The Naked Truth: In Politics, You Get What You Pay For So Look at Who’s Paying

The truth hurts so get out your Vicodin or whatever you take to ease the pain and face the political reality of our time:

Thanks to 10 times as much in political contributions anti-ethanol interests, the U.S. Senate last week flip-flopped and voted to end subsidies that enriched corn farmers. The $85 million senators got from entertainment companies has helped the upper house move forward in making it a felony to stream copyrighted material online, reports.
No fewer than 18 California state legislators are holding fund-raisers this week for next year’s campaigns even as Controller John Chiang cut off their $400-a-day paychecks for failing in their constitutional duty to adopt a balanced budget by June 15. 
You can be sure every one of them as well as all but a handful of their cohorts will be carrying sponsored legislation written by and benefiting the same special interests that are so generously contributing to their campaigns.
Yet, even with new legislative districts drawn by an independent citizens’ commission, they are all odds-on favorites to win their elections since voters consistently have proven themselves unable to connect the state’s dire money situation, failing schools, cuts in services and aging infrastructure to the performance in office by that smiling, glad-handing panderer they elect as their Assembly or Senate member.
Hard as it may be believe, the corruption is even worse at the local level in Los Angeles where everything is for sale.
A case in point is Tuesday’s approval of food and beverage contracts to three current vendors at LAX who have provided generous funding to our local elected leaders and the lobbyists who have proven themselves over the years to be smarter and far more capable than the officials who do their bidding.

“The vote by the
Los Angeles City Council concludes, for now, the effort to bring celebrity
chefs and a more local flavor in food to LAX, which has received poor marks in
consumer surveys. And it closes the book on a debate in which rival bidders
staged protests and public tastings to make their case,”
David Zahniser reported in the LA Times..

Just take the most prominent winning bidder, Host International — which for 50 years has been the provider of food and drink at LAX which is generally regarded as one of the worst airports in the world to be stuck in for hours.

Last year, Host lost out entirely to SSP America, a local firm that promised to bring man of the city’s greatest chefs to the airport but City Attorney Carmen Trutanich warned that Host might sue and win so the process was started all over again and the winners this time were that same old contractors, Host, Delaware North and Camacho.

SSP America got nothing this time around.

“The finest chefs the city
had to offer were awarded by LAX a contract, only to have it stripped away with
the weapon of powerful
… lobbying (and) backroom
deals,” said Rod White of Bertha’s Soul Food, one of the companies that were part of SSP America.

The lobbyist for Host for the last seven years at least has been John Ek, whose firm Ek & Ek has taken in nearly $100,000 a year from the airporti vendor as part of the more than $1 million a year in revenue it gets for representing firms doing business with the city, everyone from billboard and real estate companies to taxicab and parking lot operators, city ethics records show.

Remember when the boycott of Arizona over its crackdown on illegal immigrants was the most important moral imperative facing the City Council?

That’s what makes it so hard to understand why guys like Tony Cardenas — the future Congressman — and Richard Alarcon — the soon to be state legislator or state prisoner as the case may be — so passionately tried to protect Scottsdale-based American Traffic Solutions costly and useless contract for red-light cameras.

These are the cameras installed two to a Council district with little regard for traffic safety that capture signal-crashers who face fines of $480. The only problem with the program is that it doesn’t reduce accidents as much as extending yellow caution lights a second and the courts don’t recognize the citations as valid so only the uninformed pay the penalty.

Nonetheless, political veterans of local and state politics like Cardenas and Alarcon appreciate all the help they’ve gotten from Sage Advisors — a lobbying firm headed by Chris Modrzejewski that takes in an average of $750,000 from city business on behalf of such clients as AEG, IBEW Local 11 and 18, Thomas Properties and, of course, American Traffic Solutions.

The Police Commission voted unanimously to end the red light camera farce but after a couple of hours of debate Tuesday, the Council deadlocked 6-6 on overruling the commission with debate resuming today.

So here’s the truth you don’t want to hear: Democracy doesn’t exist when every level of government has been taken hostage by moneyed interests with selfish agendas.

You can whimper and whine. You can struggle and fight. You can believe the lip service or ignore what’s going on altogether. Nothing is going to change until we reach the point of calamity or there is a sudden mass awakening that gets us to put aside the petty ideological conflicts used to keep us weak and separated.

Sadly, I think calamity will happen first.
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