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Is Corrupt Los Angeles Headed for Third World Status?

CORRUPTION WATCH-This article is only for the readers of CityWatch, which is okay since it is being published in CityWatch. Unless one reads CityWatch, I think it is unlikely that people realize that this city faces some extremely serious problems and things are getting worse. 

Just look at who’s given up. There once was a billionaire named Austin – hmm, Austin something or other. He wanted to be mayor in order to fix the city. Then, he thought that if he owned the LA Times he could fix the city. Then, he kind of melted away. 

And, we had the infamous gaggle of saviors in the form of the 2020 Commission, but they too flaked out. After expressing shock at the City’s decline in their December 2013 Report “A Time for Truth,” they proved to be dilettantes. Where did they go? Who knows, maybe they flew off to some cotillion in Davos. Hilda Solis did move to the LA County Board of Supervisors, proving once again that ignorance is no bar to public office. If she’d had any real solutions to offer, the 2020 Commission’s 2014 Report, “A Time for Action,” was the place to make her views known. But like other members of that Commission, she had nothing. 

That kind of brings us to Hillary Clinton and her July 28, 2016 acceptance speech. Here’s my paraphrase of Hillary’s speech: “We don’t need no freaking ruler. We’re Americans and we do things ourselves. Whadaya think ‘By the people, For the people and Of the People’ means? Get off your fat asses and get to work.” At least that’s what I heard. 

Even if the illustrious Mickey Kantor, the alef gadol of the 2020 Commission, had a clue what was wrong with Los Angeles, it’s not for him to fix. We the people – lazy and dimwitted as we may be -- are the ones who bear the responsibility to rid ourselves of our corrupt over-lords. We can think of Mickey K. as LA’s Paul Revere; he sounded the alarm but it’s for others to win the battles. 

So what’s to be done? Readers of CityWatch learn twice a week each week about the host of ills plaguing the city. The fulcrum of it all is the criminal vote trading at City Council – a scam that is a form of bribery where votes are used to purchase other votes. This lies at the base of these ills. 

Whatever corrupt scheme a councilmember or “Il Duce” concocts to loot the city treasury automatically gets unanimous support all the time. Billions of dollars have been diverted away from public services. And these crooks are not a dumb lot – they’ve even managed to make voters believe that city services are an illicit use of public funds. How dare those paramedics, firemen and police be so bold as to ask to be compensated and provided benefits in return for their services? Some members of the public have a conniption when city employees ask for their pensions to actually be funded rather than have their annual contributions given to billionaire real estate speculators. 

There will never be enough money for roads, parks, water mains, paramedics and a fully staffed LAPD as long as we allow each councilmember to write blank checks on the city treasury for his or her favorite developer. There is no way that any city council can create a land use policy that is sane -- as long as it is owned lock, stock and barrel by the developers. 

The criminal vote trading at Los Angeles City Council would stop tomorrow if LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey were not part of the problem. But as Hillary told us – don’t expect any “ruler” to fix anything. If we Angelenos want something fixed, we have to fix it ourselves. Hillary told us in detail about the long, patient, hard work it takes to coalesce community consensus before the right thing can be done. But Jackie Lacey isn’t going to lift her little pinkie to do anything about the organized crime racket that runs City Hall unless we force her. 

No one from the top of the corrupt power structure will wave a magic wand to make the corruption disappear. There are billions of dollars to be looted from Los Angeles and the developers have no intention of saying meekly, “Oh we’re so sorry. We’ll be leaving now.” Thieves who have invaded your home don’t leave until either they’ve cleaned you out or you throw them out. That is the situation facing Angelenos. The Obama Doctrine of “Too Important to Prosecute” will continue to dominate Los Angeles law enforcement until we do something about it. All the members of the Los Angeles City Council are “made men” until we un-make them. 

Are we going to wait until Los Angeles has been driven down to the level of a Third World city where we have favelas instead of neighborhoods? Or are we going to take action and throw the crooks out ourselves?

 

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.