Whistleblower hotline: (213) 785-6098

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Thursday

I'm back. This old, dead, Republican mayor spent some time in America's Finest City, amongst other things and took some days off. Thanks to Walter Moore, Jennifer Solis, Joe B. and Councilman John for keeping things moving.

The day following Mayor Villaraigosa's legislative victory in which he will take over the LAUSD, Monterey Park Mayor Betty Chu today proposed severing ties with the Los Angeles Unified School District and placing one of the city's elementary schools in another district. Chu cited Villaraigosa's "arrogant" attitude as one of the reasons for the move.

Neighborhood Councils are gaining traction in Bagdhad
, working hard to rebuild their war torn community. In the meantime, the LA 32 Neighborhood Council in war torn El Sereno is marshalling troops around supporting seperatist charter school, Academia Semillas Del Pueblo and a potential lawsuit against Disney and KABC radio for their "malicious" broadcasts. Of course having their goons almost plow down journalist Sandy Wells was not malicious. How charming.

Speaking of Neighborhood Councils, the Daily News editorializes that former Department of Neighborhood Empowerment general manager, Greg Nelson, is doing more for the Councils now as a private citizen than he could when he was on the "inside."

LA power broker and mall developer Rick Caruso (yes, the same Rick Caruso who allegedly called Maxine Waters a bitch) is gearing up for another mall war. After building the Grove in the Fairfax District, and winning a fight against the venerable Glendale Galleria to take his concept to that city, he's now duking it out with the massive Westfield company over a planned development in San Gabriel.

Legendary actor Glenn Ford has died at his Beverly Hills home at the age of 90. No immediate cause of death was given, but Ford had been in ill health for a few years following a series of strokes.

Thursday Mayor Villaraigosa will speak at the Black Business Association's reception at the California African American Museum of History.

The City Clowncil is still on vacation. Anyone notice?

El Segundo.net reports on a series of South Bay area establishments busted for selling liquor to minors.

Franklin Avenue recounts the story of one day in 1909 when Los Angeles ran out of ice cream.

Venice Beach - The Outlaw Story

Interesting video about the hassles faced by Venice Beach merchants. Including video of a meeting with Bill Rosendahl in his office. He offers a few choice words about his former employer, Adelphia, and frequently peppers his speech with F bombs. I did not he was prone to this!

He also eats oatmeal at his desk.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Term Limits Lawsuit Filed

Neil Donner, a Los Angeles resident, stepped up to the plate and filed a lawsuit to remove, from the November ballot, the proposition that would let City Clowncil Members serve three terms rather than two.

Way to go, Neil!

I'm not sure he has terrific grounds for the suit, but we'll let someone in a black robe decide it. Whether he wins or loses, and whether you agree or disagree with him, please appreciate that Neil took action to improve his city.

Read it: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_4258543

But It Was Her Day To Drive The Car Pool

Victoria Villicano, 42 and innocent until proven guilty, is charged with driving her son and his friends around so they could vandalize Silver Lake and Echo Park. They would allegedly jump out of the car and paint "HIV" and "HIVC" at about 100 sites on Sunset.

Hmmm.... Maybe more parent involvement isn't always a great idea.

And class, you DO know the origin of the term "vandalize," right?

Read it: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tagmom30aug30,0,2026962.story?coll=la-home-headlines

The Business Of Disaster

With Tropical Storm Ernesto making landfall in the Florida Keys, the business of disaster, once again, replaces the concerns of life and safety, and looks for the quick financial windfall. From today's Yahoo Home Depot Shareholders board comes this insightful take on 115 MPH winds;
"living in the Florida keys the hds ( Home Depots) for a hundred miles are sold out plywood gas cans baterries ets. and with the paths effecting 7 States that thousands of home depots that will see a ton of business because people are force to protect there home and spend money".
You can almost feel the drool of morbid anticipation dripping from this articulate gentlemans mouth! "115 MPH winds?, aw, c'mon, we need 150 MPH winds or the stock is gonna miss out!"
For the last several months, the shareholders of Home Depot have been counting on a
particulary brutal hurricane season to halt this company's current stock price freefall ( They were at 43 earlier this year, and are now around 34).
And Home Depot, naturally, is looking for any opportunity to divert attention from
it's bad reputation of having marginal, if any, customer service, disappointing same store sales, and a CEO with a Napoleonic complex.
The reason I mention this, is that in the little communication that Sunland-Tujunga has had with Home Depot,their rationale, for the store having to open here,always came down to one pathetic mantra:
"We must appease our Shareholders!" and "The Shareholders will see a profit by having a store in this area".

This is the same company that papered our town with brochures proclaiming how much "They Care" about our community.

Yes, we know what you care about, and it isn't our community.

We do have the occasional flood, and an earthquake is always a possibility, but our biggest threat seems to come from developers hell-bent on cramming as many housing developments as they can, in an area 5 miles long by 2 miles wide. We have mountains to the north and south, hence the 2 mile wide barrier.

And just as Home Depot looks for profits in natural disasters,
they also can see ton of money to be made in the man-made ones as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mayor’s Supporters Plan Victory Rally

By Jennifer Solis

With passage of AB1381, and signing by the Governator all but certain, the supporters of the mayor’s plan to take over the LAUSD will rally Wednesday morning at Animo High School.

The 9 am gathering will take place at the Green Dot facility, at 11100 South Western Avenue. At least a thousand parents and students are expected to attend, according to Rose Group staffer Tracy Mallozzi, who, with Laura Benetti, has been handling the public relations for Steve Barr, organizer of the Los Angeles Parents Union, and head of Green Dot charter schools.

The Parents Union announcement calls the legislation “a historic opportunity to improve Los Angeles schools by strengthening accountability and empowering parents and educators.”

Unfortunately for the supporters of mayoral takeover of our public schools, no one seems to be addressing the certain to be filed litigation, which will inevitably result in the entire legislation being thrown out by the courts. The lawyers will make a bundle, and the status quo will remain, except for moving the battle to the next round of school board elections, and a possible referendum on the proposal.

The fallout is also expected to affect politics within the Los Angeles teachers union. The current UTLA leadership endorsed the mayor’s plan after a closed door meeting with Villaraigosa a few weeks ago. The support was narrowly formalized at a mid-summer session of the UTLA House of Delegates at which almost half the members were absent.

Union president A.J. Duffy has gambled that he can persuade his troops to go along with the deal, but a petition signed by 500 teachers has forced a referendum on AB 1381 for early October. Ballot arguments will be submitted by next Tuesday, the 5th, with voting packets sent to LAUSD schools on September 20th. The count will take place October 5th.

Former president of both the Los Angeles and state teachers organizations, Wayne Johnson, says that AB 1381 recognizes that the “level of public dissatisfaction with the district has reached the boiling point.” He says that “It is important that UTLA members keep their eye on the big picture,” which includes giving teachers a greater voice in reforming the LAUSD.

The California Legislative Counsel, Diane Boyer-Vine, has already made two separate analyses which conclude that AB 1381 is contrary to the state constitution, which requires that education governing be separate from municipal government. In her most recent announcement, she wrote that the courts “would likely conclude that the authority or control over educational functions currently performed by a school district may not be transferred by statute to the mayor of a charter city.”

The LAUSD hired the Sacramento law firm, Olsen, Hagel & Fishburn to handle “governance issues.” The board is proceeding to recruit Superintendent Roy Romer’s replacement this fall without input from the mayor – which could spark a separate round of lawsuits. The executive search firm working for the board has insisted that all negotiations be kept out of the press, until the successor is announced.

Wednesday Thread: PR By Any Other Name....

The Rose Group is a public relations firm in Culver City. They want you to know that "the Los Angeles Parents Union will show their support by hosting a rally" for Mayor Villaraigosa at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday August 30, 2006, at "11100 S. Western Ave. (intersection 111th Street), Los Angeles, CA, 90047 – South L.A. Animo High School."

Isn't it heartwarming to see genuine demonstrations of love for a leader by ordinary citizens? Oh, wait -- ordinary citizens are at work at 9:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, and don't have public relations firms organizing and announcing a "rally" on their behalf, do they?

Anyhow, as you know because you're addicted to this blog and read it at night, the Assembly passed Villaraigosa's watered-down LAUSD takeover bid. What began as "mayoral control of the schools" wound up as "mayoral approval of the superintendent, plus control of a few schools."

So your mission, Brain Trust, is to predict: i) when the first lawsuit will be filed to invalidate the takeover; ii) how many lawsuits will be filed, and by whom; and iii) the outcome.

I'll go first: i) within three business days of passage; ii) two, one by the LAUSD (based on the state constitution) and one by an L.A. resident (based on the City Charter); and iii) neither plaintiff will prevail.

In other news, for the historical record, L.A. County is about to lose yet another emergency room. Gee, I wonder why?

FLASH: Assembly Rejects THEN PASSES Villaraigosa's LAUSD Bill!

Tonight the media first reported the Assembly rejected the measure, and then reported the Assembly passed it.

During the 6:00 p.m. news, NBC Channel 4 just reported Villaraigosa was 11 votes short, and apparently intends to keep trying -- tonight?

Too many Assembly Members apparently had this crazy idea that the people of L.A. itself, rather than legislators from around the state, should decide the fate of L.A.'s schools.

After hearing this report, I posted: "I gotta tell you: I didn't see this one coming. I thought it was a done deal."

As of 8:00 p.m., it turned out it WAS a done deal: the L.A. Times reports the Assembly subsequently passed the bill.

Unlock Gridlock

Perhaps you read the article in the L.A. Times about gridlock in West L.A.

Want to know what really causes gridlock, and how to fix it?

In short, it results from ever-increasing population density, rent control, and the non-portability of Proposition 13.

Read all about it: Unlock Gridlock

Alger among Katrina honorees in Biloxi

Our old friend, Neighborhood Council President and LANCC Senator Jim Alger is among those being recognized in Biloxi MS later today for his response to Hurricane Katrina.

You may remember a year ago Alger and a group of his fellow Neighborhood Council friends funded a trip to Biloxi MS to coordinate a mission of mercy.
Alger flew his own aircraft to the Gulf Coast and coordinated over a dozen other plots to do the same. Linking with locals in Tennessee, Virginia and Florida they ended up forming a pretty impressive land and air ooperation.

Together they are credited for saving countless lives as well as using the trip to force a spotlight on Biloxi’s plight which up until then had been pretty much overlooked by the national media.

The bigger question remains, what has the Federal Govenment learned from Katrina? Are we ready for a large disaster in Los Angeles? Do YOU have a plan?

Blog away dum dums

Back to School, Mayor V and the LAUSD

Back when this old dead councilman first heard of the mayor’s plan to increase mayoral influence over the school district he thought it a daring move. Education has always been paid lip service by politicians, but to seek so much control of the district in such a public manner goes a bit beyond the norm. Taking control of (and thus responsibility for) the LAUSD might just be akin to stepping in as captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

Before long I came to my senses. The mayor’s play is, of course, calculated and not so daring at all. Whatever the outcome he will position himself as an action-oriented proponent of education. Assuming he succeeds in truly broadening mayoral influence over the district he may declare any improvement a sign of successful leadership. Alas, as with so many issues, the public’s wealth of ignorance surrounding the LAUSD is astounding and thus it will be especially easy to spin any outcome. Here is where the councilman must do his civic duty and help to educate his constituency.

It may surprise some of you to learn that this old dead councilman has several years of first hand experience in the very district of which we speak. In this, my first article in what will be a LAUSD series, I will lay the foundation for discussion with a clarification of basic facts. In future articles I will expose the folly that currently passes as addressing problems in our schools and I will outline steps the school district (and possibly the mayor) must take to achieve any meaningful results. Lastly, I will discuss those issues the district will face that it has little control over – larger societal issues that are impacting our schools with tremendous force. I promise to pull no punches…

Fact 1: Academic performance is truly in decline (captain obvious has arrived) and we must be willing to face this reality in order to address it. Ask any seasoned teacher, academic performance has been in decline for 20 years. Common lie: tests are inaccurate measuring “cultural capital” rather than knowledge. As so many Los Angeles students are not native to this culture they do poorly. Counter: Tests check specific knowledge sets and to a lesser degree discipline/willingness to cooperate and intelligence. Let us not forget: math = universal, LAUSD math scores = unacceptable. Furthermore, those with the highest test scores of all are quite often not persons who could possibly be described as having the most “cultural capital.” Teaching to students with diverse cultures and languages is a challenge and a valid issue to discuss. Tests, however, are accurate and are proven to be a valid indicator of future academic success – big points for creativity but put more effort into improving the situation and less into creating the impression that the system is bias and designed to oppress you left-wing bastards.

Fact 2: Student attitude is the most important factor in determining student success and said attitude is formed by the student’s family, community, peers and culture. The educational institution’s influence alone is significant but secondary/limited. We can and will reap benefits by improving our schools, however, problems exist beyond the school yard. We must avoid the temptation to point the finger solely at the school system and instead we as a society need to take a good hard look in the mirror. With rare exception, even schools that are largely dysfunctional are able to maintain functional programs for the willing (magnet school, honors programs, and the like). Common lie: Students will meet the expectations of the institution, thus it is the teacher’s fault when students fail for too little was expected, too little compassion was shown, too little effort was expended, and thus the students were “written off” (this is a VERY common theme in teacher training courses and Hollywood movies alike). Counter: Nothing misleads quite like a partial truth. It is true that children meet expectations and demands, those set fourth by all in their sphere of influence. Students must be immersed in a culture that demands results - a foundation of parental, peer, and societal/cultural support in addition to that from the educational institution. To their dismay, new teachers quickly learn that the attitudes and behaviors the student enters the classroom with largely dictate his or her performance. Colossal effort is required to turn a student around who has chosen the wrong path. Teachers have upwards of 200 students at a time (Hollywood teachers have only one class – lucky them!). Parents have only one to three (or so) students to keep tabs on… hmmm who’s responsibility is this anyway? Note that seasoned teachers will attest to the fact that the once solid middle ground of average performance is disappearing. Teachers serve honors and advanced placement students in one sphere and an ever increasing number of students that are below grade level in another. Our society as a whole, is dividing more and more into the rich and the poor. The middle class is disappearing – too coincidental to be a coincidence?

Fact 3: Our teachers are the district's greatest asset. Common lie: Bad teachers abound and can not be fired. Counter: It takes heart and great dedication to become a teacher and even greater dedication to continue to serve as one. Yes there are bad teachers (at least a couple at every school to the councilman’s experience), and yes the union will stand up for them when perhaps it should not, but the exception is not the rule. The notion that the district is full of terribly underpaid, under-qualified people is completely false. Note that a bachelor’s degree, a teaching credential, and testing (CBEST at minimum) are required for a teaching position. Starting pay at the LAUSD is 42K plus benefits for ten months of work.

Fact 4: The lack of discipline and the lack of real institutional support are our teacher’s most severe and discouraging challenges. A common misconception: Teachers can simply send misbehaving students to the dean, bad apples are expelled, discipline is maintained.

Now you all know that the councilman has taken his share of shots at the conservatives, now allow him to give the other side its due. Years and years of increasingly liberal policy have severely crippled the schools ability maintain discipline and the integrity of the institution. An example: Student X is a severe discipline problem who has gone through all of the school’s usual channels. His behavior shows no improvement and so we expel him right? Not so fast, the councilman has learned from the dean of a local high school that it is incredibly difficult to remove a student. The dean actually calls the parents and asks them to remove the student and then hopes they check him into another school. If this does not work the dean institutes an “opportunity transfer” for the student. The bad news is that the dean must now accept a severe problem student from another school. Now imagine how effective your workplace would be if individuals that were not only unproductive, but actually disruptive, had the right to stay no matter what?

Number one on the agenda must be laying down the law. Rights should require responsibilities. The student has the right to attend class so long as he can conduct himself in an appropriate manner. Some of our schools are overwhelmed by unacceptable behavior and unfortunately have chosen to bend and turn a blind eye rather than to stand up. Once again too much responsibility is dumped on the teacher who receives little support from the administration (busy kissing up to parents) or the dean (overwhelmed). Amazingly, even Hollywood realizes that to turn a school around one must first clear out the bad apples and lay down the law (Stand by Me).

The district provides little meaningful support that is felt at the classroom level and the manner in which it spends its money must be changed.

Blog away dum dums

Monday, August 28, 2006

LAUSD Bill Goes To Assembly

The California Senate passed Villaraigosa's LAUSD bill.

The Assembly will rubber stamp it, the the governor, and will then all claim a victory "for the children."

Net impact on education: basically nothing, other than to blur responsibility so much that Villaraigosa will be able to claim responsibility for any improvement, and deny responsibility for any backsliding.

CBS Channel 2 reported it: http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_240163903.html

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Delete This Department: Cultural Affairs

Do we really need a governmental agency to promote September as "Latino American Heritage Month?"

Well, we've got one. The Department of Cultural Affairs has an annual budget of $9.8 million.

Why are we taxing the hard-working people of our city $9.8 million every single year so some bureaucrats can promote their vision of "culture?"

It gets worse, of course. Of $9.8 million budget, just under $5.4 million goes to salary and expenses, and the other $4.4 million is given away as grants.

So, if you think of this as a charity to support the arts, the "overhead" is eating up your forced contribution as the taxpayer/donor. Would you willingly contribute to a charity where only 45% of your dollar winds up going to the needy?

Let's get rid of this agency, get government out of the "culture" business, and spend this hard-earned money on something more important, like, say, keeping children from getting shot on their way to or from school.

Sunday: Slow -- Make That "No" -- News Day

To generate advertising revenues, commercial news media must publish something -- anything -- every day, whether it's actually newsworthy or not.

Here at Mayor Sam, by contrast, we get paid the same whether we write something each day or not, namely, nothing.

So I'm here to tell you, people, there's nothing newsworthy to report today in L.A. politics.

You may turn your computer off, go outside, and soak up that beautiiful sunshine. Aside from the risk of skin cancer, it's good for you. Why do you think they say a pleasant person has a "sunny disposition?"

Enjoy, and come back tomorrow. We'll probably have something to raise your blood pressure by then.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

NBC4 Investigates LA Dept of Building & Safety

NBC4 has launched an investigation into the questionable practices of the LADBS.

In this report, hosted by Paul Moyer, the focus is on the inspection process and includes this disturbing insight;

"LA's Department of Building and Safety admits that it's computerized files on construction projects across the City- files that potentially deal with the safety of every home and building -- cannot be trusted."

The investigation also reveals that;
" Deputy inspectors are paid not by the City but by the developers themselves...creating a potential
conflict of interest in enforcing building codes."

So if the basic LADBS system of building code enforcement is completely dysfunctional, how big of a leap is it to assume that their plan reviews & permit issuances suffer from the same ineptness, as well?
The No Home Depot Campaign has been asserting a similar position for months now , in regard to Home Depot's attempt to open in Sunland-Tujunga, and we hope that NBC 4 will continue to explore why the LA Department of Building and Safety may be one of the biggest threats to the citizens of Los Angeles, if for no other reason, than for it's remarkable incompetence.
As we all have come to learn, stories like this, are usually just the tip of the iceberg!

Read the whole story and watch the video at the link below;

NBC4 Investigation of
the Department of Building & Safety

Friday, August 25, 2006

Saturday Thread: Exporting Excrement

When you flush the toilet, where does . . . "it" . . . go?

Oddly enough, it gets exported to Kern County!

How much? According to the San Jose Mercury News, "enough to fill a toilet the size of an Olympic swimming pool every four days."

I didn't even know they made 'em that big!

So, long story short, Kern County's voters said, "Thanks, but -- so to speak -- no thanks. Keep your . . . you know . . . to yourselves." The City of L.A. has graciously responded with a lawsuit to keep the river of poo flowing.

What does our City do with the do? The City spreads the human waste all "over a 4,700-acre farm the city bought for nearly $10 million about 15 miles south of Bakersfield."

Say it with me, "EEEEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!!" Da-uhm! Talk about "not in my backyard!" How bad a neighbor are we?!

And, please God, tell me they don't grow crops -- with an "o" -- on that land.

You people need to think about things like this when you advocate cramming more and more people into our city limits. Think about the logistics of ever-increasing population density. Put another way: if people will just move to Bakersfield instead of L.A., we can eliminate -- so to speak -- the middleman.

Read about it: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/15358320.htm .

LAUSD Bill: Failure To Launch, Or Just Theatrics?

What part of "rubber stamp" do these guys not understand?

The Daily News reports:

"Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, admitted he could not muster enough votes to get the bill out of his house, saying several Democratic members had voiced questions or concerns. But he predicted that the votes would be lined up by Monday and it would win approval and move back to the Assembly for final passage."

Apparently some of the fellahs claim they want to "read" the bill. Yeah, right. I'm sure the go through all the legislation they enact with a fine tooth comb.

Smells more like "three-day weekend" to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Friday Thread

Thought experiment: Think of the LEAST important issue about which an L.A. City Council Member and the MTA could reasonably spend their time -- for which we pay -- arguing.

Buses vs. subways? Bus-only lanes?

Not even close. Councilman Parks and the MTA are fighting over what color to assign to a subway line. Seriously.

Put it in the "you couldn't make this up" file. Read all about it: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_4228426.

Oh, and it's supposedly going to cost $640 million to build. How many houses in, and one-way bus tickets to Livonia -- the "affordable housing" capital of the world -- could you buy with that?

Speaking of the MTA, is looking for 300 new drivers. "Applicants don't need a high school diploma but must have a good driving record and no serious criminal background." A frivolous criminal background is fine. Here's that story: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_4227887.

Mayor Sam is on a mission, or he'd tell you "Blog away, Dum Dum's."

Insiders Wanted

The public learns about the shenanigans at City Hall primarily from the local media, who, in turn, seem to rely primarily on press releases issued by career politicians.

That's just not good enough.

If you work in City Hall, and you're aware of misconduct the press is missing, report it to Mayor Sam via e-mail. (Don't report it to me, report it to Mayor Sam.) He will keep your identity confidential. Don't sit idly by while laws are broken and tax dollars are squandered. Take some action.

Oh, now that I think about what happened to the guy in "The Insider," maybe that wasn't the best choice for a graphic. . . .

Solar System Votes Pluto Off The Island - LAUSD Impact

Astronomers have decided Pluto is no longer a planet.

Pluto's moons, Charon, Nix and Hydra, issued a statement expressing disappointment and humiliation at the decision.

Science textbook publishers, however, are elated at the news. "There are billions and billions of stars," said Skip Penderbrook, a texbook salesman, "and millions and millions of textbooks that must now be replaced."

In a related story, several textbook publishers are lobbying to have Alaska's name changed to "Maitsiak," the Inuit word for "beautiful."

Home Sales Down 30%

Sales of existing homes -- as opposed to those non-existent homes -- dropped 30% in July, compared to the number of sales in July 2005.

When the inventory of homes for sale piles up, that's the economy's way of saying, "It's the PRICE, stupid!"

In other words, sellers will soon realize that they are asking too much, and either lower their price or withdraw their units from the market.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc . . . And The Border

Headline in today's L.A. Times: "Drop in Illegal Border Crossings a Sign of Success, Bush Aide Says."

Turns out the Bush administration claims: i) illegal crossings are down; and ii) this resulted from increased border security.

Here's an alternative hypothesis: anyone who wanted to come is already here! The drop in illegal border crossings is indeed a sign of success -- the success of those who wanted to walk into our country!

Pictured: ancient Roman border security in England, aka Hadrian's Wall.

Where You Can Get "Affordable Housing"

Yesterday a non-profit housing group, concerned only with the public interest, issued a list of locations where "affordable housing" is available.

The group, called the National Association of Home Builders, announced that Indianapolis, Indiana, is the most affordable place to live in the entire nation:

"In the nation’s most affordable major housing market of Indianapolis, 87.4 percent of homes sold in the second quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median household income of $65,100. The median sales price of all homes sold in Indianapolis during that time was $120,000, which is up from $113,000 in the previous quarter and equivalent to the median sales price for Indianapolis homes sold in the final quarter of 2005."

You say you don't want to move to the home of the Brickyard? No problem! You have options:

"Also near the top of the list for affordable major metros this time around were Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., in that order."

So the next time someone starts whining about how expensive it is to live here, tell him to buy a bus ticket to Detroit. Housing costs more here because more people want to live here than in Livonia. The high housing prices reflect not a failure of public policy, but the basic laws of supply and demand. We've got the climate and the beach.

[Don't recognize the picture? It's the award-winning Livonia Community Recreation Center. You'll love the ping-pong.]

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Thursday

LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer made his final "back to school speech" before his upcoming retirement. In his address, Romer urged district staffers to stay focused and not let turmoil surrounding the schools divert them from their progress. Romer also took the opportunity to criticize Mayor Villaraigosa's attempt to take control of the district.

Is the multi-billion dollar budget of LAUSD attracting power hungry politicians to fight for control? The Full Disclosure Network™ special Video News Blog (12 min). Features the raucous debate over AB 1381 between the major players in the battle for control over the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Now that the EAA strike is over, Mayor Villaraigosa had a few things to say in a press conference Wednesday afternoon. While he supports the right of the workers to organize, the Mayor did not support the workers going on strike. The Mayor told the press, "We cannot compromise our fiscal health or deprive L.A.'s residents of essential services in order to meet unreasonable demands. We're not going to going to cut the police budget or undermine our plan to put 1,000 new officers on the street." Problem is, the City Clowncil has already begun to undermine the Mayor's plan by diverting trash tax funds away from hiring officers.

Franklin Avenue reports that these are the last days of department store Robinsons-May, itself the combination of two venerable Southern California institutions. Very soon, all the Robinsons-May stores will carry the name of its new owner, Macy's and there she wrote. Blogger Mike contrasts the lack of awareness on the part of Angelenos to this significant event, whereas Chicagoans witnessing a similar takeover by Macy's of their beloved Marhsall Fields' stores are up in arms.

Google the term "City Clowncil" and the Sister City is at the top of the list. However, one will find that Cincinatti too has a City Clowncil.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Roy Romer’s Farewell

By Jennifer Solis

While The LAUSD superintendent still has a few weeks remaining on the job, before retiring after six years at the helm of the Los Angeles Unified School District, he gave his farewell address this morning before the LAUSD administrators’ annual gathering.

It is hard to imagine how or where our school district can find a successor who possesses the skills, determination and energy to continue the incredible accomplishments of “Governor” Romer, who had been the political leader of Colorado for a dozen years, prior to packing his bags and coming to L.A., to turn around a troubled educational system in 2000.

He mentioned that when he decided to take the job, he brought no one with him to serve in executive or “buffer” staff positions, “because I knew that I needed to join a new community, and that I needed to learn from that community, and I am still in that process of learning.”

One of Romer’s most successful, but controversial early achievements was to bring in experienced management specialists from outside education, in order to have an objective team, untainted by existing political and bureaucratic preconceptions. Had Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election, it was rumored that Romer would have become Secretary of Education. Washington’s loss was our gain.

With Mayor Villaraigosa frantically trying to push through legislation in Sacramento that would allow him to hand-pick the next superintendent and control LAUSD spending, the Los Angeles schools are in danger of becoming another agency of L.A. city government, rather than the separate elected governmental unit, which is designed, by charter, to be untainted by city hall politics and control. Fortunately, the present seven-member board of education is proceeding with an executive search without consideration of the probable passage of AB 1381.

Much of Romer’s activity in the final months of his tenure has been spent fighting the mayor’s mantra of “failed schools” and need for “partnership.” If Los Angeles’ schools are “failing,” then what does that say about every other school district in California? Los Angeles has increased its measurable performance by one hundred and fifty percent more than the rest of the state during this decade.

The superintendent told the administrators “You have become the fastest changing, most effective group of educators in the United States,” and that proof of that was increasing the percentage of elementary level scores from 27 to 96-percent of API benchmark in half a decade.

Referring to the mayoral takeover bill in Sacramento, Romer said “I have to chuckle when I read legislation that tries to micro-manage our work.” He suggested that a “council of mayors” is not going to serve our kids better than professional educators. “Our challenge,” according to the superintendent, “is not just to hold someone accountable, but to enable them to increase their capacity to do their work better.”

“You have to have a uniformity of expectation and a sustaining support for each other to get that done, especially in a district that has a 25-percent mobility of students each year.” Romer compared the school administrators to a “Band of Brothers,” in that there is a bond that is stronger than just the work you do. “You must be concerned about how I can help you do your work better.”

Among the programs Romer wants his successor to continue are centralized tracking of every student, develop career education alternatives, full day kindergarten for all, and including the community, especially parents, in the education process.

Jon Lauritzen, speaking for the school board members during the introductions, also took a swipe at the mayor’s tactics to win support for his takeover. He told the administrators “It has become part of your job to endure the slings and arrows of increasingly bitter attacks. When people keep telling you, over and over again, that you are a failure, eventually you can tend to doubt your own effectiveness and potential.”

Elephant CSI

Why did Gita die?

CBS Channel 2 news says the animal autopsy -- I've forgotten the relevant term of art -- said heart failure due to blood clots, or something like that. The report also said, apparently, it was impossible to tell whether the delay in care contributed to the death.

Rest in peace, Gita.

Bus Riders Union + Neighborhood Councils = ????

The Bus Riders Union is trying to form an alliance with Neighborhood Councils in an effort to influence the MTA.

I know. That's about as much enthusiasm as I could work up over this, too. But insofar as we try to generate the historical record of L.A. politics here, it seemed worth mentioning.

Plus, you can sing "Magic Bus" in your head. Great song. Almost makes you wish you experimented with LSD.

The story: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_4222845

LAX: You Can't Keep A Good Boondoggle Down

Here we go again!

Remember the $11.5 LAX boondoggle proposal? The one where we spend all the money and get three FEWER gates than when we start?

Well, those LAWA devils are at it again. Because that much cash should never be allowed to stay in the pockets of, you know, the public, the taxpayers, LAWA has discovered what we REALLY need is a double-decker freeway, and to move another runway.

Mark my words: LAWA will come up with yet another multi-billion dollar proposal, embraced by labor unions, developers and "community groups."

Fasten your seatbelts, hold onto your wallets, and prepare for a bumpy ride!

Read it: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lax23aug23,1,7460626.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Pay-To-Play Indictment: "You've Got The Wong Man!"

The Daily News reports the indictment of former Mayor James Hahn commission appointee Leland Wong "on 20 charges including bribery, conflict of interest and embezzlement."

Wong pleaded not guilty.

D.A. Cooley said, according to the newspaper, "The indictment ... is a significant step in rooting out corrupt public officials.'' District Attorney Steve Cooley said in a statement.

Read all about it: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_4225610

Also, sorry: couldn't resist the "Wong man" joke.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Wednesday

The Daily News has an editorial in which it slams the City Clowncil's shell game to divert funds from the newly implemented trash tax (which was meant to hire more police officers) to "anti-gang programs." No doubt these "programs" are going to be run by favorite City Hall special interest groups who love to suck at the trough.

The Times reports that the Los Angeles Unified School District has retained the services of a Sacramento based law firm to sue, should Mayor Villaraigosa's school takeover plan be passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. Quote of the day: "Thank God there is a judiciary branch." - school board member David Tokofsky.

Zach Behrens - publisher of the Sherman Oaks based "In The Oaks" blog is running for the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council. Behrens hopes to improve the Council's communication efforts and raise its visibility in the community.

In other Sherman Oaks blogging news, Behrens notes that Wendy Greuel staffer Patricia Davenport has taken up blogging at the From Sherman Oaks (1927 - ) blog.

Given his bizarre behaivor of late - including jumping on Oprah's couch and slamming Brooke Shields use of prescription drugs - Tom Cruise has been fired after 14 years with Paramount Pictures. Cruise and his producing partner say they'll now start their own studio.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Tuesday

A judge has blocked plans by the city Engineers and Architects union from striking. The judge agreed with the City Attorney's view that such a strike would endanger the public safety.

Commissioner Charlotte Laws of the LA 912 Commission has called a "town hall" style meeting to discuss issues relating to the Commission's charge to review the efficacy of the city's Neighborhood Council system. The meeting will take place on September 1, 2006, 6:30 pm at the Marvin Braude Constituent Services Center, Room 1-B, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA 91401. This event is free and open to the public.

Here in Van Nuys picks up on a great map now appearning on Curbed LA. A "fantasy" map of what the LA transit system could demonstrates one that could really get you were going. It won't be built in our lifetime - if at all - but it would be great if it was.

Sepulveda Boulevard may be the world's longest street, but its not the longest street in LA. The longest street to run completely within the city limits of Los Angeles - according to LA City Nerd - is Figueroa, which traverses the city from Eagle Rock to San Pedro.

Its awfully quiet with the Council out of town. Anything going on at City Hall?

Monday, August 21, 2006

How Many Homeless Are There?

As the vote on the so-called "affordable housing" bond approaches, you will hear proponents claim repeatedly that there are 90,000 homeless in Los Angeles County.

Ask them to prove it to you, and if they respond with anything but a blank look, they will tell you a study was performed under the guidance of the L.A. Housing Department.

What they will NOT tell you is who did the counting.

Care to take a guess? That's right: they hired homeless people to do the counting: "Upwards of 850 homeless people were recruited to work by LAHSA staff, homeless service providers, and homeless coalition representatives." (2005 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, p. 82.)

VERY reliable methodology, especially for those seeing double.

It gets worse. Guess how many actual, real-live homeless people these experts claim they counted? Ninety thousand? No, no, no! The actual count was only 19,138. (Ibid., p. 14.)

Where did the other tens of thousands come from? The authors of the study extrapolated the number, having "cherry-picked" the areas of the city containing Skid Row. That's kind of like measuring the sugar in your sugar bowl, and then assuming you have a bowl of sugar in every square foot of your house.

To prepare to spread the "90,000 homeless" lie, the Mayor and Clowncil have already begun practicing with shovels, as shown above. They won't be shoveling sugar.

Good To Be Back in Los Angeles

By Jennifer Solis

I've just returned from Europe, where I spent much of the summer doing research on my first book -- a guide to college study abroad -- which I personally experienced last year in Florence, Italy. I went to several other universities this year to interview program administrators and students who are participating in these programs.

Flying into LAX from Paris is always a facinating view, looking down on the light brown haze that covers the Southland most of the year, and especially in the summer months. Passengers who are not accustomed to this view will comment, "You have to breathe that?" My answer is that, "I don't trust air I can't see!"

For those who feel negative occasionally about our City of Angels, I challenge them to live in any other large urban area, in Europe or elsewhere, and compare problems. Think our gas prices are high? We paid over six dollars a gallon on the continent, and seven dollars in the U.K.
A tankful of petrol is more expensive than a moderate hotel room.

You think we have problems with immigration? Our illegals simply hold marches and rallies. In suburban Paris, they torch entire blocks and every car parked on a street -- even those owned by other immigrants. The radical Muslims in the Netherlands are feared by most of the population. A local film producer was murdered because his movie was considered "offensive."

Governments in Europe are afraid to join the United States in clamping down on terrorism, believing that the bombings in London and Madrid might become common events everywhere. If you bury your head in the sand, you don't have to face reality.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Monday

Los Angeles should be safe for the next two weeks. Our City Clowncil is on their summer recess.
During the recess, Council President Eric Garcetti will spend time in Navy Reserve training in Pensacola, Florida.

A fairly significant coalition of local activists are lining up to oppose the City Council's term limits extension, Measure R. Jason Lyon of the Silverlake Neighborhood Council wrote the official ballot argument against the measure, and a citywide cadre of Neighborhood Council members ranging from Jim Alger to David Hernandez to Jill Banks Barad to Soledad Garcia are lining up to fight the measure. And because its the computer age, a blog opposed to Measure R has already gone up. Stay tuned, its going to be a wild ride I think.

Jennifer Cohen joins the City Hall staff of Council Woman Wendy Greuel as a Legislative Deputy. Based in the City Hall office, Jennifer will focus on several legislative issues with much of her time spent on transportation related topics. Jennifer completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA in history and sociology and received an MA degree in Public Policy from USC. Prior to completing her masters, she worked in Washington DC as a policy analyst on education and family support issues. During graduate school, she worked as a research assistant for the METRANS Transportation Center and interned at Metro.

Full Disclosure Network presents a three minute video preview exposing the Los Angeles Unified School District's half a billion dollar fiasco, in a special series entitled, "Belmont: The Black Hole of School Construction." The still incomplete public school is now estimated to have cost almost a half a billion dollars after seven years of investigations, lawsuits and controversy. When the Los Angeles news media ceased covering the Belmont Learning Center debacle the Full Disclosure Network™ (FDN) jumped at the opportunity to cover the story, on videotape, as a PUBLIC SERVICE. Belmont was only 60% complete and had an estimated cost of $175 million to $228 million. Most public officials and the news media had pronounced the project a “dead issue". That could not have been farther from the truth.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

It Takes Two To Tango!

One of the more notable observations about the ongoing battle between Home Depot and
Sunland-Tujunga is the apparent absence of Home Depot supporters!
Here we are, almost 2 years in, and there has yet to be seen or heard even a peep of organized support for Home Depot.
There are community meetings held, almost on a weekly basis, where these supporters could show up and express their desire for a Home Depot, and yet no advocates, if they exist, have bothered to turn up.
Home Depot is assumedly paying the PR firm, Dakota Communications, to build an opposition group to the No Home Depot Campaign, and pave the way for their intended acceptance by the community. And yet, no Pro Home Depot group has emerged!
Dakota Communications has been sending their Home Depot flack, Scott Svonkin, to meetings, but sitting in the back of the room and chatting up the female attorney that represents Home Depot, from Latham & Watkins, hardly qualifies as consensus building.
As No Home Depot activists, we're starting to feel a little short-changed!
The least they could do is bus in some paid supporters from somewhere, just so we
have something to do at every meeting besides preach to the choir!
On a more serious note, the community is appealing the decision by LA City planning
to issue permits for tenant improvements to Home Depot ( they currently have the option of renovating the old K-Mart building on the proposed site and opening for business), and we also met recently with the Department of Building & Safety and LA City Planning to try and decipher their "Alice in Wonderland" logic in granting permits to a project that will affect the community in such a profoundly negative way.
The intent of the community now, is to have Councilmember Wendy Greuel bring this matter before the full City Council, as she previously indicated she was willing to do!
Expect a very large turnout of angry people from Sunland-Tujunga ready to defend their town, and of course, buy Zuma Dogg T-Shirts!!

Princeton Review Course: $4.5 Million For One Year

Now, I'm as fond of all things Princeton as the next guy. Fonder, even.

But I just read that the LAUSD has signed a one-year contract to pay the Princeton Review $4.5 million "to help students and teachers prepare for state standardized tests . . . ."

What do you get for $4.5 million? According to the L.A. Times, Kevin Howell, executive VP and general manager of the the Princeton Review said his company's role is largely logistical; in the paper's words (not Howell's), that means "printing and delivering the multiple-choice and essay tests, canning and scoring them and making results available to educators."

Is that the best use of $4.5 million?

Let's say it costs around $45,000 a year to pay a teacher's salary. (Actually, you can get them for less.) For $4.5 million, you could hire 100 teachers for a year. You could, in effect, cut IN HALF the class size of 100 teachers, for the five periods a day they teach, i.e., 500 classes every day, for one year -- assuming, of course, you had somewhere to put them (maybe have two shifts a day?).

Is it just me, or does this seem like a waste of money to you?

Read it and weep: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-princeton20aug20,1,141550.story

And, so you know, "Princeton Review" is NOT part of Princeton University.

REQUIRED READING: "Money Flows To Council Coffers"

The other day, I asked rhetorically, "Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the 21st Century?"

Today I got my answer: there's one named Kerry Cavanaugh at the L.A. Daily News.

Read Cavanaugh's article, "Money Flows To Council Coffers" to see how local career politicians take "contributions" from special interests in "officeholder accounts."

How much? "Since 2004, City Council members, the mayor, city attorney and city controller collectively have raised more than $1.6 million in the accounts . . . ."

So we're clear: these are accounts separate and apart from campaign fund contributions, and are used to accept money even when there's no election pending or even on the horizon.

Graft is graft, whether the money goes into a refrigerator freezer or an "officeholder account." Public officials have no legitimate reason to take money from special interests in the absence of an election campaign.

Here's the page: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_4209553

Daily News Publishes "Affordable Housing" Analysis

There is now a much better chance that the average voter may learn what he needs to know about the $2-billion "affordable housing" bond boondoggle. The reason is that the Daily News published an article about it by yours truly.

Read all about it here: http://www.dailynews.com/theiropinion/ci_4207351

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Trash Tax Revenues Not Going For More Cops After All

Someone out there needs to pitch "Liar, Liar 2: L.A. City Hall."

The Mayor and City Clowncil just set a new record for breaking promises to the public.

Remember how we supposedly needed the trash tax -- er, "fee" -- to pay for 1000 more cops? You know, because no one noticed that the City was already taking in $717 million more this year than last? It was the one where they said it would pay for 1000 officers, but something like 650 of them would just be replacements for attrition? You remember -- it was just four month ago.

Well, the Clowncil has decided that the money would actually be better spent on special programs for -- you guessed it -- "the children." So instead of hiring more police officers, your money will be diverted to political cronies and their dubious "youth programs," which have, of course, proved so very effective in reducing gang violence here to practically zero.

Read it: http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_4206777 .

Saturday: Take The Day Off

It's a beautiful day.
You've had enough politics for this week.
Go outside and play with your friends, and see if you can go all day WITHOUT honking.
Enjoy! You live in the best place on Earth!

Friday, August 18, 2006

There's a Bad Moon Rising

If anyone thought the Neighborhood Councils were going to take an attack on them lying down, boy were they wrong. As one blogger put it - there is a bad moon rising.

For those of you who have been off the planet, or arrived in a turnip truck last evening; During a City Council hearing to discuss allowing Neighborhood Councils to formally refer matters to the City Council for consideration our old friend and current ass-clown of the week Jack Weiss decided it would be a super-genius move, in a room packed with NC members, to ask the City Attorney and Department of Neighborhood Empowerment for a report on any conflict of interest complaints against Neighborhood Councilmembers. Needless to say NC's were incensed for more reasons than one. Not the least of which was that the Ethics Commission has not ever once taken an adverse action against a Neighborhood Councilmember, but ironically they did hit Jack Weiss alone with 32 violations! This was a shot across the bow of the Neighborhood Councils and a set back for open and public participation.

However, the squeaking noise Jack Weiss heard that night was the Neighborhood Council tanks being pre-positioned. It seems the NC's are going to hit the City Council where it hurts, their term limit measure. Rumors are abuzz that some of the actions of the City Council on Wednesday, August 16th were brought on because Jason Lyon -- who spearheaded the council file issue -- also wrote the opposition argument for Measure R. Some skeptical neighborhood councils consider it to be a tasteless form of retaliation.

If any Neighborhood Councilmembers supported the term limit extension before Weiss's bonehead move, they don't now and they are placing the measure directly in the crosshairs.

Several Neighborhood Councils are now placing the item on their agendas, as has the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Congress. Emails have been flying and some of the big guns are coming out to organize the entire system.

The key players are:

Jason Lyon (Silver Lake NC/912 Commissioner)

Jeff Jacobberger (Mid City West NC/912 Commissioner/LANCC Senator)

Jim Alger (Northridge West NC/LANCC Senator/LANCC Vice Chair)

David Hernandez (North Hollywood North East NC/Sun Valley NC/Former County Supervisor Candidate)

Louise Clarke Stone (Sunland Tujunga NC)

Looks like the City Council may have picked a bad time to recess. Who knows what will happen while they're gone?


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Villaraigosa Buying Blog Ads

Further evidence that the internet is changing how politics is conducted, and information is conveyed: Mayor Villaraigosa, through his very well financed political organization, actually purchased an ad on LAVoice.org for his LAUSD takeover bid. The picture comes from that ad.

Last State Senate Committee OK's Villaraigosa's LAUSD Takeover

The L.A. Daily News reports that the full Senate will review the bill next week.

DWP Rates Going Up Again -- Is Your Housing Still "Affordable"?

The City Council has approved yet another rate increase by the DWP, ostensibly to pay for the higher cost of natural gas. The DWP also entered into some deal to buy out-of-state wind-power generated electricity. (I'm sure THAT was a bargain.)

Anyway, according to the L.A. Times, "The average DWP residential customer whose electric bill is now $606 annually could potentially see that rise incrementally to $680 by 2010."

(By the way, is YOUR electric bill that low? Or are they counting everyone in the household -- including kids, dogs and parrots --as a customer?)

In view of this rate hike, you should double-check your figures to make sure your housing is still "affordable housing." The definition of "affordable housing," straight from HUD, his "Housing for which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of his or her income for gross housing costs, including utilities."

So if this rate hike pushes you even one penny above the 30% mark, you no longer live in "affordable housing."

Press Release Journalism

Does anyone know exactly when journalism schools started teaching that reporters need only parrot and re-write politicians' press releases?

Here's why I ask. A big above-the-fold headline in the L.A. Times California section proclaims, "ANGELIDES PROPOSES TAX CUTS." Well, okay, that certainly seems newsworthy. But as you read the article, you see that $88 million of the "tax cuts" comprises "property tax relief and rent subsidies for the poor, disabled and elderly people."

Repeat: the "tax cuts" include "subsidies."

Since when do subsidies constitute tax cuts?

The answer, of course, is that if a favored politician says something to the L.A. Times, then it is merely repeated as truth without any analysis. The article includes a table of numbers and cites, as the source, the Angelides campaign. If Angelides says subsdies are tax cuts, then who is an L.A. Times "Norwegian blue" reporter to do anything but repeat same?

Here's another example. When Mayor Villaraigosa told reporters he is a fiscal conservative who cut spending to overcome a "structural deficit" of $200 million, the L.A. Times dutifully and unquestionably reported that. In fact, however, as the City's own budge reports show, Villaraigosa did not cut spending, there was no deficit, there is instead $717 million more in revenues this year, and he has managed to spend every penny of it.

Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the Twenty-First Century?

Jack Weiss - Ass Clown of the week

It's back! The Ass-Clown of the week Award.

This weeks winner --- Wacko Jack Weiss

Jack won for two separate catagories:

- Best display of hypocracy for demanding an ethics review of NC'S while he has 32 ethical violations against him. Now that takes balls.

- Best desperation tactic by injecting gay marriage into a discussion about City Council file numbers. This you just have to see to believe.

See why Clowncilman Jack Weiss wins Ass Clown of the week...

Now half way through this Gem we find out that well not only did Wacko Jacko go to the well of gay marriage but his claim was, you guessed it... FALSE!

Listen carefully and you will hear a Highland Park NC member scream "What!?" and then "That's not true." Wacko doesn't like the response he is getting so he sics the police to quiet the NC member.

and this clown wants to lecture the NC's on ethics???

***UPDATE - LA Daily News article on the circus at City Council

Bitter Bernie: The Next Brandon Tartikoff?

Looks like Bernard Parks wants to be a television programmer.

First, he boots the excellent public affairs program, Full Disclosure, from the city's Channel 35. Now, he wants to tell Time Warner how to run their cable system.

Look bitterman, if enough of TWC's customers want the NFL Channel, the cable company will find a way to air it. We don't need you wasting the City Council's time on something as ridiculous as this. When by your own admission, crime is such an issue in your council district, its unfathomable you're even focusing on football on television.

Below is the text from Parks' own press release:
Councilmember Bernard C. Parks will introduce a resolution requesting the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) to ensure that the NFL Network be apart of the Time-Warner Basic Cable Television Package. The NFL Network was pulled off the air just weeks ago after Time-Warner took over two cable stations that served the Los Angeles area, Adelphia and Comcast. The NFL Network has since been put back on the air because of an injunction filed by the network. However, after September 3rd the NFL Network will go back off the air unless its officials can reach an agreement with Time-Warner. Since the status of the NFL Network has become uncertain, many fans of the channel have protested.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Want To Buy A Camcorder for $16,666?

Okay, I was willing to go along with paying $1000 per Taser stun gun -- see the posting below -- because who the heck knows what they go for. Plus, the name alone makes it sound very "Star Trek," and, therefore, expensive. ("Set Tasers to 'stun.'")

But now the City Clowncil has agreed to pay $5 million to install 300 digital video cameras in police cars.

That works out to -- you guessed it! -- over $16,666 per camera!

Best Buy is offering the Sony Digital Handycam for $269.99. I'm guessing you could buy a bracket or some Gorilla Glue for another couple of bucks a unit. Plus, Best Buy may give us a deal if we buy 300 or so.

So can someone please explain why we must pay so much for these cameras? I'm all for cameras -- it would be a great way to cut down on "he said, she said" in disputes over alleged police misconduct, etc. -- but this strikes me as a tad pricey.

Do the units come with a director? Some kind of musical score? What, man, what?

Jack Weiss Declars War on Nc's

Weiss Declares War on Neighborhood Councils
Wants a report on Neighborhood Council ethics violations, invokes gays as an issue

Yes you read that right. Someone call in the straight-jackets Wacko Jacko's trolley has completely left the tracks.

In order to stir up a smokescreen and prevent NC's from being able to recommend items for the City Council to consider in committee, City Councilman Jack Weiss went on the attack today demanding that the City Attorney compile a list of Neighborhood Council ethics violations.

As if this particular schmuck has any room to talk. Weiss, who was fined $4,800.00 for his 32 ethical violations 8 months ago also erroneously accused one Neighborhood Council of passing an anti-gay marriage resolution under the premise that these types of motions would be given credence with official City Council File Numbers. He also raised that Neighborhood Councils could pass motions on nonsense things like the war in Iraq. Hey Jacko, you geniuses already did that on your own! Motion against torture, Motion to enact a Draft. As for the Gay Marriage issue, yea Jacko, you got that one covered too!

The last argument that was made was that the proposal had not spent enough time in committee. It spent 18 months in committee. Unlike Measure R, term limit extensions which spent 3 whole hours before making it onto the agenda, passing ethics and thumbing their nose at the City Attorney.

So what is this really about? Power. Plain and simple. The idea that lobbyists are going to flood NC's with gifts to put forward an advisory position that they would then have to run and lobby the City Council to pass is insane. Nope, it is a smokescreen. Lobbyists may attempt to quell community opposition, and do that now. But to even equate the NC's ethical obligation with that of a City Council member is a slap in the face to anyone with a 2nd grade or above education.

No, it is all about power. The idea that lobbyists might feel they "need" the Neighborhood Councils whose members then build a relationship once exclusive to the incumbent is what the real fear is.

Weiss has in all likelihood seriously miscalculated today. I would venture a guess he is going to have more than a few bad days coming.


LAPD To Buy 6800 Taser Stun Guns

The A.P. reports that the Police Commission just okayed the purchase of 6800 Taser stun guns at a price of $7 million. No mention of whether "batteries are sold separately."

Now, I don't know if that's the going price for these babies -- it works out to about $1030 per gun -- but giving officers a (usually) NON-lethal alternative to their pistols is a good idea. This could pay for itself with the first wrongful death lawsuit avoided. More importantly than the dollars saved, of course, is the lives this could save.

City Council still has to approve the deal.

Anyway, it sure seems like a better use of tax dollars than restoring an old mural . . . .

City Council Pulling Fast Ones

Monday, about 11 a.m. those who subscribe to the city council's agendas got notice of a special meeting Tuesday.

If you're someone who works during the day and you don't see that notice until you get home, there would be no one at City Hall to call to find out more information. Forget the chance for organizations to jump in.

This special meeting was called to consider a plan that proposes $41.3M in pay raises for cetain city employees and $10.4M more in retroactive pay.

In the past, the public had ample time to follow an issue as it goes through committee so they could be ready to provide input by the time it gets to Council.

Now, only the union leaders and City Hall folks know what's going on.

When there is a special meeting called with less than 72 hours notice (usually they're done within 24 hours), the City needs to print on the agenda the reason for the urgency. Then citizens can decide if they buy the reason. What if part of the negotiation was to rush it through Council so that nobody would have time to complain?

But most importantly, the City Council should require that the agendas of the Executive Employee Relations Committee (EERC) be made available to the public through the city's Early Notification subscription system as is done with all the other agendas. Let someone at City Hall explain why only this committee's agendas are only available in the lobby of City Hall, and meeting the minimum standards of the Brown Act.

EERC meetings are covered by the Brown Act. They are allowed to discuss and deliberate personnel issues behind closed doors. But the public is allowed to come and comment on agenda items. The problem is that if you don't know what's being discussed, you simply don't know what to comment on.

Is it really reasonable for a concerned taxpayer in Chatsworth or Willmington to make daily visits to City Hall's lobby?

The other problem is that after a labor matter comes out of EERC, the labor people argue (this happened a few months ago) that if the City Council were to change the EERC's recommendation, it would be "bargaining in bad faith" and the city could be in legal trouble. That point is arguable.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Wednesday

Jim Alger has announced he will not be seeking the 12th District Council seat of Greig Smith. He can quietly go back to sleep (Greig that is, not Alger). Some suggested sending Listerine strips to Mayor Villaraigosa, I recommend you gift Councilman Smith with gift cards for Starbucks.

The Zuma Dogg Summer continues, the revolution of 2006 presses on. This time, Zuma Dogg is kicked out of City Hall while his mother makes her first public comment. Also, LA Voice picks up on the Z Dogg phenomenon.

Martini Republic takes to task local papers who don't make the effort to research what is actually happening when it comes to housing, as opposed to relying solely on real estate pundits from local universities.

Here in Van Nuys shows a filthy mini-mall that has escaped City attention. While the Council is dealing with global warming and fighting the war in Iraq, local problems go untouched. Here is a list of the suspects responsible for this mess.

Straight Democrats are rallying around openly gay Republican Assembly candidate Steve Sion. A candidate meet and greet is planned for August 24th in WeHo.

Wikipedia has an interesting article about the O-Bahn Busway in Adelaide, Australia. The similarities between the Orange Line and transit in the San Fernando Valley are interesting and could certainly provoke some discussion on transit.

Mayor Villaraigosa will be joined Wednesday by religious leaders who will announce their support for legislation that would give him control over the LAUSD.

Doug McIntyre of KABC will be running a segment with new information about Academia Semillas del Pueblo Wednesday morning.

Chief Bratton will appear on Patt Morrison's KPCC radio program Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Your phone calls are welcome.

Neighborhood Councils get their day...

In the "Special meeting" of the City Council at 11:am is this tidbit...

ITEM NO. (3) -Motion Required -Two Reports on One File

RULES AND ELECTIONS and EDUCATION AND NEIGHBORHOODS COMMITTEES’ REPORTS relative to non-community impact statements received from Neighborhood Councils (NCs) initiating or impacting City policies.

Recommendations for Council action:

1 ADOPT a policy methodology requiring certified NCs to submit a Community Initiative Statement (CIS) with three NC sign-on signatures which will trigger creation of a Council file and its referral as appropriate to one or more Council Committees.

2 INSTRUCT the City Clerk, with the assistance of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment,to prepare the guidelines for implementation of CIS procedures and report back to the Rules and Elections Committee within 30 days.

3 REFER the matter to the Neighborhood Council Review Commission for review of the policy, upon completion of a six month initial implementation period.

Recommendation for Council action:

APPROVE Neighborhood Councils submitting original proposals to Council for legislative consideration.

Make no mistake, if this passes it will be a HUGE victory for Neighborhood Councils. What it means is that the Neighborhood Councils will be able to refer LEGISLATIVE ISSUES to the City Council and committies for action. The City Council will still have final say of course, but this is another wall crumbling down.

There are many naysayers on this blog, but my guess is that any normal person can see the Neighborhood Councils are prying the fingrs of power from the City Council one finger at a time.

Your thoughts?

What's happening in LA - August 16, 2006

I have decided to switch things up a bit today and as a community service place the various meetings of the city scheduled for today in 3 separate categories;

1: The Los Angeles City Clowncil - This term seems to be sticking so I'll go with it. In this section you will find the meetings that various elected officials would much rather you sat out. If you go, you will play 5th fiddle behind reading the paper, talking on the cell phone, milling about and of course sleeping for this is where the elected leaders can outrightly ignore their public.

9:00AM Energy and the Environment Committee Meeting
9:30AM Board of Referred Powers, Special Meeting
9:30AM Energy and the Environment Committee Meeting - SPECIAL MEETING
10:00AM The Zuma Dogg Show aka Los Angeles City Clowncil
11:00AM Los Angeles City Clowncil Special Meeting
2:00PM Personnel Committee Meeting
2:15PM Personnel Committee, SPECIAL MEETING
3:00PM Public Works Committee Meeting

2: Commissions etc - Here is where you can go if you want to feel like someone is listening but really couldn't care less and will ultimately ignore you anyway. But heck, at least these guys fake it.

9:30AM Board of Public Works AGENDA
9:30AM Board of Public Works SUPPLEMENTAL AGENDA
9:30AM Board of Public Works 2nd SUPPLEMENTAL AGENDA
10:00AM Agenda for the August 16 Special Board Meeting
2:30PM Police Permit Review Panel Cancellation Agenda
4:30PM West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission Meeting Agenda

3: Neighborhood Council - These are meetings you should actually attend if you can. You will in all likelihood be listened to and treated like a human... in most cases.

12:00PM Wilmington NC Executive Board Agenda
6:00PM Silver Lake NC EC Agenda 8-16-06
6:30PM Silver Lake NC Elections SpecialAgenda 8-16-06

Blog away dum dums

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Teachers' Union Wants Smaller Class Size. You Got A Problem With That?

The Daily News reports that UTLA is trying to negotiate a new contract with the LAUSD school board before, you know, the board gets completely revamped. Besides salary hikes, the union wants smaller class sizes. With all this talk about, and professed concern for the children, can we all agree to this item?

Seriously, how much do you expect students to learn in a class of 40?

This, and State Senator Escutia's proposal for textbooks aimed at English learners, is what REAL educational reform is about. Can we please get some elected officials to take action on real items like this, say, right now? Or must we just settle for competing bus caravans of "concerned parents" shuttling between L.A. and Sacramento, and rigged "town hall" meetings conducted by invitation only?

Test Scores Show LAUSD Outperforming State Average

The L.A. Times reports as follows the most recent results from the latest round of standardized tests:

"Los Angeles Unified, by far the state's largest district, showed gains in almost every grade and subject area, with especially strong progress in the early grades, where the district has concentrated its reform efforts."

"Overall, its gains on the so-called STAR test slightly surpassed those of the state at large, offering validation to district officials who are fighting an uphill battle to fend off a restructuring led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa."

Under the circumstances, do we REALLY want to hand the 730,000 students to Antonio Villaraigosa?

a) No.
b) Heck no!
c) Dr. No.
d) www.NO.com
e) Si, se puede!