Last updateMon, 29 Jun 2015 7pm

LOS ANGELES Tuesday, June 30th 2015 6:52


Using The N-Word

Clinton Galloway
WHO WE ARE-Somehow it has become acceptable to use racial slurs as long as they are directed at yourself. The fact is they are rarely directed at you but to someone else. The most glaring example of this is the use of the N-word. I need say no more because we all understand what the N-word is. The extensive use of the word in modern hip-hop and…

‘LA Is Not Designed To Work’

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-The City of Los Angeles is a sprawling enterprise with 32,000 employees and an annual budget of $8.6 billion. But according to Rick Cole, the City’s former Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, “LA is not designed to work." Our City’s operations are relatively simple compared to Los Angeles County and other large cities such as New…

SCOTUS Supports the People, Okays California’s Citizen-Driven Redistricting Commission

Deirdre Fulton
NO MORE SECRET BACKROOMS RUN BY POLITICIANS-In a decision hailed as a "major victory for voters," the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld an Arizona ballot initiative, adopted by voters in 2000, which took redistricting power away from elected politicians and gave it to a nonpartisan commission. The 5-4 decision (pdf), which saw Justice Anthony…

To Latinos Trump Is Bad News

Fred Mariscal
LATINO PERSPECTIVE-This past week businessman Donald Trump announced that he will seek the 2016 Republican nomination for President. We all paid attention to his speech, not for great policy ideas but because he said that “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of…

Supreme Court Aftermath: Meet the New Haters, As Repugnant as the Old Haters

Ken Alpern
HATE POLITICS-The Supreme Court has spoken...again and again and again. And now we're encountering a group of New Haters, as repugnant as the Old Haters, as we discover who is REALLY on the side of Love, Country and Humanity versus that once-marginalized group of emotionally- and intellectually-stunted individuals who now somehow think they're not…

About Time! Neighborhood Councils, NC Alliances: More Comment Time at City Council

Erik Sanjurjo
GUEST WORDS-On Saturday, Council President Herb Wesson gave the keynote speech before the 100+ Neighborhood Council board members and stakeholders gathered for NC Budget Day in City Hall. He announced that in the next Council term he will be folding in neighborhood council related issues under his Rules & Elections Committee, partly to help…

Councilman Parks Sidewalk Repair Plan: Bypass Union Workers

Sharon McNary
CITY HALL-The city of Los Angeles has fallen so far behind on sidewalk repairs, it took a lawsuit to get officials to guarantee more than a billion dollars for repairs. It could take years before the work reaches residential areas because the city must still come up with a strategy for which sidewalks to fix first. But some neighborhoods are…

I Never Believed This Would Happen In My Lifetime

Andrew Sullivan
GUEST WORDS-As Gandhi never quite said … First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win. I remember one of the first TV debates I had on the then-strange question of civil marriage for gay couples. It was Crossfire, as I recall, and Gary Bauer’s response to my rather earnest argument after my TNR cover-story on…

Changing the Way We See Ourselves: Every American Should Adopt a Second Country

Andrés Martinez
TRADE WINDS-About 10 minutes into the soccer game, Sebastian’s cries of “here,” “behind you,” and “cross it” became cries of “aquí,” “atrás,” and “al centro.” I’d never heard so much Spanish voluntarily pour out of my ten-year-old. There is nothing like a hunger for the ball. And nothing like full immersion in a foreign language. I brought…


Thu Jul 30, 2015 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
A Taste of Chatsworth

Golden Oldie-Johnnie Carson & Betty White-Adam and Eve

Rude. Rude. Rude … orchestra deals with rude cell caller

Whoa! More than 280 million hits. Taylor Swift hit-Bad Blood









LA: City Where the Buck Never Stops

NO ONE IN LA EVER TAKES THE BLAME - Mayor Villaraigosa, the 11% Mayor who could balance the budget with his frequent flyer miles, has a long tradition of empowering a rotating cast of Deputy Mayors and General Managers in an effort to distance himself from his legacy of non-performance.

The City Council, completely impotent in its ability to direct city staff, resorts to motions ordering studies and reports as tools of coercion and then settles for the City of LA tradition of dividing the spoils by 15, regardless of need or relevance.

Commissioners, appointed by the Mayor, posture and pontificate, sometimes with acknowledged irrelevance and sometimes with significant political power but most often with Mayoral direction and benign neglect. Claims of significance are often challenged by reality.

General Managers, also appointed by the Mayor, find themselves caught between a term-limit restricted Mayor and a Civil Service hard place. Critics claim that they often serve as simple cannon fodder and Mayoral expeditors.

Navigating the treacherous press conference waters of LA’s City Hall operations are the “clients” who make the city run, the developers, builders, architects, engineers, transportation specialists, land use lawyers and consultants who advise the Mayor and his team.

Consider the latest dust-up at LA’s Department of Building & Safety (LADBS).

First, a local community member games the LADBS and initiates almost 200 Fence Height complaints against his neighbors, resulting in fees, fines, and penalties that then draw threats of garnishment, liens, and other legal action.

Then Council President Eric Garcetti intervenes and introduces a Council Motion that proposes solutions. He also sends a letter to LADBS General Manager Bud Ovrom “asking” him to hold all cases in abeyance while the issue is resolved in City Council.

Four months later, Bud Ovrom finds himself in hot water when Code Enforcement Bureau Chief Dr. Grace Harper, a 33 year veteran of LA’s civil service, simply rejects Garcetti’s request without notifying him, responding with an explanation, or even acknowledging receipt.

“It’s simply illegal for our department to hold code enforcement cases in one area in abeyance while still pursuing cases in the rest of the city,” Harper explained, “because that would result in charges of selective prosecution.”

While the irony of responding to charges that complaint driven code enforcement results in selective prosecution was lost on Harper, she defended her department’s actions by referring to their legal mandate to investigate all complaints but could not identify any statute or code that supports her position.

As for Ovrom, formerly the Deputy Mayor responsible for two of the city departments currently under Federal investigation, he finds himself navigating tough political waters. He has the Mayor on one side who simply needs to get to the end of his term, he has a City Councilman on the other side who needs to show the world that he is a credible candidate for Mayor, he has the Feds behind him investigating his department, and he has a retaining wall of civil service protected lifers in front of him that know he will soon be gone and it will be business as usual.

Off to the side are the “customers” who are the “business as usual” and they are known as the Development Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC). From Latham and Watkins to Gensler to California Home Builders to Englander, Knobe & Allen, these are the folks who meet regularly with Deputy Mayor Matt Karatz and GM Bud Ovrom to steer the ship.

Meanwhile, Councilman Eric Garcetti has tendered a City Council President-to-General Manager request that flatly gets ignored, he has trusted Council District staff who reassure him that all is well, and he has dismissed complaints from the community because he naively thinks the system is working.

It isn’t.

The Mayor’s office accepts no responsibility for the upside-down priorities that classify the developers and consultants as the “customers” while balancing the budget on the backs of the people who invest in homes and businesses in the community.

The Commissioners are hardly representative of the public, serving at the Mayor’s pleasure (and sometimes at his displeasure), typically handling consent agendas filled with fodder for press releases.

The City Council is tolerated by Departments that still divide the city into 15 regions, assigning a “handler” to each Council District to keep the politicos at bay by dispensing constituent treats equally. These buckets of asphalt and hot-spot support activities keep City Council incumbents seated and sated.

The General Manager is a political hire, serving at the Mayor’s pleasure. Sometimes the Mayor sends in a Deputy Manager to take over as GM to calm the troops in the wake of a disaster or Federal corruption investigation. Deputy Mayor Jaime de la Vega left City Hall and walked across the street to take over the LADOT and Deputy Mayor Bud Ovrom left City Hall to “handle” Villaraigosa’s attempt to “build our way out of this recession!”

Councilwoman Jan Perry looks at the revolving door of political impotence and complains that the problems stem from term limits. She points out that it is impossible to have a long term vision for the City of LA if all the work must be done in two mayoral terms.

Perry notes that term limits destroy any institutional memory and empowers lobbyists who have been around for a long time, elevating their insight and guidance in value.

Meanwhile, LA’s Code Enforcement is a General Fund activity, one that is subject to the Mayor’s cost recovery mandate, resulting in a predatory relationship with the people the City of LA is supposed to serve.

It is against LA’s municipal buck-passing landscape that the public must ask some tough questions:

Why is the LADBS rejecting requests from the public to participate on the LADBS and Planning advisory committees while Primestor Development, KPFF Engineering, California Home Builders, and RA Build Commercial LL enjoy unfettered access?

It’s because they see the developers as the client and the public as an obstacle.

Why won’t LA Deputy Mayor Matt Karatz and General Manager Bud Ovrom find the time to meet with the public, the residents of Los Angeles, the nearly four million people who are the reason for City Hall?

It’s because they know that there is no penalty for ignoring the public.

How does Eric Garcetti hope to position himself as a credible candidate for Mayor if he can’t get the GM of LADBS to acknowledge his communications, if he can’t get LADBS to accommodate his request for an abeyance, if he can’t get his staff to keep him informed of the reality on the streets, and if he can’t solve a simple Code Enforcement problem in his district.

He can’t, because he is unable to establish himself as LA’s “The Buck Stops Here!” candidate.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net. You can also find him on Twitter and on Facebook.)

Tags: Stephen Box, Rethinking LA, City Hall, Los Angeles, Mayor Villaraigosa, Bud Ovrom, Eric Garcetti

Vol 10 Issue 15
Pub: Feb 21, 2012