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Public Be Damned: LAX Expansion and the Culture of Greed

In this the fifth anniversary month of my citizen activism, I thought the desolation of this election season and the futility of all that I have done – Saving LA Project,, LA Clean Sweep, 1902 blog posts and more than 100 newspaper columns – had silenced my voice.

And then a friend called to remind me the City Council today was taking up the long-delayed expansion plan for LAX, construction of a new north runway to accommodate super-jets at the expense of long-term disturbance of Westchester and other Westside communities and abandonment of a regionalized air traffic policy that would benefit all of Southern California.

It is an issue I’ve followed for 20 years or so and never understood why anyone in their right mind would try to salvage one of the world’s worst airports – landlocked and ocean-locked, bereft of public transport access – unless there was an ulterior motive that had nothing to do with the public interest.

The motive, of course, is the motive for everything that happened in L.A. for the last 150 years: GREED.

The business community, the labor leadership, the civic leadership are all aboard the plans for LAX, public be damned, congestion be damned, the environment be damned. There’s money to be made so why share any of it with the nobodies out in the Antelope Valley, Inland Empire or anywhere else.

Only Rosendahl (and his successor Mike Bonin) stood against the nonsense of the LAX “modernization” scheme if you discount the opportunism (Mayor) Garcetti and (Controller) Zine in casting safe “no” votes and the phony hand-wringing from the weak-kneed Koretz who rolled over as usual to the power structure.

The worst part is the EIR they approved 10-3 for the $652 million project to move the north runway 260 feet closer to residential neighborhoods for what LAX officials admitted was only a marginal safety increase, more convenience than safety in fact, totally lacks plans for traffic impact during years of construction that includes major re-routing of Lincoln Boulevard.

But who cares – more passengers means more jobs for hotel workers with their “living wage” deals, and more revenue for hotel operators blackmailed into those deals, more union construction jobs guaranteed under city-enforced project labor agreements, more business opportunities in the most congested part of the city, county and region instead of out in the boondocks.

It’s all about who profits and who holds the keys to power no matter how much harm is done to the quality of life for vast numbers of people.

This is what L.A. is about – money and power. It’s why the L.A. County Chamber of Commerce, the L.A. Civic Alliance, the L.A. County Federation of Labor all aboard to this high-flying flight to oblivion.

They are united behind Greuel for mayor and mostly for Galperin for controller, which is why Garcetti and Zine are siding with the begrudged community that came out in force with support from the city’s lowest paid unionized workers in the SEIU.

They have been united for decades now, feeding off the public, turning L.A. into a horror-show with the nation’s dirtiest air, worst congestion, bursting pipes and rutted streets, deteriorating neighborhoods, pervasive gangs, poor schools, soaring poverty, dying economy and a rapidly declining quality of life.

These are your masters. You are their slaves. You suffer the consequences of their actions, pay their bills and when it all gets to be too much, slink off with a whimper and whine.

L.A. – don’t you love it?

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41 Responses to Public Be Damned: LAX Expansion and the Culture of Greed

  1. tyndon clusters says:

    Its a boondoggle plain and simple. Yes to all the improvements. Yes to bringing in the rail connector. Yes to modernization, but the runway movement is just another jobs payoff to the hidden masters who now run this city for their own selfish interests.

    The unholy alliance of LA Chamber with LA Fed of Labor and the big contractor/developer is the last straw.

    LA does it ring a Bell? You betcha!

    • Rita-of-Sunland says:

      They’ve got “We’re-too-big-to-fail”-itis. Hubris on ACID. Vote for our latest “COPS/FIREMAN/TEACHER” tax, or you hate children and love Big Oil.

  2. teddy says:

    May I tell you Thank You? You are different from our so-called
    “City Fathers”. You have principles and know the difference -
    right from wrong – fair or not fair.

  3. KS says:

    Welcome home, Ron.

  4. Damien says:

    This deal still has to pass through the desk of our City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. He will slow it down if not outright kill it, if he’s re-elected. You saw what he did with those digital billboards.

    He’s the only one with any real balls and convictions in City Hall.

  5. Re: Damien (aka Satan): YES YES YES!!! I will block that miserable Airport boondoggle, AND buy every Angelino who votes for me a free Pizza! (My campaign manager says I can’t buy anymore Toyota’s for my voters.) See, Angelinos, even down in Hades, they know I’m needed for a 2nd term as L.A. ONLY protector of good vs. Evil! Vote Tru!

  6. Patty says:

    Eric did the right thing and voted with conviction on this – He stood up, not only for the neighbors of LAX, he stood up for the “little guy.”

    Eric Garcetti was a great City Council President and he will make even a greater Mayor.

    Your will be proud of him, like I have been for over 10 years.

    He is a man of integrity, kindness, and love. A love for Los Angeles and love for those who cannot defend themselves such as recently arriving immigrants. He is our champion.

    • Rita-of-Sunland says:

      Uh, Patty—When you say “…recently-arriving immigrants…,” do you actually mean “illegal aliens?”

    • ex valley says:

      Patty, thank you for this reminder to stock up on popcorn because garcetti’s mayorship will be fun to watch. Let me make a few predictions. First he will expand the city immigration office and opens satellites through out the city. if there is the immigration reform, the recently arrived residents need all that help to sign up for welfare, section 8 etc that they will be immediately eligible. But even if there is no reform, I’m sure garcetti would want to “help out”. After all it’s a world class city and there is plenty of somebody else’s money. Then he will open a same sex marriage chapel at the city hall. Again this is the right thing to do. And in between he will make a few pronouncements about green jobs. It sounds so good – green jobs for the world class city to promote green economy. And just to make sure somebody else’s money is flowing , there will be more fees, assessments etc but these are for the children ,so you will feel good. Plus trips to DC – after all this is the world class city and he is the mayor.

  7. cynic says:

    And the hypocrite Greuel is still undecided. Always talking from both sides of her lying mouth.

    • Rita-of-Sunland says:

      Not only that— Wendy Greuel’s the ONLY blonde chick in L.A. who still wears UNDERPANTS!!

  8. ex valley says:

    Here is an excellent read on the la county federation of labor
    (A bit dated from 2004 or so but very relevant)

    Pay attention to the alliance of the fed and democratic politicians so you know who are the special interests these politicians represent.

  9. ex valley says:

    Garcetti supports unions at lax

    Maybe he is part of that unholy alliance — gee what a surprise.

  10. steve says:

    I don’t know if anyone knows this, but yesterday PLUM voted to create a new “Super Department’ of City Planning and Development. This new Department will make it easier for developers to build in Los Angeles because now instead of lobbying several departments they will only have to lobby one. It will be headed by Michael Logrande who the mayor has given the job of making it easier for developers to build. This is Villaraigosa last payment to all of his developer friends. If you care about your neighborhood and don’t want to see traffic and density go crazy you need to get involved with this. See for yourself it is Council File 13-0046.

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the biggest cheerleaders for the merger was Chuck Francoeur, a convicted felon so there would be no checks and balances on his awful developments in the valley. The combining of Planning & Building & Safety doesn’t even results in efficiencies or cost savings. It creates an additional 40 positions when the city should be belt-tightening. LoGrande along with the Mayor’s henchmen like the density loving Planning Commission have to go before they completely ruin the city.

    • Pick a side says:

      Steve, if you read any of Cary brazeman’s pieces on the “streamlining” of the planning code from 2 years ago, you would have been aware that this has been in the works for 2-3 years. Neighborhood protections have been reduced to developments fitting the neighborhood OR being in the economic interests of the community, city OR region. But the planning department will tell you that there has been no substantial change, just “streamlining.”

  11. teddy says:

    These “officials” have no shame. Here in the west valley, they have
    ensured a very large population by permitting many-storied apartment
    buildings on every vacant lot – and especially close to the new transportation
    provided by the trains and bus near Canoga Avenue from Chatsworth south
    to the 101. (It looks like it, I havn’t actually gone the whole route. These
    buildings are very large and very tall (some look eight or ten stories. Maybe
    fewer. I cannot count while driving.

  12. stalker says:

    “Am stalking u”. It will go down as the most memorable quote of this Mayoral race.

    • anonymous says:

      …perhaps an aide or staffer is responsible
      for this imbecilic message….nonetheless,
      these few words speak volumes about the Greuel…
      foolish, shallow and pathetic…

  13. anonymous says:

    “I am stalking you” Villar Greuel`s text to James in begging for his endorsement. But, James after seeing thru this hypocritical garbage and endorsed Garcetti , he is now a Nazi. Let`s get rid of this garbage on May 21.

  14. KK says:

    Thanks for this piece, Ron, you have the gratitude of the weary and sore communities on the Westside. I think the worst part of this experience was seeing everyday citizens who have shown up to meeting after meeting after meeting, learning complicated facts and having well reasoned and well though out points of views being treated with disdain and contempt and never really having a chance. When I heard (I think it was Alarcon) introducing a friendly amendment yesterday to study regionalism, I just about fell out of my chair laughing. The Board of supervisors have already found that LAWA contrary to the spirit of the settlement hasn’t had a meeting about regionalism in over 5 years. So, Alaracon votes to destroy a community while pleading for something that the community affected has been arguing for for 20 years. Citizens think that if we only can come up with the magic phrase or the marshalling of the best facts will carry the day, not realizing that the game is completely fixed. The LA Times editorial calling for the movement of the runway while charactericizing the neighbors opposition as symbolic was about as deeply offensive as it gets. People whimper and whine because their souls get crushed by the machine that worships symbolism of equality while doing the best practice of oligarchy imaginable. The President of the Chamber of Commerce outright practices deception while the newspaper of record files the story about yesterday vote having clearly written it before and my guess is never even being in the room while it occured. There was Bill Rosendahl fighting the effects of cancer while blazing for his constituents while Denny Schnedier publically cried for the loss of his wife, whose last years years in terrible pain fought against this destruction, while imploring council members to do the right thing and they barely looked up. As Kevin Spacey’s character in “House of Cards” said, “I really like people; they stack so well.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    One of these two assholes will make decisions about the LAX runway and everything that affects your quality of life. Look at the way the two blame each other when both are equally corrupt.

    “The candidates — City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti — also spent Thursday morning blaming each other for the fact that, as of 2011, DWP employees made an average of $99,381, or about 25% more than their counterparts at other public and private utilities.

    In a press release, Greuel said, “Despite his attempt to point fingers at others, Eric Garcetti is responsible for the DWP’s lofty salaries, huge raises, and bloated pensions. As City Council President, Eric Garcetti negotiated and voted for LADWP’s contract.”

    In a press conference a few hours later Garcetti said the high pay of DWP employees, whose union backs Greuel, “illustrates what’s at stake in this election: a mayor in the pocket of the DWP union or a mayor who is committed to representing all of Los Angeles — ratepayers, taxpayers and residents alike.”

    Garcetti and Greuel both voted in favor of large raises for DWP employees in 2005, when they served together on the council. Garcetti voted for raises again in 2009. Greuel was city controller by then, so she did not have a vote.”

  16. Ricardo says:

    Why didn’t the Neighborhood Council Coalitions or Alliances take a stand on this? When they stopped a motion two months ago in council I had hope they were actually doing something. BUT all they do is meet and talk for hours with no results. Why have Neighborhood Councils exist if they are just as lazy as the corrupt politicans? The clowns in council voting in favor of this LAX plan shouldn’t surprise anyone. They did the same corrupt thing with the redistricting map. Thousands of people spoke out against it but they ignored that voice.

  17. anonymous says:

    We propose a “feasibility study” for
    the creation of an Office of Insanity to
    promote and protect all manifestations
    of LA’s corrupt, irrational, unhealthy bureaucracy.
    Mission statement:celebrate and embrace dysfunction.
    Council members willing to sponsor the motion…hmmm…
    Alarcon, Garcetti, Greuel, Fuentes, Zine…?

  18. teddy says:

    Ricardo, the neighborhod councils were created by the city council so
    that they would not have to be bothered by our telephone calls and angry citizens down at city hall. Now we have two paid (with our taxes) organizations.

    Thrilling isn’t it? And the main feature of both is that we are totally ignored.

    • anonymous says:

      Neighborhood Councils?
      To motivate NC members, offer them a photo-op
      with “officials” or a “meet & greet with catered buffet”…
      Foolish self-serving-aspiring-socialites.
      Worst of the worst. Now part of the problem,
      HA! Screw the people.

    • anonymous says:

      Teddy, you are correct about NCs.
      Another obstacle for the people to overcome.
      Elected and employed bureaucrats fear and resent dealing with us;
      they use the NC system to muddle and obfuscate their racket.
      Remember, with 95 NCs we also created these monsters:
      the dysfunctional DONE and the byzantine BONC.
      Oh, sure, NCs have their cheerleaders and groupies to remind
      us how wonderful and necessary NCs are; however, we know
      NCs have been manipulated to thwart and silence the people.
      Now that NCs are part of the greater bureaucratic racket,
      it will be difficult to limit their destructive influence and
      control the expansionist delusions of power-crazed NC members.

      • LA Moderator says:

        With all due respects…

        While even the most productive of Neighborhood Councils is susceptible to the occasional coup, and a few may need one, there are others that continue to not only groom prospects for rallying this city (or boroughs…or seceding cites), coached in transparency and the accountability of a neighbor, but also those that exemplify the ideal of a town hall where things actually get accomplished.
        And that includes not only serving holding a megaphone for those whose voice may not carry downtown, but banding together with other teams to provide some defense from the constant blitz from the offensive machine that continues to sack us. Weeknight and weekend warriors may not be able to stop every bad idea, but track record continues to improve.
        Measure B is not the only battle won…DWP (and the folks calling in plays) knows they’re being scouted, and with an RPA empowered to conduct independent analysis, we at least have access to info to form a game plan. (I’ll tackle the issue of mandates* from Sacramento and Washington later). Sign ordinances, Farmer’s Field follies, and Community Plans (and items exempted…like The Millennium) continue to be considered on our agendas, and when we have a tool like the Community Impact Statement, what may start as just another shout in the crowd can be stuck right on top of a Council File, where it can’t easily be ignored.
        Go back and look at Ron’s posts around January 15th. You think NC’s weren’t key in not only batting down the first pass of the Street Repair Bond…AND *L.A. County’s ‘rain tax’?
        DONE is arguably better than ever, when it comes to serving as a conduit of information with its Boxified newsletter, a new GM who spent time in our trenches, and even BONC is pushing initiatives on not only how to promulgate better by-laws and best practices, but also ideas such as giving NC representatives more than the minute or two token talk at the horseshoe.
        Don’t believe me? Come on down to Hollywood Constituent Center tomorrow. LANCC certainly has a lightening round when some folks may vent a bit, but there is usually a lot shared and accomplished. It certainly beats sitting at home typing and griping about others who are trying to do something productive.

        • Anonymous says:

          ” It certainly beats sitting at home typing and griping about others who are trying to do something productive.” It has been over 10 years of trying to do something productive. Why do you need taxpayer money to do something productive. Do without it if you are that committed.

          • LA Moderator says:

            I’ve been participating for almost 30 years in this city and others in the County prior…as a volunteer. Herb Wesson is standing two feet from me as I type, with Mitch Englander over my shoulder, in this packed house.

            It’s not about the piddling money…but it’s a pretty good bargain when it supports outreach and hearings by 20-30 active board/committee members times 95. And the Budget scrutiny we conduct with City amd DWP rates.

            Some see this as a pet project piggy bank, but I don’t. Take away the money, and the true believers will stay at it…not a problem.

        • anonymous says:

          Oy vey…
          imagine…”almost thirty years”…!
          “volunteer” team players…!
          and “true believers”…!
          you know…
          there is a correlation with such “leadership”
          and the decline and rot of body politic in LA…

          • LA Moderator says:

            Well, you may feel that way…most of my experience was the small cities, to which people (like Wayne) move to get out of L.A.; and our planning, ordinances, and self-governance were largely crafted to avoid the disastrous mistakes you misattribute.

            It’s certainly a challenge to overcome the machine here, but please consider that some people are trying to be part of a solution. I’m not planning to banter with every Anon, but after 3 or 4 trollish ad hominems lobbed at NC’s, (there being some precedence in the past of them coming from pols and insiders trying to discourage activists on Ron’s and other sites) I’m going to speak up a bit and provide a more productive perspective.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The Neighborhood Councils should be abolished. Mostly, they are a disgrace. Save the money. We could get some potholes filled for the amount wasted on these losers.

  20. anonymous says:

    Angelenos are going to reject a Greuel/D`Arcy coalition government.

  21. ex valley says:

    It is good that garcetti cares who the buyer of la slimes might be

    After all, la slimes have endorsed him now. The new management I guess may not.

    It will be fun to watch garcetti as mayor. Can’t wait.

    • Pick a Side says:

      Out of curiosity, what does your slick sarcasm do for you? Do you get an anger high? We don’t have a great choice for mayor, but running both candidates down doesn’t solve anything except make people feel more apathetic and powerless.

      • ex valley says:

        I’m just enjoying your misery of having these two horrible candidates. Your apathy and cluelessness brought you to this stage of picking a total airhead and slime ball like greuel and a smarter slimeball garcetti. You supported and voted for politicians whose policies have turned the valley into a 3rd world slum. Now since I’m ex , I’m enjoying your pain.

  22. The Times may once again be owned by Gun owning/red-eat meating/heterosexual/conservative men? It could mean the return of the Messiah? OMG! Before the return of sanity, we must first go through the revelations and the Rise of the Beast. Therefore, logically, one must conclude ERIC GARCETTI IS THE ANTI-CHRIST! (But armaggeddon is limited to two terms, so 8 years ought to do it.)
    I’m the good guy–remember to vote for me–the People’s Champion!

  23. Ed Rojas says:

    It is true that over time, things get better.

    It may be hard to believe, but many (mostly White) Californians were quite prejudice In the 40’s long after the Civil war, housing had covenants in White neighborhoods to keep them “White”.

    In 1994, the haters prevailed with Extremist Governor Pete Wilson and the passage of the anti-immigrant Proposition 187.

    And as recently as 2008, hatred reared its ugly head with the passage of homophobic Proposition 8.

    Now public opinion has changed.

    And that is why we need a leader like Eric Garcetti. He is a champion for all of us: White, Black, Latino, Immigrant, Gay, Straight.

    He will liberalize restrictions on everybody and LA will be a leader that the Nation is following

    And that’s why I am glad that Eric Garcetti is in the lead.

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