The Cost of Benefits - Left Out in the Cold (or the Hot) in LA

THE CITY-Vladimir Putin met Joe Biden nearby an 18th century mansion by a lake in Geneva this week.

Not sure if they went swimming, but swimming for thirty-minutes a day takes the edge off of the edge of any anger and frustration with the current state of affairs here in Los Angeles and globally. 

Angelenos always talk about how “people are leaving,” “being displaced,”  or “pushed out” by the rising cost of living here.   

I’m sure it’s bad everywhere, but at $3.89 a gallon it cost me $64 to fill the tank with unleaded on a Subaru Outback yesterday. And those are low Costco prices. 

So, I was not surprised to hear that we’re losing a good guy in a series of good guys and gals who work the chlorinated shores of North Hollywood. 

One of the genuinely helpful lads who is approaching thirty is packing up and moving to Texas. He’s been paying $1350 in rent in North Hollywood for a one bedroom. He said it’s a company that rents to him but they’re “mom and pop” nice and forgave him half of his last month’s rent.  

His brother who lives in Texas bought a place and pays $1650 with a mortgage but it’s a four-bedroom house with an acre of land. 

The path to home ownership in Los Angeles is getting tighter and tighter, like the eye of a needle. 

Even if you have rich parents, the inventory is low. “Make him an offer, see what he says." 

The question at the nonprofit Metropolitan YMCA, an Englander favorite, and Waste Management production. . .why don’t they pay their lifeguards benefits? 

The progressive Icon Sheila Kuehl and Nury Martinez know all about the YMCA.  

Do they know that the guards are forbidden from working enough hours to qualify for benefits? 

On Tuesday, we extended the contract with USA and Republic for maintenance of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill. That is one of the funding mechanisms that was used by Englander to further ingratiate himself, following Greig Smith’s initiative, with the YMCA. 

As CD12 councilmember, he gave them a $250,000 grant. 

In return. . .lots of political favor. 

One wonders, could the city council and county board put pressure on the YMCA to pay benefits for their lifeguards? In the alternative, let’s ban the life-size Sheila Kuehl and Nury Martinez posters in the lobby. 

Ice Cold. 

Starbucks heats up nice but also chills down quickly. I always grow concerned for the health and safety of the public when the heat waves show up. The real estate market heats up and cools off, too. 

Unless we import people from around the world with “stupid money” to buy luxury condos, pay taxes, and not live here, we’re screwed. “Buy a condo now and you’ll have the perfect spot to watch the Olympics in 2028 and when that’s done after four weeks, you can rent it out for astronomical fees.”   Or not! 

Down, O’Farrell.  

People from the places around the world where Trump goes to fleece local investors into buying a piece of the Trump empire, are going to be very interested.  

Sort of like the Dubai model, where a large supply of horrible places owned by Chinese millionaires who do not feel compelled to hang around, but at least they can enjoy a nice hookah lounge. 

Suck here. 

“Hookah” has an amazing piece by Emily Alpert Reyes platforming the many opportunities to make contributions to councilmembers to gain their support in a fight that they are themselves creating. 

Mitch O’Farrell sounded like he was OK with menthol being available for Wesson and other older stakeholders and addicts. Wesson took money from Juul. 

“We are not regulating flavor tobacco use” "Only the sales of the products here.”  

Hookahs in lounges that making money can continue (cha-ching). Apparently, it’s just the children that O’Farrell is obsessed with protecting. 

The addiction that needs treatment is the City Council’s addiction to creating issues with confusing grandstanders that results in little harvests of interested parties eager for council support.  

Cannabis, street vending, and home sharing all fit the bill.  

The way it works is, the City -- like in this case -- takes up an issue for the press rollout. 

This morning, LA is debating a possible ban as restrictions on flavored tobacco that are in flux on the federal and state level. 

People, I urge you DO NOT give any councilmember money for this. 

The council president’s staffer, Anna Aroutiounian, who is underpaid, has avoided calling me two days in a row but dozens of hookah smokers have been let through. Disclosure: I enjoy Hookah (1x annually or less). I hit *9 as soon as the meeting opened because I was a minute early. 

“First come, first serve" is nowhere disclosed in Fauble’s Pulitzer Prize worthy warning -- it’s been adapted by the LA County Board of Supervisors. That’s a special bonus badge of shame. Kudos Fauble. 

Maybe Andrew Westall could slip another invoice in and answer how that is fair? 

I think we’ve heard enough from Matt Szabo.   

The Civically Engaged. 

You don’t need to be an economist or a gadfly to know that everything is cyclical in Los Angeles and the “one-time money” from the Biden administration is going to bite us right in the ass. 

Mark my words, things will reorganize as the iced coffees warm up and boil over.  

The place “as is” is simply not sustainable with big well-funded groups offering low wages without benefits, that are tough to place on the six pillars of character chart. There’s no discernible path to home ownership. 

Also, tough to place NBC Universal Studios, home of the Olympics, on that chart. 

Vape is not hookah. Hookah is not vape. And similarly, paying “lower wages” to out-of-state workers are not “good jobs here in California.” 

Always infuriates me how the Studios will go anywhere that’s marginally cheaper to save a buck. Never mind that doing that eliminates good jobs right here in Tinseltown. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is an exciting time as productions are heating up, but studios should not be going out of state and country for one-night stands with markets eager enough for investment, that they’re willing to give money to NBCUniversal et al. 

For months, the Hollywood Bowl parking lot adjacent to NBCUniversal and a Metro property have been severely neglected by the county and Paul Krekorian, who once held a CD2 clean up at the site, when it was clean. Clever. 

This column suggested NBCU help out or maybe Republic or Waste Management or Athens or recycle LA sanitation crooks could help out? 

NBCU has a robust local politician program. 

Ana Dahan. . .who was touted by Jose Huizar and served on the Ethics commission even as she coordinated the “collective emphasis program” over at NBC. Here’s how it works: they pound the CD4 seat holder with contributions/donations from employees. 

It will be interesting to see if Nithya Raman finds a spot on the CD4 shelf for their generosity. Or maybe she’ll take the money and. . .put it to good use fighting her recall. 

Ryu held press conference-like Homelessness service expos at parks and provided In-N-Out Burgers and many other goodies. 

NBCU is always civically engaged when it comes to kissing the Mayor or Governor’s ass to keep the subsidies rolling or unmask a great return to normalcy. . . as with Newsom hawking million-dollar payouts like on a game show yesterday. The payouts were for agreeing to get vaccinated. 

Slightly different than Paul Krekorian’s payouts that were handed out on Wednesday without comment for trip and fall injuries related to systemic despicable infrastructure negligence. 

NBCU used to have a Neighborly program for folks who lived nearby. The concept was “Join Us”. . . free for a day or two at the entertainment park. 

Only folks within an ever-tightening radius were invited/“quietly bought off.” To my knowledge that program has been shuttered. I know that I got pushed out of the lucky bastard “district.” 

Deleon and MRT called homelessness the moral crisis of our times on Wednesday. 

Neither were at Universal with the Governor, but Hilda Solis was there pinch hitting for Sheila Kuehl, and Senator Bob Hertzberg and Assemblymember Adrian Nazarian were there to watch the Governor hand out a few $1.5 million dollar checks for getting vaccinated. 

Four were from the Los Angeles environs.  

Studio City always gets screwed when productions that employ our families go wherever the lowest bid comes from. I wouldn’t call other states competing for our local industry the moral crisis of our times, but could our Y lifeguards get benefits? 

Maybe after Pilates. 

“Man up,” was something women politicians would say to men a few years ago. A journalist asked people for clever responses. I wrote about an exchange with Andrea Ordin, the then county counsel, “Maybe, after Pilates.” 

Mike Feuer popped over to the Ethics Commission meeting on Wednesday to tout Andrea Ordin after five years of distinguished service, as an FBI investigation came to full fruition under the Commission’s nose. 

Feuer is running for Mayor among a pack of 20 candidates. His remarks about Ordin were predictable and complimentary. There is no transcript, but you can listen to their recording. If you want to read something, why not check Feuer’s deposition.  

It’s the “Anyone but Feuer for Mayor” deposition. 

Anyone but Krekorian. 

Paul Krekorian, Chair of the Budget Finance Committee, pushed out $5,000,000 in 11 settlement claims on Wednesday for various trip and fall accidents, etc. 

Just a few years ago, he pushed out  $6,500,000 in the case of Peter Godefroy, a lobbyist who was riding with an attorney, who knows Krekorian well.  

Godefroy was riding on a section of Valley Vista that was totally not okay for bicycles. He hit a pothole caused by a root and was rushed to the hospital. Brian Panish, an attorney with a track record. . .went to town.

The property owners were cannabis people, and Wesson was acting mayor, when the whole deal went down. Godefroy had refused to testify until the last day before the settlement and when he did (I bought the transcript) it resulted in a KCET special called Cycle of Disrepair. 

Public presence during the consideration of that litigation would have moderated that settlement. 

The public needs to be in the room. 


(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Photo: Tom Hull.