Councilman Huizar and Reyes take action regarding illegal Rec. and Parks Commission vote on Autry National Center expansion
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 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 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 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., the widow of , first announced her intention to pull the exhibition spaces and collections of the into , 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