The 80 percent who don’t vote and the 90 percent who don’t even pay attention are right – nothing can be done about the political pestilence that is eating at the soul of the city.
A century ago, the great muckraker Lincoln Steffens wrote the “Shame of the Cities” about how a little corruption helped cities to work better for the common good but pervasive corruption destroyed the quality of life and economic opportunity.
It’s why I became a journalist. It’s why I believed that information could set people free or at least create a balance of interest, values and needs.
I was wrong. It can’t be done when a system is so impacted as the politics of Los Angeles.
For two hours Wednesday, the City Council and a cadre of his constituents who personally benefited in one way or another from Dennis Zine’s years of public self-service celebrated him as a tireless worker for the public benefit – a sentiment that was clearly half true since Dennis is the epitome of opportunism, a man finally rejected at the polls as he should have been so long ago when he wept on street corners to save the disgraced Police Chief Daryl Gates or himself with a female officer on a police union junket.
It was an orgy of self-congratulations as every Council member with the notable absence of his onetime boss, the former Police Chief, Councilman Bernard Parks, offered personal tribute to the greatness of the man – all of which amounted as much to praise of themselves as Zine’s tireless efforts to aggrandize himself with anyone who would listen and take a gift of the city’s money.
In truth, Dennis is no more a villain than any of the rest of them, just more shameless which ought to be the title of he sequel to Lincoln Steffens book: “Los Angeles: City Without Shame.”
Exhausted by their self-indulgence, the Council soon retired to a close session for lunch and drinks with Zine in the back room supposedly to consider the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s idiotic proposal to create an unbelievably costly and wasteful city health department, offering no more argument than that sexual practices among some are still so reckless syphilis is almost as rampant as it is in Russia.
And without public fanfare to agree to pay $4.1 million to the the two newspaper delivery women wounded in a barrage of pre-dawn gunfire from half a dozen LAPD officers on a stakeout to protect a commander from retaliation by Christopher Dorner.
What was left on the table, tabled in fact for another day, was the plum of city business that actually has the few who still care and believe reform is possible aroused to action despite the irrelevance of their concerns to Zine and his imperious colleagues.
It is the Millennium Project in Hollywood – a massive development that will be the centerpiece of transforming Hollywood into an imitation Times Square in New York or Ginza in Tokyo, driving up property values that will force long-time businesses and residents to flee to West Covina or beyond.
Here is the concluding passage of a 56-page challenge to what the ethically challenged Planning Commission and morally-challenged PLUM Committee (Reyes, Huizar and Englander) have approved in the face of numerous legal problems. It was submitted by land use and public interest attorney Robert Silverstein and his associate Daniel Wright and will undoubtedly form the basis of a lawsuit. (READ FULL LETTER MILLENIUM–6-18-13 FINAL Objection Letter for PLUM)
THE CONDUCT OF CITY PLANNING OFFICIALS AND THE CITY ATTORNEY VIOLATE THE GOOD FAITH OBLIGATIONS OF THOSE WHO HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE.
The way in which the Millennium Hollywood Project entitlements are being processed by City officials marks an alarming departure from their mandatory duty to carry out the responsibilities of their offices with “disinterested skill, zeal, and diligence, and primarily for the benefit of the public.” Noble v. City of Palo Alto (1928) 89 Cal.App.2d 47, 51; Clark v. City of Hermosa Beach (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1152, 1170.
It is a fundamental principle of law that public officers must obey the law, Wirin v. Parker (1957) 48 Cal.2d 890, 894, and they have absolutely no authority to decide to ignore laws they are duty bound by their office to carry out, whether or not they disagree with them. Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco (2004) 33 Cal. 4th 1055, 1079-1082.7
Our Supreme Court long ago confirmed that acceptance of election or appointment to a public office carries with it the duty to exercise good faith and diligence, even if the law does not expressly state it. San Diego County v. Utt (1908) 173 Cal. 554, 559-560. The Court of Appeal confirmed this principle in holding that a public officer is, as a result of holding his office, duty-bound to discharge those responsibilities with integrity and fidelity to the public that he or she serves. Terry v. Bender (1956) 143 Cal.App.2d 198, 206.
These fundamental precepts of public service have been discarded by the way the City Planning Department, the CPC, and City Councilman and soon-to-be-Mayor Eric Garcetti have overseen preparation of a scheme to break the “social contract” with the stakeholders living and working broadly in the City of Los Angeles, and specifically in the vicinity of the proposed Millennium Hollywood Project.
Since when can the City Planning Director require a nearby property owner at Hollywood & Gower to seek and obtain a variance from the Advisory Agency’s regulation requiring 2.5 parking spaces per condominium unit, but the Millennium Developer is allowed to proceed as if the Advisory Agency’s regulation does not even exist?
Since when did the City of Los Angeles determine, in direct violation of CEQA mandates, that it could override the specific study directions given by Caltrans, a responsible agency under CEQA with specific rights and duties?
Since when does the City participate in the obfuscation of life and safety issues related to the proximity of an active earthquake fault within the Project site? The total lack of substantial evidence to support the false conclusion that the Hollywood Fault is far away from the Project site, the failure to address the data from Dr. Dolan of USC, and the suppression of the California Geological Survey’s 2010 Fault Map which shows active faults across the Millennium Site, shock the conscience. It most certainly does not comply with the requirements of CEQA or State law regarding building in, near or on an earthquake rupture zone.
Since when can a developer who has business before the City’s Planning Commission think he can “facilitate” his Project entitlements through the City by hiring the President of the City Planning Commission to work on the very Project Mr. Roschen and his Commission colleagues were asked to consider and approve?
Since when does the City Planning Department staff think that it can grant itself in a Q condition the power to approve secret variances from Project conditions imposed by the CPC, and unilaterally interpret the “intent” of those project conditions – in direct violation of law, including Terminal Plaza Corp. v. City and County of San Francisco (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 814, 830-835?
Since when did the City of Los Angeles and the City Attorney conclude that they could allow a developer to write special development regulations that explicitly state that when adopted by the City (in a development agreement, and now a Q condition contract) the developer’s regulations would “prevail” over the City’s own Charter and Municipal Code?
And finally, since when did it become a policy and practice of the City to ignore applicable state and local laws en masse to approve completely inappropriate real estate projects while ignoring all duties of public trust, fidelity and good faith, and thus requiring communities to sue the City to compel its compliance with laws which our California and United States Supreme Courts say they must obey as public officials?
The City has committed a gross violation of the public trust in allowing the Millennium Hollywood Project to get this far. The law requires that City officials carry out their mandatory duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community by denying this Project and the subject EIR.
On behalf of Appellant, its constituent groups, dozens of supporting neighborhood associations, and hundreds of thousands of Hollywood and City of Los Angeles residents, we urge you to reject the Project and its EIR entirely.