Will 50,000 New Hotel Rooms and a Citywide ‘Living Wage’ Really End Poverty and Revive the LA Economy?

The real City Hall boss — union leader Maria Elena Durazo — stood in support of a “living wage impact study” defined in a motion that had been dormant for five months until it suddenly was waived through two committees and brought before the full City Council on Tuesday.

She called for a comprehensive training program along with extension of the living wage ordinance citywide for the benefit of hotel workers. The living wage — adding 40 to 50 percent to employee costs and largely paid for out of tax subsidies and rebates and inflated contract costs — already is required of LAX area hotels and businesses that get city contracts or other city benefits.

Durazo’s favorite partner, AEG, Anschutz Entertainment Group — owner of Staples Center, LA Live and soon Farmers Field and the LA Convention Center — then backed her call for the “living wage impact study” to the hilt as necessary to making LA a mecca for tourism despite what the Council motion says is a shortage of 50,000 hotel rooms and the poor condition of so many existing ones.

None of this costly meddling in private business dealings, virtually requiring workers to join a union and sticking taxpayers with the bill sat well with the business community.

The hotel association denounced the “living wage impact study” and so did the Central City Association which never objected to taxpayer susbsidies before. The LA Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association joined in the chorus of criticism.

Labor, AEG and the business community got it all wrong.

Led by the ever deft Herb Wesson, one Council member after another got up and swore nothing in the motion was about the living wage. It was about building hotels, putting people to work, making LA the nation’s top tourist destination — and incidentally maybe finding hundreds of millions of dollars somewhere to subsidize salary costs

Even supposedly more conservative members like the West Valley’s Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine — the man who would be the city’s fiscal watchdog as Controller — saluted Durazo’s effort, one after another, all lined up and unanimous.

When all else fails because of the bumbling inarticulateness of Council members, they turn to the eloquent Paul Krekorian who praised how “eloquently” Durazo had spoken to the “partnership between labor and business to try and create a more vibrant tourist industry.”

It was as if the business community had not clearly and sharply criticized this effort just minutes before.

Even Krekorian, driven by ambition for higher office to kowtow to Durazo and the power structure, mumbled at times as he selectively read from the motion, leaving out all words that went to the point of why labor and business were as one in seeing this as a “living wage impact study” for the purposes of extending the artificially-inflated wages of hotel workers citywide.

Here, in bold face type, are the parts he didn’t want to mention:

In Los Angeles County, tourism is a thriving industry, having surpassed trade as the number one employer with over a half million jobs. Tourism, international trade and entertainment are  expected to be the primary economic drivers leading Los Angeles out of the recession.
But the City of Los Angeles is lagging behind where it can be and where it needs to be as a
Mecca for domestic and international tourism. By national standards, a city with an economy the size of Los Angeles’s should have 50,000 more hotel rooms. Our existing hotel inventory is aging, and falling behind in energy efficiency standards. Meanwhile, hotel workers remain largely underpaid and overworked.
More should be done to provide support to the hotel industry in Los Angeles to encourage
investment in these hotels and lift their workers out of poverty. We must ensure that our hotels meet the needs of visitors and in the process create good jobs that improve our economy and benefit the residents of the City.
The City of Los Angeles, the tourism industry, and the regional economy would benefit from a program that incentivizes hotel modernization, energy efficiency, better pay for hotel workers, increased job training programs, and equal benefits.
The time is now to create a stronger, greener tourism industry that attracts high-end tourists and business travelers. A stronger tourism industry is a win-win for the city, the industry and thousands of working families in Los Angeles.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Administrative Officer in consultation with the Office of Finance, the Community Development Department and the Chief Legislative Analyst be directed to report with recommendations for creating economic incentives, including public benefits, to help strengthen the tourism industry in Los Angeles by investing in both workforce as well as facilities including providing existing hotels with funds to renovate their facilities, identifying sources of funds for this purpose, and mechanisms for accessing such incentives.

People Power Forces LA City Council to Oppose 710 Freeway — for Now

Residents of Northeast LA generously gave thanks to Councilman Jose Huizar Tuesday and celebrated him as a hero for pushing through a resolution putting the City of Los Angeles on record as opposing the 710 Freeway extension through their neighborhoods from El Sereno to Garvanza .

They looked the other way at how he pulled the resolution off the table Friday and sent it back to committee solely to deny dozens of them the chance to protest to the Council on camera for the whole city to see.

They ignored how he held the public hearing off camera on Monday in the Transportation Committee because he added to the condemnation resolution the one route — the longest and potentially costliest tunnel in U.S. history.

They didn’t complain when they were only allowed 10 minutes for 10 people to speak at public comment on the resolution for one-minute each on Tuesday.

They only expressed gratitude even when he wrote in a loophole to opposition to the F-7 tunnel proposal by saying:

“When we do receive this information about whether the tunnel makes sense or not who’s to say that they are giving us the right information or whether they are doing the appropriate community outreach for the community to decide whether that makes sense or not.

“So we decided to add the F-7 one and to oppose that as well  to put the burden of proof on Caltrans and MTA to show us that it makes sense in the future. But for now it will be the City of Los Angeles’ position to oppose it.”

You could drive a truck, thousands of trucks, through the “Huizar Loophole” — which is exactly the goal of transportation officials and the vast transportation lobby that wants  the 710 Freeway extension they will spend billions of taxpayer dollars to build it so they can keep on trucking cargo from the ports instead of putting on rail which is vastly cleaner and cheaper.

The community went along with the gag but they were not fooled. They know no one in public office is to be trusted when it comes to protecting the quality of the lives of ordinary citizens when special interests in all their wide variety are the only real constituents they care about.

In just a few short weeks, residents across the 710 corridor through Pasadena, South Pasadena and LA have put together an extraordinary outreach effort across city, economic and racial lines.

They exposed just how flawed MTA’s outreach and planning has been, and forced them to kill seven ridiculous routes two months early. They held mass rallies and connected to communities all the way to Long Beach where the MTA wants to expand the 710 Freeway to 14 lanes.

Now, they have LA officially on board and on Wednesday they will put an MTA task force on the 710 to the test for honesty and competence.

In just a few short weeks, they have put Measure J — the extension to 2069 of 2008’s Measure R that is generating $40 billion to build the freeway extension, the subway-to-the-sea, the $1 billion Sepulveda Pass 405 HOV lane and other projects — in jeopardy.

What’s missing is a transit system that provides the connectivity and frequency of service that gets people from where they are to where they want to go. You don’t get that when the price of massive projects for special interests is endless cuts in bus lines and service and higher and higher fares.

Officials are hoping to weaken the movement by making concessions that can be revoked at any time.

This time it won’t work: These people aren’t NIMBYs opposing something in their neighborhoods; they are citizen warriors fighting for the quality of their lives and their health and they will win.

YUCK, the TRUCKS: How People Power Is Killing 710 Freeway Extension and Winning the Fight for Sane Transit Solutions

On Tuesday at LA City Council Chamber before a sea of NO 710 red shirts, the spike likely will finally be driven into the money-sucking heart of a freeway nobody wants.

It has taken more than 50 years of community efforts and every time it appears dead, a new 710 Gap proposal comes to life just as it has once again in recent months.

What was different this time, why the extension from Alhambra to Pasadena, will finally be buried once and for all is the amazing efforts of ordinary people from the affluent San Rafael neighborhood and the guardians of Old Pasadena’s values to the historic Latino community of Garvanza in LA as well as Highland Park and El Sereno among other neighborhoods to the south.

Armed with research that exposed what this is all about — moving hundreds of trucks spewing exhaust fumes from the ports to the north and northwest, not relieving congestion for the residents and businesses in the region — community leaders along the 710 corridor pulled together, flexed their muscles in public meetings and rallies and showed just how weak and cynical the power structure.

All they want is people’s money to redistribute it to consultants, contractors, labor unions even if they destroy the quality of hundreds of thousands of people’s lives. Their greed has no respect for people, their money or the environment.

So in the face of a firestorm of negative publicity, MTA staff killed seven of the most obnoxious proposals for the 710 off the table and left one freeway extension plan — F-7 the staggeringly costly 4.5 mile tunnel from the 10 to the 210, the longest tunnel in America.

On Monday, an LA City Council committee unanimously added opposition to even that proposal to five other freeway plans already in its motion of condemnation.

The action sets the stage for the issue to be taken up at Tuesday’s full Council meeting he public’s money and they will take find out just how badly the downtown political machine wants another 30 years of taxes that would be mortgaged at a steep discount to and used now to make today’s crop of second-rate politicians look good and stay in office.

Getting the issue to the Council floor wasn’t easy.

The Pasadena City Council which called a special meeting, put the MTA on the carpet and let an overflow crowd of 500 tear apart the 710 plans before voting unanimously to oppose them.

The LA City Council reluctantly put a resolution of opposition on the calendar last Friday because Northeast LA (and now downtown) Councilman Jose Huizar feared his constituents were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

But his superiors in high places ordered him to pull the resolution and send it back to the Transportation Committee that had waived it to allow them time to try to massage the message and to deny the dozens of community activists who had trekked to City Hall to be heard about what a horrorshow the 710 would mean to their community and the whole Arroyo Seco.

To Huizar’s credit or more likely the power structure’s realization that pushing the 710 extension could bring down Measure J, the sales tax extension to 2069, the committee added to its list of undesirables plan F-7, the only one the MTA ever took seriously. All the rest were nothing but distractions.

What the power structure wants is a toll road tunnel that will get cars off of other freeways to make room for the trucks from the ports or to speed the trucks to the 210 to go north or west to the 215 and regions far away. But they will not jeopardize tens of billions of dollars for the subway-to-the-sea and the skyscraper developments it will bring just to destroy the environment along the 710 corridor for the benefit of truckers.

Their miscalculation is these communities have gotten organized and know what they want.

In the techno-parlance of the MTA, they want “multi-modal” solutions to traffic congestion — rapid buses, jitneys, bike paths, anything that doesn’t poison the air and gets people from where they are to where they want to go.

It’s called a public transit SYSTEM — something the MTA still doesn’t understand.

My Sunday Column: The Trouble with Harry — Persistent Activist Gets the Attention of City Officials

Let’s have a big round of applause for retired law professor Harry Zavos.

Citing the state Constitution and a lawsuit won by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, he got Glendale officials three years ago to stop transferring “surplus” water revenue to the city’s General Fund.

Score one for Harry.

Then, he began a crusade to end the transfer of what this year is $21 million in electricity revenues to the General Fund — money that is desperately needed to maintain basic city services at a time when Glendale, like nearly every government agency in California, is facing huge budget deficits.

Doggedly persistent, one-pointed like a pit bull, Zavos pushed city officials to the wall, claiming the transfer amounted to a tax requiring voter approval under the state’s Proposition 26 and violated the City Charter’s rules for Glendale Water & Power financial operations.

Finally, City Atty. Mike Garcia and Senior Assistant City Atty. Christine Godinez issued a 16-page legal opinion backed by a 40-slide PowerPoint presentation that came before the Glendale Water & Power Commission three weeks ago. It should properly be called the “Zavos Report.”

Score two for Harry.


DRAFT ZEV: Can Anybody Do a Better Job as Mayor Than the Last Lion of LA Politics?

A few days ago I told a friend of Supervisor Yaroslavsky that I thought I would wind up supporting him for Mayor of Los Angeles.

At the least, I said sarcastically, “Zev is the lesser of four evils.”

On Thursday, Zev Yaroslavsky finally announced he had made up his mind about who he is in the here and now and decided to declare he was out of the mayoral race he never entered, a race he would have won in 1989, might have win in 1993 and 2001, could have won in 2005 and 2009 but didn’t seem to stand a chance of winning in 2013.

I say that because Zev had become jaded by nearly four decades of swimming in the sewer of an increasingly corrupt political system in the city and county of Los Angeles, a world in which elected officials had become indifferent to the challenges of leadership, of the obligation of being a servant of the public, not its master.

At a time when we so desperately need people in the White House, the statehouse, the “temple of democracy” as Eric Garcetti dares to call City Hall without even a wink and a nod to the cruel irony of his remark, we desperately need officials committed to the art of governance, not the black art of political manipulation and deceit.

By the political standards of this generation, Zev Yaroslavsky stands out as a lion in this winter or our discontent, one of two. The other is his antagonist and sometimes partner in keeping the County of Los Angeles fiscally solvent, even if so many of its departments are terrible failures, Mike Antonovich.

They have been a political odd couple a long time, savvy, untouchable, dominating with records of service in elected office that are noteworthy for their longevity as well as their willingness and ability to ‘make it work.’ Yet, both are flawed by the arrogance that comes come from holding office too long without challenge — they have become imperious, lost their faith in the people, consumed by the politics of the game they play so well.

In a word: Cynical.

Then something strange happened on Thursday when Yaroslavsky came clean: He will finish out his time in what he has called “the best job in the world” and get on with the rest of his life. He started sounded like the guy he once was before he waded into the sewer of LA politics that sucked the blood from souls of so many lesser figures.

Listen to what he had to say to Larry Mantle and Warren Olney — the voices of our two great public radio stations and leading arbiters of what’s important to our communities.

When Zev spoke to them, he suddenly sounded like a … heaven, help me… a leader, a real leader. He spoke about how bad things are, showing how clearly he understands what is wrong while displaying the grit to stand up to the special interests, at least some of the time.

Zev knows the details better than anyone in the game and as I have observed him over many, many years, served the people of the city and county of Los Angeles with distinction better than others, at least relatively speaking compared to the competition.

In the political desert we have been for so long, only Yaroslavsky and Antonovich stand out  as super-stars. Longevity. Political Skill. Smart. Few Mistakes. Nothing Sticks. Achievements. Fiscal Responsibility.

Yaroslavsky offered no apology, talking about the “other things i want to do with my life… offering no apology for doing what’s in my own best interest . . . ” insisting he would “love to be mayor of the city, especially in a challenging time . . .  I could have won.”

He wants to write and teach and travel., he says. We can relate to that but we also know that having blinked time after time at lunging for the big prize — mayor of America’s second largest city — no one can doubt what he would really like to do.

So let’s draft Zev, a groundswell for someone smart enough to actually understand the problems and tough enough to stand up the unions and special interests, at least some of them.

Look at the field:

Front-runner Wendy Greuel who is easily manipulated and given to covering her butt more than standing up for what’s right and necessary.

Eric Garcetti who hides his intelligence with platitudes and conceals what he’s really doing with deceits that reflect an underlying contempt for ordinary folks.

Jan Perry, tough and down-to-earth, who has showed courage standing up to the bullies at the Department of Water and Power while doing the bidding of AEG and the Central City Association who sold her out of her district in redistricting without even a word of apology.

Talk show host and attorney Kevin James who actually has connected to the city’s discontents at the grassroots but with only a tenth of the money of Greuel and Garcetti doesn’t stand a chance of being heard unless some big money steps forward to make him competitive.

So think about it people, do you really want to turn the reins of the city over to a leadership team of Greuel, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Controller Dennis Zine and Council President Herb Wesson when so much is wrong, when so much could get a whole lot worse?

Run, Zev, run.

People Power: How Ordinary Citizens Are Making Quality of Life the Issue — Not Enriching the Transportation Lobby

Proving they are a force to be reckoned with, opponents of the 710 Freeway extension filled the grounds outside Pasadena’s oldest church Wednesday night for an informational and organizing rally to protest MTA’s plans that threaten their neighborhoods.

Drawing a crowd of more than 400 people to the Church of the Angels on Avenue 64, San Rafael Neighborhood Association president Ron Paler urged the crowd to work to see the 710 extension proposal is “buried completely” once and for all.

Other speakers during the 90-minute rally included Claire Bogaard, wife of the Pasadena mayor; Bill Sherman, a South Pasadena Transportation Commissioner, and attorney John Shaffer who called the freeway plans a “20th century” solution to traffic congestion when “21st century” transit options are available that are less costly and more efficient.

“I want everyone here to remember that feeling you felt the day you learned that our neighborhood was in the path of this highway or freeway and don’t ever forget that feeling,” Shaffer said. “Because even if we manage to defeat the routes through our neighborhood, there are other families that are going to be feeling that same feeling and we have to be there for them the same way they are for us.”

Last week, more than 500 packed the house for a special meeting of the Pasadena City Council on the 710 issue that continues to come up despite more than a half century of community opposition.

The council voted unanimously to oppose various extension proposals from a 4.5 mile tunnel from Alhambra to the 134/210 — the longest tunnel in America — to turning Avenue 64 through San Rafael  and the LA neighborhood of Garvanza into a highway, destroying numerous homes and the quality of life for thousands.

Wednesday night’s rally came amid a series of events that show the anti-710 movement is rapidly gaining strength as activists reach across city boundaries and organize to block increasing the 710 freeway to 14 lanes coming out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and stop the extension from Alhambra north.

It represents a serious threat to MTA’s efforts to Measure J in November to extend out until 2069 the 30-year, $40 billion sales tax increase that is being mortgaged over the next 10 years to fund freeway projects, the subway-to-the-sea and other transit projects.

On Friday, the LA City Council takes up a motion to oppose most extension proposals the MTA has put forth, and like many in the Northeast LA area, South Pasadena and Pasadena  calling for public transit alternatives that are less destructive.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, a long-time 710 opponent as a legislator and La Canada-Flintridge mayor and council member, sent a scathing four-page letter to the California Department of Transportation detailing how Caltrans and the MTA have misled the public repeatedly over the years and calling for an immediate end to planning for the project.

“I have personally witnessed actions and activities by proponents of a tunnel option, which have been questionable at best, but more accurately, would be portrayed as biased and tainted,” he said. “Representatives of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) have routinely misrepresented important information while hiding the true cost and benefit of this project from the public . . .

“Community after community is coming forward and speaking in a united and heated voice: ‘We don’t want this extension.’ Never before has there been this much opposition from so many communities. The public backlash has been so strong that some policy makers arc endeavoring to split the coalition or communities by suggesting that one route might be more preferable than another. This is planning at its worst.”

Portantino also jumped on the state audit released last week that was highly critical of how Caltrans management of nearly 500 homes acquired decades ago along the expected 710 right-of-way.

“The recent state audit highlighted the complete lack of trust that I have for the folks shepherding the 710 corridor and this historically massive project,” Portantino said. “If these folks can’t be trusted to fix a roof, how can we trust them to build a $15-billion tunnel.”

According to the Pasadena Sun, not everyone wants the 710 Freeway project killed.

“On Wednesday, state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) announced that they’ve amended a bill that would speed up the sale of Caltrans-owned homes not needed for a new connector. The amendment calls for 25% of home-sale proceeds to go to build sound walls along the 210 Freeway, where opposition to the 710 extension is strong.

The measure, Gatto said in a statement, “is a creative way to turn a negative, the 710 extension, into a positive: relief along the nearby 210 corridor.”

The audit, sought more than a year ago by Portantino, found Caltrans “lost $22 million in rent from the homes between July 2007 and December 2011. During the same period, the agency spent $22.5 million to conduct repairs on some of the 499 properties it owns, but only collected $12.8 million in rent,” the Pasadena Sun reported.

Among the beneficiaries as tenants were 15 state employees who paid below-market rates for rent which the audit called either a “fringe benefit or a gift of public funds.”

Why I Love LA and Say the Things I Do

I have a big problem choosing sides in our political wars so I take a safe position on sidelines and throw spitballs at whatever targets emerge.

My problem with one side is they act like they just discovered we’re not all equal and have come to the conclusion that those with less should suffer the consequences of their inequality. In other words, it is every man, woman and children for themselves, a kind of existential “Hunger Games.”

On the other side are those who think we are equal or should be equal, something they would like to achieve symbolically without giving up their privileges, a kind of existential “Animal Farm” where some are more equal than others.

So I’m left in a kind of suspended animation, hovering over seemingly polarized opposites — yet from above they look like they are just two sides of the same coin of the realm.

As one of those who shares an affinity with those less lucky, what we are doing as a city, a state, a nation, a planet isn’t not good enough under the circumstances. Not by a long shot, not with 7 billion people choking on their exhaust fumes, dehydrating from the lack of clean water, starving from not enough food, slaughtering each other in the pursuit of domination and advantage.

So when I hear all the time from those with power, those who make the decisions and those  who influence the decisions, that the perfect, the great, is the enemy of the good so we should compromise and make whatever progress we can even if we know what is called the “good” is nowhere near good enough given the circumstances.

I only know that settling for the mediocre without striving for something better is not good enough.

Striving for something great, sharing in greatness, is what great communities, great nations, great civilizations do. Or they sink into mediocrity and inevitably decline into oblivion, leaving only relics and artifacts, clues to what was achieved and what might have been.

My story is the LA story.

I traveled the world, a wandering Jew, for half my lifetime and spent the last half trying to do what I could to light the flame of freedom and justice and equality and greatness that I saw in the incredible brilliance and horrifying darkness of this place we ironically call the City of Angels, when it’s always seemed like purgatory to me where we are all working out our destiny.

The joke of my life is I suffer from verbal diarrhea and written constipation, compulsive talking and total writer’s block. This is my therapy, striving to let what arises from below reach my brain and take form as written words and sentences and paragraphs.

Don’t take that statement more seriously than I do. Everybody I know in LA is struggling through their fundamental contradictions of identity, sexuality, emotionality, intellectuality, every —ity you can think of.

It is precisely the myth of absolute freedom, the dream of manifesting in the world the person you are deep inside, that is at heart what the spirit of LA is to me. It’s why I love LA and worked so long with what skills and opportunity I have had to make it the place where everyone’s interests, values and needs are respected  and some kind of balance is achieved.

We are in this together whether we like it or not.

My Sunday Column: Activists Fight for a Seat at the Table of Power

It was a triumph of citizen activism — the Pasadena City Council’s unanimous repudiation last week of plans to extend the long-stalled Long Beach (710) Freeway through town.

Someday, we might look back at what happened Monday night as a historic moment in the battle for Los Angeles and the quality of all our lives.

It was the first test of strength for members of a brand-new community group that sprung to life this summer after word got out that their lovely west Pasadena community was the target of a possible 710 extension. It would mean long-term disruption, destruction of dozens of homes, noise, pollution, etc.

People I know, such as Dr. Ron Paler and attorney John Shaffer, came together with their neighbors and went to work acquiring facts, getting on the same page, contacting hundreds of neighbors who might never have known what could happen until it was too late to do anything about it.

So began the San Rafael Neighborhoods Assn., which in just a few short weeks, got the Pasadena City Council to call a special meeting to handle what was expected to be a large crowd.

Monday night, more than 500 people showed up and they all had something to say, but they spoke in one voice: Not in my backyard, or my neighbor’s, either. These are not NIMBYs, they are preservationists, ordinary folks fighting for their homes, their neighborhoods, the quality of their lives.

Through four hours of enthusiastic hoots, hollers, jeers and cheers Monday night, there was a lot of tough questioning ofLos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authorityofficials about their proposals to close the 710 Freeway gap — and, more importantly, about whether the agency was trying to create the appearance of public participation without really engaging the public, the art of political illusion.

For Michelle Smith, the MTA’s project manager for the 710 extension, it was a tough crowd to face — unhappy people from Eastside L.A. communities like Highland Park and historic Garavanza, to South Pasadena, Pasadena and La Cañada-Flintridge.

These people came from different communities and backgrounds, but were united in saying that while they want public transit to work, they don’t want to see an unneeded highway destroy their neighborhoods just to benefit the trucking industry and bail out the ports, which are facing a lot of tough years ahead with increased competition from the Panama Canal to every port north.

Smith seemed shaken by the intensity of emotions when she defended the MTA’s feeble, if costly, efforts at community outreach, saying things like, “we’ll be interfacing with the public throughout the process,” and in the end, conceding to the City Council she will “retool” the outreach program.


LA’s Way: Steal Billions, Rip Off Millions, Give away Thousands

We get mail, lots and lots of email — LA’s Best today:



Los Angeles – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will join President and CEO of LA’s BEST Carla Sanger in accepting a $135,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase executives for the after-school enrichment program, LA’s BEST and announce the program’s addition of three new sites at Euclid Elementary School in Boyle Heights, 806 Euclid Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90023 at 10 a.m.

The expansion of LA’s BEST brings the total number of sites to 189. Sixty new sites have been opened during the Mayor’s tenure.

This is the fourth year Chase has made a sizable donation to LA’s BEST, bringing their total giving since 2009 to over a half a million dollars.

Steve Lopez: Trutanich delivers cash; what about ‘I’m a liar’ ad?

Remember L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich’s pledge to raise $100,000 for L.A.’s Best After School Enrichment Program, and the wormy way he tried to wriggle out of the commitment?

I do, and just when I was about to take batting practice on him again, it seems he’s come up with the money, or at least some of it.

“I want to express my personal appreciation to you for making good on your promise…” Carla Sanger, L.A’s Best president and CEO, wrote to Trutanich this week.

Actually, Trutanich has delivered $30,000 so far and hopes to make good on the rest of it in the next 30 days or so, said spokesman John Schwada. Schwada said the names of at least some of the donors will be released over that same time span, though some may wish to remain anonymous.

A Simple Google search of city of LA sues JP Morgan produces these hits in recent months about lawsuits filed against JP Morgan and its parent, Chase, over their anti-social practices:

Pacoima couple accuses JPMorgan Chase of illegally foreclosing 


Pacoima couple accuses JPMorgan Chase of illegally foreclosing … 


Jul 8, 2011 –  07/07/2011 04:19:16 PM PDT LOS ANGELES – A Pacoima couple issuing the financial  “RePower LA” Town Hall Pacoima CA Nov 2011 

Los Angeles Homeowners Sue JP Morgan Chase for Illegal … 

JPMorgan faces another lawsuit in Kansas City over fund’s practices 

Peralta college district sues JP Morgan on financing deal – San 

JPMorgan Allegedly Forecloses On Home Two Months After Its 

JPMorganCiti Units Sued by FDIC Over Colonial Sales 

Jul 17, 2012 – California college district sues JP Morgan over financing deal 

The Perversion of Democracy, Part One: Derail Measure J, the 60-Year Transit Tax — It’s Highway Robbery

Let me be the first to formally oppose what is now Measure J on the ballot in November, the sequel to 2008’s Measure R that was supposed to raise $40 million from a 1/2 percent sales tax increase for highway and transit projects over the next 30 years.

We can only guesstimate what Measure J will bring into the Metropolitan Transit Authority coffers over an additional 30 years — until 2069 — but we do know they say they will borrow against both measures and spend the money as fast as they can so they  complete the promised projects faster unless they choose to fund different projects.

But first a diversion into the corrupted form of democracy that we call Los Angeles, greater Los Angeles in this particular case since we are being robbed — not just of our money but of our hopes and dreams of a sustainable society that honors the spectacular beauty and environment of Southern California and gives everyone of us an honest shot at a decent life for ourselves and our kids.

I went searching for how much money was poured into the campaign for Measure R four years ago. I looked on the county’s LA Vote site and the states’s Cal-access and FPPC sites.  I reached out to Common Cause, the experts in campaign financing.

Nada — nothing at all except information on candidates, nothing on county ballot measures.

So I called the Registrar-Recorder’s office in Norwalk at after long computerized info messages got to a clerk who was totally committed to help, to doing his job. He checked with his supervisor and reported:

“Right now, we don’t have to put information on contributions and spending on county ballot measures on our website. The law doesn’t require, the county’s law, so we don’t do it.   But you can come to Norwalk and look at our records.”

He was able to share that “Yes on Measure R” reported raising $102,718 from Jan. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, $1.625,000 from Oct. 1-18 and $2,,148,481 more through the end of the year — nearly $4 million in total — versus nothing from opponents. That doesn’t included the millions the MTA spent — sometimes in violation of the law — on its informational campaign.

This is important to know because in the 2008 election that carried Barack Obama into the White House, nearly 75 percent of LA County voters cast ballots — 3 million out of 4.1 registered voters — and MTA’s Measure R got 67.93 percent when it needed 66.67 percent approval. That is a margin of victory of roughly 39,000 votes out of 3 million although supporters call it an overwhelming victory since “68 percent want this.”

Nothing was ever said about lobbyist-transportation expert-former Democratic Assembly Leader Richard Katz’s ingenious idea to take the 30 years of sales tax revenue, bond it and spent it now — 30/10 or Move America Forward as it was called, the justification for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s numerous trips to Washington to lobby and party with beautiful and important people.

This time, the turnout will be nothing like that. Romney-Ryan is spending a billion to suppress the votes of everyone but their supporters and Obama-Biden is spending nearly as much energize disaffected Democrats, Latinos and even blacks and everybody knows the outcome in California. So why bother to vote?

Measure J will almost certainly fail and probably bring down Gov. Jerry Brown’s soak-the-rich-pick-the-pocket-of-the-poor’s tax hike scheme with it, at least in LA County where they need a huge majority.

But back to Measure J or Measure R2 and what’s wrong with taking out a 60-year mortgage that your great-grandchildren will have pay for and live with in a Blade Runner city of untold millions broiling in 100-degree global warming temperatures most of the year with quotas on how much water they can use unless they are rich and can pay the premium.

What’s wrong with it is this: It is not a transit transportation system. It is a boondoggle for contractors, consultants, construction workers (most of them from other counties) and a vast array of green-washing environmental green-washers, naive biking advocates and various labor and other non-profits and front groups posing as something they are not.

Even the most ardent advocates can do no better than to call it the framework of a transportation system for the future.

It’s about destroying neighborhoods in Arroyo Seco with a spectacularly expensive and destructive 710 Freeway from the harbors to the 210 in Pasadena; about a $1 billion per mile subway-to-the-sea to justify skyscraper development from Hollywood to Century City to Westwood and Santa Monica, about running trains at grade through South LA without even stopping at Leimert Park, the soul of the community.

Wake up, you little people out there.

The MTA, which is paying for a lot of this nonsense by slashing bus services to the transit dependent,  has set aside $10 million for a perverted marketing campaign to deceive you  and the profiteers and phony do-gooders will sell you hard with millions more to lure with with false promises a better world tomorrow.