Top 10 Unanswered Questions at LA’s City Hall

LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the Herb Wesson led City Council are less than transparent as they continue to duck questions that may expose their lack of respect for the taxpayers and their failure to manage the financial affairs of the City in a prudent manner. 

   

Mayor Garcetti, will you honor your 2015 pledge, “As long as I’m your Mayor, I won’t duck bad news.  I am going to own it and I’m going to attack it.”  

  1. Why haven’t the Sea Breeze Six (Mayor Garcetti, Councilmen Joe Buscaino, Jose Huizar, Mitch Englander, and Gil Cedillo, Councilwomen Nury Martinez, and Supervisor Janice Hahn) disgorged $600,000 of illegal campaign contributions (some would call them bribes) from Sam Leong, the indicted developer of the $72 million Sea Breeze apartment complex in the Harbor Gateway area of the City?  The City Council and the Mayor overturned the Planning Commission’s finding that this development was out of character with this industrial zoned area, resulting in a $25 million windfall for the developer.  
  1. Why haven’t Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, and the other three members of the secretive Executive Employees Relations Committee (Councilmen Koretz, Krekorian, and Englander) made public the February 2016 report on the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) by former CAO Miguel Santana?  This secret document recommended that this Plan that benefited senior members of the Police and Fire Departments be terminated because it is not needed and is and never has been “cash neutral,” contrary to the promises of City Hall when it was placed on the ballot in 2001. 
  1. What are the incentives that Mayor Eric Garcetti is offering to Amazon to locate its second headquarters in the City of Los Angeles?  And how much would these giveaways cost Angelenos?  And what would be the impact on our already stressed housing market? 
  1. Why do units of permanent supportive housing sponsored by the City cost more than $450,000 when the Aids Healthcare Foundation is creating units for under $100,000? And why is the City using HHH money for affordable housing when we were told that this bond money would be used to house the homeless? 
  1. What steps has the City taken to alleviate the increased expense and poor service that resulted from the City’s Trashopoly, the Exclusive Trash Franchise.  There has been a hearing, but talk is cheap.  A $2 billion increase in trash collection bills over the next ten years is not. 
  1. Why hasn’t City Council President Herb Wesson implemented the excellent budget recommendations of the LA 2020 Commission?  After all, he endorsed these recommendations at a press conference in 2014.  These include the formation of an independent Office of Transparency and Accountability to oversee the City’s budget and finances, a thorough review of the City’s two massively underfunded pension plans, and multiyear budgeting. 
  1. Why is Mayor Garcetti telling us that the 2018-19 Budget is “fiscally prudent and economically conservative” when the budget fails to recognize increased labor costs and relies dubious sources of revenues, including diverting over $100 million from the City’s rainy day funds? 
  1. Why aren’t Mayor Garcetti and the Herb Wesson City Council addressing the City’s Structural Deficit which, despite a 36% increase in revenues over the last six years, will approach $4 billion over the next four years?  This deficit includes increases in employee compensation, money for our streets, the building of an adequate rainy day fund, and proper funding of the City’s two pension plans that are in the red by $15 billion (70% funded)?
  1. Why hasn’t Mayor Garcetti and the City Council followed up on the recommendations of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates.  These include, among other, the call for the City to host monthly meetings to discuss the budget, to benchmark the efficiency of the City’s work force, and to develop a capital plan for the Convention Center, the Civic Center, the Los Angeles River, and Storm water. 
  2. Why hasn’t Councilmember Jose Huizar repaid the City the $200,000 that was used to pay his lawyers in the sexual harassment suit brought by his former mistress and chief of staff?  Why do the terms of his settlement with the victim remain confidential, especially when there was hanky-panky on City property?  And why hasn’t Huizar’s inappropriate behavior been subject to greater scrutiny by the #MeToo movement?

 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw