CORRUPTION WATCH-The normal pattern for the mafiazation of a business is that the thugs move in on an established business and by using threats, physical intimidation and murder, they force honest businessmen out of the field. The objective of organized crime is to create a situation in which it has a geographic monopoly. When you own the only trash hauling company in your part of town, people pay what you demand or your trash piles up, and up, and up.
Other features of the mafiazation of a business are bad service and rising rates. “Whatz ya gonna do about it?”
On August 7, 2017, LA Times reporter David Zahnizer (who, along with Emily Alpert-Reyes, broke the story about the massive bribery scam surrounding Samuel Leung’s Sea Breeze Project in which the mayor’s “charity” got $60,000) has now reported on the new LA trash hauling program imposed on businesses and apartments in the City of los Angeles.
Let’s take a look at this new scam emanating from the Garcetti Administration.
Each councilmember gets the plum to determine the one trash hauler who will have a monopoly in his or her district. As the City’s Sanitation department states:
“The program divides the City into zones that will be served exclusively by one waste collection company, meaning fewer trucks congesting our neighborhoods and less wear and tear on our streets. The companies will also be required to use only clean-fuel burning trucks, which will help to improve our air quality.”
So, we are allowing only one trash hauler per council district to save wear and tear on our roads. Really? Are Angelenos that dumb? Wait, don’t answer that. Whatever thief gets the monopoly will make certain to improve service and decrease prices. Right? But that is not what Zahnizer reports:
“…the new program, known as RecycLA, is not being universally welcomed by the businesses and residents who will rely on it for their trash pickup. In recent weeks, customers have begun complaining about soaring prices, uncollected trash and calls to their new waste hauling companies going unreturned.”
Gee whiz, what else do we need to know to illustrate the mafiazation of trash hauling? High prices, rotten service and unresponsive trash haulers. On the good side, when the City Council is the big daddy running this corrupt scam -- looting the citizenry by killing off free enterprise -- at least we don’t have the physical intimidation and murders they experience back East.
Like the crime bosses say, “Whatz ya gonna do about it?” Judge Richard Fruin has ruled that the Los Angeles City Council is above the law. Therefore, if it wishes to engage in criminal activity, there is nothing you can do about it -- except pay up. The local trash haulers don’t even have to send Vinny and Two Fingers Louie around to visit apartment owners.
However, there’s a fly in the ointment. As councilmember Bonin discovered when he decided to bring the City’s War on the Demon Car to Playa del Rey with his road diet, the natives still have some fight left in them. What good are campaign contributions from your favorite developer or your monopolistic trash hauler, if voters are mad enough to vote you out of office? Sometimes, anger vitiates money.
Garcetti and the other kleptocrats ruling LA laugh at the notion that anyone will do anything. After all, they received 80% of the vote and they hold all the cards, including the court system, except for those pesky federal judges. On the other hand, there is growing ire at the impact of corruptionism. People in Boyle Heights are beginning to see who is behind the Gentrification of East LA. Some people in South LA similarly recognize that the villains who are threatening to wipe out LA’s traditional Black neighborhoods are living high on the hog at City Hall. Motorists are becoming fed-up with the swarms of cyclists who believe that traffic laws don’t apply to them.
No one knows when a critical mass of opposition will coalesce. One factor against apartment owners’ organizing to combat the Mafiazation of trash hauling is the ability of the thieves to temper their greed. As long as they keep the theft from each person low enough, no one will want to spend the time and money to fight the corruption.
If trash hauling monthly charges go from $240/month for an apartment house of 12 units to $480/month, that is $20/month/unit the owner will pass on to the renter. The trash hauler, however, doubles his income. This aspect of business corruption is why Class Action lawsuits arose. Corrupt businessmen have known enough to keep their thefts low so that no one customer could afford to complain. Class Actions, however, allow hundreds and sometimes thousands of cheated customers to sue in one lawsuit. That gives customers a chance to fight against large corporate thieves.
But, are Class Action lawsuit efficacious? Not really. They take years and tens of thousands of dollars to prosecute and at the end of the day, some judge may throw the whole thing out claiming that the City has a right to cheat.
Then there’s Judge Fruin’s rule: when City Council’s criminal behavior affects everyone, it affects no one. “The Court agrees with defendant's [City’s] analysis to the effect that Petitioner ‘is no more interested in the votes and voting behaviors of City Council than any other resident or taxpayer.’” Thus, no one may sue when everyone is subject to the criminal behavior. -- December 13, 2016, Fruin Decision.
There is only one avenue left to Angelenos. Make life as unpleasant for the thieves at City Hall as they make it for us. That’s what happened to Councilmember Bonin and his road diet in Playa del Rey causing Bonin to restore the travel lanes. Some anti-gentrification folks in East LA are taking more direct action against the gentrifiers who are arriving to move out the Mexicans. When the courts are closed to the citizens, only direct action remains.
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.