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Friday, August 31, 2007

Animal Services Commish Marie Atake Resigns

Department of Animal Services Commissioner and Forte Animal Rescue founder Marie Atake has resigned her post, MayorSam has learned late Friday.

Her resignation letter to Mayor Antonio was blunt, rough, and sharply worded, and she fingers both Ed Boks and Antonio's Deputy Chief of Staff, Jimmy Blackman, for enabling Boks at his personal, Department-oriented website to attack what she calls "a reputable animal-welfare organization" without specifying which. She also claims Boks misled City Council on August 3 on an Item marked Special. She lists "Boks' crises" as "the veterinarian shortage; unopened spay-neuter clinics; zero foreign language outreach; shelter overcrowding; delayed shelter openings; end-runds on key stakeholders; and a tidal wave of public relations disasters."

She says that she is resigning because she can "no longer, in good conscience, be a part of such demoralization."


SCENE: Profitable Non-Profit Affordable Housing Developer Pays For A Mayor's Kid's Tuition While Mayor say, "Yes" to Developer's Gravy Train Projects

ALRIGHT! Someone wants Zuma Dogg to add this scene to his TV drama script about a shady, unethical and corrupt Mayor and City Hall.

SCENE: A developer pays for a mayor’s daughter's out of state college tuition, while the developer is at the mercy of the mayor’s approval on pending projects.

BACKGROUND: People don’t think the mayor’s daughter got into an out of state Ivy Leauge educational institution based on grades or scholarships. (Since the daughter only had average grades and wouldn’t qualify for scholarship money or financial aid since her parents have good incomes.)

However, an out-of-state Ivy Leauge tuition saved, is an out-of-state Ivy Leauge tuition earned. So in this scene of my Aaron Sorkin-style TV show, a developer writes a check directly to the University on behalf of the daughter.

Now here’s the David E.Kelley “Ally McBeal” ethics hook for this fictional episode. (I HOPE it’s fictional!)

The benefactor who cares so much about this rich kid’s education also has some big projects to push through in the same City in which her father is Mayor. And, oh no...since this is TV (and they like outrageous sensationalism), let’s ALSO throw in that the types of projects we are talking about are those unlimitedly profitable “non-profit” affordable housing projects like the one’s I have been expressing concern over.

Then, to rub it in the face of the opposition in this TV show about a mayor and City Hall, the mayor jumps in front of some cameras and takes credit for bringing affordable housing to the city to help the poor.

So the issue of this episode called, “Inspector General” is: Is there anything wrong with this “win-win” situation for the mayor, his daughter and the developer who gets the “in” to build very profitable “non-profit” 100% affordable housing?

INTERIOR SCENE: City Controller walks into District Attorney’s office and drops folder on table...

[This is a TV show and they have happy and ethical endings, so the mayor and developer get busted for this conflict of interest and new laws are put in place to prevent this type of abuse of power (corruption). But in the real world, it’s probably not illegal; so it continues; and in the series finale, the city is official declared a disaster zone and the Federal government has to step in to address the wave of homeless and economic ruin this behavior has caused while the mayor and his cronies are laughing on a yacht drinking their freshly squeezed orange juice they had flown in. I know, the freshly squeezed orange juice flown in to billionaires on a yacht is a little over-the-top...but this is a Hollywood script combining city politics with a mayor patterned after J.R of “Dallas”.]


Alvin Parra is Back! This Time in Lynwood

The LA Wave reports that by a 3-1 vote during a special meeting, the Lynwood City Council hired Alvin Parra and Roland Aranjo of Milagro Strategies to conduct an outreach program and survey to solicit community feedback on the controversial development that is now being called Angeles Fields.

Milagro Strategies was first suggested by Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Pedroza at a cost of $57,000 in July.

New Mayoral Majority LAUSD School Board Acts Quickly To Help Students and Fix The System with $35 Million for Part-time Cafeteria Workers!

You have a school system that is a dropout, criminal producing factory. It’s become a regional, if not national crisis. You have to improve student achievement immediately! QUICK! What’s the first thing you should do? Attack the Superintendent and bully him into finding emergency money for the part-time cafeteria workers that you don't have.

From latimes.com

After a two-hour debate this week, the board voted to extend the schedule of part-time cafeteria workers to four hours a day. That change immediately qualified 2,352 workers for health benefits under existing labor agreements.

The school district puts the annual new cost at $35.5 million; the union estimate is about $28 million. Either way, the district has identified no money to pay for the benefits. [But Yoli Flores Aguilar snapped at Brewer that there was plenty of beuracracy in the system and he has a week to find the $35 million. And she should know...it's her second school board meeting.]

The move to extend benefits could not have happened faster for members of the new board majority. They introduced the motion at their first regular meeting in July and passed it at the first opportunity -- this week's meeting. The previous board had opted for less expensive staff recommendations that focused not on health coverage but on the most efficient means to improve service, which all sides agree is lacking.

"We can be leaders in national healthcare," including pressing for universal coverage, LAUSD School Board Head Muppet Monica Garcia said. "Health benefits for cafeteria workers will help this district gain its own health."

[How about being leaders in national education first first. How many fronts do you think LAUSD can attack at once? No one voted in the shady Villargarcia board to fix the national health care system for part time cafeteria workers!]

Looks like the new mayoral-backed LAUSD school board is off to a good start. (A good start if you have investments in juvenile rehabilitation facilities and the prison system.]


SEE ALSO: More mayoral backed LAUSD school board shenanigans

Weekend Reading Assignment for LAUSD administrators Evil Educator (Church Lady’s Cousin): Quiz on Monday LAUSD and City Hall staffers. I don’t care that it’s Labor Day. There’s always an excuse to be found if you want to find one, now isn’t there!

Non-Profit Absue Alert: Villaraigosa's More "Flexible" and "Autonomous" Non-Profit Fund Raising Vehicle To Fix LAUSD Cause Antonio Cares About Kids!


Shady LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa couldn’t get his hands on the entire LAUSD school system budget, so he has to settle for a small starter cluster. Brad Pitt and George Clooney should make a movie about this scam. “LAUSD 11.”

From Press Release [ZD comments in brackets]

The partnership will be part of the District’s new Innovation Division for Education Achievement (IDEA), which was created as part of Superintendent Brewer’s plan to transform District schools.

[It’s innovative, all right. Innovative in ways that it allows a mayor to pull off the bigger disappearing act since David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. Let’s call Antonio “David Cofferfield”. (He makes coffers disappear.) It was created as “part” of Brewer’s plan...” (Yeah, Brewer has a plan, and the mayor’s shady board backers decided they would approve this as “part” of it.]

Partnership schools will receive 'increased flexibility' in exchange for 'increased accountability.' [What is the method of accountability? How do you plan on achieving it? If you don't will you give the money back?]

Mayor Sam comment poster Jack Hoff adds, "Zuma, this sounds like the beginnings of 'Flexible Accountability'!"

Among the reforms offered to partnership schools are 'increased budget autonomy and funding', increased 'flexibility from LAUSD policies' and the possibility of 'modified collective bargaining agreements'. [CITIZEN'S ALERT!!! THIS IS NOT A TEST...THIS IS NOT A TEST!!! Antonio just decided he can do whatever he wants with LAUSD money!]

Partnership schools will be held accountable for results in student achievement, safety and parent satisfaction goals within specific time frames. [Again, by what method and measure? What does “held accountable” mean? So Villar may not be able to improve results, but the schools will be held accountable if he fails?!?! So looks like the parents, kids and teachers will be punished if he doesn't raise achievement. But like his mass transit plan, he making demands before he's fixed the system. (Hasn't fixed the schools yet, but he will be demanding accountability. Like he will be demanding people take public transpo, even though he hasn't fixed that system. (Not enough) Does Villaraigosa give the money back if HE fails?]

With approval by the Board of Education, LAUSD intends to contract with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a new 'non-profit organization' created by Mayor Villaraigosa to support and manage the two families of schools. The partnership will be managed under the auspices of IDEA. Created earlier this summer [public hearing minutes, please], the division drives transformation of LAUSD schools by fostering school innovation proposals and community partnerships while benchmarking and replicating best practices and accountability measures districtwide. [Antonio is a supporter of Semilla. Is he going to benchmark HIS non-profit business model off of that one?]

"I am delighted that the Mayor is partnering with LAUSD through our new Innovation Division [division, as in what it is doing to LAUSD] and look forward to working with them to improve outcomes for students as the Chair of the Charters and IDEA Committee,” said Board Member Marlene Canter. [Oh no...no wonder Canter is more mayoral muppet friendly on Charter approval stuff. They "initiated" her into the gang with a "Charter/IDEA" Chair position.

The Mayor’s office, through the partnership, will employ a team and develop a comprehensive plan to serve the families of schools and coordinate services to improve the surrounding communities. [Watch out for use the word “employ team” in the same sentence as “comprehensive”. (That’s Antonio’s way of saying, “Lots of spending will be needed to cover everyone....I mean everything.” ) Lots of consultants, project supervisors and people from Latham & Watkins will need to be involved in this partnership with the community.]

“I look forward to working with the Mayor on partnerships that will focus on kids and improving their academic achievement,” said Board Member Richard Vladovic. [Me too Dr. V. But if I know Antonio, this has nothing to do with that. Like when he campaigned on “family values.” This guy has a shameless history as a shell game master. Ask around. See if the people he makes promises to get a shred of what they were promised. And now a bunch of suckers just voted in a school board that is giving the shadiest politician in LA history more increased budget autonomy and funding, increased flexibility from LAUSD policies and the possibility of modified collective bargaining agreements for “Mr. Values and Ethics'” new (comprehensive) non-profit organization. Hey Tony Soprano, check this guy out. He can teach you some new "innovative" tricks.


* Flexible funding sources? Like the (conflict of interest based) private fundraising he did for AB 1381/LAUSD school board candidate backing when he raised private money from people needing Villaraigosa's approval for major projects in the City.

* School construction budget concern: Under Mayor's AB 1381, anything construction spending under $250,000 doesn’t need approval? What's the current situation? Don’t let them up it to $3 million the way they Riordan's failed mayoral takeover team wanted to.

* Front-end loaded contract concerns. Who is going to get to sit on his non-profit board? He gets to use the mayor’s office to fundraise for his private charity under the guise of LAUSD/kids, then he gets to spend that money however he wants and give it to whoever he wants. ZD WANTS TO SIT ON THE BOARD AND TAKE A SALARY, PLEASE!

* Basically, instead of one focused effort to transform LAUSD, you have a divided school board, pulling in different directions with no one vision. And now, besides a bunch of Charters being approved with no accountability or standardization (a million charter operators can have a million different methods/no standardization/no uniformity), you're letting the shadiest, non-result producing mayor in U.S. history grab a hold of the steering wheel, too, with his more "flexible, autonomous, private non-profit. (Once the money goes in, there's no accountability.) Just call Antonio "David Cofferfield. Cause he's real good at making the coffers disappear.

* This whole order of business and idea for all of this was decided upon by Antonio and his muppet school board. CAN I PLEASE SEE THE MINUTES OF THE PUBLIC HEARINGS ON THIS?

I hope the Mr. Mayoral Control plans on filling out a 700 form!



“Today we are pouring the foundations for a historic partnership between LAUSD and the City that will transform L.A. schools and fundamentally reconfigure what education means for students, teachers and parents in Los Angeles,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.

[Who wrote that meaningless crap? You’re not ‘pouring the foundations’, you are announcing that you are ‘pouring the foundations’. Be careful saying, “WILL transform”. How do you know? This is just a big experiment. Chose your words more carefully please. That’s 100% rhetoric. “Fundamentally reconfigure.” We’ll that’s true. Fundamentally good or bad is the question.]

“This is the first time that the communities of Los Angeles and the school district are committing – as partners – to changing the culture and conditions, and at our lowest-performing schools.”

[It is? What the heck have they been trying to do the past thirty years? Deming says beware meaningless exhortations. Just because you proclaim, “This is the first time...” Doesn’t mean it is the first time it has happened, yet. Just because you say everyone is committing, well the parents have not showed up yet to prove commitment. I’m going to make an exhortation a la Villaraigosa. Zuma Dogg has partnered with the people of Los Angeles for the first time to commit to jumping out of our cars and taking much more mass transportation! (That doesn’t mean it’s the case.)]

“This creates a framework for a partnership that will foster innovation and student achievement in our schools,” said Superintendent Brewer. “Our commitment is to work together to propose specific partnerships to families of schools, with approval of partnership contracts by the Board of Education in the coming months. Our mutual goal is to work collaboratively to ensure that children in these schools graduate from high school college-prepared and career ready.” [See Brewer knows how to avoid propaganda/rhetoric through strategic wording: Words like “foster” and ”mutual goal” keep keeps it credible, as opposed to Antonio’s exhortations how “for the first time” this “will” happen.].

Of Disguises and Legends

CurbedLA has recollects when the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank (now Bob Hope Airport) was camouflaged as a rural neighborhood during World War II to avoid enemy bombing. However they also repeat the age old urban legend that Jack Warner - then head of the Warner Brothers Studios down the street was terrified the Japanese would mistake his sound stages for Lockheed that he painted an arrow on the roof of one of them that said "LOCKHEED - THAT WAY."

Not only is the item not true in fact part of the ruse was to mask the studio as Lockheed so the Japanese would not get suspicious. For many years after one of the sound stages bore the leftover letters "HEED AIRCRAFT COMPANY," obviously the remanants of a fake Lockheed sign. By the way Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica - now Santa Monica Airport - was similarly disguised.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Movin' On Up

Just when you thought LA was getting more dense than ever (and no I don't mean mentally) - the City serves up: more density! The City is dealing with a new state law that allows for added density despite zoning laws if a development includes a certain amount of affordable housing.

Now you know the old dead Republican mayor respects private property rights and that developers should be able to build what they want without silly affordable housing shell games. However if it helps increase inventory and hence dropping the prices for young adults seeking home ownership, all the more better. Now I know that most of you will knee jerk against that being deficient of the libertarian free thinking gene, but I will not hold that against you.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Zuma Dogg Meets New LAUSD School Board and Steve Barr of Green Dot (Kinda the same thing?!?!)

Zuma Dogg has been talking about LAUSD since a little over a year now, since AB 1381 first came through LA City Council chambers for a vote Mayor Villaraigosa needed to send his mayoral takeover plan up to Sacramento (which eventually became AB 1381).

And it's been countless hours not only on City TV 35, but most the radio on Mark "Mr. K Germain's (old) KABC show, and now on his K-Talk 1150 show warning about concerns with the mayor's shady AB 1381 bill, and now shady takeover of the LAUSD school board through his 4 out of 7 majority. (And it appears as though Marlene Kanter will be cooperating with the other four, on certain occasions.)

One thing was pretty clear by reading the annunal order of business and by attending yesterday's meeting: The four mayoral backed boardmembers are there to keep Superintendent David Brewer on a tight leash, and not really let him take charge and do it his way.


Dr. Richard Vladovick appears to be the CM Parks of the bunch (fiscalist), but didn't attack Brewer, too hard, on an issue he challenged; and Brewer ended up getting the flexibility he needed on the issue.

It's obvious though, that Yoli Flores Aguilar is the "bad cop" in the mayor's camp, who appeared to be reading a speech of a piece of paper in front of her. And it sure did sound exactly like the stuff ZD has heard out of mayoral spin doctors (some seen here on this blog). Hilarious. And as soon as she came off the page, she tanked.

Then, this rookie boardmember (Yoli Flores Aguilar), decides to start pushing around Superintendent Brewer, hollering how there's waste and beuracracy to find the money she was demanding.

Hey Yoli...chill out, babe. We all know LAUSD is a black-hole of waste and beuarcracy: But your second meeting is not time to start looking like you are the enemy of the school board. You gotta work on your diplomacy. A little PR panashe.

I mean Yoli, take a look what I said. I had a lot more to say, and everyone has heard me say it on radio, tv and blog. But that was my first meeting, so I didn't go in blazing like my 50th Council meeting. You are only on your second meeting. So chill babe! You're being devicive.

Meanwhile, the future does NOT look good for LAUSD for all the reasons I feared a year ago on Mr. K's show. You basically have a Brady Bunch situation. Two famlies thrown together and told to play nice in the sandbox.

But they are deciding to play "tug of war". What you have is the previous three members of the school board (and probably David Brewer) who are towing the teacher's union line (pulling UTLA's side of the rope); while you have the other four members on a mission to take the ball out the failing LAUSD hands. (Sorry when I say "failing", that DOES seem to be the perception.)

That's where mi amigo Steve Barr comes in. One of the big issues at LAUSD was Locke in Watts, that was there for approval of a first time Charter partnership between a private operator (Green Dot) and LAUSD.

This deal is different because it's not just LAUSD approving a Charter School for Barr's Green Dot to operate. At Locke, we are talking a "partnership" between the Broad/Gates backed "public school" operator and LAUSD.

I asked Barr if Charter's are a better idea because they can produce better results for the same amount of money (or less money) because they don't have the beauracy of LAUSD, isn't teaming up with LAUSD dragging down the efficeincy, right off the bat?

Barr says his goal is to help LAUSD learn how to operate like a Charter themselves. Teaching them his model and tricks of the trade. So instead of just giving LAUSD some sushi, he wants to teach them how to fish.

And Barr says he is perfectly willing to work with LAUSD in any capacity in helping the school board operate more like a Charter. (Which is supposed to be more efficently operated.)

AND, I was fortunate to be able to walk over to Green Dot offices, just down the street from LAUSD (temporary headquarters only) and I got to see the whole operation. And I must say, it does look pretty steal. Looked a lot like the radio stations I used to work at. And the small staff of employees ran about 10 schools out of the office.

Now, ZD has blogged and shouted about his concerns with the charter movement regarding the $20 billion construction and facilities budget and the "front-end loaded" management contracts that allows way too much of the money to be skimmed off the top, the way people are concerned Charters are skimming all the top students off the LAUSD crop.

However, ZD does feel, even if a CERTAIN amount of the money is falling off the truck in the proccess, if Charter operators are able to raise the API scores; then I guess it can't be any worse than the money being wasted by the public LAUSD.

See, Charters fall into that catagory of "taking public money and handing it over to the private sector through non-profit groups. But they are not required to fill out a form 700 and there is no accountability.

Now here are a few problems I see with Charters, besides previously mentioned issues.

Now Green Dot HAS proven to go into some pretty challenging districts and improve API scores. (Especailly in reading. Math seems to be harder to catch students up to par with once kids are at the high school level. So Green Dot hopes to open some middle schools to start teaching math earlier.) Point is, if ZD is not mistaken, Steve has gone into some pretty tough districts and improved the situation.

So now Eli Braod and Bill Gates have invested in Green Dot. And Barr has a long history with ZD's amigo Antonio V, of the 213. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too long of a history for the comfort of some of ZD's LAUSD mentors. But you can't turn back time, Steve Barr has ten schools; he has the knowlegable David Tokofsky working with him; and yeah...Although Green Dot isn't the only Charter operator out there, isn't it kinda the mayor's prefered vendor? Of course.

So with the relationship with the Mayor's office, Broad and Gates (and whoever else) backing his effort; I think Green Dot wants to open about 100 charter schools in the LAUSD district.

Only problem is where are they going to build them? All the existing (already built) space is taken up by commerial owners like Cushman-Wakefield, or whoever. So it's always easier and cheaper to build a new school, I guess.

So if there isn't enough space to build a hundred new schools (500 students per school), look for a bunch of people to start losing their homes under Eminent Domian, if Green Dot is able to "max-out".

Now, maybe they should be able to take the ball and run with it, because everyone knows it's easier and cheaper to buy a new tv, than to fix a broken one. So the mayor, barr, four board members (and everyone who wears their color tshirts) feels LAUSD and their status quo teachers union need to be stripped of the ball.

Now some folks do not like the way the mayor's team (and Nucklehead Nunez' team) played ball during AB 1381 and during the board elections. (Where mayor spent millions of privately raised dollars from people pending aprovals on some pretty big projects with the city.)

But as far as the Mayor, Barr, Broad, Riordan, Nunez and anyone else who wanted COMPLETE mayoral takeover, if not this watered down version: You can't argue that they needed an intervention. And Charter schools SHOULD be able to do the job better because they can have smaller classroom sizes, more attention to the student, less beuracracy and all that.

And the reality is, you ain't gonna fix LAUSD this way. It's a tug-of-war, I think Brewer is the greatest and I wish I could go with him, but there's way too much beuracracy and diviciness and the direction is heading to Charters.

So here are some concerns:

* If Green Dot wants to do a hundred schools, is the community gonna roll over when homes have to be taken. (Tenant displacement)

* There are MANY different Charter operators. You got Green Dot and you got Semilla. So like any industry, bad competition gives the whole industry a bad name. Here's the concern. If you have a hundred Charter schools with a hundred different operators, how do you control the uniforminty and standards? At that point, it's all about the API. But then, you better make sure every single Charter is re-approved each year based on one thing and one thing only: API scores. And if you miss them "X" amount of years in a row...ADIOS!

* Charters are paid by per student attendance. So if you have problematic kids in some of these Charters, they are not disciplined or kicked out because it means less money to the school operator. So they don't crack down on problem kids at some of the shadier Charters.

But overall, as concerned as ZD is about taking public money and handing it over to private non-[rofit operators who are not required to fill out a Form 700, and all the conflicts ZD has expressed concern and proof of regarding Charters, and the "front-end loaded" management contracts concerns (that skims too much off the top, and you have Belmont Part Infinity.

HOWEVER, ZD does feel after meeting Steve Barr of Green Dot that the guy believes in what he is doing, believes he has the plan and can replicate it. And he has the leadership qualities to move it forward and have people like Bill Gates and Eli Broad support you.

My computer time is about to end. And that's a great place to end this starting point thread about LAUSD.

Looks like it's gonna be a tug of war between the mayor's team and the teachers union. With the union supporters trying to defend a guerilla warfare attack by Villaraigosa's team. And ZD says LAUSD is going down. Next step, with more students going to Charters, the mayor's team will want to cut LAUSD administration budget accordingly.

AND WHY DOES ZUMA DOGG THINK THIS VIDEO SHOWS THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION. (Medium, not content) I hope to bring more of this to LAUSD and Charters.



Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Wednesday

Those of you who like to fight Wal-Marts and Home Depots and other "evil" big box stores just got clowned by Mayor Villaraigosa. Xinua - the Chinese state news agency - reports in order to generate some much needed sales tax, Mayor Villaraigosa has plans to do some major league recruiting of big boxes, having already met with the heads of Home Depot and Costco. Sorry Sunland Tujunga! By the way unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers are allegedly gearing up for big astro-turf efforts creating questionable community groups to fight Wal-Mart.

The Tennie Pierce Dog Food Trial moves forward. A judge has rejected a motion by the city to dismiss the lawsuit.

The City of Santa Barbara is not going to paint a blue line across the city to show where the water will overrun the city when Al Gore's global warming nonsense happens. The reason? Nah, it was not they had come to their senses but because someone was going to sue.

For some reason Mayor Villaraigosa showed up to check out the new big giant Orange Line Bus in NoHo but didn't stick around for the ride. Like a bunch of dumb-ass lemmings, all the assembled VIPs followed suit and left.

Most couples register for their wedding gifts at Macy's, Lowe's or even Wal-Mart. But when you're getting married to a City Councilman you get custom legislation giving your property special privileges to benefit your planned real estate development.

What is it with the Westside? There's either strange stenches or hums or gang members who are really not there. Is it in the water? And with the Westside White Guy on vacation this week, we're not going to learn anytime soon.

If you're a liberal it's okay to be bigoted if your minority target happens to be Republican. That's why The Today Show's Matt Lauer can call recently resigned US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez "a pinata," or Chris Matthews can label alleged gay Republican Senator Larry Craig a "sexual deviant" and leftist cartoonist Ted Rall is allowed to refer to Condoleeza Rice as a "house nigga."


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Can BFF Núñez Keep MAV From Shooting Himself In The Other Foot?

L.A.-based and statewide enviro groups have been wackier than usual, losing considerable sleep over the rumor that in the next 24 hours Mayor Villaraigosa will fax a letter to Best Friend Forever Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Núñez that could effectively kill Long Beach Sen. Alan Lowenthal’s SB 974 and four years’ worth of legislative work to clean up the Port of Los Angeles by adding a $30 per container fee on goods shipped in through ports of Long Beach, Oakland and Los Angeles.

Word has it that, instead of $500 million being raised annually to immediately electrify the port to alleviate smog, or create grade separations to relieve truck and traffic congestion and raise money to pay for clean engines for the O&O truck drivers, L.A.’s progressive, environmentally positive mayor wants all of the money to build not one, but two new bridges in the port area – a move that all on both sides agree (except, obviously, MAV) in the short term would not only worsen air quality, but increase port congestion and seriously delay any real progress on goods movement – oh, and all this as trade to the ports is expected to triple by 2025… Apparently, the mayor wants to take another legislative shortcut (remember the “Gloria Romero Education Reform Act”?) by tinkering with Lowenthal’s bill instead of proposing a bond measure or bridge building fee of his own. Meanwhile, substantial – and we mean SUBSTANTIAL -- pressure is being applied to the Speaker to speak common sense to his BFF, but it looks like MAV may keep his heels dug in with what the pissed off enviros are now calling his “Bridges Bill,” with the reality being MAV could effectively jettison half a billion $$ annually into The Land Of Nowhere when all the clean air folks pull their support and go screaming off into the night.

If this happens, look for a major and public parting of the ways between MAV and his environmental base. BFF to the rescue?

Dystopia Now

Enormously important editorial in today's Daily News, the kind of editorial you don't see in newspapers too beholden* to real estate ads (hey---it's like they've been reading along!)

LOS Angeles' politicians want to Manhattanize downtown by relaxing rules on tall buildings and allowing super-small living spaces. They're ready to commit billions of dollars to a subway to the sea that won't be operational for decades. And they are gearing up to lift size-restriction limits on new residential buildings citywide, provided that the buildings include some affordable housing.

Hold on a moment.

All this speeding toward densifying L.A. with little preparation and mitigation should have the city's residents worried sick...

And why doesn't it?

I think in large part it's been because of what an abomination the Bush presidency has been. People in Hollywood, downtown, even on the westside can understand that abomination. They'll go to a protest rally every three months, see the right film, and feel like they're politically engaged.

But these same people will walk down their own block and see houses they can't afford, a homeless guy with a shopping cart, a couple of stray dogs and feral cats, and a forty-unit condo going up, and not even wonder about how the hell all that has happened to their own block.

The truth is: at this point, what goes on in your local City Council affects you more directly than the abstract, distant happenings in Washington DC. We need to support the troops and we need to solve the problem of the ill-advised war. But if you think signing on for Barack or Hillary or Rudy here in 2007 is going to make a difference in 2017---well, it won't make one bit of difference over what happens on your own damn block over the next decade, at least compared to what Antonio, Eric, Tom, Wendy, Janice, and their crew do today.

The readers here don't need this message; they already know it. But they do need to spread the word: all politics is not local anymore, and that's the problem. Our City's political focus should be far more local than it is.

Our City is being sold out to big out-of-town developers daily. Because of decisions being made today, in a decade Los Angeles will be just another overcrowded, dystopic Pacific rim city, like Shanghai or Seoul. And the irony is, it's not going to be the fault of immigration, which is even becoming a bit of a red herring at this point. It's going to be the fault of out-of-city developers, the developers who act as mere agents for larger development companies, which build units upon units for people who don't even live here; and it's going to be the fault of the pols who let them run the table on the City of Los Angeles in the late zeroes.

*ed. courtesy Mr. Hoff.


Fear and loathing right on your block

It's bad enough to be scared by media into spending precious minutes of your life worrying about the West Nile Virus crisis.

After all, a whopping 120 Californians have caught the WNVirus this year, rendering your chances of you succumbing to it roughly the same as you winning a Pick Six at Santa Anita---whether you go to the track or not. (Note how media frame these numbers, though---"a five-fold increase"!)

But here's the latest fearmongering twist on it all: the fishwrap of record wants you to worry about the West Nile Virus crisis whenever you worry about the subprime foreclosure crisis.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Whatever you do today, don't go outside. You might pass a foreclosed house with a swimming pool and catch a disease that has thus far afflicted 120 out of 37,000,000 of us this year.


Trojans Turn Down Beer at Beach!

CityNerd blogs about some strange happenings at Dockweiler Beach Monday. I actually heard something odd myself there Saturday night: USC students refusing to trade some of their extra firewood for beer. Indeed, the students cited their unwillingness to run afoul of the law and drink on the beach.

This is sort of the opposite of another group of college students featuring a first son who also recently held a beach bonfire. By the way, the young Trojans GAVE some firewood to the group who had run out - free of charge (or beer).

By the way CityNerd's experience was far more odd - he discovered some non-English speaking Europeans apparently burning reams of medical records.

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Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Tuesday

Zuma Dogg will have an on the scene report later but Tuesday a big battle is brewing between Mayor Villaraigosa's bought and paid for school board members and the UTLA - a vote will be taken on whether or not to transform troubled Locke High School into a cluster of ten autonomous charter schools under the successful Green Dot banner. The battle gets interesting as Mayoral buddy and fellow Mirthala banger Fabian Nunez has declared a mini-war on charter schools which really aren't supported by his union buddies.

Media Daily News reports that despite the telenovela aspects of the VillarSalinas affair, the sordid tale is part of the growing influence of the Hispanic media. On the other hand the stinky mess has probably inflicted some battle damage on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Lofts at Cunard? Could be. An investor group has bought the rights to operate the Queen Mary and develop the watefront around it for $43 million. Well actually they plan to add hotels, shops and restaurants. But condos could be a cool addition!

Zev's Orange Line in the Valley is going to get some double-double buses that with seating for up to 100 passengers rivals some commuter airlines. How about stop screwing around with the bus and converting the damn thing to light rail. Better yet technology exists to run the Red Line up from below NoHo and down the Orange Line's right of way, creating seamless transportation from Downtown LA to the West Valley. Anyone want to step up? Nah, a good idea is too hard to implement.

And finally yet another politician has been arrested for being Gay while Republican. This time reports allege that Idaho Senator Larry Craig was trolling for penis in a Minnesota bathroom when police caught him. I'm with Tammy Bruce that these closeted cavemen who hate on gay people (and make it harder to make the GOP a big tent) should put up or shut up and that just because they're gay doesn't mean they have to sign on to ridiculous hate crime laws.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Is Villaraigosa's New #2 Policy Advisor Going To Step Down As President of His "Public Counsel" Group?



FEATURED COMMENT: MAV appoints the president and chief executive of Public Counsel to be his new deputy chief of staff, so that MAV can have the backing of 3,600 volunteer lawyers to defend the $2,500 toilet in an affordable project?

Is this move by Antonio like taking a shady dandilion and blowing it all over the city when it comes to non-profit/affordable housing scams? Is this his way of setting up the privatization shady factor at a mushroom rate of geometric progression. Man, the Charter school operators must really be jealous.

Based on (with excerpts from) latimes.com article Click here for entire article: Mayor Hires Activist As Policy Advisor

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced today he had hired Dan Grunfeld as his No. 2 policy advisor/Deputy Chief of Staff. Grunfeld is president and chief executive of Public Counsel, the largest organization in the United States that provides legal aid to the poor and disenfranchised.

Grunfeld will coordinate Villaraigosa's policy agenda.

Public Counsel has a $7-million budget and provides $66 million in legal representation each year. With 3,600 volunteer lawyers, the group helps low income communities form nonprofits and nonprofit developers who want to build affordable housing.

The Beverlywood resident said he had a background in policy, having teamed up with Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley to fight elder abuse and having sued Kaiser Permanente over the alleged dumping of homeless patients on skid row.

QUESTION #1: Is Mr. Public Counsel going to remain Mr. Public Counsel now that he is Villarigosa Counsel? I'm sure he is and the Times just forgot to mention it, because it sounds like that would be a Conflict Counsel?

It says on Public Counsel's 990 form from 2004 (signed July 2006), that Dan's position is "full time" and since he got paid $184,560 plus $21,509 in benefits (including plenty of public and government grant money) the people want to make sure he isn't losing any of that "full time" spending it with Antionio as his #2 policy advisor.

AND, ZD is interested in contacting Public Counsel for some of those free legal services for people like me. Can I call him at Public Counsel to help me sue the City on a matter that is of interest to me. Anyway, although I did not read in the Times article that he would be stepping down from Public Counsel, I'm sure he is. Cause there seems to be more conflicts than a Glassell Park NC meeting.


PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO WARN ME ABOUT THE WAY ANTONIO OPERATES. (See "The Godfather") And now it is all kinda coming together, with all these non-profit/affordable housing dots being connected in the mind of Zuma Dogg. Here's some unreleased material that seems to fit now:

The way Villaraigosa camp works is the following. Villaraigosa team hires people away from outside companies, organizations and non-profit organizations that he seeks to destroy and/or takeover.


For example, the Mayor wants to take over LAUSD, so he infiltrates the school board with his people; and hires away from within the LAUSD administration and puts them to work for him.

Or he’ll hire away legal advisors and consultants to get them on his side, and get their knowledge and contacts and they all get put to work on these gravy train wagons he sets up and sends off into the streets.

He manages to get his friends elected onto neighborhood council boards, and it’s no secret he has moles throughout the council system.

If he needs to squelch/control the media; he hires reporters to work for him as publicists, consultants, PR, etc.

He wants support from an activist group; he hires from the group that he wants to infiltrate/get inside scoop/information from. And people claim he has a few undocumented people on his staff. You won’t find them on the payroll, because they are paid as “consultants” through non profits.

ANYWAY...if ZD is concerned about the affordable housing/non-profit boondoggle, this looks like the master consultant to hire away from the other side to help you set up a bunch of non-profit shady factories to get as much as the affordable housing money that will be rolled out to help "fix the problem" of all these people flooding to this great city over the next decade.

See this story about "fixing the problem": I'm afraid it's related!


It Might Take A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION To Solve The City's Homeless, Housing and Traffic Problems Since Local News Media Is Like "Tommy"

Why Solve City Problems When City Officials Are Making Money Off The Problem?
by Zuma Dogg

If you are able to think like this, you may have a future as Mayor, Councilmember, elected official or Gravy Train Riding Crony (How to think like a successful elected politician):

First of all, if there is no apparent problem, create one. There is no money to be made unless you are raising and spending money. So find a problem, because where there is a problem, there is a solution. And the solution will have to involve new money. (Yea!)

But, a lot of times, there are creative solutions that don’t cost a lot of money, or no money at all. Now THAT’S a real problem for a politician. Make sure you don’t let any of THOSE solutions get out there. So remember, if you want to model a powerful elected official in the City of Los Angeles, like a mayor or councilmember, if you are able to find a problem that needs fixing, but it won’t take a lot of new money to throw at the problem; don’t waste your time. You won’t be able to generate any interest. And you won’t be able to generate any money for you and your cronies.

So once you filter out the non-profitable problems that do not require the infusion of new money, and you have selected a warm and fuzzy City problem (like kids, homeless, affordable housing, seniors, crime reduction, etc.) that you can put a good spin on – you are ready to start hiring consultants, lobbyists, cronies, friends, relatives, whoever else you can use to drive up total cost. And oh yeah, you will need plenty of contractors. (The more the better!)

And at the same time you are ready to start asking for the new money needed to fix this important new problem that needs the full attention and resources of the City. Perhaps there is some bond money available, you can raise taxes, subsidize, create new taxes, invent new fees, and solicit money from the private sector. (But it almost always comes from the public revenue sources.)

Now you have a ballgame! A win-win situation. Except for the pueblos who end up losing by paying for it. Because now that you have money being thrown at the problem, you wanna make sure they don’t stop throwing it. And one way to make sure the problem never gets solved is to siphon enough money off the top so there isn’t enough to get the job done.

Then, they come back and ask for (and get) more money to keep the gravy train rollin’ down the shady non-profit highway!

IF ZUMA DOGG WAS MAYOR, he would put together a City, County and State task force and start solving these problems immediately. One of the problems is that there is too much finger pointing, and blame-deflection instead of simply stamping out the fire and fixing the problem. ZD is of the belief all the right answers are out there in the community and inside the City, County and State departments. There is just too much bureaucracy, and too many people surfing the wave of public funds for their own financial enhancement.


First of all, we need to question the inventory of some of these affordable housing construction projects. ZD hears it’s an open secret with at least one (certain) citywide construction company that the city gave a bunch of money to for redevelopment, not only about the lazy-ass, shabby work; but looting the materials purchased by the housing authority for these public work projects and they end up on other people’s private jobs.


The issue needs a Federal investigation because the local jurisdiction may be compromised at the City and State level.

We want to start seeing some accountability with all of this public money. Because you can’t seem to fix the traffic, schools, homeless problem, crime or anything else. That’s because inappropriately excessive amount of the money makes it into people’s pockets and the rest is wasted through bureaucracy, fraud, waste and abuse.

I KNOW THE POLITICIANS AREN’T GOING TO JUMP OFF THE GRAVY TRAIN, JUST YET. SO LET’S START ATTACKING THE FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSE WITH THE MONEY THAT IS LEFT OVER! (That’s a good middle-ground starting point. And who knows, if you are able to improve the efficiency with the rest of the money that you don’t pilfer, maybe THAT will be enough to start seeing a noticeable improvement.)

These public-private shell game schemes are getting more and more complicated. (See Grand Ave Project where even the CRA spokesperson says, “The most complicated deal in every aspect. Bureaucratic? Yes.”) And as the depth of shadiness gets deeper and deeper; accountability and transparency gets shadier and shadier. It’s getting harder to what is happening in the darkness on the edge of town where it all goes down.

And if the mainstream media would shine a little light on this darkness, I think they would recognize a lot of familiar faces. Again, it will probably take a FEDERAL INVESTIGATION to fix this local problem, that is quickly becoming a NATIONAL problem.


Toilet Water?

The idea of "toilet to tap," that is recycling waste water (from your toilet and other places) back into water that could be used for bathing, drinking, watering your lawn, whatever is back. However local politicians who want you to drink your own toilet water apparently think that they can use more water than anyone else and come up with asinine reasons why.

You may remember that the City had proposed this gross idea several years ago but quickly dropped it upon the outrage of citizens and Council Members from the San Fernando Valley.

"This is human waste," said Lori Dinkin, president of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. "I'm very uneasy about that."

The original plan called for waste water to be filtered as it seeps through the ground. It would be sent to homes in the North Hollywood area, Studio City, Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks and Pacoima.

As this plan will probably be foisted on residents of those communities first residents there should call on Council Members Wendy Greuel, Tom LaBonge, Jack Weiss and Richard Alarcon to oppose such a stinky move.


Housing Scandal Brewing?

This might require some feeding into Zuma's bat-computer. Is there a major, major scandal brewing at the Los Angeles Housing Authority? A month ago an authority manager, Victor Taracena was fired after he was alleged to have awarded Authority contracts to family members and politically connected individuals in CD14. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the attorney for the Authority's chief investigator Abel Ruiz says he was fired after Ruiz complained that "people inside the agency interfered with his efforts to get to the bottom of an $800,000 bid-rigging scheme."

Some of our readers have made a possible connection, alleging more specific shadiness within a particular development in CD 14 that involves a non-profit organization. And we know some of the issues Zuma Dogg has brought up regarding non-profits I am sure you all have something more to say.

Is the Times onto a bigger story? Lacking their own version of Woodward and Bernstein if they are, I hope they have done their homework.

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Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Monday

Don Garza blogs about an interesting event at the Los Angeles Mission. It's one of those feel good events where celebrities and yuppie scum show up to feel good about themselves that they did a few minutes of volunteer work and supposedly made a difference. Mayor Sam has talked about this type of thing before - and while the event itself was wonderful and helped some people - it does nothing to solve the problem. I believe the only way to erase homelessness is to take it out of the hands of the government and to really let non-profits like the Mission go to town. Individuals who are not homeless who want to do something should join these groups and run programs to help get the truly needy homeless into self-sufficiency and the overwhelming majority of homeless who are mentally ill into institutions where they will receive the medical and psychological care they need and not warehouse them on piss soaked city streets (in my view a very cruel and inhumane thing to do).

The LA City Council couldn't get it together but the San Fernando City Council managed to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. I am sure the House will get right on that.

The City of Santa Clarita is shooting mad that the developer of some unincorporated land in the Northern San Fernando Valley has made a deal with the City of Los Angeles to annex the land into the City and under Clowncil control. Besides that the move would create - ack - a common border between the two cities, something that does not exist at this point.

And finally LAist has a post that Shanghai, China developed a subway system that is 2-3 times the size of LA's Metro system and began construction several afters LA's got started. But maybe they used slave labor?


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Is Fabian Nunez Trying To Prevent The State Board of Education From Opening Charter Schools?

Why is Fabian trying to keep the State from opening Charter Schools?
by Zuma Dogg

First of all, remember Fabian Nunez wants to extend his own terms as Speaker of the Assembly so he has a place to chill until he can run for some other office, like Mayor of Los Angeles, based on the guy one notch higher up the ladder (or at least used to be) Antonio Viagrasosa.

Now to get something like your own term extension passed, you have to make enough special interests and unions happy until you know you “have” it.

So first of all, he made the Native American Casino operators happy with his casino expansion efforts. (So they won’t get in his way.)

And now, those pesky teachers are hittin’ Fabian up with their demands, or else they’ll vote against his own term limit extension plan. And although the teachers union is really supposed to like Charter schools, because they hope Charters hire these union teachers; the teachers union is against Charters because they don’t hire enough union teachers.

[I heard that at Green Dot, only 40%=50% of teachers are fully credentialed. In one school, only 3 out of 22 teachers are credentialed. By state law, this number must be equal to LAUSD, which is 90% credentialed across the general district.]

So Fabian has to run through these motions (Senate Bill, actually) that will prevent the California State Board of Education from operating Charters for more than three years, at which point the local school board in the area would have say over the re-approval or denial of the Charter. (And most local school boards aren’t thrilled about Charters from the outside operating on their “turf”.) So the Charter operators like Green Dot wouldn’t want to get into the game with only a three year profit-making opportunity. (I mean, they wouldn’t want to help kids for only three years.)

HOWEVER, Zuma Dogg would like to point out that like all of these political stunts put on by these political dancing monkeys, the people (in this case the union) doesn't end up getting what they wanted:

First of all, Nuckhead Nunez already knows Arnold will veto it. Even though they tied $18 million in “warm and fuzzy” money that is supposed to go to Charters, The Terminator will not let you “terminate” his ability to operate Charters in his own state. (That’s giving away a whole lot of political power and leverage.)

So he makes the teachers union happy by going through the motions they want him to go through, knowing the Governor will veto the damn thing. And there is no way Nunez will be able to get THAT ball into the end zone with Schwarzenegger and Eli Broad watching the end zone and making sure that 2/3 majority never happens.

But here’s the magic of Fabian’s political double-dipping that is so transparent I either must be wrong, or people aren’t worry about this stuff:

SB 92 wants to put an end to The State Board of Education from opening up Charter Schools. But it doesn’t say that the local school boards cannot continue to approve Charter schools. As a matter of fact, I think LAUSD and other local school boards can still approve Charters in their districts.

So then, all that this would really be accomplishing is clearing out any competition from the State so that the Nunez-friendly LAUSD can approve all the Charters in their kingdom, without interference from State. And remember, there is a lot of money to be made running Charters, because there appears to be less accountability than at regular LAUSD schools. (And if the teachers union felt these Charters were going to be a viable employment source for teachers, I think they would be for the schools, instead of against them.)

So ZD was thinking to himself, “Why would Nunez want to prevent Charters from being approved, when I thought that was his main mission to accomplish under AB 1381?

So you have to ask yourself: What is the most important thing to a politician? Answer: Remaining in office. And Fabian needs a term-extension until he finds some other office to hold. (Like Mayor of LA City, when Antonio moves on.) So he had to make the casino operators happy, and the other powerful entity, the teachers union made their voices heard and so Fabian had to go into “survival” mode and do the homework his teachers gave him. But who cares anyway…cause Arnold will never sign it, the powers that be will never let it get a 2/3 majority; and it appears that all it would do anyway, is clear out the State competition. So don’t expect Simon Cowell to be showing up to any Charter approval hearings (if this is passed) proclaiming, “It looks like we have a REAL competition!” (And we all know competition is good for any market. But if Nuckehead Nunez gets his way there will be “less” competition.)

Zuma Dogg Has Paranoid Delusions on How The City Allows Developers To Waive 30 Affordable Units for a $900,000 Contribution

HOW ABOUT A PUBLIC VETTING ON THE POSSIBILITY THAT ANY OF THIS COULD BE HAPPENING. Not saying it is, although I AM concerned it COULD be happening. (And when I say "could" I think I'm using the term mildly.)

Previous ZD article on Pak/Kay/Villaraigosa's Asia trip and caviar planning dreams

COULD THIS BE THE SCENARIO? (Grand Ave, Jr.) I HOPE ZD IS TOTALLY WRONG, AS USUAL! But one thing I am not wrong about, because it is not me who says it, but, you cannot have a vibrant downtown economy as you are planning on if all the rich people live in one area, and the middle-income, low-income workers are commuting in from the outskirts.)

"Just down Wilshire at Western Avenue, construction has begun on a 22-story condominium tower and upscale retail center rising above the Purple Line subway station...An enthusiastic Villaraigosa was on hand for the 2006 groundbreaking of the Solair Wilshire -- Pak and developer Bruce Rothman's joint venture with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority above the Purple Line subway station. "Chris is an innovative, creative architect who has his pulse on the community and the wherewithal to make things happen," Villaraigosa said."

"Koar Wilshire Western, LLC and Metro today announced the start of construction for a major new joint development project on the Metro Red Line at Wilshire/Western, a development that signifies a new day for truly urban, transit-centered living in Los Angeles. Scheduled to open in 2008, the $160 million "Solair Wilshire" project will be a 22-story, contemporary glass-walled building that will contain a mix of uses, including 186 for-sale condominium units, 40,000 square feet of commercial/retail space, common areas for the public, subterranean parking garage and 12-space bus layover zone. At 2.6 acres, it is the first mixed-use high-rise development to be built for the Koreatown / Wilshire Center community since the Metro Red Line opened in 2000."

ZD’s Bat-Appraiser says that piece of land could be worth at least $20-$25 million. Due to it’s very excellent location right above the MTA station. (186 condo units; 40,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. Huh…huh…huh…ZUMA DOGG wants to own a piece of property right over MTA, too, y’all!)

"The joint development was made possible through an exclusive ground lease agreement with Metro in 2003. Metro should receive $350,000 annually and periodic rent escalations."

[$350,000 a year? They only have to pay $350,000 a year for all that? Please tell me they left out a comma between the three and the five!?!? On a deal of this size, that’s practically giving it away for free. Oh my goodness am I jealous of that deal.

If they are getting such a sweetheart deal, I’m sure they are required to include those required affordable housing units, on-site…right? And based on the numbers, you would think at least 30, riiiiiiight?!?!]

But, "In an effort to increase the supply of affordable housing in the project area, Koar Wilshire Western, LLC has volunteered to contribute $900,000 to the City's Real Property Trust Fund No. 692 entitled "Affordable Housing and Community Amenities in CD-10.""

OH NO…Sounds like legalese code-word talk for, Just donate $900,000 into some account and we’ll let you off the hook on providing the affordable housing. (There’s a reason affordable housing is supposed to be on-site. See http://zumadogg.blogspot.com and see “SCAG” articles.)

And ZD says $900,000 ain’t squat to get off the hook for all that affordable housing!!! So basically, if this is true, it sounds like they get off the hook for about 30 affordable untis, for $900,000 which is the cost of about one or two units. And now, of course, the developer will be able to sell those extra 30 units (that WERE supposed to be affordable, for about $1-$1.5 million. (Who says the City isn’t a shady, gentrifying, society-wrecker who plans badly on top of it?)

But they’ll say, “Oh, we get this great ‘community benefits package” or “A new tree will be planted” and we’ll look the other way on the affordable housing, and all “those people” can simply move further out and commute back in. (Of course we haven’t built the infrastructure and don’t have enough public transportation lines built, but that’ll be the next guy’s problem.)

I hope LAANE doesn’t approve of this. I mean, after all, who decided we could negotiate away the affordable housing for a “benefits package” and whatnot? Did this go through any time of public hearing or vetting process? Or did a few smart people make the decision on behalf of the entire City? And would the executive director of LAANE, also be able to sit on the CRA board? Because then, you would fall into that perceived shadiness/conflict of interest category that I keep hearing is so legal, where you have one person having more than one vote on these projects. (Does anyone know if this could be happening?)

What affordable housing advocate group would allow the Mayor and the City to waive 30 affordable units on-site for a mere $900,000, when they are already getting the property for only $350,00 a year as it is?

I think we need an affordable housing advocacy group, to watch the affordable housing advocacy group. Who is LAANE fighting for anyway? The renters or the Mayor and his developer pals that love to throw accolades back and forth to each other?

"Consistent with the mayor's vision of creating a transit-oriented, mixed-use lifestyle and meeting the community's desire for a significant development in the heart of the Wilshire Center, this project will be the proud cornerstone that will spawn growth and the continued revitalization of the area," said Developer Bruce Rothman of KOAR Wilshire Western, LLC.
[Chris Pak's partner]

And ZD is concerned that not only is $900,000 not enough to get away with this, they’ll end up getting all of it back, and more in the form of grant money/subsidies to build some of that profitable non-profit housing that ties into this.

I think these guys are taking lessons from the Grand Ave business model. And I think we need a moratorium on the use of the term "cornerstone" regarding downtown revitalization efforts.


Sunday Morning Mimosa

If the fishwrap of record gets any more boring, try Sudoko.

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Here's Jim Newton's neutered interview of Eli Broad. In characteristic publicist fashion, Jim Newton gets Eli Broad to talk about everyone in town except Eli Broad.

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Huge comment of the day yesterday:

Today's LAT article (8/25/2007), "Housing agency fires auditor", the electronic online version is now 3 paragraphs shorter than the printed version - missing the last 3 short paragraphs. 3 very short paragraphs missing. Wow!!! What is going on?

[The online version]

One would think that it would be the other way around. A shorter version may be need to fit the printed page, and the electronic version would have no space limitation and can remain slightly longer. But, no, not here.

What is in the 3 missing paragraphs?


I am going to retype one missing paragraph (found in the printed paper):

"The Estrada Courts group, a nonprofit run out of an Eastside housing project, received four contracts collectively worth about $95,000. It has employed former City Councilman Richard Alatorre as a consultant."

Richard Alatorre? The mentor and current senior advisor to Mayor V; and the mentor to and former boss of Robin K?

The remaining two paragrpahs named Gustavo Valdivia, the former staff member of current Councilman Jose Huizar; and also named former Councilman Nick Pacheco.

Did someone call LAT's editor to remove those 3 paragraphs???

Answer: probably not, only because the cut-and-paste people at the Times are already conditioned to anticipate the editor's concerns, even before they arise.

One thing for sure: online, you can't plead "but we didn't have the space..."

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Daily News suggests that Countrywide used a misleading script to court cold-call customers. This is a good article. Sounds like they weren't exactly fully disclosed when they made the calls. That could be a big legal problem for Countrywide's top officers if it were proven. In financial services, lots of officers are obliged to sign off on such scripts.

Because everything at a financial institution involving sales calls is tightly scripted, a general script for cold calling definitely exists somewhere.

Hopefully, someone will get curious enough about it to subpoena it.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

LAUSD Superintendent DAVID BREWER Delivers Inspiring Leadership Speech At Annual Meeting (Passed ZD's "Deming Checklist" with an "A+")

Oh no...Zuma Dogg may now only be the #2 top Deming expert in the City after LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer, III delivered his (first) Annual Meeting speech to LAUSD educators, yesterday.

As skeptical as I am of the new mayoral-backed majority school board, I am here to say, if nothing else, Superintendent Brewer did what ZD has probably never actually seen delivered in a real life setting: An inspiring leadership speech that passed the Deming checklist flawlessly. For those of you who hear me speak about Deming, and how his methods need to be implemented and are maybe wondering what that means in the real world; start by watching Brewer's speech on this video and the entire speech is posted below:

And Superintendent Brewer, thank you so much for showin' suckaz how it's done!


Thank you fellow superintendent board members, my teammates. Thank you, Jack, for coming. And thank you all for being here.

Click here for video, "Power Point" Presentation and Brewer's ENTIRE SPEECH


Saturday Stroll Through Town

More fishwrap of record misery for LAUSD: the District can't operate its own payroll system, leaving thousands of employees strapped for cash. But what I wonder about most is why the article doesn't get into the purchasing issues. Who signed off on this system? (Answer: the Board itself) Who recommended it? Which software company was willing to deliver something so completely wrong to a school district---which software company was so willing to rip we the people off?

This is a diabolical purchasing/vendor story, and all the Times left out in its coverage was info about the purchasing and info about the vendor. I would bet that the original bids on this go back to the Huizar days, but that's just a guess.

And if that's the way they contract $95 million computer jobs, imagine how they contract all these pricey schools around town they're building.

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Spread 'em: Daily News reports a big Valley raid on gangstas, targeting shot callas.

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Downtown News this morning a little wispy on, er, downtown news. But it's that time of year---so am I. Lots in there however on Little Tokyo---a whole lot, including fragments of the New Otani sale drama (leaving me wondering why and especially how you hide the purchase price of a building---it's fruitless, and it's just viewed as more deception from a group you might already have reason to distrust). The top website story is on the greening of Skid Row.

That's Skid Row, dba and aka Don Garza's Central City East (which we link to because Notorious D-O-N has a link to the iPhone unlock guy, something the Times forgot to include in its own story about it---what's with the Times and giving up links anyway?).

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You may not have heard, but Kathleen Nye Flynn left the Downtown News at the end of last month, to study at the prestigeous Columbia J School. Best of luck to Kathleen, who is very talented as a scribe, and best of luck to the Downtown News filling her Manolos (yeah, Manolos...she's a Manhattanite now!)

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Madamina and I had dinner in Glendale last night. Does anyone know if that historic district motion passed? They're trying to make a preservation zone, Glendale's first, on Royal. But I didn't pick up the story---last I heard they were going to vote on it last Tuesday...

° ° ° ° °

My opinion: Eli Broad's arts school at the base of Grand is shaping up as a complete eyesore. I know we can't argue taste, but the building he rehabbed at UCLA is a hundred times more fetching and dignified than this second cheesy Battlestar Galactica downtown. It's bad enough we already have one in the Cal-Trans building (call that one "100 Mayne").

And I'm no fan of the Disney Hall either; like most good sculpture, it's absurdly uncomfortable when used as furniture, and to sit in most space-strapped seats in the Disney Hall is to yearn for a concert to end, even when listening to music you like. Didn't we already learn everything we needed to know about Eli Broad when he brought thousands of homes to Orange County in which an oversized garage door is the signature architectural element?

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Baffled on a Friday

First off Joe M. and Zuma D. have hit multiple home runs on their stories the last 24 hours. I know the usual defeated, crybaby losers will have plenty to say but I don't give a whoo-ha. This is some solid reporting, analysis and important information they're getting out in the blog-la-sphere. Great job.

Secondly I am bummed I wasn't invited to read at the blogger reading. Maybe next time. I am prepared to regale the attendes with stories of naddering NIMBY naybobs, negatory nanny state control freaks and blathering, blogging dum dums in need of razor blade gargles and play sessions on the freeway.

On to the matter at hand. I found a comment on a post so baffling I had to elevate it to front page status.

Anonymous said:

gtdzMayor sam Said... "I don't agree with Zuma on a
lot of things but I am baffled by the emotional, knee jerk reactions to him."

Many of us work hard and long and to see zuma dog at a city council
meeting playing the fool I feel my tax dollars are being wasted. Or the video of
him disrupting the library or any of his other attention seeking stunts. The dog
lives out of his van and begs for $$, it's not his tax dollars being wasted.

August 23, 2007 9:24 PM

I am baffled as to what tax dollars are being wasted by Zuma Dogg going to public comment - even to the extreme of putting on the Gene Simmons mask (still my favorite) or allegedly dancing like Justin Timberlake? The meeting goes on without Zuma, the Councilmembers are late and waste their time on long ass boring presentations without Zuma, they still conduct foreign policy whether Zuma is there or not and they still pass shady event waivers whether Zuma is there or not. There is no additional cost associated with Zuma - that is unless his Brown Act rights are violated or he's abused by security - which of course could be very expensive. Those are all choices made by the Clowncil, not ZD.

The Clowncil can easily waste more money in one vote than a decade of Zuma Dogg antics would effect. So I am baffled.

People may not like the way Zuma looks, talks, dances, smells, whatever. But agent provocateurs who engage in political theatre are 1) an American tradition going back to the Boston Tea Party and 2) More importantly, a vital and necessary check on government excess especially when the media is out to lunch. Many times, Zuma is right and he brings to light important issues. Why do you think his phone rings off the hook and we get tons of email from government whistleblowers who trust Zuma to get their information out there.

Indeed, its the "jealous cry-baby losers" who just might have something to lose if Zuma shed some sunshine on them. Otherwise they wouldn't bitch and complain so much. If Zuma were not so powerful, he'd be another one of the many goofy gadflies who have graced City Hall and may elicit a snicker or perhaps an "Oh shit" from Clowncil members, spinners and lackeys, but never the second, third or fourth thoughts many of you give to Zuma.

There is major corruption and shady dealings going on in local government and a number of attendant community organizations, businesses, unions, developers, etc. who all have their finger in the pie. When the MSM refuses to lift a finger, thank God we have Zuma and others who dedicated their lives (however you may judge them) to these causes.

Sooo....astro turf away dum dums!

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Friday Hotsheet at 7:30 a.m.

How's Jill Stewart doing, anyway?

The LAWeekly's hard driving news editor knows what she's up against: a town full of news, not a lot of people able or willing to report it. Even so, you have to think you can come up with a little more than stories about Santee High and a visit to a tough neighborhood. (As a matter of fact, Celeste Fremon, who also writes the blog WitnessLA, is coming off like the Weekly's LA obiter dicta-ress-in-chief of late.)

But what's the Weekly trying to do here, really? Lower it's median reader age a bit? City Hall may indeed be on vacation, but the business of the City is still being done...

There are plenty of Department-level City stories begging to be told this time of year. What about all the inner city pools closed in the middle of summer---how did that happen? (Just this morning, LAist has a PR-y take on the City pool situation, as though all's well). What do rangers say about Griffith Park trails? And there is a seedy Planning Department / development story to be told in nearly every census tract in the City. Zuma, get pitchin'. And it would be nice for Markland to pitch Jill some hard news too. He's ready.

° ° ° ° °

Missed these letters the other day in the fishwrap of record on the Griffith Park Master Plan. Love this line: "Griffith Park personified as Manhattan's Central Park is pure LaBonge."

And downtown is Manhattan. Why does LA always have to be someplace else to be valid? Why can't it be LA?

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The South Bay musselwrapper known as the Daily Breeze, which so many of you are so uncharitable towards does a little bit of Antonio astroturfing this morning, quoting a government researcher sympathetic to the Mayor's plan to sell off $58 million of City land.

"They're not thinking of the city overall," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies - a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research group in Los Angeles.

"The city could lose millions of dollars from land that's not doing anything. To have it sitting there vacant is a waste of a very valuable resource."

Yeah. And how many of you have been known to lose money by holding onto real estate in Southern California?

If you haven't been here since yesterday afternoon, lots to catch up with, including both Zuma and yours truly on Sabrina Kay, Christopher Pak and Koreatown development.

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Bizarre Love Triangle: Antonio, Sabrina and Chris: But it's not about LOVE, it's about HOUSING

DID ZD CONNECT SOME DOTS THIS EVENING? (You be the judge. And maybe there will be!)

Interesting timing on the Chris Pak story in Thursday’s LA Times. I thought that article was written a long time ago, but the editor probably decided not to run it, back then, in order to avoid exposing the mayor and his supporters to a huge scandal.

Captain Jack Sparrow left that annoyingly challenging comment about some glass shoe that was going to drop; and was I going to be there to catch it and all that Shakespear/Pirate code talk I don’t understand.

But I sent a fews clue into my Batcomputer and there is this ONE LITTLE OLD DOT THAT HASN’T BEEN CONNECTED THAT HAS BEEN BUGGING ZD. The only shoe, left un-dropped or un-connected dot in a certain scenario.

SABRINA KAY. (Sorry Sabrina.) She was the fashion designer/planning commissioner that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa flew with to Asia. On the trip, her clothing line magically ends up in clothing stores in Asia.

And the LA Times article happened to mention Chris Pak went on that trip to Asia, too. And it reminded me, that I thought I saw a picture of Antonio with Sabrina Kay and Chris Pak in front of the house of the South Korean President taken during that trip. So they all must be pretty tight?

And doesn’t the Planning Commissioner have something to do (like vote to approve) Chris Pak’s big projects? And now that the L.A. real estate market is on the slide, maybe Chris Pak’s money is, too. That story sure did seem to be kinda "infomercially".

And since the mayor’s image is the only thing declining faster than the Downtown LA housing market, let’s get that story out there about how Antonio is teaming up with Pak for the kind of smart growth we need; with high density housing around commercial retail; and major transportation corridors like in other cities overseas.

Except the City of Los Angeles and State of California have not built the transportation and do not plan on having it ready in time for the demand. And even “if” they do add the public transportation, the masses are not going to jump out of their cars and jump on board.

Pak even says himself, “"L.A. was zoned for vehicles in the early 1900s, not for pedestrians and public transportation.” That’s right bro…that’s the problem. That’s why it isn’t going to work here, like everywhere else in the world. (If it is considered to be “working” elsewhere.) L.A. was not zoned for pedestrians and public transportation. And adding five stories on top of everything isn’t going to re-zone the roads or water supply (among other infrastructure related details.)

Now anytime a female commissioners name is mentioned with Antonio, the “a” word comes up (affair). People have said on this blog and elsewhere that Antonio disappeared with Sabrina one night in Korea, then Antonio cancelled an important business trip the next day, where he was supposed to meet Korea’s most prominent businessmen.

Did the mayor blow off the biggest investment business he flew over there for? (I heard they weren’t too happy about the no-show. Something about being considered a rude slap in the face, or something.) Oh well…less competition for Chris Pak?

But the main thing is that ZD has been talking about affordable housing scams in the non-profit arena. And so I hit the Batcomputer "shady searchers", and Zuma Dogg’s Bat-Spidey senses tell him Mr. Pak has started a lot of new projects lately: THOSE EXCESSIVELY PROFITABLE AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS LIKE THE ONES ZD HAS BEEN EXPRESSING A TAD BIT OF CONCERN OVER!!!

That means Pak will have to negotiate with LAANE, and will need to get project approvals from LAANE’s Executive Director (who Zuma Dogg thinks sits on the CRA board). Can that be right??? (I mean this is all just a stream of conscious late night rant.)

And I think someone told me Asia’s hottest fashion designer/L.A.’s hottest planning commissioner, Sabrina Kay, served on the board of a non-profit organization (to learn a new "business"), and has started her own non-profit organization. (ZUMA DOGG WANTS TO START HIS OWN NON-PROFIT GRAVY TRAIN WAGON, TOO, Y’ALL!!!!)

Did Sabrina Kay read ZD’s story on how there is BIG, BIG money to be made in the non-profit affordable housing game; so did she decided to dump the threads and head over to Home Depot for some supplies?

See also: Marin Ludlow. I think the Times must be saving the rest of the story for a sequel article, because if Ludlow currently works for Pak, you think they would have mentioned that, given his relationship to Antonio. Can you imagine Martin Ludlow taking Pak’s project to the mayor’s city hall for approval? That’s why can someone confirm if Ludlow works for 2Pak.

Whatever the case: Just when ZD was thinking LA Times may be on the right track; did they run some infomercial article; to help a developer who is the mayor’s secret construction machine be able to raise more money, since the LA housing market is a bursting bubble; and since there is more money to be made in non-profit affordable housing than in fashion designing or for-profit (market rate) housing?

Maybe we should all fly to Asia together to talk about it; then come back and let's start doing it. (See ZD's article on non-profit/affordable housing boondoggle that CM Tony Cardenas went on record agreeing that he heard, too.)

Oh no…I hope that isn’t the case.

New video: ZD at BOS Meeting