Welcome back, Ted Stein — City Hall surely missed you these last six years.
Stein resigned in a self-righteous huff as Airport Commission president back in 2004 at the height of the pay-to-play scandals that plagued the Hahn Administration.
“I’m hoping that this is the end of this kind of
conduct,” Villaraigosa said when Stein quit. “But if it’s not, we need to
ferret it out wherever there’s any appearance of impropriety.”
Controller Laura Chick has raised questions about Stein’s role in awarding LAX contracts and helping raise political money from the same contractors — questions that were seized on in the press and by Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa as he laid the groundwork for his mayoral campaign accusing Jimmy Hahn of leading the most corruption administration in decades.
“The tactics employed by the controller — including publicly
implying that the (Airport) Commission may have engaged in wrongdoing wrong·do·er
One who does wrong, especially morally or ethically.
wrongdo ….. Click the link for more information.
yet refusing to produce any evidence to support her claim – represent
the worst traits in government,” Stein said in his bitter letter of resignation.
“I have been subjected to an array of false, defamatory and
unsubstantiated accusations suggesting that I engaged in or orchestrated
a plan to force URS (an airport contractor) to make political
contributions in order to continue doing business at Los Angeles International Airport — what has been dubbed ‘pay to play.’ ”
Well, time heals all wounds and it should be clear to one and all that the standards of ethical conduct move with the times as the corruption rampant in the Villaraigosa Administration makes the Hahn era misdeeds seem like child’s play.
On Thursday, Villaraigosa named Stein to be one of the 26 members of his “Blue Ribbon panel to conduct a comprehensive security review of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and recommend improvements.”(LAX-Panel.doc)
It is a distinguished panel of judges, federal prosecutors, experts in
terrorism and emergency operations — and Stein, a San Fernando Valley
developer who focused on projects in Council District 12 where his
long-time friend Hal Bernson and his Chief of Staff Greig Smith held
Smith, who succeeded Bernson and is doing his best to pass the torch of
power to his own chief of staff, Mitch Englander, is himself a member of
the blue ribbon panel as chairman of the Council Public Safety
Committee and nominated Stein to be a member as Villaraigosa’s press
release pointedly makes clear.
It is a small, small world this world of City Hall insiders and players and Stein has been part of it for a long, long time.
He was president of the Planning Commission when Tom Bradley was mayor and over-development first surfaced as a major issue.
He was a key player in the administration of Mayor Richard Riordan, serving as a special adviser, then president of the Airport Commission and later the Harbor Commission while his wife served on the highly-paid Public Works Commission.
There’s never been another city commissioner quite like Ted Stein.
Intense, one-pointed, domineering, he always was a lightning rod for criticism and controversy as he went far beyond oversight to virtually run departments,often running roughshod over general managers and their executive teams.
That’s what made him so valuable to mayors who actually wanted to get things done — and kept getting Stein in trouble.
When Riordan was thwarted by the FAA to raise landing fees for airlines at LAX, Stein
“took the lead … and he hired (Webster) Hubbell, who had just been fired by the
Clinton White House as the Whitewater scandal worsened, to try to get
$50 million in federal funds,” Rick Orlov wrote in the Daily News in reviewing Stein’s career in 2004.
Hubbell was under investigation for
overcharging clients from his work at a law firm with Hillary
Rodham Rodham is an English surname which may refer to a number of persons or places. People
Family of Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2008 presidential candidate and current junior U.S.
….. Click the link for more information. Clinton and it led to a federal investigation and criminal charges. Stein, a potential target of the investigation, was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Arkansas, but was not charged in that case or in the later pay-to-play scandal in the Hahn Administration.
It was during that time period that Stein cultivated a friendship with me as managing editor of the Daily News — a friendship that ended shortly after Hahn took office, named Stein again to head the Airport Commission and I published a story raising questions about the propriety of the appointment in light of Stein’s past controversial role in that post. .
From that moment on, Hahn ignored the Daily News, refusing to even come to editorial board meetings and treating the paper as an enemy — which, of course, made it easy to take a critical view of his actions since there was no relationship and so much to criticize.
I bring this all up in the name of full disclosure and because it provides a small window into the small world of City Hall politics — a world in which the inter-connected self-interest of insiders has so ill-served the public interest for so long and caused so much harm to the city.
Laura Chick made an important point in her one-sentence response to Stein’s attack when he resigned in 2004, saying: “This is not about one airport commissioner or about a blue-ribbon commission’s report, it is about leadership from the
That was true then, and it’s just as true today.
The problem with city government in Los Angeles was never people like Stein or the circle of lobbyists, contractors, developers, unions, political operatives and all the rest of those who feed at the trough of the city treasury.
The problem is the leadership at the top, the mayor and City Council members who take a sworn oath to serve the people but routinely betray that oath and the trust of the people.