Mr. Mayor, Don't Pee On My Leg And Tell Me It's Raining
Today's case in point is reported in the L.A. Times. Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmen Weiss Zine and Huizar, and assorted staff members are going on an all-expense paid -- by you -- 16-day tour to China, South Korea and Japan.
That's right, travelling to Asia right now is the highest and best use of their time, as opposed to doing anything here in the city whose taxpayers pay their salary. Public funds spent on this rip-off: $500,000 -- not including their salary, of course. Repeat: the trip is costing $500,000.
That's the "pee on my leg" part. Here comes the "and tell me it's raining" part, namely, the "reasons" we're supposed to believe this trip will serve the public interest:
1. Reassure Airlines.
Villaraigosa "will try to reassure Asian air carriers that Los Angeles International Airport will be ready to accommodate the A-380 super jumbo jet." Well thank God he has the good sense to do that! After all, we can't have Asian air carriers worrying about whether they can land their giant new French airplanes at LAX on time!
Plus, to reassure an Asian air carrier, you can't just pick up a phone or send pictures of your construction progress. Heck, no. Only a batallion of civil servants and elected officials can take care of a crisis like that.
Mr. Mayor, the Asian airline that placed the first order for the A-380, and that will take the first delivery, is Singapore airlines, which is scheduled to take delivery in December. But Singapore isn't even on your itinerary. (What's that I smell? Could it be urine?) China Southern airline is number 31 on the list to take delivery, around 2009, and Korean Air is number 35.
Maybe the next time you make up a story to justify an all-expense paid vacation, you could have your public relations team fabricate a better lie. I'm sure your Brain Trust can justify a trip to Paris, because Air France has also ordered the plane.
2. Chinese Tourism.
"Villaraigosa will . . . open a tourism office in Beijing." Well, that's clearly a vital use of the time of the Mayor of the second-largest city in America. After all, isn't that how all of us decide where to go on vacation? You go to the place whose mayor opens an office. You don't base your decision on, say, climate, museums, attractions, etc. Let's just be glad we have a mayor who was smart enough not to send, say, a movie star to do this. Heck, no one in China would turn out to see a movie star!
Oh, and another thing: how many people are actually allowed to leave China each year to go on vacation, and how much money do they spend on those vacations? I'm guessing the correct answers are "not many" and "not much."
But whatever the numbers, Mr. Mayor, how about you leave the tourism industry to, say, the tourism industry, and you could do something else, like, say, administer our City's many departments, and enforce a few of our laws?
3. Loans for Developers.
"Villaraigosa will . . . attempt to secure banking commitments for new real estate developments in downtown and Koreatown." Perhaps that is why he "will be accompanied by a delegation of investment bankers [e.g.,, Goldman Sachs, American Express, Bear Stearns], real estate executives . . . and attorneys from some of the city's most influential law firms [e.g., Latham & Watkins]."
Excuse me, Mr. Mayor, but since the multi-millionaires working in those industries already have an army of highly paid professionals representing them, perhaps you could spend your time more productively staying home and doing something on behalf of people less able to protect their own interests -- like the children who are routinely gunned down in our city? Maybe the rich don't need quite so much of your time as, say, the poor? Or the middle class taxpayers straining under the ever-increasing weight of taxes and bonds?
Nor should we give the Clowncilmen a pass on this boondoggle. Their claim that they need 12 years rather than 8 to accomplish anything loses all credibility when they squander our hard-earned tax dollars like this.
Pardon my French, but it's time for L.A.'s voters to stop being peed on, and start being pissed off.