New From CityWatch
BE GREEN--Just two months after a 14-blaze firestorm ravaged Northern California, at least five fires are burning across more than 83,000 acres in Southern California, destroying dozens of structures and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes.
BELL VIEW-This one goes way back. When I was about 8 years old, I got together with my friend up the street, Davy Dexheimer, to play Hot Wheels. We set up a track down Davy’s long driveway and raced our cars against each other. Davy had quite the collection, and one in particular caught my eye. So, when we were packing up our things at the end of the day, I pocketed one small car and headed home.
PLATKIN ON PLANNING-At the height of the previous anti-Russian cold war, roughhewn anti-Communists, like J. Edgar Hoover, wrote long forgotten tracts, like his masterpiece, Masters of Deceit. He told “real Americans” about telltale signs that slick-talking liberals sneaking into their circle of friends might really be clandestine Reds. Picking up his theme, in 1949 RKO Studios produced I Married a Communist, but it was such a dud that the studio renamed the film, The Woman on Pier 13. A half-century later, acclaimed writer Phillip Roth wrote a sarcastic novel with the same name, “I Married a Communist.”
EASTSIDER-Everyone knows about the plight of the folks living around Porter Ranch, and how well SoCalGas has treated them. Now it appears that all DWP customers will be receiving a “gift” from the Gas company that we really, really are not going to like!
LA WATCHDOG--As a result of Raul Bocanegra’s resignation from the State Assembly, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for a special election to fill his seat. This will more than likely include two trips to the polls, a primary and then a runoff, costing taxpayers an estimated $2 million, if not more. And this does not take into consideration the distraction caused by this special election or the campaign dollars spent by the aspiring candidates. (Photos above: State Senators Kevin de Leon, left and Ricardo Lara)
WHY THE RESISTANCE GROWS--“It was so pitiful — city planners asked us for our 'feelings.' They rushed past open space so fast I was embarrassed,” observed Patricia Bell Hearst, chair emeritus of Hillside Federation.
VOICES--Los Angeles is in the throes of an unprecedented housing affordability crisis, with homelessness at historic highs. So why does our planning department see fit to allow developers to buy up affordable, rent-stabilized buildings and convert them to luxury, million-dollar condominiums?
YES IN MY BACK YARDERS ON THE MOVE-Of the fifteen bills in the “housing package” signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 29, the one that got the most attention in the media was State Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 35—and for good reason: SB 35 goes a long way toward “putting teeth” in California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocations, the number of housing units that each city’s and county’s zoning must accommodate. Moreover, the bill’s provisions for “by-right” approval of certain multi-family, infill developments both circumvent the California Environmental Quality Act and eliminate negotiations with developers over community benefits.
PREVEN REPORT-Today the LA City Council moved forward with its confusing and dumb plan to allow for the opening on January 1, 2018 of legal recreational pot shops.
ALPERN AT LARGE--While not giving anyone a "pass", it's safe to say that Metro still enjoys the reputation of a reformed agency that is trying to do its best by the taxpayers and commuters of LA County. Compared to other public agencies, it's responsive and responsible and tries to do what it's told ... including the construction of infrastructure projects that should have been built decades ago.
420 FILE--The Los Angeles City Council approved regulations for the recreational marijuana industry on Wednesday, setting the stage for LA to become the largest city in the U.S. with legal cannabis when California’s adult-use marijuana laws go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
VOICES--Last week, late on Wednesday night (11/29/17) and on into Thursday, thousands of residents across Los Angeles’ Westside smelled “gas” touching off concern, fear, distress, worry and … a host of adverse health effects.
REMEMBER ENRON?--Los Angeles’ escalating housing costs are not due to impartial market forces, but rather, the product of judicially sanctioned corruptionism. Hillel Aron and Jason McGahan, in their November 29, 2017 article, What Happens When Wall Street Is Your Landlord? describe the personal pain and suffering that is increasingly befalling Angelenos.
RANTZ AND RAVEZ-Without Justice in our society – and particularly in the Criminal Judicial System -- there is a strong tendency by some members of society to resort to misguided vigilante justice or, as it states in Exodus 21:24, to demand an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth, a hand for hand, a foot for a foot.
FIRST PERSON REPORT-My parents love true crime shows. They love Dateline, 20/20, you name it. Lester Holt and Keith Morrison are like family friends at this point. It’s been this way since I was in high school, and I remember my sister and I finding it funny how much these morbid shows entertained our parents until we got hooked on the stories too. But there was always a running commentary from our parents.
DEEGAN ON LA-Iconic skyscrapers, a symbol of modernism, dominate New York’s Manhattan skyline and define its signature style. This came to be called the “International Style,” one that used a formal arrangement of glass and steel -- the newest building materials that came into use mid-century -- when Manhattan experienced a post-World War II building boom. Here in Los Angeles, though, the predominant architectural signature style is Spanish stucco with red tiled roofs.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS—Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmembers José Huizar, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Curren Price today officially opened the Skid Row Community ReFresh Spot, a personal care center that will provide new access to showers and toilet facilities for Angelenos experiencing homelessness.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS—Check out the graphic at the top of this article. This is what we will be seeing at Olympic and Figueroa when the new hotel-residential-commercial project is built there, probably in 2022.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Five current and former police officers of Asian descent filed a lawsuit last week against the San Gabriel police department in Los Angeles county, California, alleging that fellow officers openly disparaged people of Asian heritage.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Wells Fargo & Company has decided to evict a popular tree-lighting festival from the parking lot of one of its branches, a move coming at a time when the bank is working to rebuild its image in the aftermath of a scandal involving the opening of accounts for millions of customers without their permission.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--The Los Angeles City Council Public Works and Gang Reduction committee approved a motion earlier in November to hire homeless individuals to collect garbage. The motion, which was written by city councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and Joe Buscaino, also aims to address the excess garbage on public walkways and streets – one of the issues residents most frequently report to the city.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Community Relations Officer John King promoted the idea that Rancho San Pedro’s public housing residents and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles are on a journey together. King spoke at an Oct. 26 meeting regarding the public housing’s redevelopment.
BCK FILE--As most of the country slept the US Senate passed a tax bill that included scribbled give-aways on the margins and will pack a punch to Californians, especially vis a vis the elimination of the state and local tax deductions and change to mortgage interest deductions. (Photo above: CA Congressmember Nancy Pelosi.)
HOW GOLD IS THE GOLDEN STATE? --Twice each year, once in January and again in May, Gov. Jerry Brown warns Californians that the economic prosperity their state has enjoyed in recent years won’t last forever.
GELFAND’S WORLD--Sometimes I overreact. At least that's what various relatives have told me over the years. But on Saturday, I found that a room full of people agreed with me in being exasperated with our government representatives. The occasion was the monthly meeting of the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC). The context was a preliminary report from the LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) and the city's planning department about an expected update to something called the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Ordinance.
A GUSS REPORT EXCLUSIVE--For the second consecutive time, notorious Los Angeles City Hall gadfly Wayne Spindler has defeated LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, as a federal judge ruled that Spindler did not threaten Herb Wesson, the LA City Council president, in an incident back on May 11, 2016.
ANIMAL WATCH-Steve Cooley, former three-term LA County District Attorney and co-author of just-released Blue Lives Matter: In the Line of Duty, is not commonly known as a former LAPD Reserve Officer.
CORRUPTION WATCH-Los Angeles, the nation’s greatest city, is being poisoned by an amalgam of corrupt politicos, Wall Street, and a corrupt judiciary.
DEFINING THE DEBATE-The first time I remember being sexually harassed at work was at my second job ever, working at a bookstore. There was a man there who always tried to work sexual innuendo into every conversation we had.
VETS FOR PEACE SPEAK OUT-The U.S. president, Donald Trump, revealed his inner nature again earlier this week when he retweeted a series of anti-Muslim propaganda videos from the deputy leader of an ultranationalist, neo-fascist hate group in the UK. Trump sank to a new low in terms of the blatant falsehoods and myths he will invoke and propagate to incite enmity against Muslims.
AT LENGTH--It seems like it was just two short years ago that we lived in a country that was moving forward past historic racial divides with the election of the first black president —a man who brought intelligence, grace and compassion to our highest office without a hint of scandal.
NEW GEOGRAPHY--The Republican Party’s road to the 2018 mid-terms looks increasingly like Pickett’s Charge, the Confederate assault on fixed Union positions that marked the high-water mark for the southern cause. After achieving its greatest domination of elective office in 80 years, the GOP seems likely to get slaughtered.
MUSINGS BY MIRISCH-There’s something about Pixar and senior citizens. The world’s leading animation studio, groundbreaking within an art form traditionally associated with children and families, seems to be at its absolute best when making pictures featuring senior citizen characters -- perhaps the least traditional of animation characters -- in prominent roles.
COMMUNICATIONS POLITICS--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced it will next month vote on a plan to repeal net neutrality laws that require internet providers to give consumers equal access to all content online. A repeal would be bad news for everyone -- especially women, whose voices, causes and businesses are often shut out of mainstream media.
LA WATCHDOG--On Tuesday, November 28, the politically appointed Board of Water and Power Commissioners rubber stamped the transfer of $242 million of Ratepayer money from the DWP’s debt burdened Power System to City Hall without any meaningful discussion.
LA WATCHDOG--As a result of an expose in the Los Angeles Times that disclosed numerous incidents of groping and sexual harassment, State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) announced that he will not seek reelection and that he will resign from the California State Assembly on September 1, the end of the legislative session.
LA WATCHDOG--Why are Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, the Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and Paul Koretz, the Chair of the Personnel Committee, and Mayor Eric Garcetti unwilling to be transparent about the City’s pension crisis that contributes to its never ending Structural Deficit and is crowding out basic services to Angelenos?
LA WATCHDOG--For the last four seasons, three million Southern California households have been unable to watch the Dodgers in the comfort of their own homes because of a business dispute between two media giants, Charter Communications, the owner of Time Warner Cable now doing business as Spectrum, and Direct TV, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company with a market capitalization exceeding $200 billion.
LA WATCHDOG--Ever since The New York Times broke the story on October 4th about the sexual harassment and rape allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, numerous other victims have surfaced, naming not only Harvey Weinstein, but other Hollywood predators, including filmmaker Brett Ratner, actor Kevin Spacey, and director James Toback. And no doubt there will be others who have used their power and status to prey on those lower down on the food chain.
LA WATCHDOG--On April 20, 2018, Mayor Eric Garcetti will submit his Proposed Budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2018 to the City Council. Between now and then, the Mayor and the City Council will develop the budget behind closed doors without any input from the public, including the charter authorized Neighborhood Councils.
RESISTANCE WATCH--On a nippy November evening, 80 defiant Boyle Heights residents and allies trekked to the Westside to rally near multimillionaire Frank “BJ” Turner’s McMansion, miles from the historic corner where Turner is trying to drive out LA’s historic mariachi musicians and their families.
RESISTANCE WATCH--If you want to make a real difference that impacts so many of our community members and residents, please attend and share this event hosted by March and Rally. This is one of the most crucial issues we are currently facing in LA.
RESISTANCE WATCH--The National Day of Action is planned for Monday as the Trump resistance fights the Republican tax plan, which is expected to raise taxes on middle-income Americans while cutting them for corporations and the richest families. (Photo: @Indivisible12th/Twitter)
FEDERAL AID POLITICS--As thousands of Californians struggle to recover from October’s devastating wildfires, the White House has left California’s appeal for relief funding out of its $44 billion disaster aid request to Congress, meaning the state may not receive any federal aid for them. (Photo above: Smoke obscures the sun in Santa Rosa, Calif., during the October wildfires. )
RESISTANCE WATCH--Defenders of the open internet are issuing urgent calls to action as news reports indicate that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai has set his sights on a December 14 vote to kill net neutrality and "destroy the internet as we know it."
ANIMAL WATCH-Two Pit Bulls owned Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue, a West Hollywood group, recently attacked innocent victims in separate incidents while in the care of fosters in the city of Los Angeles. Both were declared Dangerous Dogs by LA Animal Services' GM Brenda Barnette. This means the dogs must be removed from the city or euthanized and that the owner cannot license or keep another dog within the city limits for three years.
ANIMAL WATCH-“We are opposed to puppy mills," stated Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Wednesday, as the City Council discussed repealing a ban which would have restricted local pet shops from selling dogs, cats and potbellied pigs not obtained from an animal-care facility or rescue organization. "This will not affect puppy mills,” she said, “They’re going to continue to be there.”
ANIMAL WATCH-At its Tuesday night meeting, Oct. 24, the Los Angeles Animal Services' Commission, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, approved General Manager Brenda Barnette’s report requesting removal of all dog-breed ID labels from kennel cards in the interests of “transparency,” because she and the City shelter staff “really don’t know the breed of the dogs.”
ANIMAL WATCH-Animal activists and crime-ravaged communities reporting rampant animal neglect and abuse, cheered when the long-sought Los Angeles Police Department's Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) was formed in 2005 to address felony crimes against animals, including dog fighting and cockfighting. The motion was introduced by now-Congressman Tony Cardenas and seconded by current Secretary of State Alex Padilla, while both served on the City Council, and was approved on May 13, 2005.
ANIMAL WATCH-“If there is nothing bad or dangerous in a dog’s history--especially Pit Bulls--why would Brenda Barnette hide its records?” asked a visitor at the September 12 Los Angeles Animal Services Commission meeting.
@THE GUSS REPORT-On Friday, the National Football League (NFL) released a news nugget that was obscured by Friday’s Hurricane Harvey, President Trump pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and North Korea firing off some test missiles.