It should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever paid any attention to the mad rush to approve the massive investment of public resources and land in a football stadium and white elephant Convention Center that the process of public scrutiny and review got chopped again Tuesday.
CEQA — the cornerstone of California Democrats claim to more superiority on the environment — was gutted and its timelines for comment and judicial reviewof the 10,000-page EIR sharply limited by the governor and the Legislature.
The whole process has been a mockery to give Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz and his LA enforcer Tim Leiweke whatever they want without asking any hard questions or getting anything in return for the public.
On Tuesday, they even crimped the 24-day period for review of the development agreement to 10 days — something that left the man who would be City Controller supervising dozens of accountants and auditors, the man responsible for the city’s money, babbling incoherently and as usual without an ounce of integrity.
He was troubled about it being calendar days and not work days and couldn’t get the numbers straight about the difference and what means. The expressions on the faces of Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller and Council President Herb Wesson and the audience laughing at Zine tell you what a fool he is.
You heard it for yourself: Zine, the retired traffic cop drawing $300,000 a year in pension and salary and hoping to get even more for the rest of his life if he wins the Controller’s race, will have to borrow other people’s toes and fingers to do the counting in his financially responsible role.
Despite his blathering protests of utterly no consequence as usual, Zine went along with the unanimous approval to make it impossible for an intelligent discussion on whether this is a deal that has any real benefits to the people of Los Angeles.
Advocates for the poor and minority communities of Pico-Union, South LA and downtown have already sued with the help of the ACLU and will no doubt come away with a better deal than the rest of the city which will continue paying $50 million or more a year to subsidize the failure of the rebuilt Convention Center just as they have during its two previous stillborn reincarnations.
LA Times columnist Jim Newton, hardly a harsh critic of City Hall’s failures, had this to say Monday:
AEG, the developer, has so successfully courted influence over the years that it’s hard to trust city and state officials to drive a hard bargain. The proposal cruised through the City Council (the mayor was tossing around a football before negotiations had even begun), and the company called on its friends in labor and the environmental movement to bring Sacramento on board.
At this point, the project has essentially come down to two votes. This week, the city Planning Commission will consider AEG’s environmental impact report. And by the end of the month, the City Council will have done the same. If they grant final approval, then all power over the project will be in the hands of AEG, so if there are concessions left to get, now’s the time to get them.
Most potential critics of the deal have melted away or been ground down by AEG’s connections…
The council, however, needs to understand something it seems not to have fully grasped: The public is deeply skeptical that its elected officials are negotiating the best possible deal here because those officials are supported by AEG and its labor allies. There’s a way to address that skepticism. It’s to drive a hard bargain that brings maximum benefit to the city and still allows this project to proceed.
C’mon Jim, you knew when you wrote that this will be over in the blink of an eye by the end of the month thanks to Tuesday’s thoughtless action so you will not see City Hall “protect the public treasury” as you suggested or to seek out experts who can show this whole deal is nothing but monkey business.
Football stadiums don’t make money. Convention Centers don’t make money. LA doesn’t make money; AEG does.
Nothing wrong with that except when the greed of Phil Anchutz and his lackeys is so great that they push one of the greatest entertainers of all-time in Michael Jackson over the edge and kill him.
Then, they shamelessly then sue the insurer they lied to about his condition, Lloyds of London, for the $17.5 million policy they wrote even though they made $250 million exploiting rehearsals for his aborted concert tour and the theater of his funeral.
“This Is It,” they called it without a hint of irony.
Lloyd’s of London is no one to fool with. They found a way to leak the incriminating emails written by AEG executives who knew the fragile Michael Jackson was over the edge and didn’t care because money was on the table.
The LA Times printed them but so what? The council didn’t care that Phil Anschutz is by their definitions an anti-gay, racist, hate-monger who represents everything they abhor.
In the dead of night Monday with nobody but CNN, TMZ and the London Daily Mail watching, AEG drops its lawsuit against Lloyd’s of London — nothing to do with the emails they said in direct contradiction of everything they had said before.
Ask yourself: What kind of leadership is there at City Hall if no one there gives a damn about who they do business with and whether it’s in the public interest?
Watch this video and see how Ed Reyes and Paul Krekorian treat you like idiots and have not a single concern about surrendering to AEG and the unions they have cut a despicable deal with that you will have to pay for:
You will note Paul Krekorian didn’t know if the development agreement with AEG was publicly available and clearly pointed out that Council members didn’t even have copies of it.
I looked at the Planning Department website and eventually found the agenda for Thursday’s meeting when it will be rubber-stamped — surrendering all authority to AEG — and found a document that may or may not be the development agreement on the agenda.
This is your LA — love it or leave it.