“Naming rights are a sign of the times” — Sunday Column for Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena Papers

Faced with a
threatened crackdown on abuses, Burbank Realtors are policing themselves during
a “probationary” period to preserve a city ordinance that allows them to put up
as many as four 24-by-24 signs announcing a weekend “open house.”

Glendale officials are grappling with how to get rid of unsightly tall poles
and oversized signs luring customers to fast food restaurants and other
businesses, even as they try to reduce visual blight by approving one digital
billboard in exchange for sign companies removing as many as 30 traditional


Complaints about light
pollution from residents in the hills above the Rose Bowl prompted officials to
curtail night-time testing of the new scoreboard and electronic signage this

But for every effort to get rid of the proliferation of advertising messages
assaulting our eyeballs and powerful lighting that obscures the night sky,
public agencies are looking hard for ways to raise revenue from selling
sponsorships and naming rights and businesses are seeking ways to enhance their
bottom lines and get their messages out to customers.

It’s a sign of these hard economic times that battles over the visual landscape
are heating up just about everywhere, from sandwich-board signs offering daily
specials to giant digital billboards pulsating with ever-changing ads urging us
to buy this or buy that.

Little signs. Big Signs. Signs of all shapes, all sizes, all technologies, all
sending a message: buy, buy, buy. Buy products. Buy Services. Buy ideas.

The irony is consumers aren’t buying. People are too nervous about what the
future holds, so for the first time in decades they aren’t shopping until they
drop and driving the economy. The result is government has less revenue and
businesses are competing that much harder to win customers.

“It’s a trade off — what does business need to survive and what is the
threshold the public will accept,” Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who has
been grappling with the signage problem for years. “We’re trying to strike a
balance by speeding up removal of old billboards and pole signs and recognizing
there are places like at the Galleria and Americana where we have a sign
district because it is a downtown urban environment.”




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Are You Ready to Rumble? Occupy LA vs City Hall

It seems like only yesterday, not three weeks ago, that City Council President and wannabe mayor Eric Garcetti welcomed the protesters of Occupy L.A. to camp out on the City Hall grounds and “stay as long as you need to…”

It seems like only yesterday, not barely two
weeks ago, that Garcetti and his colleagues unanimously “resolved, with
the concurrence of the Ma
by the adoption of this resolution
City of Los Angeles hereby stands in SUPPORT for the continuation of the
peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by
‘Occupy Los Angeles’ on the City Hall lawn … “
It seems like only yesterday, which it was,
that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with the concurrence of the City Council, told
the protesters to get the hell off his lawn.
The encampment,, the mayor said, “cannot
continue indefinitely … l
ook, our lawn is dead, our sprinklers aren’t working . . . our trees are without water.” 

You can appreciate Villaraigosa’s concern about killing the trees on the City Hall grounds what with his failure to come close to fulfilling his commitment to plant a million trees in L.A.

You can also understand — given his record of spending the city into near bankruptcy — that he has no concern about the half million to $1 million cost associated with the encampment on three sides of City Hall. 

Certainly, as taxpaying residents of L.A., you can delight in the protesters being treated the same way you have been by City Hall, like little kids who are patted on the head and told to go away and mind your own business — as if the city’s business was solely the prerogative of developers, corporate fat cats and union bosses.

You might also take a lesson from how the Occupiers responded. 

Instead of walking away grateful for a few crumbs from the table of power, they issued this statement saying they have not intention of leaving: 

“We sincerely hope that a positive working relationship between city officials and the LAPD continues.

“As for a time
stamp on our departure, there is none. Regarding the perceived lack of focus: Our actions are governed by a
democratic process and we go through process to gain consensus. 
This can sometimes be lengthy, but we are determined that, as representatives of the 99%, all voices are heard and considered.”
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Opportunity Knocks for Occupy L.A. — The Problem Is City Hall, Not Corporations

Wake up, you evolutionary revolutionaries of Occupy L.A., you are dancing with the very people you say you despise — the panderers to corporate greed and union selfishness, the people who serve the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent.

Besides even as devoted a liberal as Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who two weeks ago glad-handed you and told you to stay forever, thinks you’ve made your point — whatever point that is — and caused $500,000 damage to City Hall grounds so it’s time to go bother someone else.


“They’ve made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it is
time to move on. The trees are in the process of being impacted. The
grass is being impacted. Other activities that we need to do on the
lawns are being put on the back burner,” Rosendahl told Channel 7. “I frankly think if we can be civil about it, they should get the
message that it’s time to move on from our lawn at City Hall. It is
everybody’s lawn, not just those with their tents right now,”
Rosendahl hopefully will apply the “everybody’s lawn” rule to the tax dollars that he and his colleagues dispense so generously to such greedy corporate interests as Google, Chinese automaker BYD, Costco, Beverly Hills BMW, Farmer’s Insurance and Target under a three-year “new” business tax holiday that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to make permanent while he works on eliminating all business taxes.

business tax holiday is a proven tool for bringing businesses to Los Angeles
and generating jobs,” Villaraigosa told the United Chambers of Commerce luncheon in Woodland Hills on Tuesday . 

“So today, for the
first time, I am calling on the City Council to make the three year tax holiday
for new businesses permanent. There should be no expiration date on this
common-sense, job-creating policy. 
support a fiscally responsible approach to the elimination of the business

This is the same liberal mayor who with the full support of the same liberal Council imposed huge rate hikes on the 99 percent and the 1 percent for water and power and wants even bigger increases so he can pay DWP workers the huge pay increases he has been approving for the last six years.

It has taken a long while but even the LA Times has figured out what’s wrong with the tax holiday gimmick.

problem with making the gross-receipts tax holiday permanent is that only those
businesses that arrived within the last three years, and new ones that arrive
from now on, would get it,” an editorial noted today. “Stalwarts that have stayed in the city for decades
and missed the three-year reprieve enjoyed by the newbies would be punished for
their loyalty. As new companies — competitors, perhaps — got a tax rate and
filing burden of zero, older firms would be stuck, in essence, underwriting
them. That’s patently unfair.”

A lot of renters feel the same way about the Council’s decision Tuesday to help out landlords at their expense. Rejecting a recommendation to split between landlords and tenants $67.83 in higher city fees on every rent control apartment to fund the scandal-plagued Housing Department’s hiring program, the Council chose to make the renters pay the full cost.

Here’s what tenant Leslie Ayres wrote to the Council:

“Where is the fairness, the equity and balance needed in this great
economic recession/depression?  Where is
your compassion and sensibilities?  You
would far better giving out less tax credits to the W Hotel for example
than what you are about to do upon disabled and folks living on social security.”

If there is still any doubt in anyone’s mind on whether City Hall is on the side of the 1 percent or the 99 percent, consider the “egregious situation” 81-year-old Hollywood businessman Aaron Epstein brought to light because he was shocked “our city entities are abandoning our students, reducing our needed police force, while at the same time offering unasked for funds to well-to-do property owners.” 

epstein.jpgWhat upset him was that te Community Redevelopment Agency which has poured billions of tax dollars into the pockets of wealthy developers in downtown and Hollywood for decades at the expense of the city’s neighborhoods, especially the poorest and most blighted ones, has a new deal to enrich commercial property owners with taxpayer gifts of up to $200,000 each. ( CRA-Hollywood.pdf

Columnist Steve Lopez picked up on Epstein’s concern and set up the story this way:

“Aaron Epstein, a Hollywood businessman, got an offer recently
that a lot of people in his situation would have leapt at.

“Hey, said City Hall, would you like a handout, Mr. Epstein?
If so, we’ll give you money — as much as $200,000 — to spruce up your building,
inside and out.

“It’s all part of a Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency
program to brighten up Hollywood Boulevard, and Epstein is one of dozens of
business owners eligible for cash loans.

“And the deal gets better.

“The loans don’t have to be repaid if owners keep up their
property for 10 years after getting the money.

“That was not a misprint.

“A small business can get $37,500 without having to pay it back, and can
qualify for up to $200,000 by matching with its own funds every public dollar
above $37,500. Owners of larger spaces can qualify for up to $150,000 without
having to match the public money.”

The justification for the program is that business owners will spruce up their stores and create jobs but Lopez found that job creation wasn’t a requirement until he raised the issue with CRA board member Madeline Janis who quickly got a rule added that would require merchants who get more than $100,000 to hire three workers at the “living wage” level for two years.

So here’s the opportunity for Occupy L.A. if the protesters want the 99 percent to get aboard and to work with them to change world: 

Go after the people who have betrayed Los Angeles — the politicians. The greed and selfishness of bankers and corporate executives and union bosses are supposed to be restrained by the people elected into office to serve all the people.

If they were doing their jobs as public servants at City Hall, at the state Capitol, in Congress, you wouldn’t be camping out and the rest of us wouldn’t be feeling so helpless and abused.
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Power — and the Abuse of Power — at City Hall

“There’s no such thing as too much power…you have to have the leverage” — Herb Wesson, the next President of the LA City Council.

it to a lightweight like Herb Wesson, congenial and fond of animals,
kids and fishin’ as he is, to speak the truth about exactly what’s wrong
with City Hall and with the state legislature where he used the levers
of power available to him as Assembly Speaker to contribute to the
policy disasters that led to the first recall election of a governor in
California history.

Wesson somehow was untouched by the
disastrous decisions that brought Grey Davis down and soon was helping
to destroy the financial situation of the City of Los Angeles with the
same kind of unsustainable giveaways to the rich and powerful whether
they be unions or corporations that were the hallmark of his time in

Now, good old boy Herb is ready to assume a new
leadership role as President of the City Council succeeding Eric
Garcetti who is stepping aside to devote himself full time to dialing
for dollars from the many friends he’s made exercising the power he has
held to help those who can help him rise to higher office.

is running unopposed for this powerful office and for good reason:
Organized labor, named uber-union boss Maria Elena Durazo warned
would-be challengers that they would be punished if they stood in the
way of her man Herb doing everything she wants.

Make no mistake about it: City Hall is a closed system.

Attorney Carmen Trutanich found out how you toe the line or you get
punished. Paul Krrekorian figured out you go along to get along or you
go nowhere unless you lend your ample skills as lawyer to rationalize
the unjustified and justify the irrational. Both Trutanich and
Krekorian, like a handful of others before them, owed their elections to
grassroots community support but found you can’t get anything done
trying to do the right thing.

Like Wesson, Villaraigosa is a
former Speaker who wielded the enormous power of that position for
political advantage without regard to whether his actions were for the
public benefit or private benefits.

As mayor, he and his staff
have bullied and abused every top manager who dared to suggest that what
they were doing was not serving the public interest. Obedience became
the only real quality that was considered important.

Now he’s
turning his power on members of the pension boards as he previously did
the presidents of the commissions overseeing Planning and the Department
of Water — namely Jane Usher and Nick Patsaouras who told him to go to
hell — and every other commission whose members have been more quietly

Villaraigosa sacked civilian pension board president Roberta Conroy

in advance of today’s decision to lower the expected rate of return
from 8 to 7.75 percent in light of the poor investment performance and
economic troubles, a move state pension boards already have made and are
still finding it should be even lower.

The trouble the mayor has
with even a modicum of sane fiscal policy is it requires the city to
pay $27 million more to LACERS next year, adding to the expected deficit
which is rising rapidly.

His answer is the same as it has been
throughout the economic crisis: Take out more credit cards, put off
payments until he’s out office. It is nothing but a cover up of the
fundamental economic problems

Three days before she was replaced,
Conroy said she was called on the carpet and asked how she was going to
vote on lowering the pension fund’s rate of returned. “I indicated that
it would be difficult” to ignore the agency’s
actuarial firm, which concluded an 8% annual return was unrealistic, she
said. That firm warned the board that the figure may have to drop to 7.5% next year.

The mayor’s response: “This
(delay) request is completely reasonable … given our own financial situation.”

pension board member, Rick Rogers, said the mayor was hinting to other
board members what he wanted. “The message is, you follow my direction
or you’re off the board,” he said.

This has been going on throughout the Villaraigosa Administration’s time in office.

The abuse of power when power is held as closely as it it at City Hall is despotic and tyrannical.

all the good intentions of tens of thousands of engaged people in the
city, nothing will change until there is a balance of power that
restrains the greed and self-service that have become all that City Hall

City Hall’s Job Creation Fantasy: Whatever Happened to All Those Chinese Electric Cars?

BYD — the Chinese electric carmaker that City Hall promoted as a job creation engine for Los Angeles — finally opened today a year late and a lot of dollars short.

In April
2010 when the deal was announced, BYD said it would open the office by the end
of 2010, and have 150 employees by the end of this year. It now has 20
employees in Los Angeles, with plans to reach 30 by year-end and 100 by the end
of 2012,” according to a story by Bloomberg News reporters Alan Ohnsman and Christopher Palmieri.

“The company,
partly owned by
 Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway
, has delayed plans to
sell electric cars to retail buyers, citing limited availability of public
chargers. Instead, it’s focusing on solar panels, batteries, LED lighting and
rechargeable buses.”

The article is a fair but thorough examination of the promises that were made and the reality that has developed, and represents a blow to the mayoral aspirations to former Deputy Mayor for economic development Austin Beutner and to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s boasts about his job creating efforts in a city with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates.

Both Beutner and Villaraigosa offered no apologies.

“We see BYD’s Los Angeles opening as a catalyst that
will usher in good jobs, global investment and a more sustainable future,” Villaraigosa,
who planned to attend today’s ceremony, said in an e-mail last week to the

Beutner, whose mayoral campaign is built on his ability to create jobs, said: “Things like
this are about planting seeds. Some grow fast, some grow slow, but you’ve got
to plant them.”

The deal the city put together to get BYD to settle in L.A. a long-term guarantee to cover the company’s rent if it leaves, three-years of a business tax holiday, installation of a charging station by DWP within a week of buying an electric car and $5 million in incentives — including $2 million that came from federal programs intended to help the poor.

City Controller Wendy Greuel, who has voluntarily taken on audits of the community colleges and the Coliseum, might take a look at the mayor’s entire job creation with an eye for how much money intended for the poor has been used as it has in this case and with Gensler architects to provide swank offices for huge and wealthy businesses. 

How many jobs are being created, what kind of jobs and who actually is getting those jobs are areas of importance if Greuel, also a wannabe mayor, can find the time and staff to look at city government.

Bloomberg reported the jobs program really isn’t about jobs, at least not directly, as image.

“For both the
city and the company, the project may be more about brand enhancement and indirect
jobs. Operating from the U.S. entertainment capital boosts BYD’s image with
customers in China while making Los Angeles, which lost the headquarters of
Hilton Worldwide Inc. and Northrop-Grumman 
the past three years, appear friendlier to business.

“Los Angeles has long been a headquarters
desert, especially of marquee companies, and becoming even more so in recent
years,” said Rob DeRocker, a Tarrytown, New York-based economic-development
consultant. “This company will give the city much-welcomed bragging rights.”

Perhaps, the mayor will have better luck when he goes on his Asian junket to promote trade and tourism in December with visits to China, Japan and Korea planned.

Looking for Cheaper and Better Together in the Burbank, Pasadena, Glendale Tri-City Area

EDITOR’S NOTE: My Sunday column for the LA Times community newspapers in the Tri-City area.

What’s the next Verdugo Dispatch?

call it the “popular tri-city area,” a region that proudly boasts its own
“tri-city airport” and fundamentally healthy economies. The FBI likes the
moniker so much it dubbed a robber who hit 10 banks in Burbank, Glendale and
Pasadena this summer the “Tri-Cities Bandit.”

In these tough economic times with no end in sight, government officials of the
three cities, which have a combined population of nearly 450,000 — big enough
to make it California’s 8th largest city, ahead of Oakland — are scrambling to
find ways to cooperate, consolidate and collaborate to reduce costs while
preserving, or even improving, the quality of the services they provide to the


and better is a tough formula to beat at a time when cities like Los Angeles
and many smaller towns in the eastern San Gabriel Valley are laying off
workers, slashing services and sharply raising fees, rates and fines.

The standard they are seeking, as Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird puts it,
is, “What’s our next Verdugo Dispatch going to be?”

Verdugo Dispatch, located in Glendale’s Fire Station 21, was conceived in the
1970s and built in the 1980s to handle fire suppression and medical emergency
calls for Glendale and Burbank, and then Pasadena. Now it serves a dozen cities
to the east in the San Gabriel Valley.

The result is that each of the cities has cut the cost of dispatch services
roughly in half and the technology available is far superior to what even the
richest of them would be able to afford.

It also created a spirit of “dropping the borders” that seemed impossible
during years of conflict and rivalry spawned by the takeover of the old
Lockheed Airport by Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena

“If you look at Verdugo Dispatch, you see better integrated coordination
between the Tri-Cities and the San Gabriel Valley cities that not only
generates cost efficiency, but we’re getting a better service,” Pasadena City
Manager Michael Beck said.

“I don’t see the economy roaring back before 2015. Everybody in government
needs to be looking at how we can be more efficient in delivering services, so
we’re looking for opportunities through cooperation with other cities.”


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Ignorance Meets Hypocrisy: Occupy L.A. Awakens to City Hall’s Corruption

Organizers (there are no leaders so everybody speaks for themselves) of Occupy Los Angeles let city officials have it on Wednesday over the commitment City Council members made to punish the banks when they unanimously approved turning the entire City Hall grounds into an encampment that has attracted hundreds of protesters and some Skid Row homeless people.
The trouble with the Council’s commitment to adopt the “Responsible Banking Ordinance” — a three-year-old proposal that got Council general backing more than a year ago but still awaits final action — is it will cost L.A. $58 million immediately in penalties for terminating deals with the big banks and a lot more over time.
That’s because those greedy banks are the same ones that brought down our economy and ripped off tens of millions of Americans but provide the loans and other services to the city at much lower cost than anyone else.
They also pump a lot of money into political campaigns and into the hands of lobbyists who help pump even more into those same campaigns.
It’s a vicious and corrupt circle that goes a long way to explaining why America, California and L.A. are in such dire straits.
The “Responsible Banking Ordinance” is the brainchild of indicted felon Councilman RIchard Alarcon and has been stalled for so long because it is idiotic, unworkable and ineffective since the costs of monitoring every bank transaction without any regulatory authority would add a lot to the city’s financial woes.
All that was lost on the Occupy L.A. protesters. They just wanted a place to hang out, camp out and berate the banks without taking the slightest recognition that the mayor who sent down 100 ponchos in the rain and the Council members who glad-handed them are no better than the worst crooks on Wall Street. 
What they need is a Responsible Politician Ordinance that tracks their every lie, their every deceit, their every sell-ouit, their every act of betrayal of the voters who foolishly put them into the nation’s highest paid and most heavily perked municipal offices.
The protesters total ignorance of what they are talking about is scary. They compare the crimes by banks against ordinary citizens to the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered. They think the Council can merely by ordinance cancel the legal commitments they made under contracts.
It’s hard to see how they are going to find the “solution” they talk about to the terrible problems we face when they don’t even know what they are talking about.
I hope they stay encamped long enough to figure out what the facts are even though city officials estimate they have already done $400,000 in damage to City Hall grounds — an estimate that the audacious and duplicitous wannabe City Controller Dennis Zine scoffs at saying,. “All you have to do is throw seed and fertilizer” to restore the lawns.

Waste, Fraud and Abuse — City Hall Doesn’t Even Know What the Words Mean

man Antonio knows a lot about what’s sexy so when he says the West Hollywood men
among the 30,000 participants in AIDS Walk L.A. over the weekend were “hot,”
you can take him at his word.

when he audaciously tells the Chamber of Commerce types that he’s so fiscally
conservative he cut $2 billion from city spending and reduced by the city work
force by 4,000, you got to know he’s blowing smoke.

“I didn’t
get elected to make people happy,” Villaraigosa said. “I got elected
to tell people the truth.”

Actually, he did
get elected on the promise he was going to make us happier and not even his
closest friends and family would swear under oath that telling “people the
truth” was even in his repertoire.

They myth of the
4,000 jobs he cut is proof. Some 2,400 were paid off handsomely to retire. More
than !,000 were transferred to the special funds or the DWP where most of them
got big pay raises. Barely 400 – less than 1 percent of the work force – were actually
laid off.

Given the City
Council’s sudden discovery of the extent of the “waste, fraud and abuse” among
city workers, the question arises about how exactly to categorize the mayor’s
misdeeds whether they are taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in freebies
or giving the rich and influential hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars
intended to help the poor.

The task isn’t
made easier by City Hall’s inability to define those terms as Paul Krekorian
pointed out Tuesday during wannabe Controller Dennis Zine’s latest attempt to
as a reformer when he is so much a part of the problem.

“I’m not sure how we will define waste,” Krekorian said. “The challenge I have is that waste, fraud and abuse has
become this cliche term. 
I think we have to know what it is before we adopt this policy.” 

Zine called Ethics
officials and the Controller’s office on the carpet to back up his plan to
solve what his tag team partner wannabe Mayor Wendy Greuel calls “a wave of
fraud” at City Hall.

Running in
support of each other’s political aspirations, Zine and Greuel are “shocked” to
learn city workers are stealing pets from animal shelters, high-powered weapons
from LAPD training facilities and taking bribes to overlook building code
violations or even just to approve routine paperwork as the LA Times exposed
Sunday in a case involving a Koreatown Housing official.

These wizards of
Spring Street offered up a simple solution so elegant you have to wonder why
nobody thought of it before: Change city law to require employees to report all
“waste, fraud and  abuse” instead of just
“suggesting” they should report such problems.

It’s a really
funny idea when you think about it.

It would take
hundreds, maybe thousands of new employees just to handle the backlog of
reports that would pile up on the Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotlines since almost
everything City Hall does these days is tainted by one of those three problems.

Zine himself
warned his colleagues that reporters have told him about several more scandals
that will come out shortly so it was important to take this “first step to try
to bring some closure to the continual saga” of misconduct by requiring
reporting and setting up a training program to teach employees it’s wrong to
lie, cheat and steal.

Perhaps Zine and
his colleagues should start be setting a good example for city workers by
taking an oath on a stack of Bibles (something that surely must be available in
their “Temple of Democracy”) at the start of every Council meeting to tell the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth under threat of prosecution
for perjury.

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Field of Schemes: Crony Capitalism Is Alive and Well in L.A.’s Pursuit of Pro Football.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Troy Senik,a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom and a contributor at Ricochet.com, wrote this article for City Journal. 

By Troy Senik, City Journal

California, a state whose greatest innovation in recent years has been finding creative ways to inhibit economic growth,
stepped out of character in late September: it went easy on a
developer. Seated at a table outside the Los Angeles Convention Center,
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill expediting the resolution of legal
challenges to–and thus speeding the construction of–Farmers Field, the
stadium that, its backers hope, will usher in the National Football
League’s return to the City of Angels.

Thumbnail image for nfl stadium.jpg

This is the latest step in L.A.’s nearly two-decade-long effort to
exorcise the Ghost of Christmas Past. The yuletide in question was in
1994, when both of the region’s professional football teams–the Los
Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Raiders–played their final games in the
Southland on Christmas Eve. By the time the next season rolled around,
the Rams had decamped to their new home in St. Louis, and the Raiders
had retraced their steps northward, departing downtown L.A. for Oakland,
the city that they left in 1982.


The plan even manages to debit taxpayers in other states. Los Angeles officials in February used
$1 million in federal community-development grant money–earmarked for
“the most vulnerable in our communities”–to move the architecture firm
working on Farmers Field from Santa Monica to a location near the site
of the future stadium. The highly questionable idea was that a new
stadium would produce enough economic benefits to qualify as a public
good, though the experiences of similarly situated cities in the past
have almost universally disproved that supposition.

When Governor Brown signed the bill speeding up the AEG project, he
said, “There are too many damn regulations, let’s be clear about that.”
He was certainly correct about the excesses of California’s regulatory
regime. But he ignored the fact that the same bureaucracy that impedes
stadium projects with stratospheric price tags also chokes off prospects
for much smaller businesses throughout the state. While enormous
corporations like AEG and Roski’s Majestic Realty can grease the
legislative skids to make their development projects viable, small and
midsize entrepreneurs enjoy no similar source of relief. Removing those
burdens for all Californians, at a time when the state’s
unemployment rate is stuck above 12 percent, would demonstrate a serious
commitment to jump-starting economic growth. Removing them for just a
privileged few is nothing more than crony capitalism.


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