just technical corrections.

In fact, the changes were fundamental, affecting rents and leasing rights, and reflect their failure to do their jobs properly when rushing the agreement through the El Pueblo Commission and Council just last month with a June 30 deadline for the merchants to agree or forfeit their chance to get leases.

The biggest lie of all was put forth by Tom LaBonge — the front man for the commercialization of the city’s parks — who falsely claimed that the concerns of the merchants could be and would be addressed after the June 30 deadline when he knew full well, and Michaelson reiterated the point, the terms of the agreement are set in stone and the deadline is really an ultimatum to the merchants that will not be compromised or revisited.

If you take the trouble of watching these videos, you will see the kind of doubletalk and deceit that routinely goes on at City Council to make sure the public is ill-informed and misinformed about what is really going on.

Just remember this: The public story they tell bears little or no relationship to the what is going on in the back rooms of City Hall.Enhanced by Zemanta

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19 Responses to Olvera Street — The Movie: When the Public Story Is Not the Real Story

  1. Angeleno says:

    Ron,
    Thanks for capturing these moments on YouTube so that we can circulate them and your articles when current and former members of the LA City Council run for office.
    Most of the Council Officeholders are double-talking hypocrites and I am glad that they were called out by one speaker.

  2. Angeleno says:

    Interesting discussion about “surrendering” to the District Councilman – i.e. the 99.993% rule.
    But on controversial items, there is a break from this rule.
    My question is why did the majority of Councilmembers go against the District Councilman for Playa Vista? Was that all a play?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Lackey City Attorney!

  4. Olvera Street Heritage says:

    It would behoove the LA City Council to “LISTEN” to the Business Side of the concession arrangement because when Rents are Raised, they give less Revenue to Operate the business. From utilities, to supplies, to payroll. City Taxes.
    The issue in this case is El Pueblo de Los Angeles and how we are treating the birthplace of our city and the merchants of Olvera Street.
    Rents have doubled in the past ten years on a ficticious housing expansion that nearly collapsed the US Economy. These same landlords are at it again, trying to get more than they know and love. Too bad rents went up in the first place.
    How many more homes, cars or travel arrangements are going to be made on struggling working class Americans? Much is to be given up in the Housing CRASH, so let’s get back to the real Market Rate.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have voted as a Democrat all my life….I’m voting for the other non democrat presidential candidate…unless the Fed’s clean up the City of LA’s corrupt political leaders…Promises…promises..we heard them before, stop the political corruption, and start rebuilding our outdated urban transportation system before the election…show US the MONEY, and maybe I might reconsider the so called “Democratic Party”…besides it will only get worse before it gets better, so I’ll take my chances with the Republicans this coming presidential election…I want to see if the Republicans can redeem themselves….I was also raised a Catholic, but I think I will vote for Mitt Romney, we need new fresh ideas and policies….ideas and policies that do not perpetuate local governmental corruption….
    ROMNEY 2014!
    “MITT IS LEGIT!”

  6. Anonymous says:

    7:28
    If you get rid of the corrupted city officials, whose going keep up appearances….

  7. Chris Rowe says:

    I think that it should be Council policy that an agenda item cannot be heard for any item if the Council member for that district is not present.
    When the Council member asks to be excused for a certain day for City business, etc, then that Councilmember’s agenda items should be postponed. The community should be noticed that the item has been postponed.
    How can a Council member make a recommendation and not be available for his constituents when the agenda item is heard? The Council member does not have to be at the Council committee meeting that preceeds the recommendations.
    When are the people given the opportunity to be heard by their Council members on an agenda item if not at City Hall?

  8. Sandy Sand says:

    The underlying problem in all of this is that from the President of the United States down:
    “The public story they tell bears little or no relationship to the what is going on in the back rooms of City Hall.”!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am of the opinion that at least in Los Angeles, the Democratic Party has become a criminal operation tied to the unions. The unions get their candidates elected, the electeds give away the public treasury to the unions, and the court system and other electeds that are supposed to police the system are derilect in their responsibilities. (Hence, no significant public corruption investigations by the DA, the Attorney General, or even the U.S. Attorney).
    The United States has passed its greatest moment in world history and we are watching the downward spiral on steroids in Los Angeles.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am of the opinion that at least in Los Angeles, the Democratic Party has become a criminal operation tied to the unions. The unions get their candidates elected, the electeds give away the public treasury to the unions, and the court system and other electeds that are supposed to police the system are derilect in their responsibilities. (Hence, no significant public corruption investigations by the DA, the Attorney General, or even the U.S. Attorney).
    The United States has passed its greatest moment in world history and we are watching the downward spiral on steroids in Los Angeles.

  11. Anonymous says:

    @By Anonymous on June 26, 2011 7:28 PM,
    You had 8 years of a Republican President and nothing was done against the corruption in LA.
    During this time (through 2008) you had the collapse of the speculative real estate bubble and many years of Villaraigosa and the City Council.
    And during those 8 years, nothing happened from the Feds against LA.
    Then a Democratic Administration came in office and in 2010 and 2011, the FBI is investigating at least 3 Departments.
    So I don’t see the connection and I also don’t think it matters which party is in power at the Federal level in terms of the Feds cleaning up LA.

  12. Anonymous says:

    7:36M I think your comment is interesting because as it happens every one of the LA City Council except Smith and Zine are Democrats and so is the Mayor. I say that your party is so
    entrenched that the FBI is not after anyone except crooks and it so happens they are all
    Democrats. Does this help?

  13. Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous on June 27, 2011 8:20 AM
    No, it doesn’t.
    I was referring to the comment made by Anonymous on June 26, 2011 7:28 PM.
    “I’m voting for the other non democrat presidential candidate…”
    All the corruption that we have had in LA has peaked under Villaraigosa, but did occur under Hahn (Democrat) and Riordan (Republican).
    I would normally agree with the idea that opposite party control can help. That is if you want the Feds to investigate a local jurisdiction, it may help if the party of the Feds and the local jurisdiction was opposite.
    But recent history has blown that theory. I don’t remember any major investigation during the Bush administration of LA. But there have been investigations under the current Federal investigation of LA.
    Now I also agree that the smaller fish will be the “fall guy,” and the leaders at the top will probably get away from any prosecution, but having Republicans in a Federal position doesn’t seem to make a difference against Democratic party corruption.
    PS: Corruption is non-partisan. You can easily have Democrats helping Republicans get rich – Just look at Development and Land Use in Los Angeles.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ron,
    Once again I want to thank you for being one of THE GOOD GUYS.
    The world is a better place with you in it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Question I wantt to know is why didn’t Wendy collect this money.
    Dodgers owe $240,000 in L.A. business taxes dating back to 2007

  16. Anonymous says:

    The city collects only from the middle class, the weak and homeless.

  17. Anonymous says:

    June 26, 2011 7:28
    Interesting to note that the Feds from San Francisco back in 2008 were brought in to investigate the LA City Attorney (“a moderate Democrat), and not the Feds from Westwood…conflict of interest perhaps, or too close professional ties…BTW Blagojevich was found guilty…now let’s see if he gets 300 years, only then will the halls of justice and it’s rule of law be felt throughout the U.S. polity…

  18. Anonymous says:

    So why doesn’t Cooley finish prosecuting Richard AlarCON? Anyone? Or is Cooley such a loser that he can’t do anything right.

  19. It will probably possibly be incredibly intriguing to observe if Mitt Romney can pull off of the Republican nomination this kind of year. The actual only factor that worries me right now is there may be so numerous candidates right now.

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