Whistleblower hotline: (213) 785-6098

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Money Laundering

Since all you tinhorns down on the third floor and in the bars over in CD 14 can't seem to get the stories of the mob, money laundering, and your hatred for MEAV out of your shallow heads, here's a story regarding money laundering for you to chew on:

Court Refuses to Drop Political Money Laundering Charges - Patrick McGreevey in the Times

I give this what, 3 comments before you jugheads start ranting on MEAV? Go play on the freeways.


Blogger Phil Krakover said:

Pierce O'Donnell is a good man and a fine attorney.

What he did is done by many, but by those who know the law and know how to avoid a problem. They simply form groups of wealthy folks and support each other's candidates on loose requests and quid pro quo's.

But they don't reimburse people with cash or checks or raises, etc., because they know the rules and don't violate the letter of them, just the spirit.

Pierce is not a political type. He is a trial lawyer of the first quality, and lives in that other world of non-political folks of which we know little.

In a nutshell, more than likely one of the Troy Edwards, Ted Stein or Leland Wong types, (Hahn had a passel of them around, didn't he?)let it be known that if Pierce wanted to do some law business with the City, it would be a good idea to hold a fundraiser and find about 25 grand to help out Jimmy.

Pierce being the non-politico that he is, took the seemingly easiest way to the solution. Rather than ask his buddies, he just told his employees to chip in and he'd pay them back with raises or bonuses.

With our "campaign finance laws" being what they are, Pierce has come face to face with sheer nonsense. His case illustrates the fallacy of our laws.

All we need, in this day of instant information, is a requirement for full disclosure of any donation by instant filing on the Internet at a site maintained for that purpose. The press can then do its thing with reporting and using that information to inform the voters.

If any of the geniuses in City Hall or Sacramento are reading this, give it some thought.

OK, two more intelligent blogs to go, then the CD 14ers can go back to telling us about Antonio's sex life.

June 01, 2005 12:52 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


POST THE VIGNALI CONNECTION TO ANTONIO...http://www.laweekly.com/ink/05/27/features-anderson.php

This website is no better then the LA Times, Daily News and those lazy ass tabloid reporters who don't have the guts to report Antonio's FACTS.

Groupie LA Times Jessica Garrison reports that Antonio is going to be in Washington today. Yeah, right for his own personal agenda. Everyone now knows he's going to run for Governor.

School violence is up, about 1,000 students Jefferson High not showing up and Antonio leaves the city. Let Danny Bakewell and John Mack run the city.

June 01, 2005 5:45 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Last night on KCAL9 they reported with a tease that Antonio is going to announce bringing something back to California. It will air today at 12n newscast.

Does anyone know what it is? Already Antonio campaigning for Gov.

June 01, 2005 6:21 AM  

Blogger Phil Krakover said:

Sam, we were both wrong.

It isn't the "Hahn Blogging Team" any longer, it is morphed into the "CD 14 Loser's Blogging Team". Wonder who's paying them now?

They can't even wait for two more positive comments before jumping in.

Anyone wonder why Antonio does so well in CD 14?

I don't.

With enemies like this, life is great. He moves mountains and they spend their lives blogging.

June 01, 2005 7:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Parke Skelton launders icelandic sagas to Antonio and he launders them to the community. How boring can this relationship be?

Why is the transition team compromised mostly of outsiders, it's as if North Korea is sending deputies to govern in the United States. Remember to wear red at the meetings guys...and no mentioning of slaves while recording.

June 01, 2005 9:48 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Watergate, Watergate
Pardongate, Pardongate
Vignaligate, Vignaligate
Jenniegate, Jenniegate


June 01, 2005 9:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Who has laundered money?

Is it AV, Meruelo, Penelas, Vignali, Clintons, Molina, Gonzalez, and last but not least the CD 14's next councilman Mr. Alvin Parra.

What do you think?

June 01, 2005 9:55 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

LA’s Underground Power Broker
The name Vignali receded into L.A. history after the “Pardongate” scandal of 2001, but questions remain about drug-dealing son Carlos and his real estate magnate father, Horacio, who just might be pulling the strings in the remaking of downtown L.A.

Tony Adams and his partner, Gerry Wehr, smelled something fishy when they arrived in Los Angeles back in 1994 to arrest Carlos Vignali, the target of one of Minnesota’s biggest drug cases. The Minneapolis narcotics officers had caught the 22-year-old Vignali on a wiretap conspiring to distribute crack cocaine in the Twin Cities. They checked into the Hilton on Grand Avenue under names known only to their local contacts at the DEA.

Within hours, they say, they received a call from defense lawyer Anthony Brooklier, who represented an alleged associate of Vignali. Strangely aware of how to contact the visiting officers, Brooklier, a high-paid mouthpiece for celebrities and accused gangsters, wanted to know what the officers were up to. Soon they would discover that Brooklier’s client had fingered not just Carlos Vignali but also Vignali’s father, Carlos “Horacio” Vignali, as major drug traffickers.

Brooklier wasn’t the only one who seemed ahead of the game. A local DEA agent told Adams and Wehr right where to look for the younger Vignali and showed them written statements offered by Brooklier’s client, who described in detail how the elder Vignali allegedly ran drugs out of his auto-body shop on Figueroa Street, near the L.A. Convention Center.

The DEA report intrigued the Minnesota cops. During their four-day stay in Los Angeles, after taking in a Dodger game, they staked out the body shop and quickly grew suspicious about father Vignali. But they returned to Minnesota with more questions than answers. It would be eight years before a congressional investigation produced DEA documents, one dating as far back as 1976, that described Horacio Vignali as an alleged underworld figure who boasted of trafficking in heroin.

June 01, 2005 9:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

'The name Vignali receded into L.A. history after the "Pardongate" scandal of 2001, but questions remain. Was drug-dealing son Carlos just the fall guy for his father? Did the criminal justice system drop the ball? And why are politicians so silent about Horacio Vignali, a mysterious and well-insulated real estate developer who just might be pulling the strings in the remaking of downtown L.A.?'

June 01, 2005 9:59 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What happened?

In 1996, Villaraigosa made the mistake of seeking a presidential pardon from President Clinton for convicted cocaine dealer Carlos Vignali. Villaraigosa wrote that Vignali had "no prior record" -- which wasn't true. He argued that Vignali, whose family had contributed some $6,000 to his campaigns -- was the victim of guilt by association.

After Clinton freed Vignali seven years into a 14-year sentence, Villaraigosa's letter became news. Villaraigosa made it worse when he denied writing Clinton -- until a copy of the letter surfaced.

June 01, 2005 10:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You idiots allowed a drug trafficker and crooked politician in on city contracts and funds, how stupid can you be.

June 01, 2005 10:03 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hahn has denied any knowledge that contributions were laundered.

Hahn has denied any knowledge that contributions were laundered.

Hahn has denied any knowledge that contributions were laundered.

Hahn has denied any knowledge that contributions were laundered.

End of story!

June 01, 2005 12:04 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Pierce O'Donnell used to do legal commentaries on the radio.

June 01, 2005 12:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

i didnt know "denying" knowledge of something made it true! that happens all the time

June 01, 2005 1:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

this site is dying a slow painful death.

June 01, 2005 2:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

anyone know if scott svonkin, stu waldman and andrei cherny are zbone.com posters?

June 01, 2005 5:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

no but they are Mayor Sam, Chief Parker and MEAT.

June 01, 2005 5:22 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Antonio has met with D.C. lobbyists for the city, and will launder money for the big bosses, nope not the Sopranos, but yes the Vignalis and Meruelos...old families with country ties.

June 01, 2005 6:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Recently, we elected a new mayor here in Los Angeles. James Hahn – a boring incumbent whose first term in office was tainted with a few charges of corruption – was routed by his challenger, Antonio Villaraigosa, a youthful-looking 52.

Mr. Villaraigosa was portrayed as a wonderful role model because he'd been a high-school dropout who'd cleaned up his act and gone to college. But inasmuch as he had the distinction of failing the bar exam four times before taking the easy way out and becoming a politician, I'm not sure I'd want him role modeling my kid.

As is often the case, I wound up voting for the losing candidate, the one we have all come to refer to as the lesser of two evils. But, I'm a regular Pollyanna, always on the lookout for silver linings. The best thing, then, about Mr. Villarigosa's victory is that it might serve as a wake-up call for all the gutless politicians of both parties, up to and including President Bush, who refuse to deal seriously with the problem of illegal immigration. Instead of squaring off with Vicente Fox, instead of cutting off all aid and assistance to illegal aliens, Democrats and Republicans alike pussyfoot around the issue, as they shamelessly go trolling for Hispanic votes.


June 01, 2005 6:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:



"Principal of Los Angeles school resigns following student brawls"

The principal of Jefferson High School will step down following criticism by the new mayor and other officials over a series of student brawls that some blamed on racial tensions.

Norm Morrow agreed Tuesday to resign effective July 1, six months before he planned to retire, said Rowena Lagrosa, a local superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Until his departure, Morrow will work in another position that has yet to be determined, Lagrosa said.

Last Thursday, more than 20 students scuffled — the third school fight at the school in six weeks. On several occasions, school police used pepper spray and batons to stop the fighting. More than two dozen students were suspended.

School Police Chief Alan Kerstein has said there were "racial overtones" to the fights at Jefferson and other schools in the district this year.

On Tuesday, Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa said he felt "things are out of control" at the school in South Los Angeles, a mainly black and Hispanic area that has been plagued by crime and poverty.

School Superintendent Roy Romer said two assistant principals were hired Tuesday at Jefferson to fill positions that had been vacant for about a month.


June 01, 2005 6:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Questions arise over LMU professor's roles
Mayor's race leaves Westchester resident fielding challenges centering on the high-profile clients of his lobbying firm.
By David Zahniser
Copley News Service

Loyola Marymount University associate professor Fernando Guerra just finished a frenetic season as a Los Angeles political pundit, offering his views on television, on radio and in print on the historic election that swept Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa into office.

But the mayor's race also left the Westchester resident fielding a new set of questions, many of them centering on the high-profile clients of his lobbying firm.

Guerra & Associates represents Richard Meruelo, a real estate developer whose family poured more than $220,000 into Villaraigosa's candidacy. Meruelo hired Guerra to lobby the council -- and Villaraigosa's office in particular -- on land-use issues before and during the campaign, according to reports filed with the Ethics Commission.

Home Depot, Microsoft and Interactive Corp., the firm that owns hotels.com and expedia.com, are listed as other Guerra clients at City Hall. So is Sonnenblick-Del Rio, a firm planning a $200 million development project in the San Fernando Valley -- one that may need support from the city's next mayor.

While Guerra the political science professor analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the mayoral candidates, Guerra the lobbyist earned $71,500 in the first three months of 2005 by lobbying Villaraigosa, his council colleagues and city agencies overseen by the appointees of Mayor James Hahn.

Those dual roles -- outside academic expert and inside influence peddler -- have spurred questions at City Hall about where his loyalties lie. Is Guerra an impartial observer of the political scene, or an entrenched part of the system?

Guerra, 46, said he sees no conflict of interest between his lobbying work and his academic career, since other lobbyists regularly dispense their views publicly. He also said he feels no obligation to disclose his lobbying work when he speaks to the news media, unless the subject involves the companies that employ him.

"It's irrelevant, from my perspective," he said. "If they were to call me about a story that I think has to do with my client, I just wouldn't do the story. If I cannot be objective about the story, or I sense that there will be a potential conflict, I won't do the story."


June 01, 2005 6:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Villaraigosa: Border is an opportunity


June 01, 2005 6:22 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

City to Partner in Hotel Project
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a $325 million public-private partnership to build a 296-room W Hotel as well as condominiums, apartments and retail space, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. In its 13-0 vote, the council agreed to put $4.8 million of public funds into the project, mostly for land acquisition costs in the Hollywood and Vine area. That’s in addition to $40 million already spent on various projects in Hollywood. Legacy Partners would develop 350 apartments. Gatehouse Capital and its equity partner, HEI Hospitality Fund Acquisition, would build the W Hotel, a boutique chain owned by Starwood Hotel & Resorts Worldwide.

June 01, 2005 6:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Questions Arise Over LMU Professor's Roles
Loyola Marymount University associate professor Fernando Guerra just finished a season as an L.A. political pundit, offering views on the election that put Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa in office – but the mayor's race also left him fielding questions about the clients of his lobbying firm, Copley News Service reported. Guerra & Associates represents Richard Meruelo, whose family poured $220,000 into Villaraigosa's candidacy. While Guerra the political science professor analyzed the mayoral candidates, Guerra the lobbyist earned $71,500 in the first three months of 2005 by lobbying Villaraigosa, his council colleagues and city agencies overseen by Mayor James Hahn. Those dual roles have spurred questions at City Hall about where his loyalties lie

June 01, 2005 6:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


For three years a task force of police and federal agents investigated whether the prime contractor of the airport's food and beverage concession used minority-owned front companies to channel money to political friends of then-Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and county commissioners.

June 01, 2005 6:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

“Justice Undone: Clemency Decisions in the Clinton White House,” House Report 107-454, documents the involvement of Hugh Rodham, the brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the Vignali affair. Rodham was Horacio Vignali’s chief lobbyist inside the White House and received more than $200,000 for his services. The two met through Los Angeles attorney James Casso in October 2000, according to Los Angeles real estate broker Luis Valenzuela, who was copied on Vignali’s check to Rodham.

June 01, 2005 6:27 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


June 01, 2005 6:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So what is the idea that gangs have that is so powerful? "Gangs are like tribes" explains much of it. It becomes your home, your family, your way of life. For several years in the 60's, hippie was my tribe, it was my family. So, I understand the attraction of tribes.

Hand-wringing about senseless violence and/or gitting tough on crime aren't getting at root causes. When the 18th Street gang is LA has maybe 15,000 members nationwide, the best way to end gangs is to have a better idea. An idea gang-bangers will buy into.

June 01, 2005 6:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Rumors of possible racial unrest tied to Cinco de Mayo have been surfacing in the Los Angeles area, causing parents in some parts of the city to want to keep their kids home from school. In response to those whispers, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has announced it is going to beef up patrols at some campuses. Some schools' principals have sent home letters with students informing them of the rumors and outlining the precautions being taken.

Officials at the LAUSD have been in early May 2005 hearing the rumors of possible violence between black and Latino students but can find nothing to give them credence. "No one has an idea where any of this started," said LAUSD Police Chief Alan Kerstein. "Parents can be sure that there is no substance anyone can find." The e-mailed warning quoted above that makes reference to intelligence gathered by a probation officer appears to have touched off the belief that a violent confrontation is imminent.

The rumors come after a series of racial brawls at several high schools across Southern California, including two outbreaks of Latino-versus-black violence at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles in April 2005.

June 01, 2005 6:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

As to the content of the e-mailed rumor itself and the gangs it mentions, says the FBI about the Mexican Mafia (aka La Eme or The M.):

The Mexican Mafia, also known as the New Family, is a militant revolutionary group in the California Prison System. They are known to use violent and disruptive attacks against the California Department of Correction Authority. They engage in rebellion, insurrection and destruction of Prison property. This group is made up of primarily Mexican-American convicts from the barrios of East Los Angeles. They have expanded power outside of the penal facilities and are organized into ethnic groups who are trying to control narcotics, contract killings, robbery and forgery. This group is antiblack and has aligned itself with the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacy movement

June 01, 2005 6:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


Subject: Recent Freeway Shootings

Hello everyone,

FYI: This was sent to me by someone in law enforcement:

Unfortunately, the word on the street (which has been confirmed by a probation officer) is that the 60's stole 160 kilo's of cocaine from the Mexican Mafia. In retaliation, the Mexican Mafia and other Mexican gangs have decided to target and kill 400-1000 black men of all ages who are wearing white t-shirts. This is not limited to the freeways..... I understand that this is very real and very serious. Please pass this on to EVERYONE that you know. I suggest you do not wear any white shirts at all if possible. Also, if you have on a dress shirt, consider wearing your jacket over it....


June 01, 2005 6:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Poor principal at Jefferson High. He is being the scapegoat for that spineless, whimp Jose Huizar who hasn't done shit to help with the racial violence. Antonio doesn't have any guts either not to call him out. Damn, he's the president of LAUSD. To show how stupid Antonio is he's quoted in Daily News today saying "I would like to see LAPD expanded to help problem.

Idiot! Its not an LAPD problem, its a parent problem and every officer will tell you that. This is a prime example of how out of touch Antonio is and how he thinks problems should be solved.


June 01, 2005 6:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey Anon,

The article is false, plus Mayor Sam please remove it may serve the wrong purpose if insane people read it.

June 01, 2005 6:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mexican Mafia
La EME Bosses
go here to read list

June 01, 2005 6:45 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hailing from the Boyle Heights Big Hazard Gang, Robot Salas is another legend of the criminal fraternity with a long history of violence and mayhem behind bars.

Salas served as the ostensible head of La Eme within the California correctional system during the mid 70s after Joe Morgan was paroled and for a short time moved to Utah. During his time calling the shots for the carnales, Salas garnered mainstream media attention when his name was mentioned in connection with the brutal murder of 4 associates of the Mexican mafia including the wife of fellow Eme member Michael Delia who was found shot to death outside of Sacarmento California where she was going to provide information on the expansion of La Eme beyond prison walls. Mrs. Delia was going to tell how the Mexican mafia was infiltrating community based organizations with paroled soldiers and laundering money from drugs and robberies

June 01, 2005 6:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Most ignorant stupid site I had ever seen, it is titled, "Mexicanos vs Mexicanos."

Our police department should look into this site:


June 01, 2005 6:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Public Site:

June 01, 2005 6:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I found this comment from a "Meat" I am skeptical of it being the same "Meat" that left us for so called Arizona. I think he left to city hall, here is the post:

Thank God Los Angeles may get the leader it so desperately needs. You got my vote and time to convince LA you are their guy. I hope all the comments below are based on facts and are positive. I know you can do it LA - stay positive.

Posted by: Meat at August 3, 2004 12:21 AM

You have to admit Kevin everytime Villaraigosa appears on your site - alot of energy is devoted to your comment section. It can only be a good thing that Villaraigosa has so many folks paying attention as oppose to the current mayor or anyone else running for this office.

Posted by: meat at August 3, 2004 11:45 AM

June 01, 2005 7:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"Meat" is such a great handle. Is it a translation of "Carnal." You know, the EME term for blood brother, made man in the Mexican Mafia.

Villaraigosa is a committed Leftist. He bankrupted the state budget as Leader of the Assembly, and as mayor would do far worse for Los Angeles. Why is it that the hard won lessons of socialism learned in the 20th century are so casually disgarded by liberals in the 21st century? It's as if the Left wants to roll the clock back to the 1930s and pretend all the carnage and misery caused by progressive policies never occurred.

Do we really want to pursue a Latin American civic model of corruption, patronage, graft and wealth destruction? That pathological model has been this guys road map in political life. I see no indication that he would change. It's just mind boggling that anyone could support a relic from a failed past, relying on failed ideology, not to mention his association with known racial hate groups. Los Angeles doesn't need a populist hate-monger as mayor.

Don't expect the LA Times to show the full portrait. They made their desires known the last time around. Pravda would be proud.

Posted by: Calvin at August 4, 2004 02:23 AM

June 01, 2005 7:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Kerry to Support Secessionist Kook in LA Election?
Antonio Villaraigosa is running for mayor of the second largest city in our country, and is in a good position to win against ho-hum opponent James Hahn. But unlike Hahn, Villaraigosa isn't just a liberal — he is a hard-core extremist who has been associated with a group that actually wants to split off the Southwest from the rest of the country. Given the demographic leverage that could be gained as a result of our government refusing to defend the border, these anti-American daydreams aren't as funny as they sound. And wouldn't you know, John Kerry supporters are doing what they can to put this guy in office.

Just how disastrous would it be for Villaraigosa to take over a major city? Consider this: he is the former Chairman of the UCLA chapter of MEChA, one of a group of rabidly anti-American and anti-Caucasian (anti-Semitic too, by the way) separatist groups whose goal is to "liberate" what they call Aztlan and what we call the Southwestern quarter of our country. Villaraigosa may not be openly affiliated with these maniacs anymore, but he isn't about to renounce them either. Villaraigosa's anti-American credentials also include a stint as President of the Southern California ACLU. He has made no secret of the fact that he will take every opportunity to side with illegal aliens against the Americans whose country they are actively attempting to usurp in the Southwest.

Villaraigosa does not keep the best of company. Pals include anti-American seditionist Juan Jose Gutierrez and hard-left propagandist Evelina Alarcon, who writes for the communist People's Weekly World.

June 01, 2005 7:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:



Los Angeles, CA Addie Mae Miller, candidate for Mayor has indicated that she is asking Antiono Villaraigosa to withdraw from the Mayor's race.

Miller indicated that Antonio Villaraigosa association with dope dealers show he has failed to provide the needed leadership require of a Mayor.

Miller indicated that Antiono Villaraigosa agreed to matching funds at $1000 per contributor and now Mr. Antiono Villaraigosa has lied and is now accepting undisclosed funds that is an "OFF THE RECORD FUNDING".

Miller wants, Mr. Villaraigosa to "reveal immediately to the PUBLIC" because the PUBLIC is entitled to know where his funding is coming from.

Miller indicated, she believes Mr. Villaraigosa funding is coming from FOREIGN NATIONALS, MAFIA, DOPE DEALERS ETC. and this is why Mr. Villaraigosa is keeping his fundraising source a SECRET until July 2001.

Also, Miller indicated, that the SAFETY OF OUR CITY is in jeopardy due to this sort of illegal fundraising techniques! Why does the LAW stands for some and NOT OTHERS? Do we now have those, such as Mr. Villaraigosa who are PRIVILEDGE CHARACTERS?

Miller indicated that we the people should know where every cooper penny has come from!

Miller indicated, that Antonio Villaraigosa should withdraw effective today.

June 01, 2005 7:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Sissy City goes SKREEECHING to a halt - less posts in one week thta one day in pre-election.

Death, sting it quick!

June 01, 2005 7:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

less posts...um i wonder if this is actually a censorship going on about the truth about adv corruption history. adv seems to be already screwing things with the lausd by not saying anything about his pay to play body huizar. good for david z, boycott lat

June 01, 2005 9:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


Ethics in Transition
Antonio’s camp defends latest chance for fund-raising: “Everyone Does It”

One of the first things Antonio Villaraigosa did after raising and spending nearly $6 million in campaign cash and getting elected mayor of Los Angeles was open up a fund for additional donations, these for the six-week transition between election day and July 1, when he takes office.

The new spate of fund-raising won’t be governed by the city reporting and disclosure laws or the campaign-contribution caps that are administered by the City Ethics Commission, since these new contributions will be neither campaign funds nor officeholder funds under city law.

The City Council cheerfully signed on to a program that is run through the controller’s office but puts Villaraigosa himself in charge of the fund, which will be capped at $200,000. In the resolution put forward by the council, the public is supposedly assured that the new donations from free-spenders in the city are in the public interest, since taxpayer funds won’t be used.

In its nascent form, the transition-fund details were chilling. Anyone who wanted to throw around his or her weight in the new administration and be owed a hefty share of gratitude by the mayor had been frustrated by the city-imposed $1,000 campaign-contribution limit. After he takes office, if some influence-seeker wants to show Villaraigosa his, uh, appreciation for the fine job he’s doing, he can add to his officeholder fund, but still, only at $1,000 a year. How can you buy access and get your calls returned for a measly $1,000? Why, just about anyone could donate $1,000!

Ah, but with this new opportunity, you could shovel as much as $10,000 in the new mayor’s direction. Sure, he’s already been elected, and your donation is for transition staffing and an inaugural party rather than leading him on to victory. But still, $10,000! That’s real gratitude-inducing money. That’s enough for several years of hobnobbing, returned phone calls, maybe even a special meeting to discuss a city contracting opportunity.

And the bonus — this is a good one. If you wanted to donate money to the campaign or the officeholder fund, everyone is going to know it. You put in $100 or more, and the public gets to know your name, how much you gave and what you do for a living. They can pull it right off the Ethics Commission’s Web site. It’s that bothersome “openness” thing. But for the transition team, you could donate just under $5,000 and still keep it under your hat. What a deal!

Now you voters or would-be contractors who donated your $1,000 or some such pittance and thought you could enjoy the same access as a business tycoon or a union boss, wise up! Sure, they could only put in $1,000, just like you. But that was then. This is now. Ten grand. Fork it over. Or else wonder why the phone doesn’t ring.

By the way, good news for you people who couldn’t read the writing on the wall and gave your paltry grand to Jim Hahn. You thought you were pretty much cashed out of the new era, but wait! You get another chance. A few thousand bucks to the transition team and you’re back in the game. This is as great an opportunity as when Hahn opened his legal-defense fund and you got to curry favor by donating to that pot. But hurry, because there’s that $200,000 cap on the transition fund, and there just may be 20 bigwigs with their checkbooks already out.

June 01, 2005 10:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The real chilling part of the story is the response that the mayor-elect’s defenders gave when an eyebrow or two was raised at the transition fund-raising. It’s Antonio, many said. You know how he feels about ethics and buying City Hall. He’s not like Hahn. You can trust him.

But then we thought we could trust Hahn, too. Didn’t we?

Then there was this one: Don’t you think things like transition staffing and an inaugural party should be paid for privately, instead of by the taxpayers?

Well, no, since you asked. The transition — doesn’t that mean interviewing and hiring and loads of paperwork to make sure the new mayor can hit the ground running? That’s public business. Those transition people holed up in the 15th floor of City Hall — are they paying rent? No. They’re doing public business. To the extent it’s not public business, it’s a continuation of the campaign, and campaign reporting, spending and contribution-limit laws should apply. That’s especially true if these donations are for a big inaugural gala.

Then there was the kicker. Hahn did it this way! Riordan did it! Everyone does it!

There it is. Those words. You may have had a sinking feeling they were coming, but so soon? Before Villaraigosa even takes office? The watchwords for the new era at City Hall?

“Everyone does it.”

But wait. Villaraigosa apparently thought this whole thing over and decided there was something amiss with a chance to write him a check for $10,000. It took him a few days, but that’s okay. He’s been busy.

Robin Kramer, who is heading Villaraigosa’s transition effort, said on Tuesday that the mayor-elect had decided to put a $1,000 cap on individual contributions after all. No one could say exactly when the decision was made, but it was done sometime after last Friday afternoon. It’s still not perfect. There’s still another chance for the access-seeker to jump in with a now-smaller contribution to pay for something that ought to be an accepted city function. But it’s surely a step in the right direction.

What is the money for? There is a “rough budget,” Kramer said, with costs being allocated to lawyers, Web site maintenance, a fax machine, “a lot of paper” and a few “woefully underpaid” staffers. According to transition spokeswoman Elena Stern, there are no contributions so far.

Kramer noted that Villaraigosa’s six-week transition is twice as long as Hahn’s. I’m not sure I buy the implied argument that the new mayor therefore should be able to raise more money than Hahn did, since there’s now twice as much time to get things done before July 1, but we’ll let that go. I still don’t see why it’s such a great idea that Villaraigosa’s people, instead of the Ethics Commission staff, examine the checks to make sure that no one is sneaking in an extra $1,000 by using a nickname or a pet’s name, but okay.

And about that requirement that only checks in the $5,000 range or higher are subject to disclosure: That’s moot now, and Controller Laura Chick claims that any funds handled through her office will be a matter of public record.

Villaraigosa is a creature of politics, and of the entire money-based system on which elections are based, so it should come as no surprise that despite his high-minded and self-serving campaign talk about changing the pay-to-play culture of City Hall, his first instinct is to raise cash at every opportunity.

But he deserves credit for stepping back from the brink in this case, even if it’s just to acknowledge his campaign claims that he would be different.

There will be more along these lines in the coming months. Villaraigosa is having all of his appointees and hires sign an ethics pledge. Having the pledge by itself does nothing, and could be considered at least a little bit sanctimonious. Same with the various pledges about lobbyists serving on commissions or making campaign donations, especially when they can still make “independent” expenditures, and especially when business and labor movers and shakers can host political fund-raisers that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars without reporting their involvement.

Still, with another month to go before he’s sworn in, it’s good to see that Villaraigosa has the sense to make new rules for himself — better ones — on the fly.

June 01, 2005 10:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


June 01, 2005 11:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I haven't heard the name, Scott Svonkin in years. Where did he go?

June 05, 2005 12:46 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home