HACLA UPDATE: How Do You Spell Whitewash?

Thanks to KCET’s SoCal Connected’s outstanding continuing coverage of the Housing Authority scandal, we now learn that top staff have taken home bonuses totaling more than half a million dollars in the last two years with some like Chief Operating Officer Ken Simmons grabbing $33,802 in extra pay in 2009 — 15 percent of his salary.
In a letter obtained by SoCal Connected, interim Chief Executive Officer Doug Guthrie reported to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that he has made tremendous progress in just two weeks in cleaning up the wretched excesses that occurred under fired HACLA head Rudy Montiel.
Acknowledging that recent reports have “damaged the public credibility” of the poverty housing agency, Guthrie — who doubles as head of the Housing Department — took pride in declaring the “hard work and dedication” of staff has helped HACLA deliver “on its mandate better than most other public agencies.”
A scary thought given the decades of scandal, mismanagement and self-service at HACLA and some of the information Guthrie provided the mayor: Huge “performance” bonuses to the 90 non-union staffers, 18 cars assigned to top staff for their use, purchasing cars given to 126 employees with credit limits totaling $369,000, an out-of-town travel budget of $78,000 when the agency was running a deficit.
“Some of the policies and practices of a previous administration fell outside the bounds of the mission of this organization and are being changed immediately,” Guthrie assures the mayor while leaving the clear impression that the federal investigation by HUD and the $250,000 audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel will help complete the whitewash without anybody important being hurt.
Here’s the list of the top employees and their bonuses in 2009 and 2010:  

HAClA Senior Management 2011 Salaries and 200912010 Performance Bonuses

 

Employee

Title

 Annual Salary

Bonus 2009/2010

Ken Simmons

COO

$220,812

$33,802/$14,213

 

Larry Goins

Development Director

$195,145

$8,695/$3,158

 

David Esparza

CFO

$195,145

$ .... /$6,315

 

Kamton Joe

IT Director

$173,555

$ .. ../$3,158

 

Howard Baum

Staff Attorney

$159,286

$4,743/$1,579

 

Peter Lynn

Section 8 Director

$145,828

$8,695/$1,579

 

Nancy Wesoff

LA LOMOD Director

$145,828

$15.810/$6,317

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanford Riggs

Director HOUSing Mgmt.

$145,828

$18.972/$6.317

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Booth

Director Asset
Mgm
t.

$136,156

S ....,./$....

 

Patrice McConnell

Human Resource Director

$131,456

$7,905/$6,317

 

 

 

John King

Planning Director

$131,456

$3,952/$3,158

 

Eric
B
rown

Director Media Relations

$131,456

$ ..../$7.896

 



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The CRA Is Dead: Bonanza for Schools, Police, Fire, Cities and Counties

The Wicked Witch of Community Redevelopment Agencies is dead. 

Thursday’s ruling bythe State Supreme Court is a huge victory for Gov. Jerry Brown, for schools, hospitals and other vital services but the absolute worst thing that could happen to the 400 CRAs across the state. It clears the way for the state general fund to seize $1.7 billion this year from CRAs $5 billion in tax increments annually and to keep on taking all the money that isn’t already obligated to repay loans and obligations in the future because the companion measure allowing a partial restoration if they paid a combined $400 million a year to the state was ruled unconstitutional.
The high court ruled AB26x abolishing the CRAs is constitutional because what the Legislature created, decades ago, it can also eliminate.  

Assembly Bill 1X 26, the dissolution measure, is a proper
exercise of the l
egislative power vested in the Legislature by the state
Constitution,” the court ruled. “T
hat power includes the authority to create entities, such as
redevelopment agencies, to carry 
out the state’s ends and the corollary power to dissolve
those same entities when 
the Legislature deems it necessary and proper.  Proposition 22, while it amended the state Constitution to impose new limits on the
Legislature’s fiscal powers, 
neither explicitly nor implicitly rescinded the
Legislature’s power to dissolve r
edevelopment agencies. 
Nor does article XVI, section 16 of the state Constitution, which authorizes the allocation of property
tax revenues to r
edevelopment agencies, impair that power.”

But the companion measure AB27x, sought by redevelopment officials, as a way to stay in business by partially restoring them if they surrendered some of their funding to the state was found to be unconstitutional. It violates the recently passed Proposition 22 that barred the Legislature from continuing its practice of borrowing or even confiscating funds allocated to cities, counties and other local government agencies. 

Ironically, it was the CRA lobby that wanted Prop. 22 so badly to end the legislature’s practice of taking some of their money whenever there was a deficit, which has been nearly every year for a long time. 

A different conclusion is required with respect to
Assembly Bill 1X 27, the m
easure conditioning further redevelopment agency
operations on additional pay
ments by an agency’s community sponsors to state funds
benefiting schools a
nd special districts,” the court ruled. “Proposition 22 (specifically Cal. Const., art. XIII, § 25.5, subd. (a)(7)) expressly forbids the Legislature from
requiring such payments.
 Matosantos’s argument that the payments are valid because
technically voluntary c
annot be reconciled with the fact that the payments are
a requirement of c
ontinued operation. 
Because the flawed provisions of Assembly Bill 1X 27 are not severable from other parts of that measure, the
measure is invalid in its e
ntirety.”

Desperate to whittle down the $25 billion deficit he faced, the governor argued that CRAs had overall done a poor job of removing blight — the legal justification for creating them in the first place — because so much of the money was used to subsidize skyscrapers and luxury condos and apartments and so little to revive poor neighborhoods or even to build affordable housing.

Nowhere were the abuses of CRA law more extensive than in Los Angeles where blight came to be defined as any parcel of land that developers could profit from handsomely if given millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. 
The $52 million parking structure on Bunker Hill for billionaire Eli Broad’s personal art museum, Staples Center/LA Live, the Hollywood-Highland project and others that benefit the politically-connected firm CIM Group, the 1601 N. Vine St. office project for runaway film production mogul Hal Katersky are just a few of the hundreds of questionable projects heavility subsidized by LA’s CRA.
Brown also pointed out that the jobs created by the subsidies were largely a myth since cities and counties competed on the size of subsidies they would provide for shopping centers and other projects that were coming to the region or state anyway, meaning all those giveaways of taxpayer money amounted to close to a net zero in terms of job creation.
The CRA has given away most of its money over the years to projects downtown and in Hollywood and then taken the increased property tax revenue that those projects generated and rolled it over into more projects downtown and in Hollywood.
The result is that schools, the city and county and the services they provide to the public were denied massive amounts of revenue — more than $250 million a year.
The uproar among local officials already is building and they will lean hard on their legislators to resurrect the CRAs in the future although no action is likely in an election year with so much at stake politically, and the governor certain to veto any fundamental changes.
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Supreme Court Upholds Abolition of CRAs, Strikes Down Law Partially Reviving Them

Here’s the link to the California Supreme Court ruling on Community Redevelopment Agency legislation and the key paragraphs with the substance of the ruling just released:
“Assembly Bill 1X 26, the dissolution measure, is a proper exercise of the 
legislative power vested in the Legislature by the state Constitution.  That power 
includes the authority to create entities, such as redevelopment agencies, to carry 
out the state’s ends and the corollary power to dissolve those same entities when 
the Legislature deems it necessary and proper.  Proposition 22, while it amended 
the state Constitution to impose new limits on the Legislature’s fiscal powers, 
neither explicitly nor implicitly rescinded the Legislature’s power to dissolve 
redevelopment agencies.  Nor does article XVI, section 16 of the state 
Constitution, which authorizes the allocation of property tax revenues to 
redevelopment agencies, impair that power.”
“A different conclusion is required with respect to Assembly Bill 1X 27, the 
measure conditioning further redevelopment agency operations on additional 
payments by an agency’s community sponsors to state funds benefiting schools 
and special districts.  Proposition 22 (specifically Cal. Const., art. XIII, § 25.5, 
subd. (a)(7)) expressly forbids the Legislature from requiring such payments.  
Matosantos’s argument that the payments are valid because technically voluntary 
cannot be reconciled with the fact that the payments are a requirement of 
continued operation.  Because the flawed provisions of Assembly Bill 1X 27 are 
not severable from other parts of that measure, the measure is invalid in its 
entirety.”

D-Day for CRAs: Court to Rule Thursday

The
California Supreme Court will rule Thursday on the legality of the
state’s move to grab $1.7 billion in redevelopment money to help close
California’s budget shortfall, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.

The state’s high court indicated on
its website Wednesday that it would rule by 10 a.m. Thursday on the
legal conflict. The Supreme Court previously had agreed to rule on the
crucial issue by Jan. 15, when half of the redevelopment money is slated
to be turned over to the state for the 2011-12 fiscal year….

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To Truly Occupy L.A. — Power Is the Issue, Unity Is the Way

Mubarak, Gaddafi, Assad – they should all have taken
lessons from Los Angeles on how to suppress an uprising driven by young people
against the failure of oppressive regimes.

In just the few weeks since the Occupy L.A. protesters
were rousted from the grounds of City Hall – two months after they received open-ended
official support for their encampment without a single voice in authority
objecting – the movement is struggling to redefine itself even as City Attorney
Carmen Trutanich and his slavish cohort Dennis Zine want to sue them for
damages.

Listen to what the audaciously ambitious Zine told Larry
Mantle on KPCC’s Air Talk on Tuesday
and in this brief excerpt (Zine-AirTalk.wav) in which he says in his usuel fork-tongued way that city officials supported the Occupiers when they were only angry at faraway Wall Street and the bankers. But they went too far when they started turning their attention to the Skid Row homeless, foreclosures in L.A. and the corruption at City Hall.

This is a city government that boasts of its liberalism,
its commitment to the First Amendment and the rights of everyone yet in the
name of what the mayor called “constitutional policing” ran roughshod over the Constitution.
They kept the protesters in handcuffs for seven hours, locked them up in
cruelly overcrowded conditions, held them on $5,000 bail for citation offenses
and then got them barred from City Hall as a condition of their releases.

So much for the First Amendment!

But it worked to a degree. Occupy L.A. general assemblies
are less frequent and the numbers are down. They are trying to raise money to
print an edition of their newspaper Occupy L.A. Times for distribution at the
Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. They aren’t going away or
giving up and some of the protesters are starting to look closer at issues
directly affecting the lives of people in Los Angeles.

For their part, some long-time community activists in
Neighborhood Councils and other groups are looking to connect with Occupy L.A.
to work together to help solve the problems of the 99 percent starting right
here in L.A.

Some of those activists have put together a resolution to
be considered by the Pico Neighborhood Council (OLA -PicoNC Resolution.pdf) next month that
combines the ideas of the Occupiers and the long-standing concerns of so many
L.A. residents. It calls for the elimination of special interest money from
city political campaigns and the exclusion of special interests from
governmental processes that should be honest, transparent and inclusive.

It would be the marriage of ideals, energy and people that
I believe is the only way at hand to actually begin to affect change as we head
into a 15-month period when the President, Congress, state Legislature and City
Hall offices are on the ballot.

The iron fist of those in power has shown what it can do
when the numbers are relatively small. But in far-flung lands where repression
and authoritarian controls are so much greater and more overt, we have also
seen just how much power people have when they come together in unity and
purpose.

This is what I believe and have tried to do something
about as a newspaperman and as an activist through the Saving L.A. Project,
L.A. Clean Sweep and the OurLA.org citizen journalism project. A lot was
achieved through those efforts even as they failed in the end.

Failure is just a learning experience, an opportunity to
try again with greater knowledge. Many people on both sides of what amounts to
a resistance to government by special interests see the opportunity for change
that now exists.

The question is whether we find the common language and
common ground and come together into a real movement that isn’t about tents and
talk but about changing the balance of power and about creating a far more
dynamic and democratic society that does a better job of meeting the needs of the
people than Washington, Sacramento and L.A. City Hall have been doing.  

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$3 Million for the Occupy LA Encampment: ‘Who’s Going to Pay for This?’

As silent as the sound of one hand clapping on the subject since the Occupy L.A.evictions from City Hall, Ex-President of the Council Eric Garcetti — the wannabe high priest in what he calls “this Temple of Democracy” — wants to duck all responsibility for  multi-million-dollar costs associated with the protesters he told “to stay as long as your need to.”

Never one to lag on the scales of hypocrisy, the mayor sent ponchos in the rain to the Occupy L.A. protesters and offered no objection to the City Council’s blanket endorsement of their protest — but then ordered them evicted when popular sentiment turned against them, estimating the costs at a “couple of hundred thousand dollar” or maybe a “few hundred thousand.”
Not one to be outdone for double-talking and duplicity, Councilman Dennis Zine — the traffic cop who presumptuously thinks he should be the watchdog on finances as the City Controller — voted for the Oct. 12 resolution in support of the Occupy movement, even joining the protesters and heaping praise on them but now is outraged that the 60-day encampment cost $2.3 million without even counting the bills for the damage to City Hall Park.

“We’re $70 million in debt,” he blusters one minute. “This is just money we don’t have that’s being expended because of
what Occupy LA has done. What they’ve basically done is cheated taxpayers out
of services. I don’t know who wins.”

And then blows more hot air the next minute, saying, “They are suing us, so I think we should look at filing a
suit to try to recover whatever we can. W
e had a lot of officers, police and General Services, who
were watching the occupation. Most of them were on
overtime and those costs add up quick.”

But a rising star among the posers and phonies on the Council horseshoe, Mitch Englander takes the dis-honors as the king of hypocrites on the Occupy L.A. issue.

Englander was present and accounted for at the opening of the Oct. 12 meeting at which the resolution in support of Occupy L.A. was set for debate. 

One hour into the meeting after the consent calendar was approved and general public comment was over, the Council took up the motion and suddenly Englander disappeared, allowing it to be approved unanimously. He was listed as absent.

With the occupiers safely removed from City Hall to city jails, Englander self-righteously demanded to know exactly how much  it cost the taxpayers. When the report came in last week putting the total at $2.3 million and likely to exceed $3 million, the Council’s newest member was so flabbergasted and angry, he was absent no more, sending out press releases, holding press conferences, visiting TV stations, calling John & Ken on KFI.

“This is a direct hit to all residents throughout Los
Angeles,” he told one reporter. “I’m disappointed that a few people who
wanted to make a statement ended up costing taxpayers so much money at a time
when L.A. doesn’t have the cash. Hopefully, now some of the council members who
supported these efforts will realize there’s a cost to residents before they
make these decisions in the future.”

Conan Nolan on Channel 4 asked Englander point blank if he objected in public or private about occupation and all he got was a mumbled and dissembling answer.


At another point, Englander asks, “Who’s going to pay for this?”

At this point, it’s the public in lost services and wasted money. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The mayor could foot the whole bill just by eliminating 10 percent of his staff — roughly 20 people with pay and benefits included — or it could be shared among the Council members who could dump just one of the 20 staffers they each have to cover the whole bill.

Better yet, they could hold a public hearing to apportion responsibility with discussion of how much Garcetti owes, and how much each of them owes for their degree of support and what the penalty is for those who took a walk on the issue when it was voted on — Englander, Krekorian and Reyes — and how much more is owed by those who would exploit the issue after the fact.

The Happiest Days of the Year: Enjoy!

xmas.JPG

(My Sunday column for the News-Press & Leader and Pasadena Sun)

The Spirit of the Christmas Tree Man 

When the freak windstorm was knocking down power lines
and toppling giant trees on roofs and cars, Scotty Sorensen was pounding
42-inch stakes into the ground with a sledgehammer to keep the 95-mph gusts
from blowing away the tents at his Christmas tree lot in Pasadena.

It was an exercise in futility as the raging winds bent the aluminum poles
holding up the tents. It was the same at his lot in South Pasadena where the
giant tent — Big Red — was in danger of blowing away and damaging someone
else’s property. So he cut through the canvas to let the air out and pounded in
the spikes with a regular hammer because he had left the sledge in Pasadena.

By the time he got to his lot in Altadena, even Sorensen
was too tired at 4 a.m. to do much beyond surveying the damage.

By dawn of that morning, Dec. 1, the first day he was permitted by the cities
to open for business, he faced a monumental mess that would take days to put
back in order and many thousands of dollars in new equipment and rented tents
before he could ring up his first sale with just two weekends left before
Christmas.

“I took the worst hit of anybody I know because I don’t have any insurance like
a homeowner. It destroyed my business,” he said last week over breakfast across
the street from his South Pasadena lot. “For somebody like me with an outdoor
business, it was the perfect storm to wipe him out.”

Is it any wonder that Sorensen was first in line on Monday when the Small
Business Administration office opened at 199 S. Los Robles Ave. in Pasadena to
take low-interest loan applications from storm victims?

“The bills are piling up. It cost thousands to rent new tents, and it will cost
a lot more to buy new ones for next year, but I don’t know if I’m going to go
that route. I don’t know if I want to go into debt to the government even at
low interest. I might not come back.”

Then, he laughs heartily as he does throughout our hour-long chat every time
the darkness of his situation begins to get to him.

“I’ve been saying the same thing every year for 20 years. But I like people, I
like doing this. It’s not the money, which isn’t all that great even in the
best years. It’s the families, the kids. I enjoy the hard work. I enjoy
slinging a hammer.”

(READ FULL ARTICLE)

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Let the Public Be Damned: Privatizing the Historic Coliseum for USC’s Benefit

It is hard to believe it was almost four years ago that the Coliseum Commission — guilty of long-term mismanagement but not yet touched by one ugly scandal after another — proudly announced it had “signed a deal that will keep USC at the Coliseum for
another 47 years” thanks to a naming rights agreement that “will be sold to
help generate more than $100 million in improvements to the historic landmark.

It is even harder to believe that on Wednesday in the darkness of a closed door meeting without any public knowledge or involvement, the public officials and their appointees who take their own advantages from their Coliseum roles and allowed staff to run wild as if they owned the place cut a deal to give the University of Southern California absolute and total control of an historic public facility entrusted to the guardianship of our city, our county, our state.
So much for the pretense of responsible leadership. So much honesty and openness in government. So much for accountability. So much for the public interest when the only stadium in the world to have hosted two Olympics, Super Bowls and a World Series  plus the Sports Arena and surrounding property can be surrendered to a private enterprise without any public procedures or debate.
What else should we expect from a city, county and state government that for 30 years have failed so miserably by every conceivable measure, in every conceivable way to serve the public interest?  
It didn’t take long Wednesday for the Commission in a closed-door session (Coliseum agenda.rtf) to make “great progress towards assuring the Coliseum will remain a vital and vibrant asset,” as Commission President David Israel, the screenwriter and former Herald-Examiner columnist put it. 
An asset in private hands, he might have added in the interests of full disclosure. In fact, Israel said the deal to privatize the Coliseum and environs will be completed in January when the public will be given a week to examine the terms before it is finalized.
USC officials were “excited to move forward” and long-time Coliseum Commissioner and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky offered praise for the lease deal, saying: “The Coliseum is
either going to be a functioning viable sports venue, or it’s going to be a
museum piece  The road to the 21st century
Coliseum as a functioning sports venue goes through USC.”
The commission’s failure for so long to upgrade the Coliseum culminated with its inability to deliver on the naming rights and improvements plan announced in February 2008 and the revelations that officials were treating themselves royally on the Coliseum’s money and engaging in various financial schemes of a questionable and possibly illegal nature.
Resorting the HACLA defense — revenue derived from public money and public ownership isn’t really public money anymore so it’s OK to use it self-indulgently –the Coliseum’s website boasts that the “no taxpayer funds are used to support the facilities. The complex is supported solely by revenue generated” from the Coliseum and Sports Arena. They do acknowledge the Commission “owns the Coliseum” and the “land under the Coliseum is owned
by the State o
f California.”
 
The only commissioner to vocally object to a private university taking effective ownership of this public property is Councilman Bernard Parks who represents the area and was elected by residents who resent the enormous power USC has and uses to its benefit in ways that are often contrary to what the community wants.

“You’re giving away two public facilities that in my
judgment have significant dollar value and are priceless to what they represent
to the community,” Parks said. “If we truly believe this
is the way to go, why didn’t we go out for a request for proposal and get the
highest bidder?”

Parks’ own reputation as a commissioner is tainted by revelations in this week’s LA Weekly about how he got funding for his Fourth of July fireworks event at Exposition Park from promoters of the Rave concerts, where drug use was widespread among teenagers, triggering the investigations into the Coliseum after the death of a 15-year-old girl.

“Based on Coliseum documents received under a California
Public Records Act request made by the Weekly last February (and only this week fulfilled),
we found that the two main rave organizers who hosted parties at the property
have contributed a total of $40,000 to an annual event promoted by Parks’
office, his “Annual Exposition Park 4th of July Fireworks
Extravaganza” which is, apparently, a way to reach out to the constituents,” Dennis Romero reported in the Weekly..

“That money, according to documents, was then essentially
refunded to the promoters as a discount for their Coliseum facility rental fees
in 2008 and 2010.”

Nonetheless, the questions raised by Parks were also raised Wednesday by officials of a sports and entertainment company, U.S. Capital, LLC, which sent a four-page letter to Israel and other Coliseum officials outlining the basis for a lawsuit to block the USC and put the privatization issue out to bids  (Letter to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.pdf)

U.S. Capital claims it would be bring the NFL back to the Coliseum if it won the lease — a move that would trump AEG’s efforts to build yet another massive football stadium on public land just down the road at the Convention Center.

Among its many complaints are the Commission’s failure to meet the requirements of the Brown Act on public disclosure, the failure to conduct a study of impact on the pubic under the California Environmental Quality Act and the failure to put the management plan up for bids.

Worst of all, the commission has failed to fulfill its mandate, the very reason it was created, to make sure the facilities are run for the public benefit.

“This is
the sole purpose upon which the Commission was created
under state law. However, the Commission now seeks to withdraw itself from the day-to-day
management of the Coliseum, turning all control of the facility over to use, a private entity which
also happens to be the lessee of the facility,” lawyers for U.S. Capital said in their letter.

The Commission has produced to the public no controls on
how the public
s needs and interests would be met by such a transfer.
In fact, by placing the operations of the Coliseum entirelwithin the hands ofUSC, the Commission is allowing that potential future uses will also be decided upon outside the public’s eyes and ears. A private university’s goals and interests are significantly different from the goals and interests of the general public, and it is difficult to see how the Coliseum management in the hands oUSC will further the public purposes of the Commission.”

It is hard to believe that once again we are seeing the breakdown in political leadership reaching this level where public resources of such enormous value and benefit are being turned over to private interests that can operate in total secrecy without any accountability and profit from their operation at public expense.

What good is government if it can’t run these facilities or the zoo or parking lot or anything else?

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LA Times Gets Tough and Exposes the Bumbling Incompetence of CD 15 Runoff Candidates

Breaking with its tradition of ducking the real issues, the LA Times Editorial Board dared to push Council District 15 runoff candidates Joe Buscaino and Warren Furutani for solutions to the city’s budget crisis, asking them: “What
would you do about it?”

And what is hopefully a new tradition, they have started printing the answers — not just printing their pathetic responses but making fun of them as well. Here’s the way it looked at LATIMES.com:

Furutani: “I think
everything’s on the table to be re-examined for government.”

Warren Furutani: Everything’s on the table.


What non-core functions should the city no longer try to perform?

Furutani: “[The city should
continue to work on] potholes, streetlights, cleaning up alleys, getting rid of
graffiti.”

Warren Furutani: Potholes, streetlights.

Yes, but don’t you think voters
ought to know beforehand what kinds of choices you would make?

Furutani: “In terms of
details, in terms of what city things, services should be provided, I’m just
not sure.”

Warren Furutani: I’m just not sure.


But surely the new guy, Joe Buscaino, would have a good handle on the decisions
that need to be made? Maybe something somewhere has to be cut, he said, or
maybe we need more revenue, but don’t cut police or fire.

Buscaino: “We just cannot
take a step back when it comes to [public safety] staffing.”

Joe Buscaino: Don’t cut public safety.

Joe Buscaino: Don’t reduce police staffing.


But what trade-offs would you make to ensure that public safety staffing is not
cut?

Buscaino: “For me, being
that grassroots candidate, everything is on the table to address that
issue.”

Joe Buscaino: Everything’s on the table. 

But
what would you lead on?

Buscaino: “Waterfront
development.”

Joe Buscaino: Waterfront.


One more time: Because you acknowledge we have to cut something, is there
anything the city doesn’t need to do? Anything we could or should cut or leave
to someone else?

Buscaino: “I leave that on
the table, once again, if I get in.”

Joe Buscaino: On the table.


Promising to post more outtakes of the Dec. 12 interviews prior to the Jan. 17 runoff for who will succeed Congresswoman Janice Hahn in the San Pedro/Watts district, the Times Opinion Blog concluded:

The upshot with either candidate is that the council
office becomes a kind of suggestion box, without a leader’s vision, knowledge
or power to mobilize; or perhaps it makes no difference what the candidate says
because the ultimate marching orders on what to cut or what taxes to raise
comes from those other folks — the ones raising the campaign money. So
why, again, should voters choose one candidate over the other?”

This is an historic turn of the screw if the Times editorial writers mean what they say. 

After four years of cooking the books and ineffectually dealing with the budget crisis could the mayor or any Council member — other than perhaps Bernard Parks — possibly get the endorsement of the Times.

Has Garcetti, Perry or Greuel — the wannabe mayors — or Cardenas, the wannabe Congressman, or any of the others demonstrated “a leader’s vision, knowledge or power to mobilize” or have they all taken their “ultimate marching orders” from the “ones raising the campaign money.”

The Times has rarely if ever held our elected officials accountable in these terms which in no small measure accounts for how the political machine has become so powerful and made such a mockery of the pretense of democracy in the city.

It’s never too late to start. 

The Trouble with Charlie: Murders Are Up, Cop Attacks Are Up, the Politicians Own Him

Charlie Beck fits the bill of what this mayor looks for in a top manager: Speed and obedience to the will of corrupt politicians like himself and his colleagues in other city offices.

What makes it so difficult for Beck as Chief of Police is that he is filling the shoes of someone who didn’t give a damn what anyone in L.A. thought or said. Bill Bratton had his eye on bigger this than this small-minded little town out in the desert somewhere; he was conquering the world and making an unbelievable fortune as its Top Cop.
Beck is now in trouble inside the LAPD where his only goal — other than serving his political masters by leaving unlicensed, uninsured illegal immigrants behind the wheel of unregistered vehicles — is to make sure he keeps the decade-long local and national trend of falling violent crime on downward line.

beck.jpg

That is not proving as easy as it has been, perhaps because all the tricks of statistical manipulation have been overused so much and because so many people are becoming financially and emotionally because of the neverending recession.
As of midnight Monday, Beck’s numbers are not as good as they have been but he claims roughly a 6 percent drop in Part 1, violent and property crime citywide 
Murder is his problem. 
There have been 288 homicides this year versus 287 last year at this time — a difference of only one, a miniscule 0.35 percent.
But it might as well be 10 or 50 or 100 in Beck;s world because it destroys just about the only claim to a positive legacy that Antonio Villaragosa has as he nears the end of his political career: Every category of crime went down every year during his eight years as mayor.
That sounds a whole lot more important than being living with a boast that nearly every category went down, all except murder. It’s a shallow way for the mayor and his retinue of hundreds of paid and indirectly paid servants and advisers to think but that is who they are.
For Beck, it was enough of a concern that he pulled 70 cops out of the San Fernando Valley and assigned to lean hard in the city’s poorest areas to try to keep people from killing each other and his commanders leaned hard on the troops to keep the numbers down for the yearend reports.
The trouble with Beck’s plan was — coincidence or not — three people got killed in the Valley almost immediately after the cops left. 
And more importantly to the rank-and-file cops on the street, they are increasingly the targets of what seems like the beginning of a crime wave. 
Just last week, Beck told the Police Commission assaults on officers are up 26.7 percent over last year and officer-involved shootings have soared by 58.8 percent — numbers nearly double national trends.
The result is growing number of cops want Beck fired and their union, the Police Protective League, is stepping up its attacks on the chief, particularly on his order to look the other way on lawbreaking by illegal immigrants and his failure to enforce the law against Occupy LA protesters at City Hall Park until the politicians gave him the green light. 
With former Chief Bernard Parks, former PPL official Dennis Zine already on the City Council along with reserve officer Mitch Englander and another cop in Joe Buscaino likely to be elected from San Pedro, Beck could be facing increased political pressure from different directions.
Here’s the statistics to date:

As of

Monday

12/19/11

at 2400 hours, the year to date citywide Part I crime rate is:

2011:

100,679

or

285.21

per day

2010:

107,072

or

303.32

per day

This is a

5.97

percent

decrease

YTD.

As of

Monday

12/19/11

at 2400 hours, the year to date citywide Violent crime rate is:

2011:

19,229

or

54.47

per day

2010:

20,753

or

58.79

per day

This is a

7.34

percent

decrease

YTD.

As of

Monday

12/19/11

at 2400 hours, the year to date citywide Homicide rate is:

2011:

288

or

0.82

per day

2010:

287

or

0.81

per day

This is a

0.35

percent

increase

YTD.

Total December homicides as of:

December 19, 2011

:

19

Total homicides for December 2010:   25

The total number of homicides reported in 2010 was 297.

As of

Monday

12/19/11

at 2400 hours, the year to date citywide Property crime rate is:

2011:

81,450

or

230.74

per day

2010:

86,319

or

244.53

per day

This is a

5.64

percent

decrease

YTD.

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