My Sunday Column: Empty Desks, a New Way of Life for Fiscally Responsible Cities

The email from Moody’s credit rating service that popped up on my computer screen boggled my mind: Glendale was among 40 California cities that were downgraded or are facing downgrades, but Los Angeles and San Francisco could get upgrades.

I’m an old newspaperman who knows a lot more about words than money, but that made no sense at all. How could a fiscally conservative city like Glendale be a worse credit risk than free-spending Los Angeles?

So I dropped by Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa’s office last week in search of answers. What I found were a lot of empty desks everywhere I looked.

“It’s a new way of life for us,” explained Assistant City Manager Yasmin Beers, “after the 122 retirements and the 55 layoffs and the 100-plus vacancies and the 28 positions that we eliminated with redevelopment, and now the 28 with Glendale Water & Power. We’re just going to try to settle in and see what this all means for us.”

Since the economy crashed four years ago this month, Glendale has gotten wage concessions and increased contributions to pensions and healthcare from its employee unions — concessions of up to 13.5% of salaries for police and firefighters.

The exception is utility workers who are in stalled talks on an initial contract since voting to be represented by the IBEW.

That’s a lot different than L.A., a city 20 times the size of Glendale, where union concessions have been far less substantial and fewer than 500 workers have faced layoffs while three times as many have been transferred to the harbor, airport, utility or other departments that don’t rely on the General Fund.

Real budget cuts in tough times versus kicking the budget can down the road so the big bills will come later — that’s the way I see the difference between Glendale and L.A.

(READ FULL STORY)

Heads Up LA: 2JobBob Blumenfield Is a Cheater — Say No to the Measure J Slush Fund — Riordan’s Real Pension Reform

Here’s a few items you should pay attention to today:

2JobBob Blumenfield: Unethical & Illegal

2JobBob Blumenfield is the subject today of a formal complaint to the city Ethics Commission about using his huge war chest for his Assembly re-election campaign to support his meager war chest for his simultaneous campaign for the LA City Council in the West San Fernando Valley’s CD3.

The complaint came in a letter (Presberg–ethics letter) from one of his eight opponents, Steve Presberg, who wrote in part:

As you know, I am a candidate for the City Council, 3rd District.  You may recall my testimony at your August meeting in which I urged you to audit and investigate the fundraising and expenditures of another candidate in this race, Bob Blumenfield.  I said then that Mr. Blumenfield’s running for two offices at the same time (re-election to the State Assembly and election to the City Council) raised very serious questions as to whether our City’s laws and your Department’s regulations were being flouted.

While your Honorable Board and Department certainly cannot regulate a state campaign, I believe you must act to prevent a complete mockery being made of your own regulations.  If you do not act, then Mr. Blumenfield will have established the blueprint for how to run for City office while ignoring our regulations: simply set up a committee as a candidate for state office and collect much larger contributions, and make expenditures, that would be impermissible in a City election.

As an example, Mr. Blumenfield’s filing with your office indicates that he has spent only $1,302 in his City Council race.  However, in his State Assembly filing, running against an opponent who has spent almost nothing, he has spent over $450,000 – and please note: these expenditures are being made in virtually the same precincts that are contained in both districts.  An obvious question is whether his state committee is pre-paying consultants and vendors for services to benefit his City Council race.

In his State filing as well, note that he has received numerous contributions in amounts that far exceed the City contribution limits.  Note also his numerous “gifts” to a long list of other campaign committees and candidates, in the amounts of $3,900 each, something that our City rules forbid.

Don’t Trust MTA with $90 Billion More

By JACK HUMPHREVILLE, LA WATCHDOG 

“Would it be a good idea to see how Metro handles the first $40 billion of sales tax revenue before we give them an additional $90 billion?”

You bet it is.

This is reason enough to vote NO on Measure J, the November ballot measure that proposes to extend the life of the “one-half cent traffic relief sales tax” for an additional thirty years to 2069.

If passed by two-thirds of the voters, this extension would provide the politically controlled Metropolitan Transit Authority (“Metro”) with an additional $90 billion, resulting in a 60 year total of $130 billion.

While we have questioned Metro’s management capability and organizational resources to control so many complex, capital intensive highway and mass transit construction projects that will burden our grandchildren with tens and tens of billions in debt and interest payments, we have not focused on …

(READ FULL STORY)

Riordan to Put Real Pension Reform on Ballot

By PATRICK RANGE McDONALD, LA Weekly

Long sounding the alarm for city employee pension reform, former LA Mayor Richard Riordan is no longer waiting for the City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to come up with the big fix.

On Friday morning, Riordan will file papers with the City Clerk so he can start a signature-gathering campaign and ultimately place a pension reform initiative on the May 2013 ballot. The former mayor says that if voters approve the measure, the city will save “hundreds of millions of dollars” every year by 2017 and an upwards of a billion dollars by 2020.

In an exclusive interview with L.A. Weekly, Riordan explains that his dramatic move, which will pit his campaign against powerful city employee unions and City Hall politicians, is to “prevent the city of Los Angeles from going bankrupt, and preventing the closing of our parks and severe damages to services. In short, it’s to stop us from becoming a third-world city.”

Riordan calls his plan the “Fair Share Pension Reform Act of 2013.” Friend and billionaire Eli Broad and attorney David Fleming are helping with the effort.

Riordan’s plan will have current city employees contribute a “small and fair amount” to their pension benefits and will enroll new workers in a 401k system with a maximum 10 percent contribution from the city. It also promises to end employee “double-dipping.”

 (READ FULL STORY)

Beware Charlie Beck: Fallout from Police Riot at 2007 May Day Protest Stains Bill Bratton’s Reputation Once Again

EDITOR’S NOTE: Top Cop Bill Bratton was a public relations whiz, wrapping LA’s second-rate politicians and media around his nimble fingers — only the May Day 2007 police riot and his handling afterwards ever stained his reputation. The fallout from that incident continues with a court ruling last week that focused on his illegal demotion of Officer Mark Blizzard for excessive use of force against the media that day. Charlie Beck is no Bill Bratton and his special treatment of unlicensed and lawbreaking illegal immigrants will inevitably stain his reputation far worse over time. 

It was the worst day in Bill Bratton’s friendly, new LAPD — May Day 2007, the day when crack Metro Division cops rioted breaking up an immigrant rights protests of thousands in MacArthur Park.

Provoked by agitators throwing rocks and plastic bottles, an overwhelming force of 600 out-of-control cops in riot gear waded into the crowd swinging their batons, firing 146 rubber bullets, violently pushing protesters and news media out of their way as they cleared the street.

Bratton, the master politician, took charge of managing the crisis with every elected official from the mayor on down following his lead with promises of investigations to “determine if the use of force was appropriate.”

By the end of May with the uproar still growing, the chief announced there had been “a command and control breakdown,” demoted the deputy chief involved and created a new training bureau. Four months later, he completed his investigation but it took nearly a year longer before he decided 17 Metro officers and two sergeants should be disciplined and another six months for the city to settle claims for $13 million.

The goal all along was to get closure on a major political problem but last week, the May Day police riot had yet another fallout: Officer Mark Blizzard who was reprimanded, demoted and reassigned for his actions won a unanimous verdict from a three-judge state Court of Appeals panel that Bratton abused his authority in the case. (Blizzard-Appeal)

In Bratton’s haste to find fall guys for what went wrong, laws and procedures were trampled on at least in the case of Blizzard — a Patrol Officer III who the court noted had an “exemplary” record with extremely positive evaluations, which probably says more about the quality of LAPD’s review process as it does about Blizzard.

Blizzard was charged with seven acts of misconduct regarding the unnecessary use of force arising out of a crowd control incident, two of them involving TV cameramen.

In mid-2008, some 15 months after the incident, police brass took the extraordinary step of demoting and reassigning Blizzard and three other officers even before they got hearings on the charges.

Bratton overruled his staff and imposed the punishment immediately which became a problem since at his Board of Rights, Blizzard beat the rap on the five civilian assaults but not the two involving the media.  Here’s what the appeals court said:

As to the issue of penalty, the Board of Rights recommended that Officer Blizzard be officially reprimanded. The Board of Rights concluded that Officer Blizzard was an outstanding officer, who was remorseful and contrite.  The Board found that Officer Blizzard’s actions were not malicious and neither of the cameramen was seriously injured.

Bratton didn’t care what the Board or anyone except the media as his quotes cited by the court makes clear and so he trampled on the law, due process and LAPD procedures and imposed the penalties anyway — actions that were repudiated by the court in reinstating Blizzard’s rank and position, and awarding him back pay for four years plus the costs incurred by the Police Protective League in defending him.

“I agree that Officer Blizzard’s lack of judgment in the unauthorized use of force, particularly given that the unauthorized force was against media members who were no threat to Blizzard, is further reason to keep Officer Blizzard out of Metropolitan Division and reject the request to transfer him back to Metropolitan Division.

Officer Blizzard’s misconduct, along with that of others in Metropolitan Division on May 1, 2007, brought public disgrace to the Los Angeles Police Department.  The misconduct was filmed by news media and broadcast for days afterwards.  The effects of Officer Blizzard’s misconduct was not trivial to either the persons he struck, to the community, or to the Department.”

The emphasis has been added to make it clear just how political Bratton was and how his eye was on how things played in the media since he found LA’s politicians so weak and lazy that he could manipulate them at will without risk.
COMING SOON: Chief Charlie Beck’s Special Treatment of Illegal Immigrants and the Risk to Public Safety

2JobBob Will Stick the Poor, Sick and Kids with $3 Million Special Election Bill if He Wins Assembly and Council Races

For 2JobBob Blumenfield, two jobs won’t be enough.

Surely even someone as politically powerful as the two-term Chairman of the California Budget Committee — where his “budgets usually turn into red ink the moment they’re signed,” according to LA Times columnist George Skelton — would face a big challenge raising the $3 million it will cost for a special election to succeed him in the Legislature.

See Bob’s ambition so exceeds his capacity that he is simultaneously running for a third term in the Assembly and a first term on the LA City Council where he would double his salary and dramatically increase his perks if elected.

He has stated that if he wins both elections, it is his intention to avoid missing a single day’s pay by serving in Legislature through June when he intends to resign and be sworn in the next day as the Councilman for the Southwest San Fernando Valley in the CD3 seat now held by the leading contender for City Controller (heaven help us) Dennis Zine.

At that point the nearly half million people 2JobBob has so ineptly served in his Assembly District will be without representation for many months what with the time it takes to schedule a special election, allow adequate time for fund-raising and campaigning, hold a primary and runoff election for the top two finishers.

Talyssa Gonzales in the County Registrar-Recorder is getting calls about just how costly this special election process is and here’s what she says:

“The cost of a special election for the Assembly here is estimated to be between $1.3 and $1.5 million, that’s just for the primary. “If none of the candidates receives a majority in the primary, then there will be a runoff  between the top two finishers and that is expected to cost about the same amount, between $1.3- million and $1.5-million.”

That’s a lot of money just to flatter 2JobBob’s ego needs and to get yet another failed legislator from Sacramento on the City Council. We’ve already got five legislative retreads — Herb Wesson, Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, Tony Cardenas (running to Congress) and Richard Alarcon (running to avoid prison) — plus a mayor named Antonio Villaraigosa with four more legislators hoping to hit the jackpot in city elections in March.

Think about it for a minute: These are all people who failed so miserably at their jobs that they virtually bankrupted the state, so over-regulated everything that businesses have fled and left California with among the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the nation and lowest funding for public education while allowing the infrastructure to age beyond repair and creating a $500 billion unfunded liability for public employee pensions that will perpetuate their failure for decades.

And then there’s 2JobBob who wrote four phony budgets and approved closing state parks because he never bothered to look at the bank accounts and see there was $52 million just sitting there to keep them all running for a good while.

We can be sure 2JobBob has done right well financially even without ever having worked in private sector as an adult although he thinks non-profits and government-created agencies are in the private sector which may actually explain a lot.

It’s safe to assume that 2JobBob won’t write a check to cover the $3 million and it’s unlikely he could raise that kind of money for the special election from the Indian gaming interests, unions, insurers and other special interests who fund his campaigns.

So if you run into 2JobBob before the November election for the Assembly or the March election for the Council, be sure to ask him who he wants to pay his bill: Schoolkids, the poor, the sick, the homeless or you and me?

Come on, 2JobBob, do the right thing, make a decision. Which job, Bob? 

My Sunday Column: Eyeing the Ballot Propositions — Follow the Money and Let the Buyer Beware

With absolute certainty, I am prepared a month before the election to predict the outcome in California: President Obama will carry the nation’s largest state and Democrats will maintain dominance in both houses of the state Legislature.

Of course everybody but the most ardent and optimistic partisan knows that since our general elections are more confirmations of the status quo than choices about which direction to take for our future.

Sure, an unusually popular Republican could still win a state office now and again, even the governorship; but it’s going to take a political earthquake to shake things up.

Your vote still matters, though, and so do your values when it comes to the 11 ballot propositions that could raise taxes, bar unions from using payroll-deducted funds for politics, ban the death penalty, limit the three-strikes law to serious third offenses and so much more — or less, depending on your point of view.

There’s even a measure that would make require labeling of genetically engineered foods — well at least some of them — so consumers will know they are not what nature created all by herself.

It is all very confusing, especially when you are bombarded with totally misleading ads and mailers that have little or nothing to do with what is on the ballot.

Lesson No. 1 in politics is “follow the money” and www.maplight.org makes that a lot easier to do. You can see who benefits and who gets hurt and how much they care. Top contributors to each of the 11 measures as of Sept. 30 are online at http://votersedge.org/california/ballot-measures/2012/november.

(READ THE FULL STORY)

The Truth About the Current Farmers Field Proposal — An Analysis by an Economic and Management Expert

EDITOR’S NOTE: On the day the City Council closed the deal on Farmers Field without knowing who they were doing business with, Quentin Fleming — author, management consultant and adjunct professor of managerial decision-making and strategic planning at USC’s Marshall School of Business — sent a letter to mayor and Council urging rejection of the proposal. Fleming leaped into the debate in July with a devastating analysis based on the overwhelming evidence that new stadiums do not provide a net economic benefit to cities . A few days later, Fleming and LA Neighbors United founder Cary Brazeman, now a candidate for City Controller, combined to raise a long list of serious questions to the deal finalized last week without the mayor or Council improving the deal or waiting prudently until a new owner for AEG was found. You can read Fleming’s comprehensive report submitted Friday (Reynolds 9-28-12 Council Submittal). Here is his cover letter:

Dear Mr. Mayor:

I have spent over 300 hours researching and analyzing the proposed deal between the City and AEG regarding the downtown stadium and event center.   The information in this document is a summary of my research/analysis and supplements the information in my prior letters of 7/28/11, 8/3/11 and 8/9/11 (available in the Council File).

You must reject the proposed deal for a number of compelling reasons.

Farmers Field will not be an engine of economic growth, nor will it generate badly needed additional tax revenues to the City’s General Fund:

  • Farmers Field will only create approximately 70-130 full-time jobs and between 1,000-1,500 part-time day-of-game jobs, not the 20,000-30,000 jobs claimed by AEG.
  •  Farmers Field will create an economic loss of $58 million annually to the Los Angeles economy.
  • Mega-events such as Super Bowls, Final Fours, etc., do not produce an economic gain for the host cities — in most cases they actually produce an economic loss.
  •  There will be no new bed tax revenues from any new downtown hotels because the City Council has recently awarded $700 million in subsidies to the developers of these hotels and will be compelled to continue to do so.

AEG can and should pay much more for the use of our valuable public property — we are not being properly compensated:

  • The true revenue to AEG will be $2.6 billion greater than those reported by the City’s consultants over the next 30 years.
  • The true IRR (Internal Rate of Return) to AEG will be approximately 22%, not the 6.7% per the City’s consultants.

The deal, as structured, represents taxpayer funds being used to build facilities for the benefit of a private business:

  • Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles taxpayers — not AEG — have fully paid the cost to build Staples Center through hidden subsidies and other incentives granted by the City Council.  Farmers Field will be a repeat through the deal as currently structured.
  • The City is relying on a flawed economic forecast designed to help AEG advocate for economic concessions, preventing the taxpayers from being properly compensated for the use of public property by a private business.

Finally, AEG is in the process of being sold.  We do not know the identity of the eventual buyer or what their intentions will be. It is irresponsible to proceed with this deal.

Enclosed are attachments that support  the assertions I am making in this letter. Submitted in the spirit of a better Los Angeles,

Quentin  Fleming

A Tribute to Patrick Caruthers: When the Grit of the City Matters as Much as the Glamour and the Glitter . . .

It would not be a completely true statement to say that bureaucratic sloth and sleazy politics at City Hall killed Patrick Caruthers – the church-going 19-year-old special needs high school graduate and LA Trade Tech student – in broad daylight in the most gang-infested and dangerous park in Los Angeles.

It would not be absolutely certain that Patrick would still be alive today if the surveillance camera system designed in January with funding approved in February had been installed in Jackie Tatum-Harvard Park in South LA in a timely matter, its final approval stalled for eight months until three days after he was dead.

It wouldn’t be totally fair to suggest that petty little men like Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine who do the bidding of the smiling face of power politics in LA, Council President Herb Wesson, actually pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Patrick shortly after he called his stepfather to report he was safe in the park.

No doubt some gang punk – part of the Six-Deuce Brims that has treated the park like private property for decades — shot Patrick in the back repeatedly at 3:15 in the afternoon a week ago Tuesday as he sat on a bench in the park that was his home away from home since he was six, the place where he volunteered to help others, where everyone knew him and cared about him.

Complete truth, absolute certainty and total fairness aside, Wesson is vengeful man who stole the heart of Bernard Parks’ constituency for himself in the redistricting process he corrupted and, in keeping with long-standing City Hall practice, punished Parks for opposing him and blocked his effort to serve his constituents effectively.

Complete truth, absolute certainty and total fairness aside, the evidence shows that Englander, the reserve cop, and Zine, the retired traffic cop – chair and member of the Public Safety Committee respectively – deliberately held up the camera contract for two critical months when it had already taken six months to get it through the LAPD, the City Administrative Office, the mayor’s office and into the Council system.

Englander was asked the day after Patrick’s murder by LA Times reporter Angel Jennings why the camera contract was stuck in his committee — why he refused to act on the contract in August and then canceled a mid-September meeting where he had promised to take action. Jennings reported:

“On Tuesday, a couple of hours before Caruthers died, Councilman Mitch Englander, chairman of the public safety committee, forwarded the initiative to the City Council for final approval, he said in a statement. An equipment issue that had been holding it up ‘seems to have been resolved,’ Englander said in an emailed statement.”

Englander’s statement was a lie.

There was absolutely no equipment problem; the design was completed by the contractor CelPlan Technologies in January, something the company has done hundreds of times.

The record further shows Englander did not waive consideration of the contract in his committee until two days after the murder, not “a couple of hours before Caruthers died.” That’s why it was put on the “special” agenda because the public did not have 72-hours notice required for regular agenda items.

And when the Council finally approved the contract last Friday, as an emergency measure, Zine tried to add to the cover up of what had happened by raising false and unfounded concerns about whether the company was charging different maintenance/warranty fees for different installations and whether it was delivering on its commitments.

The video of LAPD Commanding Officer for ITA, Maggie Goodrich, shows how indifferent to the truth Zine is, in this and in so many other cases, and how he bullied her as if she wasn’t doing her job properly when he is the one engaged in a cynical attempt to conceal why this contract was not speeded along.

The official city records show that Englander wasn’t telling the truth in other ways. (Harvard Park cameras contract)

The contract cleared Maggie Goodrich’s desk on May 11, was forwarded by Chief Charlie Beck to the Police Commission on May 16, and approved on June 5. Two days later, the letter of approval was sent to “Honorable mayor . . . attention Mandy Morales.”

Why it took from June 7 until July 31 for City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and his staff to complete an “analysis” that is nothing more than pasting what Maggie Goodrich wrote in a long paragraph into a new document and adding a sentence recommending approval.

The next day mayor Chief-of-Staff Gaye Williams signed paperwork sending it to the City Council and assigned on Aug. 7 to Englander’s committee. But it didn’t get on his agenda until Aug. 24 because the meeting two weeks earlier was canceled, according to city records.

It was a busy committee meeting on the 24th what with the reserve cop, the retired traffic cop and a third cop, former Sgt. Joe Buscaino, also a committee member, enjoying their power as “policy makers” so much they demanded that LAPD brass deliver reports:

  • Relative to the false alarm program, including: number of alarm dispatches, number/percentage of false alarms, number of addresses with multiple false alarms, mechanism for informing false alarm bill recipients of availability of Alarm School, opportunity to appeal a false alarm fee, and criteria for granting an appeal.
  • Relative to the status of the fingerprint analysis backlog, how the Department’s plan maximizes available resources, and how incoming cases will be prioritized for analysis.
  • Relative to the impact of reduced staffing in the Department’s Latent Print Unit, the status of the current testing backlog, and how the implementation of the Department’s plan will be an effective resolution.

What with low-ranking officers turned Councilmen relishing the chance to harass the command staff, there just wasn’t time to deal with installing cameras that could have saved Patrick Caruthers life or provided evidence about who killed him.

So Englander continued the item to the mid-September meeting but he cancelled that – probably because everyone at City Hall was working so hard to give away the farm for Farmers Field to enrich billionaire Phil Anschutz and near billionaire Tim Leiweke without the city getting a dime, only promises.

What the official record shows is that Englander didn’t forward the contract “hours before” Patrick’s murder. On Sept. 27, two days later, the record says: “Public Safety Committee waived consideration of the item.”

Frantic to clean the record after the fact, Wesson put it on the agenda for the 28th, at the end of the day of the orchestrated celebration of closing the deal with whomever it is that will somehow own the company that was being granted a fortune in entitlements because of Leiweke’s ability to buy and manipulate City Hall.

That is when Parks found an opening to introduce the senseless murder of Patrick Caruthers near the start of the AEG festivities with its obscene glorification of the flag, the military, Watts Tower, the Dodgers, Roz Wyman, Peter O’Malley, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Rodney Peete and Time Warner Cable — the company that will deny broadcasts of Laker games for the next 20 years to anyone who can’t pay for the privilege to view them in English and Spanish simulcasts.

A chagrined Wesson couldn’t deny Parks an emergency motion near the start of the carefully scripted and staged meeting so he could provide a $50,000 reward for information about who killed Patrick. The detective investigating the case got to speak and so did Gail Sears, the devoted mother who raised her son with learning disabilities to be a good and decent and loving human being despite the violent environment the city tolerated around him.

Parks pointedly apologized to her for the long delay in installing the cameras and promised her, for what it was worth, that her son would be remembered with honor during the ceremony when the new skate plaza is opened.

After the Council Chamber had emptied and Leiweke and AEG had left with fabulously valuable entitlements in hand, Parks got to take up Item 31, the contract with CelPlan for the cameras.

He brought out South Bureau Chief Robert Green who told the story of years of police efforts to rid the Tatum-Harvard Park of the gang, to get the city to invest more than $8 million making it a quality park, of the frustration over how long it has taken to get the cameras.

He told how the Six-Deuce Brims terrorized residents, forced construction workers out of the park, coerced parks workers and gang intervention workers into participating in the their rap video showing how to humiliate women, intimidate men and turn cocaine into crack – how the minute the cops stopped patrolling the park, the hoodlums reclaimed their turf, which is why the cameras mattered so much.

Maggie Goodrich, LAPD’s chief of information technology, stood her ground under Zine’s assault, telling him in the nicest way possible that he was wrong and didn’t know what he was talking about — not that he cared what a woman had to say.

Used to taking advantage of women, Zine persisted, desperate like a man in quicksand. He prattled mindlessly, demanding “just a little bit more sales pitch on our side … understood from that, squeeze a little more out of them to give back for what we’re doing .. . that’s what I’m looking at,” lectured the man without the slightest qualification to be City Controller unless egotism and hot air are qualifications.

“Understood,” she said, but the look on her face tells you exactly what she thinks of him, what you should think of him, too.

This incident might be dismissed as a tragic mistake, a miscalculation made in the heat of political battle, if this were an isolated case.

But it isn’t. This is what goes on every day in every way in city government in Los Angeles.

No one in the world – certainly not the National Football League — except Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and your LA City Council would give the right to transform a vast area of downtown into a cold, soulless commercial horror show blazing in the night with digital billboards and not even know who they were doing business with as if it doesn’t matter whether you’re surrendering the parks to hoodlums or the future to the greedy.

No, they didn’t kill Patrick Caruthers. They just made his murder possible in small ways by not putting surveillance cameras in every park where the gangs operate and in big ways with a “Baghdad solution” that allows gangstas to operate with impunity as long as the violent crime statistics keep declining.

Patrick Caruthers should not be relegated to nothing more than a statistic.

His death should spur an all-out effort by the city to liberate the 10,000 residents of the Harvard Park area from their enslavement by the Six-Two Brims and to stop pacifying the violence and inhumanity of gangsters all over the city by allowing them to steal, deal drugs and terrorize so many.

That would be a fitting tribute for Patrick Caruthers, a sign that what goes on in the grit of the city matters as much as the glamour and glitter.

Who Killed Patrick Caruthers? Them — or Us?

The video above will give you the gist of a story, the teaser to make you pay attention to the full 15-minute movie about the senseless killing of 19-year-old Patrick Caruthers last week  as he sat on a bench in South LA’s Jackie Tatum-Harvard Park.

It was broad daylight, 3:15 p.m. and his assailant shot him repeatedly in the back and then fled in a small dark sedan.

For Caruthers, who had special needs because of a learning disability, the park was his home away from home since he was six years old. He was a park volunteer who recently graduated from Manual Arts High and was attending a vocational education program to learn a job skill.

The park has been under control of the 62 Brims gang for decades. At the urging of the LAPD and Councilman Bernard Parks, the city has spent more than $8 million in the last three years for a swimming pool, tennis courts, lights and a soon-to-open skate park as well as stepping up patrols.

But officials dropped the ball on the $200,000 for video cameras that might have deterred the murder or at least provided clues to who was responsible.

More later about why funding for the cameras was approved by the City Council last Valentine’s Day at Parks’ request yet it took six months before the issue came back to the Council and was buried in the Public Safety Committee chaired by Mitch Englander until the day after Caruthers was killed.

Here’s the full movie with a complete commentary to come after you’ve had a chance to watch it:

AEG MOVIE ACT 4: “LA — Open for Business Or Up for Sale”

And the Oscar for political theater goes to … Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group for a brilliant performance running circles around LA’s politicians and bureaucrats and bamboozling the public with a fantasy of football, jobs and prosperity.

Magnificent!

In the climactic scene of a two-year “drama” over what always was a done deal, the City Council voted unanimously Friday to give AEG entitlements to build Farmers Field and rebuild the white elephant Convention Center (which it is sure to operate) without any significant direct benefits coming to the city.

Clearly, it was something to cheer about. Junior Council members Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino, the reserve cop and the ex-cop, high five each other in joy at the thrilling historic moment and Buscaino salutes Tim Leiweke sitting at the end of the front pew.

Then, Council members and top bureaucrats rush in a line for the chance to shake the man with the golden hand and congratulate him for how he managed to get them to vote for a project that commits all tax revenue to pay its costs, requires huge public expenditures for infrastructure and leaves eight critical environmental areas — including air quality and traffic congestion — with significant unmitigated impacts.

While indicted felon Richard Alarcon throws a football to the audience, a single Councilman remains seated and doesn’t even look up from his papers during the festivities — former Police Chief Bernard Parks — while the architect of the approval stands nearby basking in the glory.

Beautiful! Don’t you love LA?

AEG MOVIE ACT 4 “The Pitch”: “LA — Open for Business or Up for Sale”

AEG MOVIE ACT 4 “The Vote”: “LA — Open for Business or Up for Sale”