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Wed, Aug

LA Pay-to-Play Corruption: They All Knew

LA WATCHDOG-Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council were shocked, shocked by the revelation that one of its members, Jose Huizar, (photo above) was the principal player in pay-to-play corruption schemes involving the up zoning of large real estate developments, creating hundreds of millions of dollars in extra profits for unscrupulous developers.

 As a result, Council President Nury Martinez (Photo left) has asked Huizar to stop attending Council meetings.  Councilmen Buscaino, Krekorian, and Blumenfield have called for Huizar’s resignation.  Councilmen Ryu has introduced two motions to limit the right of the City Council to overwrite the actions of planning commissions and to establish an Office of Anti-Corruption and Transparency.  

But this is just theatre because the members of the City Council and Mayor Garcetti knew, or should have known, that the planning and land use system was corrupt. 

In 2015, the City Council overrode the Area Planning Commission and approved the luxury, 27 story development at Catalina and 8th Street, helped along by a $1.25 million pledge from a Beverly Hills developer to the Garcetti’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Wesson’s community slush fund.  

The City Council also overrule the Planning Commission and approved the $72 million Sea Breeze development in Harbor City, no doubt helped along by over $600,000 in campaign contributions to Janice Hahn, Joe Buscaino, Mitch Englander, Eric Garcetti, and other members of the City Council. 

In 2013, the City Council approved the controversial twin tower Millennium Hollywood development, a pet project of then Councilmen Eric Garcetti, despite the adverse impact on traffic, helped along by the New York developer spending more than $4 million to grease the skids.  

These controversial deals were all approved by the City Council and Mayor, making it very difficult for them to claim ignorance. 

There were also billions in other developments that required zoning changes that were approved by the City Council and the Mayor.  

In DTLA, City Hall blessed billions in oversized residential developments: Oceanside, Metropolis, and the Luxe Hotel, all of which have been referred to in court filings by the United States Attorney’s Office and FBI. 

Other controversial developments include The Reef in Historic South Central; the Cumulus in West Adams; the Millennium (now rebranded as the Hollywood Center Project and the poster child for corruption), the Palladium and the Spaghetti Factory in Hollywood; the Reliable Properties development at Palms and Sepulveda where wannabe Controller Paul Koretz is sponsoring a multimillion fee waiver for the developer, and numerous other megadevelopments in the Valley, the Westside, the Eastside, and other parts of the City.  

[As an aside, there are so many developments in the City that our official bird is now the crane, many of which dominate skylines of Hollywood and DTLA.]  

City Hall is corrupt enterprise that does not deserve our trust.  Our Elected Elite have also sold us out by approving the budget busting labor agreements with the City’s campaign funding public sector unions that created a $1.6 billion river of red ink over the next four years.    

The Mayor and the City Council must reform City Hall.  This includes adopting Ryu’s two motions for starters, implementing real campaign finance reform, and increasing transparency into labor negotiations and the City’s budget and finances.  Until then, the Mayor and the City Council cannot expect to us to buy into their baloney or expect us to vote for any increase in our taxes, including the Split Roll in November that will hit Californians up for $12 billion.

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

 -cw