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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of the AEG Movie: “Los Angeles — Open for Business or Up for Sale?”

Councilwoman Jan Perry’s committee to sell the public on the Farmers Field/Convention Center deal met for the last time Monday to provide the stage for a dress rehearsal before the climax to the show that would come on Friday in a perfectly orchestrated unanimous finale.

The celebration of this two-year long exhibit of the art of salesmanship did turn out to be a work of genius — a three-hour performance orchestrated down to the smallest detail, tightly scripted, every word programmed for the cameras to create a seamless narrative that had nothing to do with reality.

It was brilliant, pure propaganda — the great Nazi documentary filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl would have admired it. It turned the truth inside out: ”LA is for sale … and so are we” was inverted to become “LA is open for business … come see us.”

This fragment from Perry’s hearing is a window into what goes on behind the curtain in the back room where unknown producers, directors and writers put together the scripts for each and every City Council meeting. The entire scene shown in this video was left on the cutting room floor in Friday’s final script and nothing at all was said by city planners about the “signficant” unmitigated environmental impacts of the project in just about every area.

This is not government in action what you see on Channel 35 or the online video: It’s television — show business, a staged performance to create a video record that will always stand for the story line designed for public consumption. That’s why they nearly always vote unanimously and why there is so rarely a word of truth spoken — except sometimes by the gadflies and activists.

That was the case Monday when Ed Reyes, chosen for his discipline as a character actor who is convincingly obtuse to hide his deliberate efforts to obscure all truth.

Among the troublemakers — there were not many other than the unstoppable Joyce Dillard, LA Can and the Fair Play Coalition — who objected to this deal during public comment, there was one who reported serious problems remain despite the 10,000 page Environmental Impact Report and the 100 pages of mitigation measures.

There are eight different problems that were identified and not fixed — an issue that if left in the record might wake people up some day that things didn’t turn out the way Tim Leiweke promised they would — things the mayor, City Attorney and City Council had a responsibility as elected officials to have known about, informed the public about and fixed if they were doing their jobs honorably.

Reyes started with all his bit player’s usual ignorant innocence by saying, “Just for the record I just want to make sure there’s clarity” about the eight areas of “environmental concerns” — not problems — that were mentioned.

“I want to make sure we’re mitigating those concerns or how we’re mitigating them,” he told city planners. “If you will just address them briefly.”

Briefly is the keyword — so they don’t give away questionable details, just offer vague assurances for the “record” that everything was considered and dealt with.

That was what this whole show has been about all these months, creating a video record that tells the story about the strong leadership, vision and hard work when the reality has more to do with cowardice, moral blindness and sloth.

It fell to city planner Karen Hu to put these concerns about the public’s health and safety to rest.

“There are eight areas to which you as a Council in approving this document will also have  to approve a statement of overriding considerations because we could not reduce those impacts to a level that was less than significant,” she told them in the matter-of-fact way that honest bureaucrats talk.

“Those eight  areas are in transportation, air quality, aesthetics and visual resources, cultural and historic resources, views, artificial light and glare, noise, utilities, solid waste.”

Concerned that those eight covered just about everything, Reyes pursued his goal to clean up the “record,” asking: “So given those areas, we are addressing them with mitigating conditions?”

“Yes, there are conditions,” she answered.

“That’s what I need to hear for the record,” Reyes pleaded.

“Cause we’ve raised the concerns but you haven’t spoken to how we are mitigating those concerns and that to me is crucial for the record given the public comment that’s been made. I don’t want to leave that open because I believe it leaves us vulnerable in the future.

“So to be very clear to support this process and this program, if you can just address it briefly. That’s what I think is important to this process.”

A confession to the crime of faking the public record. Again, an order — Reyes’ gesturing forcefully with his hand pointed, beating a steady drumbeat to planners –to keep it brief and without detail, just make this go away, neutralize the record.

This mission will not be left to a sincere person trying to do the best job for the city that she can all things considered.

No way, City Planning Director Michael LoGrande — a man who got this job without credentials as an urban planner and without the scruples of Karen Hu — will close the book for the record on concerns about unmitigated impacts on just about every aspect affecting the quality of life for millions of people.

He calls the EIR “a legally very defensible document” and declares that major projects often have “certain items that can’t be mitigated under CEQA to a level of insignificance” –shifting the language from “problems and concerns” to “items” and “significant” to insignificance.”

“That’s why we have these statements of overriding considerations saying the benefits of this project outweigh some of the issues,” LoGrande adds, swearing “we’ve done our best to mitigate those impacts to tolerable levels  … using the best sophisticated technology methods available  to us … acceptable levels .. confident … conservative document … forward thinking ..  state-of-the-art mitigation.”

“All CEQA requtres legally is that we are transparent, disclose that information to the public and to the decision makers … ”

It was so brief, so to the point, so loaded with vague, hollow words intended to put minds at ease and close the record to any questions later.

After all, none of these people want to find they are “vulnerable in the future” when this deal turns out to have all kinds of problems like the environmental “items” aren’t tolerable and acceptable, the Convention Center is still a white elephant, the subsidized hotels with empty rooms can’t afford the “living wage,” a part-time “living wage” job doesn’t pay people’s bills and the benefits to the city do not in fact outweigh the costs.

COMING SOON: “Open for Business: Selling Out LA’s Future.” Act One.

This entry was posted in 2012 Election, 2013 Election, 2013 LA Elections, City Hall, Community Activists, Development/CRA, Hot Topics, Los Angeles, NFL Stadium and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of the AEG Movie: “Los Angeles — Open for Business or Up for Sale?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances”–Shakespeare

    Under the current Mayor and equally contemptible City Council, City Hall has been politicized to the extent that Civil Service employees who were free from political influence & corruption, no longer are. The city family bonds together to support developers and obfuscate issues to the detriment of communities. An honest planning department and City Attorney would have recommended that based on almost the entire EIR unable to reduce impacts to a level of insignificance, the project should be rejected. Let the politicians’ corruption be exposed in public that they overrode staff’s facts and concerns. Instead, we have Ed Reyes pretending to be honest even as he mouths the words he wants to hear; a Director who jumps in to the rescue talking nonsense about CEQA & another manager who claims that they held over 100 meetings as though that is justification for approval. The mitigation measures are a joke but who will challenge this EIR & boondoggle of a project which claims to be the most environmentally sustainable stadium.

    NRDC under the leadership of Petit was an early sellout & the current lawsuit by the poverty pimps does not address these environmental concerns. Missing in this entire charade was the community.

  2. Wayne from the Most Corrupt City in America says:

    Did everyone miss this Quote from last night:
    “The football stadium WONT PLAY TO SOLD OUT CROWDS…it will be less than a full sellout, so the traffic issues aren’t that urgent….”
    Who said that? Try KABC from 9-9:30 pm last night. That was Paid-to-soon-be-Controller Dummy Dennis Zine!!!! Yep, Peter Tilden (who for half an hour almost sounded like an actual journalist) was grilling Zine about “City Issues.” Tilden said he doubted the NFL would send L.A. a team, and if they did, no one would go to Downtown to see a football game with the HIGH PRICE OF SEATS AND THE MISERABLE TRAFFIC.
    That’s when Dummy had one of his brief moments of clarity and ADMITTED THE FARMER’S FIELD WON’T BE PLAYING TO SOLD OUT AUDIENCES!!!
    The NFL doesn’t give one let alone TWO of its franchises to a new city UNLESS THERE ARE GUARANTEED SOLD OUT AUDIENCES!!!! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means to get an NFL team—the CITY WILL HAVE TO BUY THE UNUSED TICKETS TO THE GAMES THAT ARE NOT SOLD OUT or HAVE TO FORGET ABOUT EVER GETTING A TEAM!!!!
    THEN THERES THE LITLE ISSUE OF $350 MILLION DOLLARS OF BONDS to help build this new convention center.
    Maybe Obama in his 2nd or 3rd term can appoint a TSAR to run L.A. and dismiss the Mayor, Controller, Council, and Gaga while he bails out L.A.
    Romney would let L.A. just crumble under its own debt (which is why he has my vote.) Only a formal Bankruptcy and a full FBI accounting of City Hall will begin to put these kinds of scams and shenanigans where they belong—THE TRASH BASKET!

  3. Here come the REALLY BIG crooks says:

    What I do not understand is how anyone can be surprised. City Hall is Crime Central, yet the voters re-elect the same people. Garcetti, Wesson and LaBonge did not have to manage any Voter Suppression. The people in Los Feliz, for example, turned out in droves for LaBonge, even after he stole an entire engine company from FS 35 leaving them without fire protection much of the day.

    Let’s face it, if you live in a $2 to $4 Million mansion in the Hills and you support the jackass who’s stolen one of your fire companies and then downsized the back up fire station by 75%, you really deserve all the crap you get.

  4. LA Moderator says:

    It’s all Greeqa to Reyes…who at least, for his confused state, can at least be cleared of the charge of being a Sophist.

    So there’s only 8 remaining areas of concern…air, fire, earth, and water, hot, cold, wet, and dry.

    But we can mitigate them right?

    No.

    Er…not technically, as to render ‘insignificant’ by reasonable standard. But we can do a heck of a good job in making them tolerable…that is, acceptable enough to get you guys to make a statement of overriding concerns. That means, they’ll still be legally significant, but the overriding concerns are keeping AEG from spending too much money before the new owners do due dilligence, leaving the current crew enough cash to siphon from the house of cards to contribute to our next campaigns, and provide enough construction jobs prior to prop 32 passing for more dues>graft>contributions…and maybe some living wages for hot dog vendors!

    We say its conservative, so just believe it and don’t read it, or learn what your Statement means, and the community college credits bill…I mean gutting CEQA challenge timetable bill, will ensure that nothing holds back this boondoggle from getting entitlements before NFL opts out and buyers balk.

    So, in particular, this video makes Reyes look like an unmitigated idiot!

  5. Ricardo says:

    The most corrupt group of politicians LA has seen. The next Mayor candidate forum I hope everyone who attends nails that hell out of Perry, Garcetti, Greuel etc. for not representing the people with their incompetence. Perry was the leader on this fiasco and the tax payers are left holding the bag. How in the hell does she expect to be voted Mayor when her and her buddies have proved to the nation they are corrupt?

  6. Anonymous says:

    “So there’s only 8 remaining areas of concern…air, fire, earth, and water, hot, cold, wet, and dry.

    But we can mitigate them right?” LOL. Brilliant!

  7. Anonymous says:

    LoGrande said he was very proud of the EIR. Is he an AEG employee?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes! But AEG doesn’t pay my 200,000+ pay and benefits.

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