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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Councilman Huizar and Reyes take action regarding illegal Rec. and Parks Commission vote on Autry National Center expansion

CD 14 Councilman Jose Huizar and CD 1 Councilman Ed Reyes's Motion to assert council jurisdiction over the recent illegal action of the Recreation and Parks Commission to allow expansion of the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. The Friends of the Southwest Museum are asking museum supporters to attend Tuesday's May 31, 2011 City Council Meeting to show support for Councilman Huizar and Reyes's Motion.
Why is Councilman Huizar stuck between a "political rock and a hard place" on the fate of the Southwest Museum? (Hint, don't claim victory to after the battle is over) Maybe it also has to do with his "political Papi" Mayor Villar's supposed financial support from Latham &  Watkins? More on that issue in a email commentary from a Southwest Museum supporter after the jump.
In 2005, when Jackie Autry, the widow of Gene Autry, first announced her intention to pull the exhibition spaces and collections of theSouthwest Museum into Griffith Park, the candidate for Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa jumped at the chance to appear at a meeting of the Friends of the Southwest Museum.  Before a crowd of over 200 alarmed community organization representatives and community people, candidate Villaraigosa stood before the crowd and agreed with Councilmember Ed Reyes that this amounted to "cultural piracy."  Then candidate Villaraigosa one upped Reyes and said "I think I am going to become Mayor. I hope I do.  I am prepared to jerk Autry's chain.  The Autry will take the Southwest Museum away from our community over my dead body."  He got thunderous approval with those lines.

A few months later, Villaraigosa was elected Mayor.  On the night of his election, standing just behind Villaraigosa on the platform in Union Station was none other than Latham & Watkins attorney, Bill Delvac.  At a later time, during a drunken evening among friends, it is reported that Delvac bragged that Latham & Watkins attorneys were responsible for putting $100,000 of campaign contributions into Villaraigosa's war chest to win Mayor (way more that what is officially reported in campaign forms).  No wonder Delvac was standing on the podium with Villaraigosa on election night.

Under extreme fire for its ill-conceived plan to not rehabilitate the Southwest Museum and continue it in service, the Autry hired Bill Delvac of Latham & Watkins, to advise them on preparing an EIR so Autry could propose a grandiose museum expansion project.  From mid 2005 until May of 2007, Latham & Watkins did not list Autry as a lobbying client even though Latham was working with Villaraigosa, Jose Huizar and Tom LaBonge to figure out a way to get the permits in Griffith Park free and clear of any condition that it had responsibility for the historic Southwest Museum site.

Delvac and George Mihlsten, also of Latham & Watkins, were seen at public meetings working on Autry's behalf while they never reported the Autry as a client to the City under municipal lobbying laws.  A complaint was filed with the City Ethics Commission documenting Latham's failure to list Autry as lobbying the Mayor and others on the expansion proposal in Griffith Park.  The City Ethics Commission has never acted on the complaint.  The City Attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, failed to prosecute Delvac and Mihlsten. Apparently only persons of color get prosecuted for campaign and lobbying violations.

In 2007, instead of "yanking Autry's chain" the Mayor and Jose Huizar conducted a press conference at the Southwest Museum with Jackie Autry and Autry CEO John Gray.  While guards were stationed at the driveway to make sure that no one from the community came in to tell the media the real story, Mrs. Autry, John Gray, Villaraigosa, Huizar, and the community sycophant, Carol Jacques, lied to television, radio, and print reporters that Autry had developed a plan to convert the Southwest Museum to an exciting cultural center.  In order to fund it, would Autry raise any money?  Oh, no. A group of elected officials including Huizar, Reyes, Garcetti, and City Hall friends with no fundraising connections would form the new "Southwest Society" to raise the money.  The whole press event was orchestrated by Hillard Fleschman billing scandal felon, Steve Sugarman.

At this press conference, it was Antonio Villaraigosa with Autry's campaign contribution "chain" around his neck, dancing for the TV cameras proclaiming that the Southwest Society would raise the funds to rehabilitate the Southwest Museum.  Villaraigosa did not mention that this plan was in support of the Autry's pending proposal to rip all of the Southwest's exhibits out and move them into an expanded building in Griffith Park.  If there was true justice in this world for the Mayor's lies, a lighting bolt should have come out of the sky and struck Villaraigosa dead on camera because he had told the people of Los Angeles just two years before that Autry would take the Southwest Museum away "over his dead body."

The outcry over the fraud of the Mayor and Huizar in conducting the press conference to try to create City Hall political cover to approve the Autry expansion project was tremendous.  The Southwest Society was a huge embarrassment to those who lent their name to it - including Garcetti who himself wants to be Mayor.  The group met in secret a few times in 2008-2009 and then quietly disbanded when Autry could not overcome the overwhelming condemnation of its plan to destroy the Southwest Museum.  The Southwest Society never raised a penny for rehabilitation of the Southwest Museum. The Mayor's press conference with Jackie Autry was nothing but a huge lie.

Jose Huizar, facing an angry mass of voters over his betrayal of campaign promises to assure the future of the Southwest Museum, had his "Come to Jesus" moment just before the public hearing at City Council in July 2009.  Huizar appeared at the hearing and dramatically asked for a continuance to negotiate a legally enforceable commitment that the Autry would continue to use the Southwest Museum as the primary exhibition site for the collections of the Southwest Museum.  This was merely a request to enforce the promises made by Autry in 2003 in order to be entrusted with the Southwest Museum's assets.

Autry CEO John Gray looked like he was going to pop a brain vessel and Latham's George Mihlsten sputtered at the microphone that "the Autry can NEVER agree to such a condition!"  A month later, Autry announced it was withdrawing its expansion application to the City, pointing an angry finger of "blame" at Huizar and the Friends of the Southwest Museum.  Sources inside Autry however report that that was only part of the story. Reportedly, John Gray had lied to the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets about how much money the Autry had really raised.  Autry simply did not have the money to build the grandiose Brenda Levin designed expansion.

While Jose Huizar now publicly acknowledges that he was misled by the Autry into supporting its efforts to expand in Griffith Park, he has tried to bring Autry to the table to compromise. But Jackie Autry wants to take all of its assets and abandon the building to anyone who she can sell it to or give it to. The only thing the Autry understands is political power.

And then there is Mayor Villaraigosa.  He has remained silent.  He continues to work with his buddies at Latham & Watkins to find a way for Autry to open Southwest Museum exhibition halls over inside the Autry building on City taxpayer land.

Everyone knows how Villaraigosa was Huizar's patron saint in his original election. Back when Villaraigosa had some credibility with voters, they appeared together in campaign literature.  But today, the Mayor is toxic.  No one wants to be seen or photographed with him on a campaign flyer.  But the Mayor is still the Mayor.  And he rules over the Recreation and Parks Department.  And we now know that the Recreation and Parks staff has signed off on bogus environmental documents to support the Autry's latest expansion of exhibition space.  And last week, extraordinary efforts were made to prevent the public from knowing the Rec and Parks Commission had the Autry expansion on its agenda.

So last week, Latham and the Mayor made their move to screw the Mayor's old neighborhood where they hate him for his betrayals of his wife, the Southwest Museum, and pretty much everything else he has done.  The meeting was moved, supposedly for the lack of a quorum.  Then a special meeting notice was used. It was physically posted only on a bulletin board or two for about 45 hours before the meeting.  People who subscribe to the Rec and Parks email notification system for Board agendas are reporting that they did not receive last Friday's agenda. The item was rubberstamped by the Commission with testimony from four Autry employees.  Nice.

The Rec and Parks Commission is run by former Latham & Watkins partner, Barry Sanders.  The same guy who is trying to cram into our public parks signage of advertisers targeted to our children. Has the Mayor and his henchman Jeff Carr been leaning on and intimidating Rec and Parks staff to "help" the Autry to quietly get its permits to reproduce the Southwest's exhibits?

When Richard Alatorre worked to save the Southwest Museum back in the early 1990s, he would have reacted to Autry going around his back by immediately pulling the decision up to City Council for review and veto.  Huizar has not immediately put on the City Council's agenda an item to call up the Autry item for review like Alatorre would have done.  The question is: Why?

Political observers think this is the Mayor's thugs at work.  They think that Huizar is being pressured by the Mayor to not pull the Autry item up for review.  If it's true, there really is a special place reserved in Hell for Mayor Villaraigosa.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Thanks for the concise history of the Autry 's lying and deceitfulness. I hope people will read it in its entirety and contact the councilmen whether they live in the district or not.

To have the artifacts taken from the home that Lummis built for them is a great tragedy. As it is, the Autry has locked everyone out and there's no telling where the artifacts are, or even if they have sold them. This is a cultural tragedy for the entire city and the lack of stewardship by our leaders is shameful.

May 29, 2011 12:17 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Red Spot,

It's too bad you didn't try to WORK WITH Huizar instead of trashing him 3x a day for years.

Now, when you call, they hang up on you.

Now, when you want to try and TALK, you have zero credibility.

Now, when you need to, you can't.

May 29, 2011 5:18 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Even if the Council asserts jurisdiction, the hearing will be conducted in Tom LaBonge's Arts and Culture Committee. The members are Tom, Ed Reyes, and Herb Wesson. Since the Autry Museum is in Tom's district, you can bet he will find nothing wrong with the sneaky and underhanded way the Autry's expansion was processed. Ed Reyes, who's District has the Casa de Adobe, a museum building part of the Southwest Museum complex, once called Autry's actions despicable, but has dialed back his rhetoric after pressure from Autry lobbyists. That leaves Herb Wesson. Herb hates conflict, so more than anyone alarmed members of the public must sent emails, faxes, and call Wesson's office.

May 29, 2011 11:32 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The Southwest Museum is in Huisar's district, not Ed Reyes.

And, they are back each other up.

May 30, 2011 8:51 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I don't see who said it was in Ed Reyes' district. Everyone knows it's in Huizar's.

I think neighborhood councils should organize and fight one city agency at a time and Rec and Parks is a very good place to start. They are as shady as can be. They need to be pressured really, really hard.

May 31, 2011 2:28 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Reyes simply seconded the motion. Don't get all silly about it - but realize that he has a piece of Mt. Washington, too - and his stakeholders are also after him.

Anyway, the Council exercised jurisdiction today y 12-0 so this could be "heard"... but it won't change a thing. Tom LaBonge chairs the committee it's been referred to, and he will do everything in his self-serving, corrupt little power-mad brain to make sure the Autry gets what it wants -- after "listening" to hordes of people from both the Northeast and Griffth Park area that are opposed to what Autry is trying to backdoor.

LaBonge also has the City Attorney, Clerk, and the R&P Commission ready to say ANYTHING necessary to just go through the motions and change nothing in the outcome.

May 31, 2011 12:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This looks like a great time to Redistrict Mount Washington Out of CD14.

Cut the head off of the snake!

Eagle Rock and Downtown should make a move to leave also.

June 03, 2011 1:07 PM  

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