Whistleblower hotline: (213) 785-6098

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Somebody Better Get Bernard Parks A Calendar!

The Sister City is soliciting contributions for 2007 calendars for the office of Councilman Bernard "Bitter Bernie" Parks. Either that or the 8th District Councilman has made some kind of deal with Dr. Emmett Brown to transport consituents to events that happened five days previous!
Subject: 8TH DISTRICT E-NEWS #06/07
From: Bernard.Parks.Jr@lacity.org
Date: 2/27/2007 9:55 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients




Please do not hesitate to share this information with other individuals. This is a group e mail, if you are not the intended recipient please disregard the intrusion & delete


Council District 8 Will Host Black History Honors Celebration in
Recognition of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

Who: 8th District Council District
Councilmember Wendy Greuel, 2nd District
Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District
Councilmember Jan Perry, 9th District
Councilmember Herb Wesson, 10th District
Rocky Delgadillo, Los Angeles City Attorney
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, author and legendary UCLA and Lakers basketball
John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach
Kurt Rambis, Assistant Coach for the Lakers
Dan Guerrero, Athletic Director for UCLA
Kwame Brown, Lakers Center
Ronny Turiaf, Lakers Forward
Jeanie Buss, L.A.. Lakers

What: Black History Honors for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

When: Thursday, February 22, 2007
2:00 PM

Where: Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring St., 3rd floor Rotunda
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Winds of change - Neighborhood Council Senate to meet at City Hall

The ink is barely dry on the nomination of a new DONE General Manager but already their seems to be a seismic shift taking place amongst the Neighborhood Council system. The rallying cry for war is being replaced with a call to work together, and there seems to be (for now anyway) the feeling that the Mayor got this one right.

Whether the NC's begin to turn the corner of cooperation over confrontation is largely dependent on what happens in City Hall (for example do the NC's get attacked in City Council Chambers or have one mandate after the next forced upon them in violation of the City Charter only to be later repealed) but an interesting thing hit this old dead Councilman's inbox this morning. The Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils Senate Agenda.

There it was, in bright red letters; "Different location than normal. Los Angeles City Hall Room 1035." Say WHAT??? I had to read it 3 times and send an email to verify it wasn't a cut and paste from another agenda but alas, it is true.

What's the big deal you might say? Well, proximity for one. I am not the only person who has long questioned why this body didn't meet in City Hall considering it only makes sense, that is where everyone is. OK they are meeting on a Saturday but it is a start.

Secondly, and more importantly is the symbolism. "I don't know if you can read too much into the move to City Hall, but you can definitely feel the winds of change," LANCC Senator and Vice Chair Jim Alger said in an email this morning, "It is fair to say that a state of war no longer exists." I disagree with Alger, I believe much can be read into the move, especially when compiled with other things including his own statement.

The soon to be former Interim DONE GM Lisa Sarno was allegedly bucking for the permanent job but instead has been expelled from the entire system. Her heavy handed tactics have been lambasted by the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, NC Members and the City Council
alike. Even Jack Weiss visibly showed disgust at Sarno when she attempted an awkward tap dance around the question of whether DONE had the authority to order Neighborhood Councils what to spend their money on - as it turns out, they don't. "C'mon already, either you do or you don't" he said throwing his arms in the air at a recent City Council Meeting.

The Mayor, not seen as particularly friendly toward Neighborhood Councils, has appointed someone who, it appears, the Neighborhood Councils view as a defender and someone they strongly approve of. Alger, who among others has been at the forefront of the resistance movement now says a "state of war no longer exists" and the LANCC Senate is meeting in City Hall.

No, I am going to have to say that much can be read into that. It appears that a new era of cooperation is upon us and that is good for everyone, except maybe us at the Sister City -- what will we have to talk about?

Blog away dum dums.

L.A. Times Endorses Pugliese Over Lauritzen And Galatzan For LAUSD District 3

The L.A. Times has joined yours truly in endorsing Louis Pugliese for the LAUSD School Board election in District 3. Let me quote:

"District 3: Louis Pugliese

"Incumbent Jon Lauritzen has spent far too much of his first term carrying UTLA's agenda, including his failed attempt to impose a moratorium on new charter schools. Villaraigosa's favorite for this seat, city prosecutor Tamar Galatzan, displays dismayingly little knowledge about the district and lacks a basic understanding of the appropriate role for the school board. She sees her legal expertise as one of her top qualifications for the job because she could ferret out problems in the district's many real estate contracts. That's the job of staff lawyers, not the school board.

"Pugliese, an independent candidate, is the best choice, though without major funding, his chances are slim. A teacher and teaching instructor, he understands how well-intentioned mandates from the central office can become busywork in the classroom, and he voices a refreshing interest in clearing up bureaucratic floundering."

When the L.A. Times and I both agree on the issue -- well, okay, it's never happened before -- but please, people, stop outsmarting yourselves, and start voting for the best candidate. The only way to make special interest money irrelevant is to stop giving it power over your vote.

Pugliese's website is named, aptly enough, SmartenUpLA.com. Visit it. The guy is the ONLY qualified non-crony in the race. Vote for him.

Mayor Villaraigosa Takes New Job as Construction Worker

Well not really. But today the Mayor toured the construction site of the Eastside extension of the Metro Gold Line with US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters. The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension will extend the light rail six miles east through Little Tokyo, the Arts District, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. The $898 million project is scheduled for completion in late 2009.

Villaraigosa told KNX radio:

''We're using our federal dollars very efficiently,'' he said. ''There's a local match here as well. We've been committed, as we started to say, to putting our own money up. That's what makes, I think, L.A. very different from a lot of other places that go to the federal government, ask for money and don't put their own money up. You should know, we're also building the Exposition Line, which I think you know, and we did that, all the first phase, all local money.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Wednesday

So far the word on the street regarding new Department of Neighborhood Empowerment General Manager Carol Baker Tharp is positive. The California Majority Report calls the appointment a "new chapter" for the Neighborhood Council Movement and refers to the reign of interim director - Lisa "If You Will" Sarno as one that "outraged and alienated a lot of folks." Over at LA CityWatch, former DONE GM Greg Nelson predicted that "Collaboration, partnership, and communication will be the orders of the day."

The LA Chamber of Commerce has come out with their endorsements for the March 6th City Council elections and with one exception they're backing the usual suspects. The Chamber has endorsed the re-elections of Council Members Bernard Parks, Greig Smith, Wendy Greuel and Tony Cardenas. The Chamber has however endorsed Monica Rodriguez for the 7th Council seat over recycled politician Richard Alarcon.

Do you like maps? LA City Nerd has assembled an impressive collection of links to a number of different types of Los Angeles and Southern California maps including what once was and what could have been with regard to freeways. Check it out here.

Here's a church some of Zuma Dogg's sponsors might like: Temple 420. The congregation which blends both Jewish and Christian theology with the use of marijuana as a "sacrament" is led by the Revered Craig X. Rubin. Though Rubin claims his members' use of the weed is protected under religious freedom he's currently facing criminal charges.

Convicted madame Jodie "Babydol" Gibson who served two years in prison for her high priced call girl service is about to come out with a tell-all book. Among her alleged customers: former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, actor Bruce Willis, producer Don Simpson and television star Jim Belushi. News reports have both Lasorda and Willis denying the charges.

Here are some stories at MS2 you may wish to check out:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Illegal Aliens Drive Wages UP? Right.

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

You will probably hear the "open borders" advocates start trumpeting a new study which concludes that "immigrants" have not depressed wages in California. The study, "How Immigrants Affect California Wages And Employment," is flawed and misleading for the following reasons:

1. The Study Ignores Taxes And Public Spending

The study's author does not even purport to consider the effect of illegal immigration on taxes and spending. He does not, for example, factor in the cost of educating the children of illegal aliens, or the cost of catching, prosecuting and imprisoning illegal aliens who commit violent crimes. How much better off would Americans be without the tax burden that illegal aliens create? The author makes no effort to quantify that tax burden, and you know the expression: it's not what you make that counts, it's what you keep.

2. The Study Equates Wages With Insterstate Migration

The study's author concludes that: i) there has been no net migration of American citizens out of California; and ii) therefore, immigration has not depressed the wages of Americans working here. But that makes no sense. Even assuming that the influx of aliens has not persuaded more Americans to flee the state than to enter it, that circumstance in no way proves that wages are just as high as they would be without the massive influx. On the contrary, without the massive invasion of illegal aliens, one would expect American workers to flock to California for the climate -- and, of course, the opportunity to be "discovered."

3. The Study Equates Legal And Illegal Immigration.

The study's author does not even purport to distinguish between legal and illegal aliens. This is important for two reasons. First, the author includes in his study data from immigrants who have Ph.D's and work in high-tech jobs. Do you think the immigrants designing microchips are the same ones walking across the border from Mexico? Second, the author does not even attempt to explain how he could possibly have reliable data on the income of illegal aliens, who are paid cash "under the table." How then, can he reliably measure and compare the wages of illegal aliens, legal aliens, and American citizens?

4. The Study Assumes But Does Not Prove Aliens Take "Jobs No One Wants"

Upon reviewing data showing that "immigrants" dominate various low-paying jobs, the author simply assumes that Americans do not want those jobs. That assumption, however, is no substitute for actual data. One can just as easily argue that Americans do not want those jobs AT THE WAGES EMPLOYERS PAY ILLEGALS, but would be happy to do the work at higher wages -- wages the employers would pay if there were not an army of illegal aliens ready, willing and able to do that work for low wages, especially if they do not pay income taxes, and enjoy the benefits of "free" education, health care, welfare for their children, etc.

* * *
The study thus fails to show that California wages are unaffected by the massive influx of "immigrants," and does not even begin to address the impact of "immigrants" on taxes and expenditures. You can bet, however, that the "open borders" advocates will claim the study "proves" that "immigrants" are "good for the economy." Your job, when someone makes that claim, is to ask them to explain the study to you and, when they can't, tell them why the study is no good.

Airlines Didn't Get The Memo

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

You know how the Mayor's PR machine has been spoon-feeding stories to the L.A. Times about how we "need" a $720 million makeover at the international terminal to attract more flights here?

You know, the stories with un-named "economists" opining that airplanes are instinctively attracted to shiny new terminals? The ones covering the happy happy ground-breaking photo-ops?

Well, it turns out the airlines didn't get the memo.

The Daily Breeze reports, "Nearly two dozen international airlines have joined a fight against Los Angeles International Airport over steep increases in the rents and other fees they pay to operate there."

The article goes on to say, "That complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation late Friday. In it, 22 airlines that use the Tom Bradley International Terminal describe the rate increases as unjustified, unfair and unlawful."

Wow! Where was the photo-op for THAT? Why don't the local TV stations send reporters to cover THAT story? Twenty-two airlines are complaining about the remodeling for which City Hall and the press-release journalists claim they are clamoring? Can you say "cognitive dissonance?" Sure you can.

The airlines, of course, don't object to the remodeling per se. But they don't want to pay for it, and wonder why they're supposed to pay higher rates since the airport agency is already operating at a profit. Good question.

Perhaps the L.A. Times should interview some REAL economists, to see whether raising the cost of using an airport is likely to increase, or decrease, demand for use of that airport. Oh, here's another question: given an industry that's always teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, will a major hike in operational costs help, or hurt, that industry?

P.S. As for the need to remodel to accomodate the new Airbus planes, Airbus announced today it's laying off 10,000 workers. Maybe the remodel for that isn't a "rush" job.

Rodriguez for City Council

In the view of this old, dead, Republican mayor, serving in public office is a privilege granted by the voters who place their trust in the officeholder. Therefore, the officeholder owes the public to give them their very best, to be honest and to complete the task to which they assigned.

Unfortunately, few officeholders live up to even one of these obligations.

One such individual is Richard Alarcon. Alarcon is a man who has dedicated most of his adult life to public service and has brought about some very good things. Despite that, he does not deserve the opportunity to return to the City Council.

Alarcon failed to complete his term as City Councilman to run for the State Senate seat he recently vacated. We'll give him a pass on that one because at least he served five years. And yes, he did complete his two alloted state senate terms.

However, due to the passage of Eric Garcetti's Measure R term limits scam, Alarcon is abandoning an Assembly seat he only assumed about two months ago to reclaim his previous Council seat. Should Alarcon be elected to the City Council, his current constituents will be without an Assembly member for several months and costly special election will be required. This is not serving the community, its just plain and simple greed and ego.

When voters passed term limits - or even modified them if you will under Measure R - it was not their intention for politicians to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. The purpose was to bring in new blood and new leadership.

Given all of this, the voters of the Seventh Council District have a choice - former Mayoral and School Board aide Monica Rodriguez. Rodriguez is currently an executive with the California Association of Realtors.

Monica is a young, dynamic, forceful leader with a passion for the community. Born and raised in the 7th District, Monica has a legacy of leadership leading back to her days as Student Body President at San Fernando High School, the very same position that this old, dead Republican mayor sought but was not succesful at in 1981. Monica's a parent and homeowner with strong roots in the District who understands the issues at hand. If elected, Rodriguez would be only the second Latina to serve on the Los Angeles City Council and will be only one of four women to currently serve. Her experience in both government and business uniquely qualifies her to serve in this important post. To be sure, based on recent statements at candidate events, Monica will need to come up to speed with some specifics particularly in the area of Neighborhood Councils. But she's an intelligent quick study and her passion and her desire to empower others is a far better alternative to more of the same.

New blood like Monica Rodriguez is exactly what the Council needs. Apparently we're in good company as both the Daily News and Los Angeles Times agree. We don't need term limits schemes to bring us back the ghosts of Clowncils past such as Richard Alarcon or his contemporary Controller Laura Chick who is contemplating a Measure R inspired return to the horseshoe. I am proud to endorse Monica Rodriguez for the Los Angeles City Council, Seventh District.


WeHo White Guy?

Is Scott "Boi from Troy" Olin Schmidt letting his professional life color his blogging? First, a poorly constructed defense of a former client of Schmidt's, the husband of government lawyer Tamar Galatzan, none other than lobbyist Brendan Huffman in an attempt to bitch slap the Sister City. Sunshine Canyon opponents may want to recall that in the post Schmidt and perhaps by extension Huffman take the position that the landfill may not be that bad of a thing after all.

Next, Joe Mailander busts the Boi for his "well hospitals dumping homeless may not be all that bad" in support of a hospital trade organization's view on the issue. Posting in his new role of co-editor of LA Voice, Schmidt opines that hospitals "may not even be breaking the law when it comes to 'patient dumping'." At the end of the article Schmidt reveals his firm has been a consultant to the very organization he's defending.

Schmidt, a fellow Republican blogger has had high stock with this old, dead Republican mayor. But these latest two incidents unfortunately make this blogger lose some respect for the Boi.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Tuesday

A high school student scribbled graffiti on a bus that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other dignitaries were riding in during a photo-op. Witnesses say the boy tagged the rear exit of the bus with a marker as the officials rode around a South Los Angeles school to showcase efforts to improve student safety in the gang-plagued neighborhood. Maybe the kids want more than photo-ops and not to be used as pawns in construction budget battles.

WWG or K-Rod if you will is a bit miffed that Joe Mailander of Martini Republic got his own op-ed in the LA Times. What makes it worse is that Joe's piece is a critique of Times coverage (in this case stories about the Grand Avenue scheme). That's the WWG's beat and he guards it jealously. So this has led the blogger that Shirley Bebitch Jeffe only knows from Adam to declare Joseph "the least respected blogger in LA." I think Kevin is working his way up to that title. In the meantime, while the WWG posts pictures of pretty girls he has no chance with, Joe was part of a select group of bloggers to meet with US Senate whip Dick Durbin.

Speaking of Martini Republic, they've posted an interesting interview with Council candidate Alvin Parra.

Monday, February 26, 2007

ABC Announces New Show: "Mayor Swap"

The creators of ABC's "Wife Swap" have announced a new show, based on the same concept, called "Mayor Swap."

Here's how it works: Two cities trade mayors for one week, with a camera crew following each mayor to record the amusing "fish out of water" predicaments that inevitably arise.

In the series premiere, the two cities that swap mayors are L.A. and Tehran. In the second episode, London and New London trade, and in the third, St. Petersburg swaps mayors with St. Petersburg -- Russia and Florida, of course.

Well, would it be any more ridiculous than all the other stuff that happens here?

Daily News Joins LA Times in Endorsing Monica Rodriguez

The Los Angeles Daily News announced their endorsement of Monica Rodriguez's Campaign for Los Angeles City Council on Monday. The endorsement gives Rodriguez the backing of both major Los Angles Newspapers.

The Daily News Editorial board praised Rodriguez saying she "brings the sort of real-world awareness too often lacking among career politicians." They characterized opponent Richard Alarcon as "cynical" and "self serving" saying, "one gets the sense that his career comes before his constituents." The Daily News went on to say that Alarcon's candidacy is a "slap in the face to the constituents who had just entrusted him with a term in the Assembly."

The second-largest circulating daily newspaper in Los Angeles, the Daily News has served valley residents and the greater LA area for nearly a century. Last week, Rodriguez received the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times.


From our friends at CityWatch...


Mayor Villaraigosa today took the unusual step of announcing not just his nominee to be the new general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, but the new assistant general manager as well.The mayor selected Dr. Carol Baker Tharp to head the department, and Bong Hwan Kim as her assistant, starting March 12.

For 12 years, Tharp was executive director of Coro, one of the oldest and most prestigious leadership education organizations in the United States. Currently, she serves as the deputy director of the Civic Engagement Initiative at the University of Southern California. Kim is the executive director of the Pasadena Neighborhood Housing Services, and was recently appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa to serve on the Neighborhood Council Review Commission. Prior to this he was the executive director of the Multi-cultural Collaborative and the Korean Youth and Community Center in Los Angeles.

The mayor said that Tharp and Kim were his top two choices, as they were of those who served on the interview panels, which included members of Neighborhood Councils. Tharp said it was time to turn the emphasis from process and toward the nurturing of the Neighborhood Councils, and toward helping to fulfill the empowerment vision.

One of her first projects will be to start a “listening tour” of Neighborhood Councils.

Explain This To Me

Give me a LEGITIMATE explanation for why City Clowncil Members, running UNOPPOSED for reelection, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Story: Daily News.

My 2 Cents: Richard Alarcon for City Council

For me, supporting Richard Alarcon for City Council comes easy. After watching a debate with all the candidates it became even easier. Considering the debate was co-sponsord by several Neighborhood Councils you would have thought they might have at least taken a crash course on the ride over. Only one candidate knew the issues facing Neighborhood Councils, and that was Richard Alarcon. Sure, I don't agree with the shenanigans that was Prop R which allowed Richard to run again, but he had nothing to do with that.

I know Richard as the man who, as recently as a week ago, would tell me to my face what he thought even if he knew I wouldn't like what he was saying. That cut both ways. When I worked for him he would accept both advise and criticism. But what I admire most about Richard Alarcon is his stance towards Neighborhood Councils, and thus participatory democracy.

When I first met then Senator Alarcon, it was during the DWP rate hike battle. He was running for Mayor at the time and in a very short amount of time I came to know him as someone who, while astutely aware of political climates, genuinely cares about the people. Senator Alarcon later became the only State Senator to this day to have ever dedicated a full-time staff position to Neighborhood Councils. He deems Neighborhood Councilmembers as "elected officials" and shows them deference even when he disagrees with them.

After the Mayor's race I took allot of heat for Senator Alarcon's endorsement of now Mayor Villaraigosa and my continued support of Richard. The reason I supported him then, and do now is simple. At the end of the day you must ask yourself who is the best person for the job. I believe in my heart that person is Richard Alarcon.

I encourage all Neighborhood Councilmembers, and residents of CD 7 to join me in supporting Richard Alarcon for City Council. He is the best candidate for the District and will prove to be a strong ally in City Council for the Neighborhood Council System at a time when we need all the friends we can get.

Jim Alger
President - Northridge West NC
Vice Chair - Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils Congress

(Titles for identification purposes only)


Daily News Buys LAUSD Takeover Spin

The drive to elect Mayor Villaraigosa's shadow LAUSD government kicks into high gear. In addition to frequent dispatches to the Sister City staff from the campaign for government lawyer Tamar Galatzan, the Daily News breaks character to support the very type of Downtown power grab they have railed against for years to endorse the Mayor's slate of candidates. Sadly, the Daily News - no friend to the teachers' union which it shares with the Sister City - has taken the position that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The Daily News has taken a "toss the bums out" mentality that the eternal problems of the LAUSD can be solved by bringing in yet another team. This is great in theory but particularly with respect to the third district of the Board of Education, should incumbent Jon Lauritzen be defeated, this will make for the fourth member to hold the seat in less than ten years. The voters of the district need more stability than that. The current team may have issues but the problems facing the district goes back decades. Bringing in a slate of candidates backed by the Mayor in order to gain control of the district's billion dollar construction budget is not the be all-end all.

RINO Invasion of Los Angeles

The Sister City was contacted by representatives of the campaign for Villaraigosa backed lawyer Tamar Galatzan - who is seeking the school board seat and control of the LA Unified and its construction budget for the Mayor - begging us to make sure y'all knew of the "Republican" support for their candidate.

It's all well and good since with no dog in the fight, the local GOP has to make a Hobson's choice between a liberal union backed teacher or a liberal Villaraigosa backed government lawyer. Not the kind of place Republicans would normally want to be in.

However sometime ago Republicans learned what the Democrats had discovered sometime ago. Forget ideology and what's good for the party, get the best deal you can for yourself.

This is what has led do-nothing Republicans in California to do things like permanently assign themselves to minority status in the California legislature and what would have been once thought unthinkable, begin to actually support socialistic government health care schemes.

Here in Los Angeles the local Republican leadership, being only a handful of individuals these days, has essentially rolled over on every issue from border security to public school reform and give in to the shady, corrupt Democrats because they learned they could make a dime or two by doing so.

We don't have to look too far at the greed and corruption of the Los Angeles County GOP under the "leadership" of Linda Boyd and her husband Doug, who rather than support one of the two qualified Republican candidates for Mayor - Walter Moore and William Wyatt - took Jim Hahn's earnest money and did everything possible to steer Republican votes to Hahn. (Some small justice was meted out months later with the "Republican Bitch Slap of 2007," but this hardly makes a difference.)

So in some kind of deal with the Devil (Villaraigosa) we have RINO Republicans such as Greig Smith, Cameron Smythe, Richard Riordan and others going all out for a Democrat when they should be putting their time and money into developing conservative candidates for local office and supporting the party that gave them everything they have. Party that used to stand for something, no longer does.

Because once good reporters who used to get the local story right - such as those at the LA Daily News - have entirely dropped the ball, its probably now up to the Sister City alone to get the facts out there.

Here at the Sister City, if you read us every day, you will connect the dots between campaign contributions, government contracts, school construction projects, jobs for friends, contracts to former elected officials, etc. that all line up to create this constellation of shady corruption, lack of local leadership and further negative impact on the community.

Follow the money dum dums.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Monday

In a surprise move given the previous air of good nature and support as fellow right of center blogs, Boi from Troy has made an attempt to "bitch slap" the Sister City over our opposition to the Mayor's effort to stack the school board, primarily the candidacy of government lawyer Tamar Galatzan. To his credit, Boi from Troy (AKA Scott Schmidt who along with his partner Ryan Knoll recently took over co-editing duties at LA Voice upon the departure of Mack Reed) discloses his previous business relationship with Galatzan's husband, lobbyist Brendan Huffman. However we find Schmidt's defense of Huffman and Galatzan disappointing and weak at best. More on this over the next few days.

The little known "other" school board, the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees is also up for election next week. I guess the Mayor isn't trying to take them over - yet (he may not know about their $1 billion construction budget). The unions - backed by the powerful Berman-Waxman political machine - run the show but a scrappy group of educational, community and business leaders are attempting to get elected to the board. Full Disclosure Network has an interesting program covering the issue for your viewing on demand.

Some good critiques of issues related to the Grand Avenue bamboozle. First off, our friend Joseph Mailander takes the LA Times to task for falling down on their coverage of events leading up to this massive gift of public funds. Next, Marc Haefele writing for CityWatch hits one of the key reasons (besides the aforementioned gift of public funds) why this project is less than honest as its core - who's going to drive from Santa Monica or Pasadena or Woodland Hills to Downtown to shop at the same Crate and Barrel they can patronize much closer to home?

Steve Lopez has a hard on for deputy mayor for transportation Jamie de la Vega's Hummer. No, its not what you think. For some reason a number of liberals around town think that someone like de la Vega driving a Hummer is akin to Al Gore using an air conditioner. It's been our view that de la Vega has a right to drive whatever damn vehicle he wants. Let's just hope that the Mayor isn't painted into some kind of corner where de la Vega has to give up the Hummer for a Prius and make some silly apology.

And finally, this old, dead Republican mayor has told you of his love-hate relationship with grocery store Trader Joe's. If what LAist reports is true, I'm glad I didn't visit there Sunday afternoon as I planned. There was a virtual run on Blue Fin California Chardonay and Pizza Margherita as our local yuppie scum prepared for Oscar viewing parties (Full disclosure - the old, dead Republican Mayor himself did indeed attend such a party in the People's Republic of Santa Monica of all places. And Mayor Sam happened to best his fellow yuppies in Oscar prediction prowess and took home nearly a C note in prize money. Trader Joe's here I come!)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Beautiful Gas Station

This video shows a beautiful gas station that is not quite open. Everyday, utilitarian buildings don't have to be ugly. So hey, you developers out there, more of this, and fewer boring boxes, okay? And thank you, BP, for putting some thought, art and money into this building. I appreciate it.

(To see a version of the same video with a sharper picture, visit MooreIsBetter.com.)

Wow! Times Publishes Mailander's Critique Of Grand Avenue Coverage!

Read it. I will, too. Here's the link: click here. He even worked in the point that "philanthropist" is a loaded title, not Eli Broad's first name. WAY TO GO, JOE!!!! A few more publications like this, and the city's oblivious potential voters may awaken from their walking stupor.

The Troubled Girl and the $50 Million Home

No, you aren't reading another late-breaking Britney update. This is an update on Ruby, the lesser-known, 45-year-old African elephant who spends her days in solitary confinement at the LA Zoo.

To recap Ruby's story, she was brought to the U.S. from her native habitat in the 1960s and has since been shuffled between an animal park, a circus, and municipal zoos. As recently as 2003 she was transferred 2,200 miles to the Knoxville Zoo only to be ordered returned to Los Angeles just 18 months later by then-Mayor Jim Hahn.

Last May, despite a flurry of letters and Council testimony by pachyderm researchers and animal welfare advocates, including Dr. Charlotte Laws and game show host Bob Barker, recommending that the zoo's three elephants be transferred to the 2,300-acre PAWS animal sanctuary in San Andreas, your City Council and Mayor made the morally and fiscally reckless decision to approve construction of an expanded 3.5-acre elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo.

Only Council Members Zine and Rosendahl voted against the projected $40-60 million boondoggle, correctly pointing out that while indeed larger, the exhibit was woefully inadequate to meet the needs of the elephants, who, in the wild often walk distances equal to the Santa Monica Pier from the LA Zoo in the course of one day.

One month after Council voted and the Mayor signed, Ruby's long-time companion, 48-year-old Gita unexpectedly died in her enclosure of complications reportedly stemming from chronic arthritis and other debilitating foot and joint syndromes brought on by years of standing on hard, concrete surfaces.

Gita's untimely death (elephants live 60-70 years in the wild) reignited the push to send both of the zoo's remaining elephants, Ruby and Billy, a 22-year-old Indian elephant, to PAWS, but seven months passed before the issue finally resurfaced on City Hall's radar last month, prompted by the Los Angeles Zoo Commission itself endorsing the retirement plan for Ruby.

To date, over $250,000 has been raised to transport and care for Ruby, and Mr. Barker has pledged matching funds of up to $300,000. Mayor Villaraigosa says he must weigh the desires of "two very strong centers of influence in our community," but at this point, sending Ruby to PAWS is simply a matter of common sense.

Ruby's plight is only a symptom of the problem. With the "elephant issue" once again on the front burner and the new exhibit still years from completion, the Mayor and City Council should seize this opportunity to demonstrate some real leadership and hit at the root of the problem.

New York City and San Francisco have already dismantled their elephant exhibits. Now it's time to give Los Angeles' elephants—and taxpayers—a break.

Note: For further details on the expensive, inadequate elephant exhibit City Council approved last year, please read Dr. Laws' excellent essay, Haste, Waste and Mammoth Misconceptions.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Trucked-Up Immigration Policy: Now We're Importing Air Pollution

The next time you're sitting at the smog check station, or walking along the beach looking at the "NO SMOKING" signs, take a look at the license plates on that truck that's belching out massive clouds of white, gray and black.

The "open borders" crowd, having successfully circumvented state and federal employment labor laws by importing millions of illegal aliens from Mexico, has moved on to the next step. Now they are circumventing state and federal environmental and safety laws by letting Mexican trucks roam freely through our country. That's right: soon, third-world trucks will be stuck in traffic on a road near you soon.

Hey, why pay American prices for American trucks and truckers that obey American laws, when you can save a bundle using Mexican trucks instead? Unions, schmunions! Remember: there are no illegal people, and now, no illegal trucks. Isn't that great? And as long as OUR cars and trucks pollute as little as possible, why worry about the impact of a few thousand Mexican trucks with zero emission controls?

Read all about it in the L.A. Daily News. The article begins as follows:

"U.S. and Mexican leaders announced a test Friday to allow Mexican trucks full access to the state and the rest of the nation, a move that alarms air quality regulators who believe it will foul Southern California's air and crumble its roads.

"The one-year program allows an unlimited number of trucks from 100 Mexican companies to carry cargo beyond the current 25-mile border zone."

And don't you environmentalists dare criticize this move. Only a "racist" would claim there's anything wrong innocent trucks from another country, driven here just so people can make a living. You have to appreciate that, in their culture, jobs are more important than having unnecessarily clean air. If you really want to help, then you should support a tax hike so we can buy them new trucks, or retro-fit their trucks with pollution control devices. After all, it's not fair to expect people from other countries to obey our laws just because they come here to work and to receive free education and health care.

Speaking of health care, I can't wait for the next step, when all the Mexican pharmaceuticals start arriving. I mean, why should we subject our good friends on our southern "border" to all the hassle of FDA approval? I'm sure the prescription medications made down there are just as good as the ones made here in America. Mexican drugs could be the key to providing "affordable health care" here in America. Stay tuned -- and look out for that truck next to you!

And The Winner Is . . . JANICE HAHN for "American Vacation"

Look out, Hillary! Look out Helen! L.A. has its own braniac woman politician who revels in taking on new roles. Her name is Janice Hahn or, as her undocumented fans call her, "Sister Janice."

Hahn's previous hits include "Dude, Where's My Alligator?," "Indecent Proposal 2: Two Bites for Two Million," and her tax triology, "Trash Tax Hike," "Tax Hike 2: Affordable House Party," and "Tax Hike 3: Gang Busters!"

Another hit is in the works. Sister Janice has just announced her latest production, "American Vacation," a comedic romp in which she and Chevy Chase play an American couple concerned about the supposed lack of foreigners visiting L.A.

In the opening scene, Janice and Chevy drive around L.A., marvelling at how wonderfully "foreign" it all seems, with the billboards and radio stations in Spanish, and the ballots in Persian. They wonder why more foreigners don't spend their vacations in L.A., especially since it's now more exotic than ever.

Then they hit on a crazy idea that just might work: "Let's form a COMMITTEE!," Chevy exclaims, as a homeless man approaches their car, a hybrid with a phony "handicapped" sticker on it. "No," Janice retorts, "Let's form a FEDERAL committee! That's the best kind!"

After that, the madcap action never stops. The couple drives to Washington, D.C., and discovers a part of the government called -- get this! -- the "Department of Commerce," which has already created something called -- hold onto your seats! -- the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. A nice man there explains that the agency is spending as much tax money as quickly as possible to make sure more foreigners visit, includiing, for example, a new program to spend $3.9 million just to create a website. "Wow!" says Janice to Chevy, "Who knew that other people were already working on this same problem?!"

Janice and Chevy then go on to meet a variety of whacky characters, including an economist, Hack Heyser, who explains the effect of currency fluctuations on travel. Heyser tells Janice and Chevy that when people in Europe can't get as many dollars for one of their euros, fewer people come to America. Janice and Chevy nod, but when Hack leaves, Janice turns to Chevy and asks, "What's a euro?" Chevy shrugs. "I think it's that extra toilet in European bathrooms. I bet if we put those in our airports, more people would visit!"

The two eventually return to L.A. and find, to their surprise, that they're now the only two Americans in town. It turns out, foreigners were coming here the whole time. Mission accomplished, you two crazy kids! There's no place like home -- including home.

LAUSD Election: A Pricey Puppet Show

The L.A. Times reports that a lawsuit for fraud involving public funds was filed against Villaraigosa puppet candidate Johnathan Williams months ago, but, pursuant to state law regarding such cases, was sealed until now.

Please read the article yourself and form your own opinion. However, based on my quick pre-coffee reading, it doesn't look like fraud at all to me. It looks like, in setting up a school, the founders decided the best way to maximize state funds was to sell to the LAUSD -- rather than donate -- land that had been donated to them. That doesn't trouble me, especially if all proceeds went to the stated purpose, namely, building and operating a school.

Now, what DOES trouble me is the part where the school borrowed money and is behind on its payments. That strikes me as fiscal mismanagement, and is not something you want in a person on a board managing a $7 billion budget. THAT should be the real story.

Also, FYI, Williams never responded to my question about his position on A.B. 1381. You should therefore assume that, if elected, he would vote to dismiss or "settle" the lawsuit in which the Superior Court has ruled that Villaraigosa's partial takeover of the schools would be unconstitutional.

Want some corroborating evidence? How about the fact that the Mayor and his cronies have poured over $1 million into the campaigns of candidates Williams and Galatazan? Click here for details.

The incumbents, moreover, are just as beholden to big money. The UTLA contributed $450,000 to LaMotte's campaign.

Why do you suppose people make huge donations to these candidates' campaigns. Do you think it's because they care about the children? Or do you think it's because they want control over $7 billion of your money?

I, for one, am starting to think Measure L may not be such a bad idea. When you've got out-of-state individuals (from the Wal-Mart family) giving $100,000 to a campaign for a school board position, something is very, very wrong.

And if I lived in the right district, I would vote for Pugliese. Unlike Villaraigosa's puppet, he's qualified for the job. Unlike the incumbent, he cannot be blamed for the current mess. And ulike both of them, he's not beholden to special interests. For what it's worth, consider him endorsed by yours truly. (Hopefully, that will result in a net increase of votes for you Mr. Pugliese, but don't count on it.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

FM 105.1 Drops Classical, Goes Country

It happens Monday.

If they REALLY wanted to make money in this town, wouldn't they switch to espagnol?

Consider this your Saturday open thread, cow-pokes.

Mayor to Sign Living Wage Bamboozle

Following Wednesday's Council approval of what was supposed to be a compromise measure on the so called "living wage" with the business community, pundits were expecting Mayor Villaraigosa to sign the measure.

The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce joined with business leaders across the city to qualify a referendum on the bill to go before voters. However, rather than face an election, the Council rejected their original measure with assurances to the business community that the new law would be different. The Chamber came out against the measure Thursday.

Political consultant Harvey Englander - representing the hotels in the airport corridor affected by the measure - anticipates a legal challenge to the new law.

One of the arguments living wage proponents make is that the hotels benefit from the investment the city has made in the airport, therefore they "owe" the employees whatever the Clowncil thinks they should be paid. This fallacy of an argument could dangerously be extended to other areas (why not extend living wage to the employees of gas stations that benefit from being adjacent to city streets?), as well, ignores the fact that the hotels and other businesses in the area benefit the airport.

Kudos to Council Members Parks, Zine and Smith - the three individuals who come about as close to Republicans as one could hope for - who each voted against the measure.

You Too Can Junket with Mayor V!

Need a vacation? Want to get out of LA for a while? Would you like to hob nob with local and national politicians and make deals with them and LA's business titans?

The LA Chamber of Commerce has an event for you:

Sign up now for Access D.C.
Join Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom on Southern California's largest business advocacy trip to Washington, D.C., March 26-29.

The event will set you back a few bucks though:
  • Full Conference Registration (includes all meetings, breakfasts & receptions) - $850.00
  • Meetings Only Package (includes Welcome Reception) - $500.00
  • Tues (3/27) Breakfast Only - $100.00
  • International Reception at the Organization of American States - $300.00
  • Weds (3/28) Breakfast Only - $100.00
  • Congressional Reception at the Museum of the American Indian - $300.00
For more information click here. For a trip like this you definitely need some official Mayor V Flight Crew gear, click here to order yours now!

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Friday

LA CityBeat covers the upcoming elections for school board taking a look at Mayor Villaraigosa's puppet candidates, Tamar Galatzan, Yolie Flores Aguilar and Dr. Richard Vladovic. The article has some very excellent spin doctoring by former Sister City blogger and Galatzan spokesperson Michael Trujillo. Prediction: Should Galatzan win, at her victory party at the Airtel Plaza Hotel (just guessing on that one) Councilman Tom LeBong will stand up and say "Today is a great day for the City of Los Anna-Less! God bless Mayor Villaraigosa for doing something for the children of Los Anna-Less!"

Want to blog from 800 feet under Los Angeles? It may be a possibility. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is investigating the feasibility of offering wi-fi internet access on its trains. Kudos to Mayor Villaraigosa for proposing the idea.

CityWatch has statements from a number of candidates for the City Council and Los Angeles Unified Board of Education. The positions of those candidates who submitted a response can be found here.

Here are a few items you might enjoy reading over at MS2:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Economists? What Economists?

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

An article in the L.A. Times attributes a decline in international traffic at LAX to a supposed failure to "modernize" the facility. The source of this information? Un-named economists, plus our old friend, the ubiquitous faux economist Jack Keyser, who has no degree in economics, but a great job with an outfit that really puts the "profit" in "non-profit."

Eager to learn the names of any economists who believe that international air travel is a function of airport "modernization," I therefore sent the following letter to the reporter who wrote the article, and I will share those economists' names with you if and when she shares them with me. Unless and until that happens, however, I, for one, will assume that these "economists" are, like Keyser, not economists at all, but are instead merely advocates for another public works boondoggle who hope to gain unwarranted credibility by labelling themselves as economists.

* * *

Dear Ms. Oldham:

In your story, you say, "Economists blame the shift on LAX's cramped and outdated terminals and lawmakers' inability to agree on a plan to modernize the airport while other cities have built gleaming new concourses."

Could I trouble you for the names of those economists?

I notice your article referred to one, and only one, person as an economist, namely, Jack Keyser. As his biography shows, however, he has no degree in economics.

Thanks in advance.

Walter Moore

VIDEO: Free Legal Advice For Villaraigosa Re LAX "Living Wage" Ordinance

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

Have you ever wondered what really expensive legal advice sounds like? Me, too.

I do, however, know what free legal advice sounds like and looks like, and you will, too, after you view this educational video. Enjoy. It's under two minutes.


State Budget Will Fall $2 Billion Short

State tax revenues plummeted in January, and the Legislature's chief budget analyst, says the L.A. Times, "projects that about $2 billion in tax revenue the governor's plan relies on to balance the fiscal 2007-08 budget won't be there." She urged the Legislature to start cutting programs NOW to avoid a massive deficit later.

So you can expect business as usual in Sacramento, namely, more and more spending, followed by an "unexpected crisis" later, which will require a "modest" tax increase, probably only on homeowners, for, as usual, "the children."

City Council Re-Enacts Wage Ordinance, Which Courts Will Probably Invalidate

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

The City Council, by a 10-to-3 vote, re-enacted an ordinance to require a handful of hotels near the airport to pay employees more than the state minimum wage.

The Council had enacted essentially the same law before, but repealed it after L.A. businesses submitted petitions with enough signatures to force the Council to repeal it or let voters decide whether to appeal it. The Council thus avoided a refererndum on the issue by repealing the ordinance, and, after doing so, simply enacted it again, with slight changes.

The hotels have vowed to take the matter to court.

I predict the Court will invalidate the new ordinance, either in its entirety or, more likely, the provisions requiring the hotels to pay higher wages. The law, at least in theory, forbids a person -- in this case, City Hall -- from doing indirectly what it cannot do directly. The City, having opted to repeal the ordinance rather than face an election, cannot circumvent the law merely by attaching a few additional provisions to the same law.

You can read about it in the L.A. Times.

Weezy's Shady Corrupt Housing Games

The LA Weekly reports on funny business going on with Councilman Jose Huizar's place(s) of residence.

The Weekly says regarding work done on a home owned by the Councilman at 4903 La Calandria Way in El Sereno, Huizar "ignored the law, expanded his house, then used insiders to make things okay."
Finally, the city issued a written order on December 16, 2003, informing Huizar — a man with a planning degree from Princeton University who once worked for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo — that the house violated 19 sections of the municipal code.
A supporter of Huizar's opponent Alvin Parra told the Weekly that:
Huizar’s illegal building case should bar him from serving on the council’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee, a three-member panel that meets each week to approve major development projects. If Huizar didn’t think the city’s permitting process was important, neither should other builders, suggested architect Tom Osinski.
According to the Weekly, Huizar has purchased a new home south of El Sereno and intends to rent out the La Calandria property.

The Weekly report says that though Huizar bought the home in 2001, he later changed his voter registration to a dingy apartment in Boyle Heights located in the LA Unified school board district that he wanted to run in. A year later LAUSD gerrymandered Huizar's district to include his El Sereno home.

Is this the kind of guy we want in charge of other people's land usage?


Another Endorsement for Rodriguez

Endorsements don't always equal votes but they can help bring in money to a campaign.

The Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-LA) announced their endorsement of Monica Rodriguez's Campaign for Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday.

Chapter CEO Helen Han said, "As a business organization focused on propelling women into economic, social and political spheres of power, we are proud to support Monica as a candidate for Los Angeles City Council. We believe that Monica is a business-friendly candidate whose priorities in the areas of public safety, education and economic development are very much in sync with our public policy agenda as an organization.

Founded in 1979, NAWBO-LA represents the interests of over 335,000 women-owned businesses in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area and works to ensure that women entrepreneurs become a public policy voice to be reckoned with, a formidable economic force, and effective agents for change in the dynamic business environment that is Southern California.

Did Burbank Hand Sunland-Tujunga an Opportunity?

The San Fernando Valley Business Journal reports that the City of Burbank has turned down permits to build a 60,000 Whole Foods natural food store in their city. Apparently the local residents were worried about crowds of tofu eating, granola chomping beautiful people invading their turf.

They should be so lucky! The folks in Sunland-Tujunga are fighting not tofu but forklifts and are forced to go commando around town for a lack of underwear in the town.

If the folks in ST want a Whole Foods, they can visit this site.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Thursday

The LA Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Mayor's slate for the school board. Considering how many downtown interests are members of the Chamber and how many of them depend on local government contracts to make the balance sheet green, one should not be surprised. Tamar Galatzan one of the candidates backed by the Mayor is married to lobbyist Brendan Huffman who was once an official with the Chamber. The Chamber's endorsement easily echoes the political spin Galatzan and Villaraigosa supporters have been posting to the blog lately.

Zach at In The Oaks takes a look at the LA River Master Plan through Sherman Oaks and Studio City. Let's have a picnic at Fashion Square River Park!

We've covered it before but now none other the LA Weekly has picked up on the battle between NoHo Boho performance venue Kulak's Woodshed and former porn star Charles "Jeff Stryker" Peyton. Somehow, Wendy Greuel has allowed herself to get in the middle of all of this.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

David Hernandez: How to break up LAUSD

At a Valley Vote meeting Monday night (Feb 19) Tom Saenz, Mayor Villaraigosa’s Chief Legal Counsel, let it slip that if AB 1381 is defeated in court and if the reform candidates are not elected, then the Mayor will be open to breaking up LAUSD.

So, my friends, if you really want reform and want smaller school districts, then vote against the Mayor's candidates and support the legal challenge to AB 1381.

We know the current challenges to LAUSD but we have only certain choices on the ballot.

So, for March 6, 2007 election vote for:

District 1: (South Central) Marguerite LaMotte.
District 3: (Valley) Jon Lauritzen.
District 5: (E. Valley / South Gate) Bennett Kayser .
District 7: (San Pedro /Watts) Jesus Escandon versus Neal Kleiner.

Anti-Lauritzen Blog Gone: Was Tamar Involved?

Less than a day after we reported it, an anonymous hit blog targeting school board member Jon Lauritzen has been deleted from the web.

The blog sought to pin the blame for many of the LAUSD's woes against Lauritzen. The blog penned by "Possibly Jon Lauritzen" also received critical comments from a blogger dubbing themselves "Possibly Tamar Galatzan."

Sister City readers were awash in attempting to guess the identity of the anoynmous blogger with speculation running from the campaign of school board candidate Louis Pugliese to operatives working with Mayor Villaraigosa backed candidate, attorney Tamar Galatzan. Some of our readers alleged that Longtime Villaraigosa operatives Miguel Santiago or Daniel Tamm while others tried to finger Galatzan's campaign manager and former Sister City blogger Mike Trujillo. I contacted Trujillo earlier and he denied having anything to do with the blog.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

For Your Review: Galatzan Mailer

Click on any image for a larger version:

Anony-Blog Targets Lauritzen

When it comes to anony-blogging, this old, dead Republican knows something about the subject. So it didn't surprise me to that someone has put up an anoymous hit blog attacking incumbent school board member Jon Lauritzen.

The blog - written as if Lauritzen was speaking himself - takes digs at the school board member for being fiscally irresponsible and engaging in "pay to play" politics (even though money collected by Mayor Villaraigosa to help fund Lauritzen's opponent - among others - has come in large amounts from companies and individuals who do business with the city).

When asked by the Sister City, represenatives for the campaign for Lauritzen's opponent - Tamar Galatzan - denied any involvement in the creation of the blog. We don't know if the blog has any connection to the Galatzan campaign or the Mayor's Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability but it would be interesting to investigate.

Bratton: You Can Call Him AL

Police Chief William Bratton is out of town again- this time at a police conference in Ireland - but as we hear it "the natives are getting restless" at LAPD headquarters. The Chief is out of town so much "on business" the troops have come to refer to him lovingly as "AL." The name isn't in honor of TV's Al Bundy, Vice President Al Gore or even actor Al Molinario, but it stands for "Absentee Landlord."

So as Bratton, other international top cops and his Irish hosts have a pint or two of Guiness, we present the following music video in the Chief's honor:

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Wednesday

Liberals are taking their anti-war stance a bit too far - attacking the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at local high schools. Leftist teachers claim the JROTC programs are being used as a feeder for the war machine in Iraq, even though a infinitely small handful of JROTC students ever go to the military or are even deemed qualified for service. A high school student who turned his grades and attitude around in the program found himself the target of Roosevelt High School teacher Martha Guerrero. The teacher asked him if he would die in Iraq and if he felt embarrassed to wear the uniform. Guerrero should be fired. Anyone want to take up that cause?

The San Fernando Valley Business Journal reports that government attempts to bring about "affordable housing" may be crumbling. The Council has failed to enact "inclusionary zoning" programs and building of market race housing is going forward - as it should.

Greg Nelson writing at CityWatch explores an interesting idea floating around the Neighborhood Council world - de-linking the Councils from the City. The Councils would become independent non-profit organizations but be able to apply to the city for cash grants, in-kind services and special access privileges.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Businesses Fleeing Downtown L.A. In Droves

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

According to a construction trade group that calls itself "the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation," the number of people living downtown is up, and the number of jobs is down -- WAY down.

The group's faux economist, spokesman Jack Keyser -- who has no degree in economics -- says there were 605,000 jobs downtown in 1995, but only 418,000 today.

Did you get that? During the past 12 years that the career politicians in City Hall have been running things, they lost nearly 187,000 jobs downtown.

The number of people living downtown is 28,878. The trade group touts that as being up 20% from two years ago, but all that means is that the population has risen by just 4,813, from 24,065. In a city with a population of nearly 4 million, that's not what you call "massive."

No word, by the way, on how many of those 28,878 people have jobs. Query how many of them are simply homeless people that local hospitals have dumped.

Now let me ask you a question: with the number of jobs down 187,000 over the past 12 years, and the number of residents at 28,878, would you invest YOUR pension fund in the financial success of downtown? I ask because City Hall is betting hundreds of millions of dollars of YOUR money on it.

You should also now start to understand why so many buildings downtown have been, and are being, "converted" to residences. It's not because everyone wants to live downtown. Rather, it's because this city is so hostile to businesses -- except developers who contribute to career politicians -- that those businesses have fled, leaving behind empty offices galore.

By the way, you're supposed to notice that, in the picture above, all the cars on both sides of the freeway are headed in the same direction, as if, say, 187,000 people fled downtown L.A.

Get the details in the L.A. Times.

Times Endorses Rodriguez

In a major victory in her efforts to beat back Richard Alarcon in the 7th District, The Los Angeles Times announced their endorsement of Monica Rodriguez's Campaign for Los Angeles City Council on Monday.

The Times editorial board said, "voters in this San Fernando Valley district have an excellent candidate in Rodriguez." The Times went on the say that Rodriguez would "bring badly needed experience in bridging the public and private sectors." They characterized opponent Richard Alarcon's candidacy as "crass and cynical."

Rodriguez administers the California Association of Realtors workforce housing trust fund. Monica previously worked as Community Affairs Manager for Mayor Richard Riordan and Chief Deputy to School Board President Caprice Young. The 7th City Council District includes the communities of Sylmar, Pacoima, Mission Hills, North Hills, Lake View Terrace, and Panorama City.

Open Thread for Tuesday - Its Home Depot Time Again

A few assorted notes for you as you come back to work.

First off - as I have been saying for a while - it looks like the anti-Home Depot unanimity we had been bamboozled with does not exist in Sunland-Tujunga. According to an LA Times article though the NIMBYs scream the loudest, not all the residents of this burg in the foothills hate big boxes and big houses. Too, the pro-capitalism forces in Sunland-Tujunga are starting to speak up on our blog. And this latest photo of a recent anti-Home Depot protest shows hardly a movement.

On the other hand, it looks like the market may very well be doing for the Sunland-Tujunga folks what they want government to do for them (which government should not be doing but that's another story) - Home Depot is going in the toilet. They're about to sell their lucrative maintenance supply business and management shake-ups hope to get the chain back on track.

Folks in Sunland-Tujunga say they want Target, Starbucks, somewhere to buy underwear, etc. Have they asked these stores to come? Where are they? Do they have plans to open stores in Sunland-Tujunga? At the same time, folks in Palmdale want sushi and pasta but it ain't happening yet. Of course, folks in hell want ice water too but that doesn't mean they're going to get it.

Blog away dum dums.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Munch some mulch, if you will

CityWatch - an insider look at City Hall - reports that interim DONE GM Lisa Sarno, if you will, will be munching mulch soon on the Mayor's million tree project.

The City Hall Insider has learned that on Friday Mayor Villaraigosa is expected to announce that a landing place has been found for Interim GM Lisa Sarno once the new general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment takes office. Sources close to the decision tell me that Sarno will become the director of the Mayor’s Million Trees LA program.
Mulch away, dum-dums.

Monday Open Thread: Sunland-Tujunga's Home Depot Again...

The L.A. Times has an article on the Home Depot thing. I can't bring myself to read it -- we'll chalk it up to the late hour, the dog beach video, and all the writing -- but you go right ahead.

And here's another article in the L.A. Times about Measure L.

If Mayor Sam weren't fishing, I know he'd want me to say to you, in a gentle, supporting, avuncular fashion (that's your word for the day, by the way), "Blog away, dum-dum's." You're so smart, you explain what's happening and why it matters to the rest of us, would you? I gotta go help a friend buy or lease a car.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Channel 2's David Goldstein Finds "Affordable Housing" Scam

By Walter Moore, Chief Economist and Legal Analyst, L.A. Policy Institute.

You really must watch the report by Channel 2's investigative reporter David Goldstein on how a "charity" used an "affordable housing" program to rip-off you, the taxpayer. To see it, click here.

Goldstein reports that the Esperanza "charity" obtained "surplus property" from Caltrans in order to provide "affordable housing" to "low-income" households. Sounds nice, doesn't it? But Goldstein caught the director of the "charity" living in one of those homes and, indeed, driving her beautiful new BMW out of the drive She admitted on camera, moreover, that her family is not a "low-income" household.

Goldstein also found that the tenants in two other houses who were purportedly paying modest rents -- $315 or so in one case, and $1000 or so in the other -- but who were also paying $1400 per month in "maintenance fees," which the "charity" did not bother to report to the state.

So the "affordable housing" program did not provide "affordable housing" to "low income" families. Instead, it provided an opportunity for an unethical enterpreneur to pocket a government subsidy, while charging market rates for housing.

The good news is, Goldstein found this particular scam. The bad news is, David Goldstein does not have time to check on every tenant of every "affordable housing" unit from now to the end of time. And no one else is going to check, either. When you subsidize "affordable housing," your money is going to developers, not the poor. Maybe they will play by the rules, maybe not. But you'll never know.

[Note: the picture above is NOT the house and BMW mentioned in the story.]