LA’s Transparency Circle Jerk

@THE GUSS REPORT-One of the few things governments do well is creating faux “celebrations” with catchy names that comprehensively fool and satisfy nobody but themselves. 

Hey, y’all! Welcome to #OpenDataDay 2018! Join us in a courtesy clap for our latest bull-session called Data and Donuts! Here are your hosts, LA City Controller Ron Galperin, Councilmember Monica Rodriguez and the Southern California Association of Governments! 

As though more government representation would make it more believable…. 

Watch as Galperin’s voice literally squealed at the mention of “Data and Donuts,” as if its cutesiness counted for anything relevant, such as how many people enrolled in art classes or how many soccer balls were purchased and – wait for his Big Reveal! – how much we paid for those soccer balls! 

It wouldn’t be complete without the official handing out of ornate certificates of accomplishment given from this government to that government, with photos taken by a taxpayer-paid photographer. 

When Councilmember Bob Blumenfield got up to pompously quote the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” I was reminded of the significantly different tone Blumenfield took that time I asked him about his wife, Kafi, and the troubled finances of certain non-profit endeavors which employed her. Sunlight to politicians like Blumenfield, it sometimes seems, is a matter of what question is being asked, and how close it hits home. 

It was such a charade that at one point, Galperin even courtesy clapped for his own comment.

Notably absent was the city’s recently named CAO, Rich Llewellyn, about whom I wrote last year for his refusal to fulfill California Public Records Act requests made to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office because “…records for which the public interest served by withholding the records clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure, and may be withheld pursuant to Government Code 6255.” 

In other words, less disclosure is better than more, because the “public interest” is not, and never will be, defined.  

You see, transparency is a very small dose concept in government. They only want to share information about art classes, soccer balls and how many 911 calls were received. 

But Galperin and his chums are silent about real issues, such as: 

  • How badly was the city harmed in terms of filth, inconvenience and coming legal actions by its trash hauler cartel system that crashed and burned just a few months after it was launched? 
  • Quantify in hours, Mr. Galperin, how much harder it is for people to get to work since Garcetti and the City Council tried but failed to ram-rod people into the subway (which even Councilmember Nury Martinez said she wouldn’t ride) by getting rid of traffic lanes in favor of bike lanes? 
  • How many officials restated their financial disclosures because they hid income and assets? 
  • How many spouses of elected officials are appointed to commissions, even though their resumes don’t reflect they are the best candidate or, how many, like Richelle Huizar (wife of Councilmember Jose Huizar) leave meetings early, even on their first day? 

Galperin is the same guy who stayed silent after LA Animal Services quietly lowered (by thousands) the number of animals it previously claimed were adopted, and failed to provide the aforementioned sunlight on what actually became of them. Then, when I asked Galperin what he was going to do about it, he referred me to the high school graduate wife-of-a-TV-producer who held a fundraiser in their mansion for him. 

Angelenos may be too busy to notice, or perhaps it’s too confusing for them to even care. But these things need to be pointed out, since those in the mainstream media are simply too close to the corruption to notice or care themselves. 

If #OpenDataDay2018 is the circus that came to town last week, Galperin is the guy with the shovel walking behind the elephants.

 

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and haBob Blumenfield, s contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. Verifiable tips and story ideas can be sent to him at TheGussReport@gmail.com. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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