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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Let the Fun Begin..Or Continue in This Case

From Tuesday's Daily News:

Developer Richard Meruelo, the largest individual donor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's election campaign, will make a final push today for a 23-acre Glassell Park site he purchased last year that LAUSD officials want for a 2,300-student high school.

Although Meruelo's $600 million Riversedge Village plan also includes a high school, Los Angeles Unified officials are leery about the deal, and the cost and timing of getting the campus built. The school board is set to decide whether to push ahead with its own plan for the high school or to partner with Meruelo on his mixed-used project.

Umm yeah, leery would be one word to describe it. "Pay to play" might be another...


Anonymous Anonymous said:

Meruelo is the biggest snake in the city. Don't trust him. Guilt by association and Antonio should be ashamed being friends with him. Meruelo owns more property in downtown then any other person. That should raise red flags to everyone.....

January 24, 2006 9:17 AM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

Same ol' shit, Different Suits.

January 24, 2006 10:11 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

who cares if it is play to pay (that's govt. people) Does anyone ever think that perhaps the Glassell Park neighborhood could use some revitalization, including retail and mixed-use residential?? How many of you have ever been there?? And while LAUSD's new schools do provide some public benefit, whats to say that the city wouldn't benefit more from new property and sales tax revenue?? Critical thinking includes more than just criticism

January 24, 2006 10:23 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

PAY TO PLAY is the ONLY phrase ti describe this...


Same shit/different political party!

January 24, 2006 10:24 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Like little acorns grow into mighty oaks, little liars become massive, deceivers.


January 24, 2006 10:27 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Maruelo's front company is Magnum properties. They hold property in Lincoln Heights, Glassell Park and downtown. Ive never seen something shepherded through the city as fast as his lincoln heights development by the gold line.

While a proposal for a mixed used development sounds great on the surface, the district does not do well partnering with others. LAUSD will make the argument that they need acres upon acres for a comprehensive high school, while also stating that the timeline for delivering a school is long enough as it is, without the need for additional time for a development that includes housing.

However, given other issues between the district and the city, I dont think Romer has the willingness or ability to instruct his new schools folks to fight this one. Then there is the unknown mindset of the board, which might make things insanely interesting here.

If the district and the city paid as much attention to educating kids as they do to putting up buildings, this would be a different city.

January 24, 2006 10:32 AM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

Yeah this is also interesting since Mayor Villaraigosa/Chick is going after the LAUSD through grandstanding on those audits.

I wonder how this mixed use site will play out.

Will it be a similar problem like in East LA with the Ramona School and the under Construction Gold Line/ELA Subway.

Me thinks it will and will cost the City and LAUSD a lot of time and money. Mind you this isn't the first time Meruelo has had to deal with a school. Remember the issues with SCI-Arc and the site he owns.

January 24, 2006 10:45 AM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

Developer Richard Meruelo, the largest individual donor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's election campaign...

But Meruelo, whose $82,000 contribution helped Villaraigosa get elected...

I'm sort of unclear, Rick, maybe you or someone can explain it to me...

Exactly how did Richard Meruelo know when he acquired the site in early 2004 that Antonio was indeed going to be elected Mayor in 2005?

That Meruelo is a big Antonio booster is not completely eccentric to the point I realize. But that's a hell of a gamble: $30 million for, as you're suggesting here, courting special favor from a guy over a year away from office...who then, once in office, has to exert unprecedented influence over a school district outside of his jurisdiction (which he has yet to do).

My opinion: the two slimes in this article "ties to the Mayor" were a bit gratuitous here. The Mayor's barely been in office six months, and the guy's been flipping property for a decade...through two other Mayoralties at least.

January 24, 2006 11:01 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Joseph Mailander, thanks for inserting the voice of reason here.
I support criticism and analysis of gov't officials more than most people. But when you blow things out of proportion, lie about it, make the attacks personal instead of based on the people's actions, the officials just shut down and don't engage you. Because sane people don't engage loonies.

January 24, 2006 11:38 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Let's see who Murelo contributes to in the school board race.

There has been a lot of talk (and it's just talk at this point) about how Murelo was tipped off by Huizar and others at the school board. I'm not holding my breath that we can count on the District to figure this out.

And, Murelo contributed to AV because he knew AV wielded power even if he wasn't the mayor. Murelo gives to many electeds so that he can get special treatment. It works and pay to play prevails. No suprises there.

Mr. Mailander: what do you mean by eccentric? Perhaps essential?

January 24, 2006 11:45 AM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

Mr. Mailander: what do you mean by eccentric? Perhaps essential?

No. Here's what I said:

That Meruelo is a big Antonio booster is not completely eccentric to the point I realize.

Translating myself, I might render it as:

The fact that Meruelo is an Antonio booster may indeed be relevant in this matter, but only to a very small degree.

See, a lot of Anglo media who were hibernating during the Maguire Thomas years have suddenly started sliming Meruelo for speculating-while-Latino and just for having friends around town. A few Anglo journos did a particularly disgraceful hatchet-job on Meruelo in the month before the Mayor's election, spitting out the "friend of Antonio" meme whenever they could, and I would hate to see Orlov joining the club.

The guy is downtown's largest individual landholder, or close to it. And he contributed to the Mayor's election! Imagine that! I'm shocked, I tell you...

I think you have to watch Meruelo like you would watch any developer or speculator. But to sideswipe him twice here as a "Friend of Antonio" when he was in this business years and years before Antonio became mayor, and when he's been a "friend" to dozens of politicians as part of the normal course of a developers business, is completely gratuitous. I think that type of sideswipe panders to the worst element of Anglo-Latino relations in town.

January 24, 2006 12:45 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

An LA reporter should investigate how much property Meruelo has acquired since Antonio's been mayor is a much better question. I heard the GEMLINE property on Cesar Chavez and Mission. (prime land) Then the LAUSD land next to Staples, the Sci students land and so on

January 24, 2006 12:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

They all seem like such nice people...put on earth to help us all better ourselves and our environment, and getting nothing in return. Wait, let me pull my head out of the sand.... THEY WANT TO DO WHAT???!!!???

January 24, 2006 1:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


Certainly you wouldn't suggest that more housing should be built without a school being there, would you?

Isn't that 99.9% of the problem?

The City just keeps building more houses without schools (which is considered infrastructure) and then get mad when the schools are overcrowded and blame it on LAUSD.

Then the City finds a piece of property in a gang infested area of town (that already has overcrowded schools) and tries to put as much density as possible on an acre, by putting single detached condos while calling them single family homes. The problem is there is only 10 feet between each building and there is only one small strip of grass in front of the buildings. They aren't REALLY affordable, which means 2-3 families must join together to afford one and what do the kids do?

They attend overcrowded schools and out of sheer boredom, hang out on the one grassy strip and get in trouble after school. They turn into gangbangers and then we don't have enough police to handle it.

Then the politicians, because it is so politically convenient for them, sit around and criticize LAUSD therefore shifting the blame from themselves for allowing Planning to build that shit in the first place.

Welcome to Los Angeles where politicians dream of a cement city like New York with no transportation fixes and the worst public transportation in existence, no new schools, no open space, no jobs, no affordable housing unless you plan on living with your siblings while you're in your 40's and no plan to do anything about the problem except to build more housing developments on the ridgelines of mountains.

And this is all LAUSD's fault. I'm sure of it.

January 24, 2006 2:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Apparently Meruelo is not only torching LAUSD's plans, but he's not above a little "creative arson" to get the insurance proceeds and keep the cash flow liquid.

From the Los Angeles Times
Blaze Erupts at Produce Market
No injuries are reported in two-hour fire that destroys fruit, vegetables at several businesses.
By Bob Pool
Times Staff Writer

January 24, 2006

Dozens of fruit and vegetable vendors were sent running from a major downtown Los Angeles wholesale produce market Monday when flames erupted in its nearly 90-year-old warehouse.

The fire quickly sparked concern over possible damage to the salad ingredients that pour by the truckload out of one of Southern California's key distribution points for fresh vegetables and fruit.

Boxes stacked on pallets and filled with freshly picked onions, squash, lettuce and citrus were caught in a cascade of burning debris and water as 150 firefighters attacked the blaze. Burning boxes toppled over, sending fruit and vegetables tumbling from loading platforms into the center courtyard.

As firefighters rolled up their hoses to leave, inspectors from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services arrived to look for water or smoke contamination in crates stacked on loading platforms.

Officials determined that the inventory in Strawberry Kids Produce and Panda Produce were destroyed. Inspectors expected to continue their work today, said Alfonso Medina, director of the county health department's Consumer Protection Bureau.

Produce that appears to be damaged will be turned over to licensed food salvagers if vendors still seek to sell it, he said.

Hard-skinned items such as apples might have survived, Medina said. But with things such as lettuce, "it might be difficult to get the soot out," he said.

The two-hour blaze brought much of downtown's produce district to a halt. Fire hoses and police tape prevented produce trucks and forklifts loaded with fruit from entering or leaving the sprawling 7th Street yard, which is operated by the Alameda Produce Market.

Built in 1917, it covers a block along Central Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets south of the downtown high-rise district. The property is owned by developer Richard Meruelo and his family. His office declined to comment.

Authorities said the fire was reported at 9:58 a.m. in a second-floor office and storage area and was under control about noon. No injuries were reported and arson investigators have been called in. A damage estimate was not immediately available.

Firefighters said four produce outlets that are tenants at the market were burned out and at least four others were damaged.

Workers at the market — which is home to 71 wholesale vendors — said there was no panic when the fire broke out near the U-shaped structure's northwest corner at South Central Avenue and 8th Street. Other buildings on the east side of the market create the partially covered courtyard area where trucks are loaded and pallets of vegetables are sorted.

"The fire was very little at first. Nobody was scared. But after about 10 minutes it got bigger," said Benny Ayala, 43, of Cudahy, a vegetable wholesaler who has worked 10 years at the market. "Three businesses, maybe four, are totally gone," said Ayala, whose own business is across the courtyard.

Firefighters streamed tons of water into the burning section of the building, sending old tin overhangs flying.

Los Angeles firefighters Richard Hernandez and Daniel Gonzalez crouched in ankle-deep water as they trained their hose on flames at Panda Produce. Water poured from the doorways of the loading docks, carrying a colorful tide of cabbage, pineapples, oranges and avocados.

Fire Capt. Carlos Calvillo said concrete floors and fireproof division walls helped prevent flames from spreading throughout the market.

Despite the old warehouse's sturdy construction, the blaze spread to several businesses because of the structure's common attic and wood roof, said Battalion Chief Lou Roupoli, a department spokesman.

The fire struck at one of the market's busiest times, Roupoli said. Trucks deliver fresh produce before dawn and workers sort it for reshipment during the morning, he said.

Although red flag windy weather fire warnings were posted elsewhere in Los Angeles County, winds were not a factor in the blaze, Roupoli said. Breezes were light Monday in downtown Los Angeles.

January 24, 2006 4:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Um, Joseph M., (at 11:01 a.m.) I can't fault you for reading the Daily News typo and believing it, but unfortunately the fact that it WAS a typo destroys your argument.

Meruelo did NOT buy the school site in early 2004 (when AV was still pretending to be a councilmember), he bought it in the Spring of 2005 (when AV was pretending he was the "honest" and untarnished candidate for mayor... last year, in the MIDDLE of a mayoral campaign, when AV was 20 points UP in all polls, and Hahn was counting on 120 percent turnout in the SFV. He bought the property within DAYS of putting truckloads of money into AV's mayoral campaign... using "dirty grrrrl" Riordan as his spokes-perpetrator on talk and shock radio.

All of which makes YOUR apologetics for both AV and Meruelo (following), the DEADEST of dead wrong...

Exactly how did Richard Meruelo know when he acquired the site in early 2004 that Antonio was indeed going to be elected Mayor in 2005?

That Meruelo is a big Antonio booster is not completely eccentric to the point I realize. But that's a hell of a gamble: $30 million for, as you're suggesting here, courting special favor from a guy over a year away from office...

Someone call Ricky at the DN and tell him copy desk screwed up the whole point of his story with one bad digit.

Purchase 2005... MID-mayoral campaign... NOT 2004!

January 24, 2006 5:04 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Sorry, 11:38, Mailanders "voice of reason" has no rhyme to its reason.

January 24, 2006 5:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

5:04 p.m.

Excellent catch, but you failed your own argument as well (and to completely rebut the second part of Mr. M's), by forgetting to mention that in the Spring of 2005, leading candidate Antonio was also telling everyone he intended to "take over LAUSD" -- which means he would be positioned perfectly to help out Murelo.

So, he had already announced he would be exercising - what was Mr. M's phrase? - "unprecedented influence." In fact, other than the Hahn corruption claims, it the part of Antonio's campaign that most people referenced when explaining why they were booting our JH... it was the second oar of AV's campaign boat (after Hertzberg was gone, of course).

Hello, can anyone out there not educated at LAUSD in the last decade add 2+2 here?

January 24, 2006 5:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I can:

AV said he would run LAUSD once elected.

Murelo bought property LAUSD wanted for $30 million.

Murelo spent millions on AV's mayoral campaign.

AV heir apparent Huizar and school board president is deafeningly silent on the loss of a school site, even though he later claims to be the main force behind bulding the many needed new schools (so as not to rock the boat he's climbing into next).

Adds up to four (4), any way you do the math.

January 24, 2006 5:35 PM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

Sure 2+2= Pay 4 Play. With the ringleader in all of this being Slick Dick Riordan, another reason why I didn't vote for Antonio.

Riordan's hand would be stuck straight up AV's ass the entire term. Just like Gipetto and Pinocchio.

Just wait until Riordan dies of a heart attack at the Pantry resturant to see this house of cards fall apart.

January 24, 2006 5:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Instead of "jewish lightning" can this be considered "cuban lightning"? Afterall, Cubans are the Jewish Latinos.

January 24, 2006 5:52 PM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

Those are all good catches, Samistas. I had to laugh. Apologies for not standing over Richard Meruelo's shoulder as he inked the deal as a few of the anonymous posters here apparently did, and apologies also for taking the DN's reporting as reliable. As print people are always hammering the blogosphere for being unedited and unreliable, it's especially heartening to see such a mistake---I'll have to take your word that it's a mistake and will wait for the DN's dutiful correction if so.

I would still, however, maintain that it's almost pointless to "invest" in one particular candidate and hope he can, if he overarches, do something for you that the school district itself already wanted to do anyway, even without his help.

And the fact that the District wanted to do it all on their own (without Antonio pressure) was demonstrated to schlubby ol' me in spring 2005 at a Franklin Hills Residents Association annual meeting, where the District's Susan Cline indicated that the District still wanted to develop on Taylor Yard:

The most controversial topic of the evening revolved around cancellation of a new school in our area. The LA Unified School District had been planning a nearby “Span School” with grades 6 through 12 to relieve serious overcrowding at Marshall High and King Middle School.

Susan Cline, a former FHRA member, who manages planning and pre-construction of LAUSD projects, says the latest six year area school population projections have “taken a severe dip” indicating that overcrowding can be relived by other new school projects such as the Central High School #1 already under construction at Sunset and the 101 freeway and another planned across the LA River in the former Taylor railroad yard.

So, again, clear it up for me.

...by forgetting to mention that in the Spring of 2005, leading candidate Antonio was also telling everyone he intended to "take over LAUSD" -- which means he would be positioned perfectly to help out Murelo.

(I trust that "Murelo" is a typo---maybe you work for the DN?) But when you figure out why the District itself was still completely interested---without Antonio even being elected Mayor yet---in late Spring 2005 in snatching Taylor Yard as a grade 6-12 site, apparently even after Meruelo had already bought the property, let me know.

January 24, 2006 7:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Get some sleep Mailander. You can't verb-doze out of that mess. The Meruelo mess was all over the papers and the blogosphere last April/May with every third CD14 serial blogger here claiming the fix was in with AV and his cubano amigo.

And, hey. . . it was in the LA TIMES, too.

January 24, 2006 10:11 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The true koolaid drinking AV lovers will say "but AV didn't DO anything for Meruelo"... so once the koolaid hangover wears off, ask yourselves questions like this:

Why would buddy Meruelo invest so heavily thinking AV would do something for him, if he didn't already have some experience with this kind of pay-for-play and AV? People that make this kind of money just for sneezing don't take a flyer like that on a hunch (his "due-diligence" was knowing AV's history and corrupt nature).

Come on, does AV ever actually DO anything except when paid off? (CD14 says "hell no!")

Maybe the political payoffs are as much about what the paid-off mayor WON'T do from his "bully pulpit" - like say "Stop" and use any influence he may have over whatever evil things his contributors do to the future of LA schoolchildren, by holding the quality of their education hostage to corporate greed. If he can't guide his own supporters to do the right thing, then he's pretty useless, isn't he?

During the mayor's race, his apologists hid behind the "independent" expenditure dodge.

What about now... he could just as easily say, Hey Meruelo, if you REALLY love me, and this isn't just about winning favors, then do what's right. Get out of the way of the most needed school in the eastern 1/3 of the city.

Make your money somewhere else.

January 25, 2006 4:23 AM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

He can't because he'll need a major contributor if he's eyeing the Governor's seat. And Meruelo is a major contributor.

Screw Wall Street, I should put my Money on Main/1st Streets. There I can get a handsome ROI.

January 25, 2006 9:07 AM  

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