Why is LaBonge excused from Clowncil this week?
The real reason for LaBonge's trip isn't real City business, but personal business disguised as City business. LaBonge is in Manchester to finalize an unholy twinning with town officials. With the twinning, Manchester is the latest foreign interest to jump the porcine queue and feed at the City money trough by becoming another of LA's many "Sister Cities". Among the numerous financial benefits Manchester will receive from being a Los Angeles Sister City, Tom LaBonge will likely move to develop some pristine chunk of Griffith Park to honor the new sibling, similar to the Berlin Forest monument in Griffith Park and the rumored Busan garden for Sister City Busan, Korea.
The Sister Cities program is run by a private non-profit and rumored to be backed by some of LA's busiest wheelers and dealers, some of which are rumored to be LaBonge's biggest private contributors. With LaBonge traveling on behalf of the organization on City time and City dime, this probably makes the Sister Cities non-profit the most privileged charity in town. Sister Cities of Los Angeles Inc. even has its own virtual web page on the official Los Angeles City web site. Oddly, in their 2007 IRS form 990, the Sister Cities of Los Angeles lists assets of less than $100,000 and lists its president as.... Tom LaBonge! Surprise! Interesting that such a busy non-profit holds so little in assets, isn't it? Makes you wonder how they pay the bills.
Here's an article from a Manchester paper describing their new incestuous relationship with Los Angeles. Apparently these northern Brits don't even know LaBonge is on the LA City Clowncil! So much for fame.
(July 27, 2009) "MANCHESTER is to establish a formal 'friendship agreement' with Los Angeles - after being chosen by the American city ahead of London and Birmingham. The link came about after an approach from the 'City of Angels', which was looking for a suitable UK partner to develop links in business, art, culture, science and education.
The M.E.N. understands the agreement could lead to the setting up of direct flights between Manchester and Los Angeles - a long-term objective of the city council. Los Angeles, America's second biggest city, is home to movie capital Hollywood, `Silicon Valley' - and David Beckham's LA Galaxy football team.
Manchester has United and City, as well as one of Britain's top-rated universities and a thriving media sector. Neighbouring Salford will soon be home to five departments of the BBC as part of the corporation's `big move north'. Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese and Tom Labonge, President of Sister Cities of Los Angeles, will sign a tasselled scroll to seal the twinning agreement at the town hall in Albert Square this evening.
The US party was expected to visit Sportcity and the new MediaCity site at Salford Quays before flying back to California tomorrow. It is expected that representatives from Manchester will visit Los Angeles over coming months. A council spokesman said: "We will look to visit alongside with a focus on trade and investment links, and with a view to having a presence in LA to promote Manchester, but the key opportunities are still to be discussed."
Council leader Sir Richard Leese said: "I am delighted to welcome our counterparts from Los Angeles council to Manchester in what will be the start of a mutually beneficial partnership. The synergies and strengths of both cities, particularly in terms of our sport, creative and media sectors present huge opportunities for promoting cultural and economic exchanges between LA and Manchester." ...