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CBS2 Accuses City Hall of Funneling $1 Million Grant for the Poor to Farmers Field Architect

Like taxpayer money that goes to the Community Redevelopment Agency and winds up in the hands of wealthy developers, federal community development block grants (CDBG) given to the city often are funneled away from programs to help the poor as they are intended.

CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein dug up a story broadcast last night about how a $1 million CDBG block grant went to Gensler, the architectural firm that is designing AEG’s Farmers FIeld, to help pay for remodeling its corporate offices for its move from Santa Monica to downtown LA.

Goldstein confronted Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about the appropriateness of taking money away from the poorest people in the city and breaking his promise that no public money would go towards the stadium project.

“Actually, it’s not. It’s public money going to job creation going to provide more revenues,” Villaraigosa said. “It’s part of an effort to revitalize the city and it’s an effort that I stand by.”

Of course, it’s all about creating jobs — the current excuse used by the job-killing mayor and City Council to continue their policy or redistributing the wealth from the poor to the rich.

Gov. Jerry Brown is going along with the farce and is set to sign SB 292 freeing AEG from key elements of state environmental laws at an invitation-only event this morning at the LA Convention Center.

Here’s the CBS report:


LOS
ANGELES (CBS) –
 Jeff Dietrich serves a thousand meals a day at his soup
kitchen on skid row. He sees the poor and needy firsthand.

But
he does not see why a $1 million of taxpayer money, that could go to help the
people on skid row, is ending up in the hands of one of the world’s largest
architectural firms. The money is slated to go to the firm that designed
Farmers Field, the new, privately-financed football stadium.

“When
you drive around here and see all the people on the streets pushing shopping
carts, when you see them lying on the streets, when you see them homeless, you
have to ask yourself how can you use money for that type of activity,” Dietrich
said.

But
we found that is just what the mayor is proposing.

After
promises of no public money going to the stadium project, he has OK’d $1
million of federal community development block grant money, earmarked to help
the poor and needy, to go to the Gensler Architectural Firm.

They
are moving from Santa Monica to a building dubbed the “jewel box” in Downtown
L.A. The money is for rehabbing the building to turn it into a trendy office
complex for 250 employees.

“People
are really mad,” said Becky Dennison of the L.A. Community Action Network – a group devoted to protecting the rights
of the homeless.

“I
think it’s pure politics and driven by the stadium project,” she said.

Through
the Legal Aid Foundation, they filed a complaint with HUD, which administers
the money, alleging mismanagement of the community block grant funds.

“I
think we’ve said from the beginning we didn’t oppose the stadium project, but
we didn’t want public money and we didn’t want backroom deals. And that’s what
we see.”

HUD
responded saying Gensler is eligible for the money, as long as they create just
29 new jobs. At least 51 percent have to be held by low or moderate income
workers, who have no more than a high school education.

It
sounds easy enough, but even people within the city questioned it. In e-mails
obtained by Legal Aid, one person involved 
with
granting the money said, “This project could meet a national objective, public
benefit, etc. But I imagine this will not.”

Mark
Lewis and his wife, Beth Mueller, tried to get some of the same public funds
that went to Gensler. Through the Central City Community Outreach, a church on
skid row, they proposed more than two-dozen programs to help the needy. All
were turned down.

“There
are better ways to spend a million dollars and provide a lot more jobs,” Lewis
said.

Despite
some of the questions and despite the fact that Gensler still has not said what
jobs would be created and how, the City Council approved the mayor’s proposal.
The company and the city are still working on the final agreement before the
money changes hands.

(READ FULL STORY)

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15 Responses to CBS2 Accuses City Hall of Funneling $1 Million Grant for the Poor to Farmers Field Architect

  1. jay handal says:

    IT is offensive. A charity in Venice “Stand up for kids” serves homeless teens. The charity takes NO administrative costs. NO pay, no overhead, EXCEPT-1500.00 per month to the city for 2 nights a week rental of a non utilized senior center. The charity may close down due to the city charging the rent. YET, 1 Million to rehab office space???????? IT has always been known this city has no leadership, no plan, and now NO HEART…..
    But, we do have a misguided way of helping our developer friends…
    Sad but true……..

  2. Anonymous says:

    I did stay up for this newscast, but I think Ron Kaye has explained the situation so that we can understand it, don’t you?

  3. Anonymous says:

    All reporters should ask the Gov when he signs off on AEG Stadium today in the big ceremony how he feels about $1 million going to help developers and not the poor people of skid row??

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ron, do you know Gensler`s landlord?
    The answer will solve the puzzle.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We`ll see how Beutner explains this shit in the campaign trail.

  6. In Eagle Rock says:

    The video segment again brings us more of mayor Villaraigosa’s warped interpretation of purposes of public money and the lack of any arm’s-length dealings happening in City Hall.
    The mayor’s (lower case title intended) succinct explanation ranks up there with his “contortion-of-the-legal-requirements” ridden attempts to show why taking all the freebie tickets to things like the Grammy Awards and Laker games somehow served the interests (not even the “best” interests, but any) of the people of this city.
    He is truly beyond redemption or rehabilitation, as are his cohorts in the city council who, by their silence, their assent, and their rubber-stamping of such things is so telling of the growing level of corruption that is accepted at city hall, becoming now “the norm.”
    Every time they use the word “leadership” in city council meetings there should be a loud buzzer, akin to a penalty signal, to emphasize that there is NO leadership there. All leadership is imaginary. They are all sheep that head for the trough as job #1.
    Furthermore, if “leadership” is preceded by “fine, diligent, strong” or any such superlative adjective or qualifier, then two buzzers are triggered, with a “Pavlov’s Dog” conditioned response expected to eliminate such misuse of the terms in city hall.
    But if council members use “poor, misguided, corrupt, self-serving” to describe their own actions, then maybe a reward with some orchestral audio, maybe with some confetti coming down from the rafters could celebrate the truer account of things- a major change from a body that calls comments “testimony” while no oath has ever been administered to anyone, lest the meetings become vastly shortened.
    My prediction in that case would be to expect no confetti debris to ever be there after any meeting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Whatever jobs Gensler now comes up with to justify this improper giveaway of public money will likely be employees that they hire away from one of the many other qualified architectural firms that are already in LA. The reason they can hire these people away is their shiny new taxpayer funded offices and the taxpayer funded business tax reduction that they are also receiveing.
    The net result of all of this will be zero net new jobs created and a reduction in City tax revenue as these transferred employees salaries will now be taxed at a lower rate than was the case with their previous employers.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Whatever jobs Gensler now comes up with to justify this improper giveaway of public money will likely be employees that they hire away from one of the many other qualified architectural firms that are already in LA. The reason they can hire these people away is their shiny new taxpayer funded offices and the taxpayer funded business tax reduction that they are also receiveing.
    The net result of all of this will be zero net new jobs created and a reduction in City tax revenue as these transferred employees salaries will now be taxed at a lower rate than was the case with their previous employers.

  9. Bob says:

    Anonymous on September 27, 2011 9:37 AM,
    Thomas Properties Group Inc is the landlord. They brought the property in 2003 from a firm in Japan. Looks like Gensler signed a 12 year lease. The landlord has done over $185 Million upgrade to the property since taking it over.
    If they stay for over 20 years then I believe its money well spent. More of their workers will relocate closer to DTLA (either living in DTLA, Silverlake, etc). Instead of renting in Santa Monica, west LA, some of these workers can buy in DTLA.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Gensler is only offering 29 jobs for that $1 million? Are you freakin kidding me. Anyone one of us can do better then that? Since when do the tax payers of LA pay for an architect to have fancy offices on our dime??? I’d rather the money go to the families and children on Skid Row

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hm, Thomas is the landlord. Need say more?

  12. Paul Moyer says:

    Why is this just coming out now on channel 2/9. I first noticed it in April in LAWEEKLY. I guess your investigative journalists went to old news and made it new again.
    Still, $1 million is pocket change to GENSLER. How they use the money would be hard to track but now with this finally making network news, Gensler can easily hire 15 secretaries, who were previously working elsewhere or find 15 new hires since April to justify the money. (math: They need to find 15 new hires that have no more than a high school education, and 14 other new hires since April to justify receiving the money. Perhaps their unpaid interns will qualify them)
    The $1 million should not have gone to Gensler, and architectural firm that could do without it.

  13. Hey, got someone who needs permission for the minecraft server, mind lending us a hand?

  14. James McCuen says:

    If you were creating a new company or bringing in an out-of-state company, perhaps you could argue that this is a benefit to the community.
    However, all this has done is to move an existing firm about 14 miles from its previous location in the same County – Los Angeles.
    Therefore this results in a Zero net gain to the Region and a Zero net gain to the County of Los Angeles.
    More importantly, this could be argued to be a gift of public funds and could only be vetted out through a Federal or State investigation since the LA County DA is not truly capable of dealing with larger Cities such as Los Angeles.
    Cooley is best experienced at investigating/prosecuting those from small Cities such as Bell or Vernon.

  15. James McCuen says:

    A list of all projects that use public funds channeled through the City of Los Angeles should be transmitted to Goldstein of CBS2.
    Then and only then will there even be the possibility of an investigation by the Feds or State.

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