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Special to CityWatch: Can Jorge Ramos Save The American Immigrant Dream?

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA- President Barack Obama’s disappointing failure to champion immigration reform, what The Washington Post called his “immigration train wreck,” may be the consummate example of the failure of the Obama presidency on Latino issues. It is also a tell-tale sign of the potential trouble the Democratic Party could find itself in…

Museum Row’s Billion Dollar Block Party

Tim Deegan
EXCLUSIVE TO CITYWATCH--City planners, developers, community members and other stakeholders are having a block party in the Miracle Mile: no champagne but plenty of stress served to order, depending on who you're aligned with. Issues with development: take a seat. Raising hundreds of millions of dollars for development, take several seats. Here…

What Is It About The Homeless That Makes Us So Angry?

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD--It was a long public hearing at my neighborhood council the other night. Outraged, obviously frightened homeowners were pitted against advocates for the homeless. At least that's how it started, but it's not how it ended. It's curious, but in this contentious culture of ours, it turned out to be possible to have a meeting of the…

Kill the Transit Tax, Kill the Olympics

Ken Alpern
ALPERN AT LARGE-You know, it's indeed possible that there will be enough voters who won't remember (or care about) the current shenanigans and budget games in the City of LA--enough to allow a 2/3 vote to pass a new sales tax measure in November 2016. Then again, maybe enough voters will remember, and the initiative will (like its predecessor…

Headlines Don’t Lie – LA Needs Leadership

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-I’m talking to you as a man who policed Los Angeles streets for over 30 years and established policy for another 14 years -- two years as an elected Charter Reform Commissioner and 12 years as an elected Los Angeles City Councilman. Take a look at the latest Los Angeles News and Breaking Headlines. They tell a frightening story…

Airbnb Just Floats by the PLUM Committee

Tony Butka
THE CITY-I was going to do my usual flip and cynical kind of a piece on the Airbnb hearing, but the issue is too important, and just maybe, all is not lost. The Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee hearing was scheduled in the Public Works Hearing Room, but so many people attended that they had to move it to City Council Chambers…

Bikeshare Comes to Los Angeles … Sort Of

Richard Risemberg
WAITING ON LA--Here’s photographic confirmation that bikeshare has arrived in LA: Not the City of Los Angeles, though; not quite yet. That’s a live bikeshare station in Santa Monica, on Main Street, next to one of the two bike corrals that grace the block south of Ashland. (There’s another and very busy bike corral two blocks north.) This is a…

The Summer of My Discontent ... LA Version

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN--I think there is such a thing as the "Dog Days of Summer" since my usual sunny disposition ... glass half full demeanor ... seems to be out of sorts of late. There is a litany of things that are annoying me, aside from the heat. I am disappointed in our local government ... not all of them, but a majority. Like many of you I studied the…

Marilyn Who? Ask Councilman Krekorian or Mayor Garcetti

Richard Lee Abrams
PRESERVATION POLITICS-Who doesn’t like Marilyn Monroe? Councilmember Krekorian, that’s who! Why else would Councilmember Paul Krekorian support the demolition of one of the most significant homes of Marilyn Monroe? With the blessings of Mayor Garcetti, who believes in eradicating as much of Hollywood’s history as possible, and with the support of…





Record Breaking! Josh Groban sings Trump


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LA's Scandalous Housing Authority: For Better or For Worse

RETHINKING LA - The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) is the latest department to fall victim to the oversight and accountability scrum that starts when the media shines a spotlight and concludes when the public gets bored.

Along the way, the City Controller and the City Council will elbow each other out of the way in an effort to get to the press conference where they will ask "How did someone get away with this?" and they will declare “They cannot walk away and say ‘I don't know.’” and then conclude “It seems like there was no one in charge ... we need to get to the bottom of it.” (Zine, Cardenas, Greuel)


(Ed note: Mayor Villaraigosa sent a letter on Monday to the Board of Commissioners overseeing the HACLA urging reform.)

There are three things wrong with the current scenario over at HACLA, in addition to the $1.2 million pay-off to the terminated GM and the ongoing investigations into corruption, malfeasance, incompetence, and failure to perform.

First, it’s old news yet the folks at City Hall react as if this behavior is unique, rare, and shocking. It isn’t. It’s business as usual in a city that allows departments that are “flush with cash” to conduct business with little, if any, interference from the Department of What-the-Hell!

It was HACLA’s current CEO, Ken Simmons, who excused the financial indiscretions of the past by explaining that the agency was “flush with cash.”

During last year’s budget hearings, the LADOT’s Acting GM, Amir Sedadi, defended the large number of bonuses in his department by explaining “Our contract allows it.” Forget about the staffing reductions and the dramatic budget cuts, it was business as usual in a department that was “flush with cash” that comes from parking revenue.

This sense of entitlement is the norm, not the exception, as evidenced by city employees from many different departments who appeared before City Council during the staffing cuts and proclaimed, “You can’t cut me, I’m special funded!”

Second, it’s a familiar pattern of abuse that occurs because oversight and accountability can’t find a  place in departments that get their marching orders from the Mayor, implemented by General Managers who serve at his pleasure and condoned by Kabuki Theater Commissions armed with rubber stamps.

The charade of citizen oversight allows the Mayor to reward supporters with impotent positions of honor and to fast track ambitious allies on a trail that meanders from the Taxi Commission and the Transportation Commission before hitting the lucrative Public Works Commission payday that comes with an annual salary of $123,317 plus car!

Third, it’s an example of the disparity between the “flush with cash” departments and the “general fund” departments, one that keeps the public embroiled in budget crisis triage while Airports, Ports, and Water & Power operate as if sovereign nations.

Add to the mix any department that has federal, state and county money, (Housing, Transportation, Public Works, etc) and these are the departments that are operating with Mayoral impunity, partnering with private sector in deals that benefit Mayoral allies while the public debates broken sidewalks and collapsing infrastructure.

Periodically, the public catches a glimpse of the departmental debauchery that squanders LA’s financial future while failing to deliver on the departmental mandates and the Mayor begins the sacrifices, typically starting with General Managers who have worn out their welcome.

Over the last few years, Mayor Villaraigosa has sung praises to newly appointed General Managers, only to leave town while they receive their walking papers and parting gifts, souvenirs of a tour of duty as Mayoral cannon fodder.

Ultimately, the controversy at HACLA is something that local landlords know about, they’ve been complaining of abuses at the hands of HACLA for years. Neighbors know of the problems because they watch squatters run rampant in City of LA properties while nothing is done. Residents know of the departmental failures that result in a lose-lose situation that punishes participants at every turn.

HACLA is responsible for more than a billion dollars of public money that is meant to be spent providing affordable housing options and supportive services to the people of Los Angeles.

While the City of LA continues to balance the budget on the backs of the people it serves, departments such as HACLA continue to enjoy the “For Better” side of the relationship while the people of LA suffer through the “For Worse” end.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net .) Photo credit: KCET’s SoCal Connected/LA Weekly
–cw

Tags: Housing Authority, Los Angeles Housing, HACLA, City Controller, City Hall, City Council, Ken Simmons, Stephen Box, city commissions







CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 99
Pub: Dec 13, 2011

 

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