The No on 710 coalition of groups that cuts across community and demographic lines from the Eastside of Los Angeles to the affluent hillsides of La Canada-Flintridge posted this statement with a 35-minute video of last Thursday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board:
“Mike Anotonvich tries to sabotage Ara Najarian’s motion by having the county attorney claim ‘client attorney privilege regarding who make the final decision on the SR710 tunnel. The public has right to know & not let this backroom BS continue.”
Hard to beat the poetic force of those words.
Najarian, the Glendale Councilman and stalwart opponent of digging twin multi-billion tunnels more than four miles from Alhambra to Pasadena, submitted a motion and an amendment back in April demanding a full explanation of what’s going on with regards to the 710 extension that has been stymied for 60 years.
He wanted to know whether Caltrans or the MTA is in charge and whether there is a contractual relationship justifying the expenditures of tens of millions of dollars for an environmental impact study and massive community outreach program.
As I watched the video of the meeting provided by Joe from El Sereno for the No on 710 activists, I was struck by what was going on in the background.
Every time I looked up, there was the aging Zev Yaroslavsky — the man who coulda and shoulda been mayor of Los Angeles six or seven times over in the last 30 years — and the young newly-elected mayor Eric Garcetti in an intense mostly one-sided conversation.
As a guy whose support might have been more valuable than a former President, woman Senator or the fabulously rich or fabulously powerful like the unions, Yaroslavsky chose to avoid the hardships of battle as he has done for so long in so many ways.
“I have remained neutral in this election in thought, word and deed.”
But now that the election is over and an easily manipulated mayor is in place, Yaroslavsky appears in this video excerpted at various points in the 35-minute banter discussion of why the nature of the relationship between Caltrans and the MTA is top secret, too hot for the public to handle, like spying on our phone calls and emails and snail mail and bank accounts and credit card charges and …National security is all that matters in a nation of frightened little people who protect themselves pretending they are zombies — or maybe they are.
It would seem the termed out Yaroslavsky has found his calling as a mentor to Garcetti, who was attending his first meeting of the MTA, as important a political body as there is because that’s where the money is.
But I digress: The questions before the MTA board posed by Najarian (710- Montion April 25, 2013.)three months ago simply sought what would seem like simple answer: What’s the deal and why after all this time isn’t it clear with regards to the 710 extension?
Brilliantly — if you enjoy the tactics employed by dictatorial governments around the world, at least those that need to pretend they have some legalistic legitimacy — was the ruse chosen by the MTA to avoid public discussion of knowledge of what’s up.
They had their lawyer Charles Safer, who is actually the county’s lawyer rather than the MTA’s, respond to Najarian in writing so they could invoke the attorney-client privilege exemption under the California Public Records Act and keep their misfeasance and possible malfeasance from the public.
It is a specious assertion they made, one I challenged on Friday with emails demanding in emails to all board members and top MTA officials that they release the document in question under the CPRA as a matter of urgency. I haven’t heard back from any of them.
But I’ll bet you umpteen millions of dollars of Measure R taxpayer money that the money does its best to justify the lack of a legal relationship between the MTA and the state and to offer hollow arguments why illegality in the name of expediency is the only way they can move forward and trample on the rights and interests of hundreds of thousands of people.
You can read the transcript of what transpired during the MTA meeting on the subject (710 Transcript – Regular Board July – Item 60) or watch the start of the segment where a flabbergasted Najarian struggles to remain professional in the face of the indifference of others who dare to call themselves public servants.
Note the number of times they had a good laugh.