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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Board of Referred Powers delays decision on Autry Expansion for four weeks

" Still a Chance for Victory"
In a stunning rebuke to the Autry National Center plans for expansion in Griffith Park, the Board of Referred Powers voted 5-0 to delay a final vote on the proposed project for four weeks.
Board Chairperson Janice Hahn, along with Councilmembers Ed Reyes, Bernard Parks, Tony Cardenas and Bill Rosendahl acted in unison and implored that all the parties in the Autry/Southwest Museum saga have a voice in crafting an solution to protect the Southwest Museum.
Both sides in this contentious battle had their supporters in place. So many in fact that the meeting had to be moved to the main council chambers due to the overflowing crowd.
Both sides were allocated equal time for presentation and public comments.
In addition, Councilman Jose Huizar addressed the masses and in a surprise, ask that the final vote be delayed so that an final agreement, or a "pre-nump", in his words, be crafted to safe guard the Southwest.
Absence from today's proceedings was anyone from the Mayor's Office voicing their support for the Autry.
One cannot underestimate this victory today in delaying the Autry's desires, but all must remain vigilant in protecting Los Angeles Oldest Museum.
Your thoughts...................................

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If billionaire Warren Buffett doesn't like it....



..then it probably is not a good idea. He knows how economies and industries work and he doesn't support this bill because it is "regressive"...meaning everyone pays for it. He warns us that everyone "will be paying a lot more for electricity."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Deja vu! Autry Likely to be Handed At-Will Use of Public Land for $1 per Year.

In a backroom deal by "the late great John Ferraro" in 1987, the Board of Referred Powers which is made up of LA City councilmembers, met to hand over a ten acre parcel of prime real estate in Griffith Park to Gene Autry for the sum of just $1 per year.

Tomorrow, in a backroom deal by high school football star Tom LeBong, the Board of Referred Powers meets once again to basically do the exact same thing -- allow the Autry to expand at will on public open space for the sum of ..... $1 per year.

The Autry's massive expansion plans effectively triple the size of the institution as well as allow a number of additional conditional uses (more alcohol) and sign variances to advertise their facility for some uses other than public benefit. At the 3pm meeting, the Board of Referred Powers will likely approve the Environmental Impact Report essentially as-is, with no appreciable change from the draft version of the report. Once passed, the Autry has essentially free rein to move forward exactly as planned, and the City loses most if not all of its ability to negotiate on the Autry's new land lease.

The Board of Referred Powers (Hahn -ch, Cardenas, Parks, Reyes, Rosendahl) is hearing the Autry's EIR in place of the Recreation and Parks Commission because current Commission president Barry Sanders used to be employed by Latham and Watkins who is the Autry's legal firm. A relatively recent addition to the commission, it is possible that Sanders was selected with this exact idea in mind. Although it helps to make Recreation and Parks look less the bad guy, most observers do not believe this switch ultimately affects the outcome since the entire issue is highly political and the Recreation and Parks department has no option but to hand LeBong and the Mayor exactly what they want.

The Autry stands to make a lot of money on the deal. They already have, with the Southwest Museum's collection worth hundreds of millions being given over to them in a related string of City payouts without accountability since the 1987 Ferraro double-deal. Recently, the Autry has begun renting their $1/yr property to commercial entities for events that are entirely inappropriate for public park land. One example, the "Brew-Ha-Ha" beer event ostensibly benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is returning to the Autry this Fall for a second round. The Brew-Ha-Ha has appropriately been described as 'drinking for a good cause'. The Autry has also begun renting its venue out for other more commercial private events and will likely expand this revenue-making activity once their own expansion is passed by the board.

The EIR that the Board of Referred Powers will be approving is essentially identical to the draft version that was open to public comment. No significant changes or mitigation measures were added in spite of the fact that there was ample public input, some of which was directly linked to required City code. A good example of the blatantly ignored comment can be found at the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council's web site, with two important letters (1, 2) outlining what code is being violated and as well as some of the major concerns of park stakeholders.

It's interesting to note that this important vote comes less than 24 hours before new City Attorney Carmen Trutanich takes office. Trutanich has a strong environmental background and during his campaign stated he would be a tough fighter for social and environmental justice. Handing over 10 acres of Griffith Park to an entity who doesn't even bother to pretend anymore that their mission is public-benefit driven for just $1 per year hardly seems just.

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June 30, 2009, "Day of Reckoning" for the Southwest Museum

Los Angeles Oldest Museum
As a child growing up in Council District 14, I was blessed to be exposed to the vast collection of the Southwest Museum.
Childhood exposure has turn into adulthood appreciation of the contributions of the Native American Culture and the impact on our local history.
In recent years, earthquakes, mis-management, and the ravages of time has taken its toll on this cultural icon, but the museum still stands as a proud symbol of our city's and community cultural identity.
But now in the biggest challenge to the Museum, the Los Angeles City Council Board of Referred Powers will take up the Autry National Center proposal to expand their site in Griffith Park and relocating the vast collection of the Southwest to newly expanded location, if approved.
This saga has played out here in cyberspace, on the the pages of local newspapers (but rarely in the "OLD GRAY HAG ON SPRING STREET", aka LA Times), has been debated thoroughly in the local community and in the chambers of City Hall.
The cast of characters have included an convicted felon, a ruthless law firm, widow of a singing cowboy, flip-flopping politicians, a "Barrio Pimp" and citizens across the community who care about preserving our cultural identity.
Then there is the cost, in terms of payouts to lobbyists, payoffs to the "connected few", favors for the political class, and the cost to our community heritage.
My hope is that the five members of the Board of Referred Power will pause and give thought to what damage a gutted and hollow Southwest Museum would have on our community heritage and city history.
Your thought...................
**Board of Referred Powers Special Meeting Los Angeles City Hall, Room 350Board of Public Works Hearing200 N Spring St., Los AngelesTuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 3:00pm
The future fate of the first museum in Los Angeles, the Southwest Museum, is tied to a set of decisions to be made by the City of Los Angeles. A June 30 th special hearing is the pivotal meeting. The City will decide whether to approve Autry’s proposed project to double its size in Griffith Park and absorb the Southwest Museum.
The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition are opposed to the three requested actions as presented in the staff report without modifications to protect the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe’s future.

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Madoff Gets 150 Years

BREAKING NEWS - CNN reports Bernard Madoff, the mastermind behind the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, sentenced to 150 years in prison.  LA City Council take heed!

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Tom McClintock tells it straight



Congressman Tom McClintock warns that the Waxman-Markey energy bill, known as "Cap and Trade" is extremely destructive. Listen to the part where he talks about California going for this liberal fantasy of controlling emissions, and its promises of "an explosion of green jobs". Instead, California got skyrocketing unemployment.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Monday

So who does the exit of Antonio Villaraigosa from the Governor's race help? The San Francisco Chronicle says it will be their own Mayor Gavin Newsom however the dean of California's political writers Dan Walters says advantage Jerry Brown.  The correct answer is Jerry Brown.  Newsom has a lot of problems with some of the key voters in the primary such as conservative Democrats in the Central Valley, older Latinos and Blacks, all of whom are more likely to vote than Newsom's base of young people and liberal leaning gays.  Also take note that a Northern Californian has not been elected Governor since the last time Brown was Governor nearly 30 years ago.  And as it it is, though Brown lives in Oakland and is by birth a Northern Californian he spent many years in LA, served for a while as a local elected official in LA and still has a network here so for all intensive purposes Brown is the So-Cal candidate.  Caveat: If Senator Dianne Feinstein gets into the race all bets are off.

Hoping to improve its relations with local Muslims the LAPD has named its first Islamic chaplain.  Sheik Qazi Asad, a Pakistani national, has done work for the LA County Sheriff's Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Asad told the LA Times, "We need to establish very good communication . . . where both parties are talking to each other. This is just opening up the door."

With the City of Los Angeles in a serious financial situation members of the City Council are leading efforts to allow the City to have the option to declare bankruptcy.  Members led by Councilmen Dennis Zine and Bernard Parks are opposing legislation currently being considered by the State Legislature to restrict California's cities from going bankrupt.  Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza of Artesia introduced AB 155 in January that puts review provisions and conditions on cities before they can file for bankruptcy protection.

The one upside to Paul Koretz taking office next Wednesday is Jack Weiss will be long gone. However the Daily News is kvetching that despite that the City Council will still be populated by most of the same jokers who've been there for some time.  That's despite the fact the that former green sheet of record actually endorsed all these clowns and didn't support candidates who could have made the difference they're seeking.

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KABC's Phillips to Start New Show Tonight

Longtime KABC radio producer, sports reporter and frequent fill-in host John Phillips will begin tonight as the permanent host of the station's evening program replacing longtime host Al Rantel who has retired from broadcasting for health reasons. I had the privilege of attending Phillips' celebratory party Saturday night which was a star studded affair with some of local radio's legendary luminaries in attendance such as Doug McIntyre, Dan Avey (legendary newsman and longtime LA Kings color commentator), Tammy Bruce, attorney Gloria Allred and Marc Germain.  Phillips is an excellent host who despite his success remains an unpretentious nice guy. Tune in weeknights on KABC AM 790 from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday evenings 7:00 p.m. to midnight when the Dodgers aren't playing.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Part of Their World

As a parting middle finger to community leaders in both Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys outgoing City Council member Wendy Greuel has supported an effort to rename a middle class section of Van Nuys as Sherman Oaks.  Apparently the folks in a lower priced Valley enclave are tired of telling folks at the Starbucks that they live in a Mexican neighborhood.

Neighborhood Council leaders ask why bother. The City developed a process for the naming of neighborhoods but have apparently denied the wishes of both the Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys Neighborhood Councils. Residents in the affected area who opposed the effort tell of harassment and retaliation by the pro-effort.  The effort, led by activist Laurette Healey, was a badly needed win for her following several failed attempts at office and heading up previous shady ballot measures that luckily failed at the ballot box.  So will Healey now run for Greuel's seat?

I've decided I'm going to follow the logic of the Van Nuys yayhoos.  I occasionally shop in Sunland Tujunga, I have friends there and I like the community. I would like the northern half of my home to be annexed to that community.  I'll file my application tomorrow.

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Billy Mays, 50

CNN is reporting that TV pitchman Billy Mays was pronounced dead at his home, according to police in Tampa, Florida.

Mays was well known for his TV commercials and infomercials for various cleaning products such as OxyClean. Ironically, he was a month older than recently deceased pop star Michael Jackson.

Mays had been aboard US Airways Flight 1241 from Philadelphia to Tampa that blew out its front tires as it landed at Tampa International Airport on June 27, the day before his death. None of the 138 passengers and five crew members were reported to be seriously injured immediately following the incident, but several passengers reported having bumps and bruises from falling objects.Mays told a local Tampa TV station that some of the objects "hit me on the head, but I got a hard head." It is unclear whether Mays' death was related to the incident.

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An Apology to Rita of Sunland

Recently, in a poor attempt at humor I made two comments on this blog that were insulting and offensive to our reader Rita of Sunland. It was a poor decision on my part and I wish to extend my sincere apologies to Rita as it was certainly not my intent to insult Rita.  Rita has been a good and supportive friend of this blog doing things behind the scenes such as promoting our blog on the radio and introducing me to various individuals in the media who have similiarly been very supportive of our efforts.  Additionally, Rita has been kind and friendly to me personally; offering valuable advice and has been a fun person to hang out with.  That being said I would never wish to hurt her. The comments have been removed and I will have no further public comment on this issue.  Move on.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spotted: RevCarr on Twitter

That's Reverend Jeff Carr, Deputy Mayor of Gang Reduction and Youth Development to you. His latest:

Going to Mayor Villaraigosa's Day of Service tomorrow. Join thousands in giving back to Los Angeles. Then join us for a party at City Hall.


He needs followers—help him out.

Update:

One year ago there was a major take down of the Avenues gang in Glassell Park. Tomorrow from 10-2pm there's a block party. What a change.

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Perez Hilton is a Hosebag

Bloggy gossip columnist Perez Hilton has got himself in hot water again.

First it was the crap that he pulled at the Miss USA paegeant, then he got into with the Black Eyed Peas and claimed they kick the shit out of him and the latest is that the bitch boy up and dissed M Jax.

Yesterday when the news came out that Michael Jackson had collapsed and was rushed to the hospital Perez threw up a snarky post that Jackson was "faking." When word came quickly that the King of Pop had passed, Perez grudgingly removed the post.

Mario Lavendeira - Perez's real name - has shown the remarkable ability to piss off all kinds of people with his mouth.  Here's a guy that both Ann Coulter and GLAAD have serious issues with. That's not easy.  Tabloid celebrities like Tila Tequila, Kris Jenner and others have taken Hilton to task publicly many times. 

Following the M Jax post Hilton found himself under Twitter attack from Ashlee Simpson and her husband musician Pete Wentz.  That began a greater Twitter war from thousands of Tweeters who began a movement to encourage other Twitter users to "unfollow" Hilton by consistently sending out the #unfollowperez hashtag. One report on Twitter said that Perez - who has one of the largest followings of celebrites on the social networking site - had lost over 800,000 followers after his comments on Jackson.

And we thought Don Quixote was annoying!

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Nativo López alleges DA conspiracy

Activist Nativo López was charged Thursday with fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury, and fraudulent voting, all related to a ballot cast in the 2008 presidential primary.

Investigators in the [Secretary of State] election-fraud unit said Nativo V. Lopez, 57, of Santa Ana leased office space in Boyle Heights and registered to vote using that address although he lived with his family in Orange County. They also say Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Assn., cast an illegal ballot in L.A. in the 2008 presidential primary.


López calls the felony accusations baseless and tells La Opinión he’s the target of a politically-motivated LA County DA. (Rough translation)

They are going to have to justify their claims and their charges and I will have the opportunity to defend myself. … I will stress is that there is a lot of political motivation in the bottom of these allegations, there is no doubt that as a public figure I have been at the forefront of many controversial causes.


Twelve years ago, the Orange County DA investigated allegations that López registered non-citizens to vote. Charges were never filed.

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Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009



There are plenty of important things to worry about in the world right now. North Korea is making aggressive militaristic threats against the United States. In Iran, the misguided authorities in power are shooting innocent people in the streets. The United States economy is still melting down and the "stimulus" concept of the federal government appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking. However.....ALL of these things will be ignored for a few days due to the death of pop music superstar Michael Jackson. No offense to the families of Ed McMahon or Farrah Fawcett, because I'm sure they were nice people, but their deaths will go largely unnoticed this week... simply because they were NOT Michael Jackson.

It is easy for those of us who live here in Los Angeles to get a little casual about meeting celebrities. My brother met Marlon Brando in a camera shop. I chatted with Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton for a few minutes at Rocket Video one time. Neither meeting caused a great deal of excitement. I mention this because Michael Jackson still had the power to drive normal people into a frenzy over seeing him. I last saw Michael Jackson a few weeks ago on Rodeo Drive. He was shopping in a store and left in a blue SUV. People were sprinting at high speeds towards his vehicle and screaming hysterically. They were running from several blocks away to get to Rodeo... that is how big Michael still was. They were running for a simple reason. In the 1980's, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" became the best selling record album of all time, and along with accomplishing that feat, Michael Jackson became the biggest star in the world.

That is not something that goes away... ever. Ask Mickey Rooney. You can occasionally see him at the Farmers Market, where he is always happy to tell people that he was the "biggest star in the world"...and he was...back in 1939-41. He is still alive and telling people about it over 65 years later. It is a rarified status that only a few people in the world will ever achieve. Kobe Bryant could win 10 NBA titles in a row, and he still wouldn't be anywhere close to Michael Jackson. Only a few people in the history of the world have ever known what it was like to be Michael Jackson, and even then, they had to do some guessing. Elvis Presley knew what it was like to be Michael Jackson. The Beatles knew what it was like to be Michael Jackson. But none of them knew what it was like to sign a record contract with Motown records when they were only 10 years old.

I had been somewhat of a fan of his after seeing him do his "moonwalk" on a Motown TV special in 1983. It was one of those moments you never forget. People still talk about it to this day. In 1992 I was living in London, England and heard that Michael Jackson was performing at Wembley Stadium. On a whim, I decided to go and see if I could get in, even though I did not have a ticket. Some fast talking and quick bargaining with some exiting reporters ended up with me wearing their press passes and making my way to the front row of the show. The show was amazing and Jackson left the crowd overjoyed. I thought about that show when I heard that he had died today. I felt very bad thinking that other people would never get to experience that again.

This video shows Michael at the peak of his skills, performing at the Rose Bowl during the halftime show of Super Bowl 27. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe watched his performance that day. There is a good chance that you were one of them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Major Rockstar Dead!


One of the most colorful figures to lead the 60's garage/psychedelic movement, the legendary Sky Saxon passed away today in Austin, Texas. His band, the Seeds, were once a staple of the Sunset Strip before disbanding in 1967. They are probably best known for the hit "Pushing Too Hard". Sky was the singer and was often called "The American Mick Jagger". After the Seeds disbanded, Sky moved to Hawaii, joined a commune, changed his name to Sky "Sunshine" Saxon and was rumored to have multiple wives. He did attempt several comebacks with limited success. He was reported to be 63 years old.

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Question for the morning

How will Controller Wendy Greuel make good on a promise to audit the City Attorney’s Office now that a judge has ruled she lacks authority to do so? Does Carmen Trutanich invite her in, anyway? … If the City Attorney can veto her requests, is an audit under these circumstances really worth anything?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

“Shot-caller”

Photo by Uncle Glen (Flickr)

That’s how the feds describe Alex Sanchez: An MS13 shot-caller who is alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to commit murder in 2006 while running Homies Unidos, a prominent gang intervention organization. Sanchez was arrested this morning at his Bellflower home as part of an FBI operation targeting two dozen members of the Salvadoran street gang.

WitnessLA editor Celeste Fremon splashed “Target of FBI Rampage” over a photograph of Sanchez following news of his arrest. Dueling replies posted on LA Weekly and LA Times articles take aim both at the FBI and the local politicians who celebrated and funded Sanchez’ intervention efforts.

It’s another sharp turn in a life of sharp turns. Sanchez arrived in the US around 1980 at age seven and joined MS13 at age 14. In 1994 he was deported to El Salvador on a parole violation. One year later, he returned to establish the US chapter of Homies Unidos and in 2002 won political asylum with the help of former California State Senator Tom Hayden. Hayden’s son, Troy Garity, is listed as chairman of Homies Unidos.

Last year, NPR sought Sanchez for comment on the FBI’s efforts to dismantle the 18th Street gang—specifically on leadership succession when law enforcement closes in. There are always new shot-callers to fill the void, Sanchez explains. “Shot callers are local heroes; role models.” … In what may emerge as a moment of prescience, he then added, “The lure of the gang culture may be stronger than any federal-local anti-gang collaboration.”

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No Joke: Ed Reyes' Vegan Bake Sale to Benefit the LA "River"

If you live in CD1 and wonder why you have awful represenation and crappy City services, here is one of the things that keeps your Clowncilman pre-occupuied. 

Councilmember Ed P. Reyes is hosting the City’s First Vegan Bake Sale Thursday, June 25, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Los Angeles City Hall Farmers Market, 200 N. Spring Street, to help raise awareness and funds for the Los Angeles River.

Los Angeles is one of more than 80 cities in eight days internationally holding a vegan bake sale as part of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, a fun global event to help people, the animals and the environment.

“The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale helps brings attention to our planet, especially the L.A. River, because of its environmental implications for the City of Los Angeles,” said Reyes, who chairs the City's Los Angeles River Ad Hoc Committee. “Thursday’s event is also about making educated and compassionate choices about the food we eat. The vegan bake sale will feature favorites like chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes and brownies, as well as diabetic-friendly and gluten-free goods.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Los Angeles River Keepers, a Los Angeles Conservation Corps team of students who help clean and green the L.A. River.

"Delicious vegan sweets and the L.A. River Keepers: two things working hard to preserve our environment,” said Hop Hopkins, Los Angeles Conservation Corps Program Manager, a vegan who has been active in food justice programs to aid urban communities.

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is being organized by the Washington D.C.-based, Compassion for Animals.

“When people bite into a mouth-watering vegan cheesecake, cherry cobbler or chocolate chip cookie for their first time, their misperceptions about vegan food may immediately begin to melt away,” said Gary Loewenthal, Director, Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. “And the positive experience often leads them to learn more about the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.”

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Open thread for Wednesday

Open thread Wednesday, folks. Suggested topics include the Mayor's sweatheart deal on early retirement for City employees, groundbreaking on the Orange Line extension being 4 years ahead of schedule, and whether or not highly-paid Public Works commisioner Ernesto Cardenas is Tony's brother. So what do Ed McMahon and Phil J have in common? And oh yeah - the Mayor's Tweeter seems to have sprung to life again. What gives?

Blog away, dum dums.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon, 86

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ed McMahon, the loyal "Tonight Show" sidekick who bolstered boss Johnny Carson with guffaws and a resounding "H-e-e-e-e-e-ere's Johnny!" for 30 years, died early Tuesday. He was 86.

McMahon died shortly after midnight at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his wife, Pam, and other family members, said his publicist, Howard Bragman.

Bragman didn't give a cause of death, saying only that McMahon had a "multitude of health problems the last few months."

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't Cry for Me, Sacramento!

Lots of speculation, spin and delicious troublemaking today following the announcement that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will not enter the 2010 Governor's Race.



The most delicious of all is that which was forwarded to us this afternoon by a devoted supporter of the Mayor. Though I can not actually link this to being official Villaraigosa spin (it did not come from his office) the following treatise compares Mayor Villaraigosa to legendary New York Mayor Fiorello LaGurdia.

Fiorello H. La GuardiaLaGuardia was a hard nosed Republican who lead New York during the Depression and through the end of World War II. He fought the mob, brought jobs to his city and was a middle class hero. Called "The Little Flower" one of the most notable actions of LaGuardia was during a newspaper strike he read the Sunday funnies to children over the radio. Of course, one of New York's major airports was named after him.

So knowing that, you may find the following very rich, while you think of Villaraigosa rattling around Getty House this evening like Norma Desmond.


The La Guardia-Villaraigosa Bond

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just announced today that he is not running for Governor of California, it's a loss for what would've been a colorful, fun and ultimately successful campaign for Governor by Villaraigosa. But his decision not to run says something about the man who has carefully studied another big-city Mayor, Fiorello H. La Guardia.

If you've ever spent more than 5 minutes with Villaraigosa (watching him nightly on your newscast doesn't count) you would know that our current Mayor of LA, is a student of Mayor La Guardia more than any Mayor in America

Both were firsts, La Guardia New Yorks first Italian-American Mayor and Villaraigosa Los Angeles's first Mexican-American Mayor.(during the modern era)

La Guardia's term was during and post the Great Depression and so too will Villaraigosa's term be with what many historians say is the worst financial situation since the depression.

Both were big on law enforcement.

La Guardia's first call to action was the arrest Lucky Luciano and Villaraigosa's first large budget fight was to increase the LAPD to its highest of highs.

Both crafted strong ethical regimes.

La Guardia ran on an anti-corruption ticket and looked to clean up the ethics of New York, Villaraigosa's first Executive Mayoral order was to require ethics pledges from every city commissioner and staffer in his office. Even going so far to hire an Ethics Czar in attorney Tom Saenz who still brings a clear vision of transparency to City Hall.

La Guardia represented East Harlem while in Congress before becoming Mayor, Villaraigosa represented East LA in the Assembly before becoming Mayor.

The only major difference between the two men is party, La Guardia was a Republican who acted like a Democrat with his support for the New Deal and Villaraigosa is a Democrat who acted like a Republican when he crossed a union picket line (EAA), increased the LAPD (more than a real republican Riordan could ever do) and went against the ACLU in cracking down on crime in downtown LA.

But Villaraigosa relishes his role as Mayor -- anyone who is born and raised here can attest to this City's wonderful attributes. Where in the world can you get some wonderful Galbi in Koreatown for lunch and then eat some equisite Ethopian food for Dinner, a city as diverse as LA can only be a wish come true for anyone who cares about public policy and the plight of the voiceless.

La Guardia was the same way in New York, he rejected immigration quotas, was elected with strong Jewish backing and fell in love all over again with the City he represented. La Guardia's mantra was jobs, jobs, jobs and people of all races loved him for that -- Villaraigosa supports comprehensive immigration reform, has strong jewish backing (see this months Jewish Journal), with a call for jobs, jobs and more jobs (see Measure R-Subway to the Sea) and while some local demagogues may wince, Los Angeles is a City Villaraigosa loves and you can see the evidence every time you see his thousand watt smile.

If you actually ever studied the democratic primary turnout - you would've seen it was for Villaraigosa to take and if you can add up to 4, you'd see that a Democrat (any democrat) will beat any Republican during the general election come November 2010. Villaraigosa knew that, his political team knew that, but its not good enough to be a "good Mayor" Villaraigosa has his sights on being a "Great Mayor".

You're welcome Los Angeles.

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CNN: Villaraigosa Not Running for Governor



Credit CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (stand by for transcript, CNN has promised it to us shortly)

 


Courtesy The Situation Room with Wolf Blizter, CNN

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're about to get the exclusive announcement right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The mayor of Los Angeles set to announce whether he will or will not run for governor of California.

The mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, is joining us live from Los Angeles.

Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: Hi, Wolf. How are you?

BLITZER: Good.

You told me a few weeks ago that you would tell us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM your decision. I know you've been agonizing over this decision for weeks if not months.

Are you going to run to become the next governor of California?

VILLARAIGOSA: The answer is no. And I make that decision because, as I've said many times, I love the city I was born and raised in, the city that my grandpa came to a hundred years ago.

Cities all across the country are on the front lines of the challenges facing us in terms of the economic crisis. Here in the city of L.A., a 12.5 percent unemployment rate, 21,000 people have lost their home over the last two years. We're facing an unprecedented and historical budget deficit at $530 million. And I feel compelled to complete what I started out to do.

I said to Los Angeles four years ago to dream with me. I said we were going to take on the many challenges that we face in the city, public schools and public safety, the issue of the environment. I said that we were going to do everything we could to come together as a city, and I can't leave this city in the middle of a crisis. It's as simple as that.

BLITZER: But you know, Mayor, if you're the governor of California, there's a lot you could certainly do to help not only the people of Los Angeles, but a lot of other cities throughout that state, as well.

VILLARAIGOSA: You're right, Wolf, and that's why this was an agonizing decision. What is going on in Sacramento currently is an abomination.

The system is fundamentally flawed. It's broken. It's currently in a meltdown as we speak. But I was elected mayor and re-elected by the people of this city. They've given me the honor for a second term, and I feel compelled to complete the promise that I made to them.

I'm going to dream, and I want the people to dream with me. But in order to do that, we're going to have to take on the immediate challenges of finding jobs, of turning the economy around, of continuing the education reform, of building on the public safety record that we've established where we're the second big city in America, crime down eight years in a row, and safer than any time since 1954.

But those things are good, but they're not good enough. We've got to do more. And I've been...

BLITZER: I was going to say, Mayor, the other guys who are running, including Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, in all the polls it showed that you would have been very, very competitive with them.

When did you make up your mind that this is something you didn't want to do, run for governor?

VILLARAIGOSA: I've been making up my mind for a long time, frankly. The reason why I didn't early on make a decision one way or the other was because, as I said, this city's given me so much. I didn't want to walk away. But as you said, the challenges of the state are so great, as well.

I was speaker of the assembly. I have a great deal of support in the legislature and throughout the state. But this is about the city I love.

And I also have a young girl, 16 years old. She's the apple of my eye, and she's got two more years of high school and then she's gone. And I don't want to be campaigning for a year and then leading the state in Sacramento and my little precious is, you know, finishing up her high school education.

BLITZER: It's always personal decisions as well as political decisions.

The "L.A. Times" poll had your approval number at 55 percent approve of the way you're doing your job, 37 disapprove. There was a cover of "Los Angeles" magazine that branded you as a failure. I'm sure you've seen that cover, as well.

Are you ready to endorse someone now for the Democratic nomination?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, let me just say when I was asked in a press conference what I thought about it, I said great picture -- three years younger, 10 pounds lighter. You know, that's what happens when you're mayor. You're the focus of the good times and the bad.

The fact of the matter is we've got many challenges in this city. In a time when the unemployment rate is at 12.5 percent, a 55 percent approval isn't so bad. But I recognize that I've got a lot of work to do. I've got to do a better job...

BLITZER: Who do you like for the nomination?

VILLARAIGOSA: And I've got to do a better job even than the job that we've done over the last four years.

In terms of who I like, I'm not focused on that. I'm focused on my job and the challenges that we're facing. There's plenty of time to weigh in on that race.

I can tell you this -- whoever is going to be the next governor in the state of California better talk turkey with the people of California. I said the system is broken, and it is. A two-thirds vote to pass a budget, one of only three states in the country that require that. Two-thirds vote to pass taxes, one of 16 or 17 that require super majority.

Term limits is broken. The fact of the matter is we need to support open primaries.

The initiative process is broken when it takes a majority vote to deny a whole group of people the fundamental right to marry but you can pass a -- you need a two-thirds vote to pass a budget.

So there's a lot of things broken. I hope to participate in that conversation, but my focus will be on the city of Los Angeles. My focus will be on -- and the national stage, really making the case for cities in metropolitan areas.

Just elected the second vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. We're going to be in Washington, D.C., making the case that if we're going to turn America around, we've got to turn our cities around.

BLITZER: Mayor Villaraigosa, we'll see you here in Washington, D.C.

Thanks very much. Thanks for living up to your commitment to tell us first your decision, and the decision is you are not running for the governor's race in the state of California.

Thanks very much for coming in.

VILLARAIGOSA: Thank you, Wolf.

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Villaraigosa announcement at 1:00

SF Chronicle reporting:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (vee-yah-ry-GOH'-sah) is planning to make an announcement about California's gubernatorial race.

The mayor's spokesman Matt Szabo (ZAY'-bow) says Villaraigosa will appear on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" at 1 p.m. PDT Monday. The spokesman would not elaborate.

So far, the mayor's Tweeter is silent. … The fact that he hasn't Twittered in two months is probably all you need to know.

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Krekorian wants to bankrupt L.A.



Attention CD 2 voters! Paul Krekorian is headed your way, and he's bringing a whole lot of financial trouble along with him from Sacramento. It is bad enough that this Burbank resident has decided to seek the Los Angeles City Council position in Council District 2. The fact that he intends to bring his Sacramento-style mentality of irresponsibility and his overspending habits to L.A.  is frightening. We already have Mayor Villaraigosa and a majority of the City Council Members,  who are hard at work destroying this City. Adding Assemblyman Paul Krekorian to the mix would just be overkill. However, he would fit in very well downtown....
Wild-eyed liberalism. Phony altruism. Typical Statist mentality of entitlement and control. Fantasy world accounting.
Yeah, he would a perfect club member down at City Hall.

Listen to him say things like "across-the-board budget cuts are unfair, they are unwise.." (shudder)
Yeah, it is a much better idea to raise taxes and fees on a struggling public in the middle of a bad economy.
(Maybe they can raise the parking meters to $5 an hour!)

Much like the Chris Essel video below, hearing statements like this makes me ill.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chris Essel at S.O.H.A.



Chris Essel says she "wants to give back to the community" and would "love to get to know each and every one of you".  These type of statements of false altruism by political candidates tend to make me nauseous.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hell Breaks Loose In Iran

Today in Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made good on his promise to stop the protests and unleashed the Police/IRG/Basij on the demonstrators. Here is what looks like cellphone footage sent out the day the twig snapped.



WARNING: This next clip is pretty disturbing. A young woman is killed by gunshot during the confrontations:




-Meanwhile, back here in Los Angeles, hundreds gather to protest the violence and the election.

-President Obama steps off the sidelines in response to the violence.

-And if you want to follow the Twitter from an Iranian student on the frontline go to https://twitter.com/Change_for_Iran

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Friday, June 19, 2009

LAPD Duplicating Services, Wasting Taxpayer $ at LAX

While the Mayor drains funds and services from City parks and libraries in pursuit of 1,000 new LAPD officers, airport employees are openly questioning why a significant LAPD force still patrols LAX each day.

The LAWAPD, the 'LAX police', is the public safety agency tasked with public safety at LAX. This specialized agency maintains a force roughly the size of two full LAPD divisions.

Yet at an unknown cost to the taxpayers, LAPD reportedly has 150 officers every day at the LAX-LAPD substation as well as on motor units, foot beats, acting as detectives, at screening stations, manning K9 units, and so on. With the exception of the Bomb squad, all these officers duplicate positions currently staffed by LAWAPD.

The issue of who should provide public safety services at LAX was effectively decided four years ago. At the time, LAPD Chief Bratton was pushing for an LAPD takeover of LAX. Critics of LAWAPD, both official and unofficial were claiming that LAWAPD officers were incompetent, untrained, and were unable to carry out their mission.

In 2005, an extensive $900,000 study by CTI Consultants found that not only should there not be a merger between LAPD and LAWAPD, but that LAWAPD had the training, specific expertise, competency, and size to professionally and successfully manage LAX. The study determined that indeed LAWAPD was carrying out their mission and that they were the best agency based on their specialization to do this job.

Chief Bratton did not accept the consultant's findings. Although the report was pretty clear about keeping LAWAPD in place at LAX, an LA Times article of the time documented Bratton's rejection: "...This is absolutely outrageous... I don't get it. We just spent $900,000 and now they're going to tell us we're going to spend more money and the question wasn't even answered. What's the best model? Should the airport take over or should the LAPD take over?"

In a final effort to marginalize the study's findings, Bratton and the Mayor forced the issue to public vote in May of that year. The public itself resoundingly voted down the consolidation of the LAWAPD into LAPD, prefering to keep the specialized services of LAWAPD in the airport and LAPD patrolling the streets.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mayor Sam's Late Afternoon Thoughts

Here's where Paul Krekorian gets into trouble.

The voters are PO'd as of late. Not that Paul isn't a nice guy but if he is tied to Villar then he's got trouble. Remember Jack Weiss?

No doubt that Krekorian will have excellent resources and makes for an attractive candidate but being a carpetbagger and being tied to AV is not going to help him in the super pissed-off places like Studio City, Sunland, Tujunga and West Van Nuys, all places where folks vote in higher than average numbers in a special election.

I got an invitation to Wendy Greuel's pre-assumption festivities.  It's a catered affair at CBS Studios featuring a live band.  Now I know criticizing these soirees especially for the third and fourth floor types is like criticizing Christmas but one has to ask the question: who's paying for this? I am certain not the taxpayers so it means once again we probably have donors donating to another "transition fund" and footing the bill for a high-end celebration that makes the pol happy.  Quid pro quo? Pay to play? Or is Wendy paying for it herself? If that's the case, then kudos, nothing wrong with putting on your own party.  However I did go to Wendy's first inauguration before she became an entrenched pol and that was a low-key respectable affair with no caterers and only a boom box for entertainment.

Finally, have you seen Jack Weiss since he lost the election? He's looking terrible; kind of like Tom Hanks from Castaway (after the plane crashed).

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Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Thursday

Explosive new charges at Zuma Times.  Zuma Dogg reports that tipsters are telling him that President Obama is fuming that Mayor Villaraigosa and the City Council took Obama stimulus money for "shovel ready" projects and funneled it to the City's general fund to plug up the budget gap.  Obama apparently has cut off the supply of spendalus money to LA because of this.  Even worse for the Mayor, Zuma's source says pensiongate indictments are coming down soon.

Phil Jennerjahn, Carlos Alvarez, Zuma Dogg, Joe B and Mayor Sam all support the taco trucks. And so do the county courts.  A Superior Court judge overturned a ticket issued to a taco truck owner for violating a City law that limited the amount of time a taco truck can park in a specific location.  Story at LAist and SaveOurTacoTrucks.org.

CurbedLA reports that residents around Dodger Stadium tired of game fans parking in front of their homes have taken to putting up their own no parking signs.  Now that it has been blogged about I am sure the City will take action against these folks.

Popular San Fernando Valley schoolteacher Mary Ann Farber will be retiring after 18 years in the classroom at Beckford Elementary.  Story at Beckford Parents Blog.

The dumbasses at LADOT are at it again.  In cities like New York, San Francisco, San Diego, etc. pedicabs are all the rage.  But LA has this odd paranoid control freak mentality and they've been illegal for years.  So when rules were written by the Department that would effectively regulate the cabs out of business the folks on the Transportation Commission had the sense enough to tell staff they were on crack and to redo the whole thing. Among LADOT's lame-ass rules not mirrored even in nanny state San Francisco were that the cab operators could not wear Hawaiian shirts and that passengers must wear helmets. Read the rest at Streetsblog.

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Krekorian to CD 2: "I'm your man!"


It looks like State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian could not resist the allure of a larger paycheck and has apparently decided to carpetbag over into the Los Angeles City Council race in District 2. He decided not to let the fact that he lives in Burbank be any obstacle to his ambitions. This will come as distressing news to Villaraigosa show-pony Chris Essel, who , according to some, had already called the moving trucks in anticipation of her big victory in the September election.

Frank Sheftel is the local businessman who is running and claiming to be the only local talent in the race.
While Krekorian and Essel will spend big money on their campaigns, Sheftel has been doing the physical legwork necessary for a successful campaign. He and Essel spoke at the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association meeting tonight. One of the other probable candidates, Jozef Essavi,  looks to capitalize on his name recognition from having recently been in a spirited election race for the L.A. Community College Board of Trustees. 

It now appears that Kenny Gerston will not be running for the position, and it is believed that Joan Pelico will also decline to enter the race. Still unclear are the intentions of Former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez and media personality David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Wednesday

More excellent reporting from the Latino Politics Blog. A recent post notes that the state legislators who drive the three most expensive government provided vehicles are Senator Ron Calderon, Senator Gil "Two Bill Gill" Cedillo and Senator Dean Florez, who according to the LA Times drive a Cadillac STS, a Lexus 400H and a Lexus LX 400 respectively, all on your dime. The blog couldn't have put it any better when they said "I think that in a climate where so many of us are penny pinching, asking students to make sacrifices or go without summer school, Cal Grants, and face fee increases at public colleges and universities, it certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Californians to have to foot the bill for luxury cars for the state’s already well compensated elected leaders."

Once again William Bratton proves he doesn't get the LAPD or Los Angeles tradition and screws over the men in uniform.  This time he's going against the wish of the both the LAPD union and the film industry by banning retired LAPD officers who work film shoots from wearing LAPD uniforms.  Instead Bratton wants the officers to wear something resembling some local business improvement "safety ambassadors" wear.  The film industry is right to concern than when dealing with issues on a film location the officers wearing the new uniforms won't command the same respect.

So the Mayor has supposedly found private funds to pay the parade to mark the LA Lakers World Championship yet he says even if he hadn't located the donor cash he would have spent City funds anyway.  The Mayor also claims the parade will earn $15 million for the City.  Questions: 1) Who is funding this parade and what do they get for it, 2) Where does the Mayor get off saying he'd spend the funds anyway and, 3) Who really believes this parade will generate $15 million in taxes for the City?

The DWP implemented a "cash for grass" program and no its not related to this photo.  Homeowners who replace their lawn with water saving plants, rocks or cement will get $1 for every square foot of thirsty lawn they remove. Of course, the DWP is playing a bit smart here; if you haven't been watering your lawn and its already dead they won't pay you to remove it.

Neighborhood Councils are among those invited to a "volunteer appreciation picnic" organized by the Mayor on June 27th. No word on how much this costs or who is paying for it but a memo sent by Villaraigosa staffer Antonio Sanchez includes the real reason why the event is being organized: "We hope to organize a picture with neighborhood council members and the newly elected City officials."  There you go. One giant photo op.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Excitement Builds as the Nuch Era Begins

David Berger reports that the transition team for City Attorney Elect Carment Trutanich met at City Hall Monday evening followed by a repast at a local Mexican restaurant.

The best news in my view to come out of the meeting is that Berger himself will head up the Public Integrity and Ethics Task Force for Trutanich.  This signals that Trutanich - unlike some past and present City/District Attorneys who talked about going after corrupt politicians - may actually mean what he has said.  Placing a pitbull like Berger - who is more than aware of local shadiness - on the task means that Nuch is serious about about ferreting out fraud, waste and abuse.  I would suggest they hire Zuma Dogg as a Senior Inspector General to round out the team.

Read more at David Berger's blog.

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Open Thread for Tuesday


Let those who ride, decide?

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Caption This Photo

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Lakers' parade costs City $1,000,000

UPDATE: Monday 10:15pm, Tony V claims he has the whole $1,000,000 in donations from private parties. We'll be checking out his Tuesday press conference for a list of exactly who ponied up the bucks.



The City and the Los Angeles Lakers will split the $2 million cost of the Lakers' victory parade on Wednesday 50-50.

That's $1 mill for the City -- the annual cost of 15-20 full time City employees or $1 mil in City services if you will. Definitely worth it.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Race for CD 2


Here is a partial list of the players who might be motivated to run for the open Los Angeles City Council seat left vacant by Council Member Wendy Gruel. Her victory in the March 3rd election awarded her the new position of City Controller. The results of the election produced a wild scramble amongst interested parties for the newly-vacant job in the 2nd. One of the immediate assumptions was that well-respected politician Laura Chick would step in and take the job, but, aware of the fact that she had already served two terms in City Council from another district, Chick felt it was not the right place for her, and surprisingly declined a run at the spot. Some of the candidates can clearly be accused of being "carpetbaggers" (i.e. they don't live in the district) and I'm sure that subject will come up in discussions during the election campaign. Some of the potential candidates can actually be described as "already in"... and we will get to a discussion of that next...

  • Joan Pelico, Deputy for the Councilman Jack Weiss.
  • Tamar Galatzan, LAUSD Board Member and Prosecutor for the Van Nuys LAPD Division
  • Ben Neumann, current President, Studio City Neighborhood Council
  • Kenny Gerston, former President of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council
  • Cindy Montanez, Former Assemblywoman, former Mayor of City of San Fernando
  • David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg, Media personality, blogger, and City Hall political activist
  • Frank Sheftel, Candy Factory owner, Marijuana Collective operator, and community activist
  • Jozef Essavi, former candidate for L.A. Community College Board of Trustees
  • Paul Krekorian, California State Assemblyman, 43rd District
  • Chris Essel, former exec. Paramount Pictures, Airport Commission appointee

  • Many of the potential candidates are awaiting a decision by State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who casts a large enough shadow over the race that his presence in it would discourage many others from running. Krekorian has a tough decision to make, having himself just been re-elected to the State Assembly in November 2008. His decision to immediately depart that position and to "carpetbag" over from Burbank/Glendale over into the Eastern San Fernando Valley would not be met with joy by many of the voters who elected him in November. In fact, it is likely his actions would burn bridges and create a large number of hostile voters who might seek his recall regardless of the outcome in the City Council race. If he decides to seek the Council seat, many would-be candidates will be discouraged from seeking the position. If he opts out, the field will probably get more crowded. However, it seems more likely than not that Krekorian will seek the seat. The higher salary and the pay-to-play opportunities of the Los Angeles City Council are usually too much for politicians to resist. There are rumors that Krekorian has already rented an apartment in CD 2 in order to be able to claim residency.

    Aside from Krekorian, Chris Essel appears to be the leading candidate out of the gate, due to her large personal fortune after having been an executive at Paramount Pictures. However, Essel comes with some serious and unattractive baggage... having been appointed to the Airport Commission by none other than questionable City leader Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Joan Pelico was a member of "Team Weiss", which was left a pile of smoldering wreckage after the City Attorney race. Pelico and Tamar Galatzan are lower level politicos who owe large debts to Mayor Villaraigosa. Galatzan, in particular, is heavily indebted to Villaraigosa. It is believed that Villaraigosa spent between 1 and 2 million dollars to get her elected to the LAUSD Board. If the Mayor pulls them aside and lets them know that Chris Essel is his preferred candidate, they will probably bow out of the race in deference to him.

    Frank Sheftel, a business owner and community activist, is painting himself as the only "local boy" in the race,citing his decades-long presence in the San Fernando Valley. He acknowledges than Essavi and Essel are both probably going to be candidates in the election, but he believes that Neumann and Gerston probably won't run. Montanez would be yet another carpetbagger in the race, having served as Mayor of San Fernando and in the State Assembly for areas not covered by CD 2.

    One interesting possibility would be media personality David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg, who is rumored to be mulling the option of running for the CD 2 seat. Saltsburg did surprisingly well in the 2009 Mayoral election, taking fourth place and pulling in over 9,000 votes. Saltsburg does not live in CD 2 (as far as I know) yet he may not be able to resist the temptation to be in the focus of the glaring spotlight of publicity that will follow this campaign . Saltsburg seems to take delight in derailing the devious plans of crooked politicians, and to be able to disrupt the coronation of Chris Essel by Antonio Villaraigosa may be just the type of project that he would find irresistible.

    The deadline for residency has passed, so the carpetbaggers will have to have already made their moves. Now the question is to see who files and who can obtain the petition signatures in the rather brief three week window that the City Clerks office is granting. Stay tuned for more details as the race heats up.

    Laker Fans Riot Again

    Their team wins and they burn down their hometown. Go figure. Reports of major riots Downtown near Staples center. Go to Twitter for updates.

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    My comment on Ron Kaye's website/blog


    Previewing your Comment

    I am opposed to this effort. The people who are proposing it fail to see the forest for the trees. The salary of the City Council members is irrelevant. Even if they made 200K per year, the total of their 15 salaries combined would only be 3 Million/year.

    The Council makes financial decisions that affect BILLIONS of dollars of LA's budgetary process. Their salaries are nothing compared to their financial power to make things happen...or not happen.

    I wouldn't care if they made 300K per year....as long as they made Conservative decisions and eliminated higher costs and fees. If they would eliminate government departments and useless regulations.... and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse... they would deserve even more than they make now.

    Their salary level is not the problem.
    Their actions, votes, and ideologies are the true problem.

    Zuma Dogg - Garcetti Showdown Set

    Zuma Dogg reports that Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti has banned him from speaking at the next two City Council meetings allegedly for Dogg's use of the word "loser" which Garcetti reportedly took offense to.  This sets the scene for a First Amendment showdown between the Council President and the infamous blogger-gadfly at next Tuesday's Council meeting.  Read the rest of the story at Zuma Dogg's blog.

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    Happy 95th Birthday, Grandpa Ed!

    http://c1.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/18/l_870d0a6442504b81ad5fa58398d23d7c.jpgMy grandfather - Seward Edward Higby - was born 95 years ago today, June 14, 1914 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

    He was the second oldest of five children.  Though he had a very rough childhood, living with what we would call today a dysfunctional father, he never considered himself a "victim." Rising up from utter poverty and suffering physical and emotional abuse from an alcoholic father and rage-a-holic stepmother he became a successful businessman, a respected leader of his community and a devoted family man.

    Seward, called Eddie and then Ed as an adult, was named for his grandfather, a well to do attorney and land speculator born in Turin Village, New York.  The elder Seward's family migrated to Iowa in the 1850s. Though he studied law and was a licensed attorney, Seward never actually practiced and instead bought and sold thousands of acres of prime Iowa farmland.

    One of these properties was the stately Cedar Falls manse where my great-great grandfather lived his life as a bachelor.  In 1887,at the age of 29, he fathered an out of wedlock child - Nathan Codner - with the teenage daughter of his gatekeeper.  Nathan, not liking that his wealthy father had shunned him, legally changed his name to Edward Higby at the age of 21 and began a many years effort to shake his father down for some of his largess.

    Not having the father of the year himself as a dad Nathan cum Edward didn't make much of himself either in the parent category.  When his wife and Grandpa Ed's mother, Elsie Pritchard, died on Christmas Eve 1925, Nate was out drinking and carousing and had to be marshaled by a neighbor to retrieve his five young children who Elsie had sent to buy themselves Christmas candy just before she passed.  I have been told that my Grandfather always held his father responsible for his mother's death; had Nate been at home and not drinking up the family's limited funds Elsie may have got the medical care she needed.

    A few years later my Grandfather was now living in Oklahoma with his father and Nate's new bride Daisy Compton.  Grandpa Ed's oldest sister, Sarah, and next youngest brother Pritchard were back in Cedar Falls with their grandfather while the two youngest children, James and Claire, lived with the Higbys in Oklahoma.

    As the oldest child in the Oklahoma home, Grandpa was forced to sleep in a small shack outside the main house.  One day he came home from school and helped himself to a small amount of food from the kitchen.  For whatever reason this enraged Daisy and when Grandpa left to go somewhere, Daisy took a large ax and destroyed Grandpa Ed's shack.  Upon returning and discovery this, the 14 year old Ed, tired of years of abuse, lost his cool and assaulted Daisy.  Neighbors quickly summoned Nate who then had his son jailed.

    After a few days in the lockup the Sheriff informed my Grandfather he had served his time and and could go home.  My Grandfather informed the Sheriff there was no way in hell he was going back to live with that "Son of a bitch" and promptly headed off on the nearly 700 mile trek back to the family homestead in Iowa - walking most of the way.  On his trip my grandfather found that the Salvation Army was the only charity that would provide him assistance and why to this day it is a favorite family charity.

    One afternoon Grandpa Ed's sister Sarah saw what she thought was a hobo walking up the road.  She quickly realized that it was her brother looking for shelter.  Knowing that her Grandfather Seward wasn't happen he was not only raising his grandchildren but the children of his late brother, the 16 year old Sarah wasn't sure that Seward would allow one more child.  So she hid Grandpa Ed in a servants quarter, dressed him in her Grandfather's old clothes, fed him leftovers from the family meals and enrolled him in high school. After of six months of this, one evening at the dinner table Seward said to her "Sarah bring Ed in the house and knock off this foolishness."  Grandpa Ed lived with his Grandfather until he graduated high school and enrolled in Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa).

    Grandpa Ed worked in a number of jobs such as running a boathouse on the Blackhawk River and then became trained as a machinist.  It was while living in Cedar Falls, working and attending college that someone suggested if he wanted to meet a nice girl, he go to church.  That he did and he met Winnifred Lynch, the stunning youngest daughter of a 10 child Irish farming family.

    One Friday in 1935 the 21 year old Ed was to take out the 18 year old Winnifred - called Ticky by her family and friends - on a night on the town.  But there was one hitch - the boss he was working for said payday wasn't to come until Monday and he'd have to get by until then.


    http://c1.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/46/l_e82fb18139bd42f9b615add039f6cbfc.jpgAs mentioned in the song Roll Them Bones written by my dad, Jim Higby, "with 15 cents in his pocket and his necktie neatly pressed" Grandpa Ed went to the Lynch house to tell Winnifred he couldn't take her out.  Yet when he arrived Winnifred was battling multiple siblings for the home's one bathroom forcing Ed to wait.  So it was during that intermission that Ed found himself in the Lynch's parlor with Winnifred's sisters' boyfriends and husbands sitting around drinking coffee.  Looking at the silver tray with all the trimmings Ed was inspired by a bowl of sugar cubes.  Thinking quickly he grabbed a pencil, drew dots on the sugar cubes turning them into dice and thus began an impromptu craps game with his fellow Lynch girls' suitors.  An incredible run of luck turned that 15 cents into several dollars and hence saved the date (and the possibility that Ed and Ticky's descendants of would be born! Suffice to say I am awful grateful for Grandpa's quick thinking!).  A few years later Ed and Ticky were married and in 1940 James Edward Higby, my dad, was born. 

    When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt called the country to war, my Grandfather did his patriotic duty and went to enlist in the armed forces.  Yet there was a problem. The recruiter discovered Ed was a journeyman tool and die maker, a skill far too valuable and necessary for the war effort to send him into combat.  So Ed was hired by the United States Department of War to apply his skills to manufacturing precision parts for planes, tanks and other necessary items to defend the homeland. Forced to leave his young family behind, Ed traveled to places such as Washington state and Minnesota (where his second son David was born in 1942) until eventually he could be reunited with his family.

    After the war Grandpa Ed became aware of an opportunity to open a hardware store about 60 miles north in tiny Rudd, IA.  For the first few years in Rudd, Ed, Ticky, Jim and Dave lived in a small apartment over the hardware store until the store became successful enough that he could build a modest home a few blocks away from the store.

    In Rudd Grandpa Ed became a pillar of the community, was unanimously elected Mayor (he got all eight votes) and became involved in organizations such as the Masonic Lodge, the Congregational Church and beginning what became an annual tradition - organizing massive pancake breakfasts that the whole community showed up to (even when Ed and Ticky relocated to North Hollywood in the late 60s - having few relatives and not yet many friends in their new home - their first backyard pancake breakfast turned out nearly 200 attendees).  It was in Rudd as well that Ed nurtured and developed a passion of his - building and flying small airplanes.  Indeed many times the plane came in handy when locating a much needed item that a hardware store customer desperately needed.

    http://c2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/10/l_a9835768770d48f49aa727b1f7e666cd.jpgAfter several years in Rudd Ed and Ticky thought it was time for a change.  Though they had considered a move to Studio City where Ticky's older sister Flo and her family lived, instead Ed followed up on an opportunity to open another hardware store in Camanche, Iowa, some 200 miles away in the eastern part of the state.  So the Higbys once again hit the road.

    While in the Camanche area, my dad now in his early 20s met my mother.  In 1962 they were married and decided to follow up on that deferred dream of moving to California.  When I was born in 1964, Ed and Ticky decided that the Camanche hardware market wasn't as prosperous as expected, and tired of the cold Iowa winters, hence they joined us here in North Hollywood.

    Quickly adapting to their new environment Ed and Ticky became involved in a new church, were active in airplane owner organizations and made many friends.  They were solid citizens who had tremendous respect from all whom knew them.  They had a close loving family.  That's why it was a significant shock on November 5, 1972 when we received the call that their small two seater plane had crashed slightly after takeoff from Lancaster Airport and they were both killed instantly.

    As I stated before, my grandfather never considered himself a victim. He rose from adversity to become an established businessman, a respected community leader and a devoted family man.  Though I would hasten to call him a liberal in the sense we use that word today, Ed Higby was a lifelong Democrat who believed in hard work, patriotism and fair play for all.  We saw this when his bigoted brother-in-law refused to walk Ed's niece down the aisle when she married a Jew and Ed stepped in to give her away. Ed also encouraged his son Dave's retarded brother-in-law Duane to visit him in his garage and learn some mechanical skills even though Duane's own parents thought it was a waste; "Duane is too stupid to learn anything" his mother told my Grandpa.  Ed believed that everyone deserved a chance if they wanted it. He was a good man who made a mark on many.

    Ed was 58 when he passed away and I was only 8.  I have cried many times lamenting the fact that I did not have his presence in my life growing up.  However I am grateful beyond words for the time I did have with him and proud of the remarkable impact he had on so many people.

    Happy Birthday Grandpa Ed.  I miss you.

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    Saturday, June 13, 2009

    Is the two-party system the best we can do?

    Parts 6 and 7 of 7:






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    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Tom Campbell runs for Governor of California

    video

    Brief clip from the dinner with Westside Republicans
    on Wednesday, June 10, 2009.

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