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Will Garcetti Go to D.C. with Biden or to Prison with Huizar?

SKID ROW-Maybe folks haven’t been paying attention to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “antics” under the guise of being Mayor, but “We, the People of Skid Row” are shocked at his blatant “Escape to D.C.” tactics which have been on full display for well over a year now. 

Garcetti’s #FailedLeadership when it comes to anything associated with homelessness/houselessness can only be described as, “get a photo-op to send to D.C. and extend any and all deadlines until either after the November elections or 2022 when I’m termed out of office.” 

Right out of the politician’s handbook in the section, “Kicking the can down the road,” which in politics means leaving it for someone else to figure out. 

Sure, Garcetti’s resume has all the big-ticket items that’s sure to wow everyone in D.C. -- such as a $1.2-billion dollar Measure HHH brand new funding pot for the City of LA to “address” homelessness. Then there’s winning the bid to bring the 2028 Olympics to LA or winning the bid to bring the 2926 World Cup (soccer’s biggest event) to LA or the return of NFL pro football to Los Angeles in the name of not one, but TWO teams. All this along with the new METRO subway transportation projects, such as the Crenshaw/LAX line, the “Subway to the Sea,” Regional Connector and the other projects that the Mayor can easily connect himself to since he sits on METRO’s Board of Directors. 

That’s right. These are the bells and whistles that D.C. would take a glimpse at and be impressed. 

Once Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden won the November election, Garcetti probably shouted “We won!” louder than Biden did, and immediately started packing his bags. Then he emailed his up-to-date resume highlighting the multi-billion-dollar projects he claims ownership of to, suggesting that he’s worthy of a high-profile Cabinet position in the new administration. Deep down inside, Garcetti knows he’d be hightailing it out of LA before We, the People all figure out that he’s been playing “three-card monte” with Angelenos’ hope and trust that he could get things done. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to D.C. 

Federal agents ran into City Hall and other places quickly snatching up computers, thumb drives, cell phones, large sums of loose cash and more. The mainstream media almost immediately started swimming through every single public records document they could find to be the first to announce the juicy details. That was years ago. And of course, the FBI keeps singing “This is an ongoing investigation,” even as suspects plead guilty and newly filed indictment paperwork implicates others. 

In the Mayor’s office on the third floor of City Hall, Garcetti scrambles to keep up with the daily reports, news stories, blogs and even social media posts to determine how bad the damage is to HIS name and reputation. It’s a massive story locally in LA, but not of much interest on the national level. 

Garcetti and his team of damage control experts must be thinking, “Whew!” 

Garcetti works tirelessly to improve his national image because D.C. says no one has heard of him outside of LA and definitely not beyond California. If he asks, “what do they think of me?” the response is, “we hear there’s a bit of trouble brewing with homelessness. You might want to do something about that.” 

Suddenly, the Garcetti-machine cranks up its intensity. More press releases of upcoming solutions to homelessness, photo-ops with the United Way as they launch a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign called, “Everyone In.” Ironically, I can’t help but wonder how many homeless/houseless folks could’ve been helped with all that money spent on marketing? 

Then there is a barrage of press conferences promoting a plethora of “homeless solutions” -- tiny homes, pallet homes, bridge housing, Measure HHH updates of all the permanent supportive housing that is to come, Project Room Key providing 15 thousand hotel and motel rooms for the most vulnerable homeless people (even though the City’s own reports state they only got to around four thousand) and all the accompanying mainstream media attention any politician dreams of. 

Garcetti calls back to D.C. and asks, “How’s that?” 

D.C. responds, “Umm we’re now hearing that there’s some sort of FBI investigation?” 

“Oh, that,” Garcetti bemoans. “It was just some rogue guy who I hardly even know, but the Feds pounced on him and his crew so quickly that I don’t know any details yet. As soon as I do, you’ll be the first to know! Now about those Cabinet appoints?” 

Biden’s team had already lined up Garcetti as Co-Chair of Biden’s VP Selection Committee, National Co-Chair of Biden’s Campaign and put him in the conversation for head of Transportation. We all know Garcetti wanted no part of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) position due to its direct connection to homelessness. So is he begging Biden for the head of Transportation gig based on his METRO resume? 

What’s interesting and quite telling is that as loyal as Garcetti has been (dating all the way back to the Obama/Biden Presidential campaign of 2008), it was first announced days ago that Biden’s team recently chose Garcetti to be a “proxy” on Biden’s behalf to speak at an international Climate Change conference with the United Nations, the United Kingdom, France and others. But suddenly, it’s now being reported that Garcetti won’t be speaking on behalf of Biden. Uh-oh. 

Are the Feds closing in? Are the walls closing in on Garcetti? Is Garcetti’s squeaky clean, choir boy image revealing a bit of tarnish? 

Could the FBI’s latest indictment of Raymond Chan be a problem for Garcetti? Afterall, Chan was formerly Garcetti’s Deputy of Economic Development who is drenched in the “Huizar-City Hall scandal. Could Garcetti be next? 

While the indictment has language that seemingly indicates Garcetti wasn’t involved, a closer examination reveals Chan possibly implicated Garcetti on Page 56 in which Chan, in 2017, speaking to “an associate,” states, “. . .we pull all the political, you know, chains, we got the Council (City Council -- which included Huizar at that time), we got the Mayor’s office, talked to HIM and so, so you know, HE modified the conditions a little bit but it’s still good, okay.” 

Wow. So much to unpack here. 

First, Ray Chan retired from the City of Los Angeles working directly for Mayor Garcetti in June 2017. The above quote from Page 56 in the indictment happened in September 2017. It is a City ethics requirement that former City employees must wait two years before they “lobby” City Hall. Chan didn’t even wait two months! 

Further, Garcetti knows this ethics rule and subsequently is in violation of it. And because this is stated in official court-filed FBI paperwork, which is public record, the City Ethics Commission can, and should, initiate an investigation. 

Second, if Chan’s allegations are true, Garcetti knowingly altered in an attempt to deceive Planning Commissioners which then implicates his participation in said FBI criminal proceedings -- acting in concert with Huizar, Chan and others. 

Is this the real reason Garcetti is trying so desperately to go to D.C.? 

Third, what’s not revealed at this time is what did Garcetti gain by doing this “favor”? Stands for more interrogations by the Feds. 

So now that we can all see why Biden’s team has question marks about Garcetti, We, the People of Skid Row are still waiting for all the supposed housing Garcetti said was coming. And oh, by the way, there’s a global pandemic that’s nearly a year old and gaining even more momentum than before. 

It’s December so it’s colder at night, gets darker earlier and rain will be here soon. 

While we scramble for real solutions to homelessness/houselessness, Garcetti’s prepping new speeches, buying new suits, hosting numerous national and international meetings on behalf of his new best friend Biden, while he has left Los Angeles in a complete mess with zero solutions in place. And the Feds circling City Hall with his name popping up in indictment paperwork. 

Folks wonder why Black Lives Matter is protesting outside of the Mayor’s mansion every day. 

My problem is I can’t protest there because I haven’t figured out yet if I want Garcetti to go to D.C. so that new politicians can step in and possibly do better -- or if I want him to be rejected by D.C. which would be a public embarrassment and also force him to clean up his mess here in LA. 

The Feds have the floor!

 

(General Jeff -- Jeff Page -- is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles. Jeff’s views are his own.) Photo: LA Times. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.