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Here’s How to Pay for City Hall Park Repairs: Out of City Staff Budgets

MAILANDER MUSINGS - The money to repair City Hall's park at South Lawn should come out of the existing budgets of the Mayor and City Council staff, who gave scofflaw Occupiers free and unprecedented use of civic facilities, even while issuing capricious bills to organizations who use public facilities responsibly. That's Public Works Commission president Andrea Alarcon above left, explaining why she suddenly issued bills to the Sunset Junction Street Fair promoters for $240,000.  And that's her father, Councilman Richard Alarcon, above right, coddling the Occupiers at City Hall's south lawn with his "Responsible Banking" ordinance, even as the Occupiers paid nothing for their 60-day stay.

Now the Downtown News reports that the damage the Occupiers did to City Hall's lawns and park space will cost the City between $300-$400,000.  The extra police hours will cost the City at least that much again, and perhaps up to three times that much.

What rankles here is that the City welcomed the Occupiers with such open arms--while making other groups with long histories of showing far more respect towards civic property-- pay for use of civic services.

The Mayor originally welcomed the Occupiers and even bought them ponchos when it rained.  

Councilmember and Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, then Council president, told the Occupiers to "stay as long as you need to."  

But when there are private vendors who solicit the use of civic property, these same civic figures increasingly ask the vendors themselves to pay for policing.  Garcetti did so with the promoters of Sunset Junction Street Fair, ultimately killing the 31-year-old festival because he couldn't shake the promoters down this year for an extra $240,000.  

Councilmember Jan Perry and the Mayor also shook down the food vendors of Downtown Art Walk for $8,000 an evening when extra policing became an issue there.  

Andrea Alarcon has become the City's point person for such capricious and often unexpected billing, even as her father mollycoddled the protesters along with Garcetti, Bill Rosendahl and many others.

But City Council and the Mayor didn't bill the Occupiers.  Instead, our top elected officials welcomed them with open arms.  They bought them ponchos when it rained.  They told them to "stay as long as you need to."

We have so many staffers in City Hall who are completely unresponsive to routine information requests of ordinary citizens.  Communications directors and chiefs of staff--one per each Councilmember, and a larger staff for the Mayor--are asked to serve at the public's mercy, but instead they serve the capricious whims of their elected officials--and they are increasingly billing events organizations for providing them civic services.  

The City did not do this, however, with the Occupiers, ingrates who left a mess behind and hoped that the taxpayer would pick up after them.

The City itself made this mess, indeed invited it with open arms.  As it increasingly asks responsible organization to pay for civic services, it should now pay to clean up the mess it created out of its own staff budgets.  Dismissing unresponsive staffers who pick and choose whom to serve and whom to ignore would be the best place to start.

(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He is also the author of The Plasma of Terror. Mailander blogs at street-hassle.blogspot.com where this article first appeared.)
–cw

Tags: Occupy LA, Occupiers, scofflaws, Richard Alarcon, Andrea Alarcon, Eric Garcetti, Bill Rosendahl, City Council, Mayor Villaraigosa, Sunset Junction, Jan Perry, Downtown Art Walk, Joseph Mailander







CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 99
Pub: Dec 13, 2011

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