Last updateMon, 06 Jul 2015 6pm

LOS ANGELES Tuesday, July 7th 2015 2:55


Pirates at the Port (of Los Angeles)

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-The growth of the Port of Los Angeles and its ability to maintain and create good paying jobs and its market share of imported cargo are under siege by external market forces as well as the demand by the San Pedro and Wilmington communities to finance $400 million of public benefits over the next ten years. The Harbor Department, one…

Why I Support 'No Gays Allowed'

C.J. Prince
GUEST WORDS-Last week, a Tennessee retailer made headlines when he took the whole we-won't-bake-cakes-for-gay-weddings thing to the next level. In response to last week's Supreme Court marriage ruling, Jeff Amyx, owner of Amyx Hardware, taped a "No Gays Allowed" sign to his storefront window. Amyx, who is also a Baptist minister, explained to WATE…

Never on Sunday

Paul Hatfield
GREEK VOTE, A PERSPECTIVE-According to the lyrics from the memorable theme to Never on Sunday (enjoy the trailer), it is OK to kiss in Greece except for Sunday. However, on this past Sunday, July 5th, Greek voters invited the EU to kiss them. I need not mention the part of the anatomy, though. Contrary to some extreme views, this does not mean the…

LA Transpo Slowed to a Crawl by Outdated and Ignored Laws

Ken Alpern
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-Reform of the City Charter or its Bylaws is almost certainly in order, but it's no secret that the City of LA … for all its hype about being for "sustainable living" and being "environmentally-friendly" … is burdened by a host of either outdated laws (which encourage inappropriate overdevelopment) or ignored laws (which are…

You’ll Never Guess Why I love Los Angeles

Fred Mariscal
LATINO PERSPECTIVE-I remember the first time I went on a vacation outside of Mexico. We went to Los Angeles when I was 6 years old. I didn’t have to wonder why my dad choose Los Angeles, he knew I wanted to go to Disneyland and meet Mickey Mouse. That first trip we took that summer made me fell in love with this City. Los Angeles has everything a…

Unsolicited Advice for New LA Councilmember David Ryu

Joe Linton
GUEST COMMENTARY-Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu. Photo via ryuforcouncil.com It’s July. That means a new budget year for government agencies, where there is some turnover: some new faces, new officers, and new committees. LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is the new chair of the Metro Board of Directors, replacing LA Mayor Eric…

LA Working on Plan to Plaster the City with Digital Billboards

Adrian Glick Kudler
GUEST WORDS-People in Los Angeles love digital billboards!! We can't get enough of them! Give us more!!! Oh, thank god, the LA City Council is ON IT. Lawsuits have tragically darkened so many of those blinky, flashy ads, but yesterday the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee voted to bring them back big time. They want to…

The Persuaders: California Hospital Association

Bill Raden
CAPITAL AND MAIN SPECIAL REPORT-The nurses who showed up at state Senator Richard Pan’s Capitol office in May were furious. They had been assured by Pan, a Democrat from Sacramento, that he would be on their side when it came time to vote on Senate Bill 346, a charity care measure aimed at providing transparency to the state’s currently murky…

Vacations are a Necessity…Not a Luxury

Denyse Selesnick
Since most of the readers of CityWatch are “high achievers” you have undoubtedly faced the situation where you feel you can’t afford to take a vacation right now because of a million different reasons. Many of these boil down to one…without your presence things will fall apart. Really, they are just excuses … not reasons! Getting away from your…


  • Costco: Free Range Liars!

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS POLITICS-Eight years ago grocery retailer Costco (COST) pledged to transition out of using eggs from chickens in small cages to cage free…
  • 10 Things Over-Thinkers Are Tired Of Over-Thinking

    Lindsay Holmes
    WELLNESS-While writing this intro, I deleted the first paragraph approximately six times. My thoughts ranged from "Just get to the point already" to…
  • Can Procrastination Give You a Heart Attack?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-A study posted in the journal of behavioral medicine linked procrastination with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Specifically…

Thu Jul 16, 2015 @12:00AM
LA Equality Awards RSVP
Thu Jul 30, 2015 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
A Taste of Chatsworth

One More Time! Grateful Dead say goodbye.

USA World Cup Soccer win … sealed with a kiss









Who Made John Noguez?

MAILANDER MUSINGS - A longtime County administrator, apparently without the benefit of a college degree, and using a name he wasn't born with, suddenly becomes a small-time, small-town politician in Huntington Park while continuing to serve his County.

Then, just as suddenly but even more improbably, he wins a countywide election--this in the most populous county in America--enabling him as the new County Assessor to set property assessments worth hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue.

And while doing all that in two short years, the novice politician out-fundraises his political opponents by a staggering 20-1 clip.

Now his office is being investigated for influence peddling, trading assessment breaks for campaign favors, and potentially more, as assessments (and their attached tax revenue) through Los Angeles County have dried up even as the County Assessor's own political fortunes had once flourished.

Not even the LA Riots of two decades ago succeeded in diminishing assessments--and attendant tax revenue--so thoroughly as John Noguez's County Assessor's office did in a few short months.

The question is: who made John Noguez, and if someone did, what were they hoping he would do for them in return?

One of the enablers of Noguez in his unlikely 2010 run for County Assessor was none other than LA's own Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, who brought Noguez a key endorsement and never backed off of it, even while the LA Times was finding flaws with the candidate and endorsing one of his rivals.

Another key backer was California Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, presently running for the seat that Ed Reyes will vacate on LA City Council in 2013.

Even four of the five LA County Supervisors--Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina, Don Knabe, and Mark Ridley-Thomas--enthusiastically endorsed the man with the suspicious pedigree when he made his 2010 run.  Among the Supes, only Mike Antonovich demurred.  And Noguez's own "Being There" styled flickr feed, post 2009, features him suddenly mugging with local notables like Councilmember Jan Perry and Congresswoman Judy Chu.  He was also endorsed by the persnickety and tax-hostile Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association--an endorsement not typically won or even sought by most Los Angeles County politicians.

"I endorsed (LA County Assessor John Noguez), and I am disappointed in him," Supervisor Knabe told the Pasadena Star-News and the County at large in a State of the County speech yesterday.

The Supervisors and other local notables endorsed Noguez largely because Noguez held the blessings of former County Assessor Rick Auerbach and especially Gary Townsend, now retired from the County Assessor's office, who joined consultant Harvey Englander's public relations firm Englander, Knabe & Allen as a partner earlier this year.

Townsend, Mike Woo's former top deputy when Woo was an LA Councilmember, is a bit of a political chameleon, having early on served both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.  He actively campaigned for Noguez and recently went to bat for him at the LA Weekly when the scandal first began to break.

The Weekly reported in October 2010 that the name on the then Mayor of Huntington Park's birth certificate was not John or even Juan Noguez but "Juan Renaldo Rodriguez."  Los Angeles County records indicate that Noguez/Rodriguez never has had his name legally changed--even while running for the top money slot in Los Angeles County.

Scott Schenter, a former administrator for the Assessor's Office, is the key whistleblower in the allegations.  As a result of an interview Schenter granted the LA Times last week, the District Attorney's office is especially investigating Noguez's relationship to Ramin Salari, a Phoenix-based tax attorney with many wealthy Westside clients in a position to benefit from tax breaks.

Another prominent name in the Noguez drama is Richard Ayoob, a noteworthy tax attorney whose high-profile practice secures tax advantages for its clients.  Ayoob's firm boasts at its own website that it recently secured "what we believe is the largest property tax refund in Los Angeles County history."

Complaints about the company Noguez keeps emerged as early as his 2010 County Assessor campaign, when the LA Times backed away from his candidacy and the Los Cerritos Community News reported on Noguez's Huntington Park civic involvements with vigor.  (Los Cerritos Community News reporter Randy Economy has termed Noguez's Huntington Park experience a "training ground" for what might have come later on the County's vast stage).  

But when Assessor Noguez appeared before the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, advising them that revenue projections were substantially less than what was projected as recently as December, the County's Controllers Office was invited to audit the Assessor's Office, and the District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit also ramped up their investigation of Noguez.

Not many in LA's political community wished to talk publicly about the allegations against Noguez and the District Attorney's investigation.  But privately, many were anxious to establish a distance between themselves and Noguez as the DA's investigation proceeds.

(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He is also the author of The Plasma of Terror. Mailander blogs at street-hassle.blogspot.com.)

Tags: Joseph Mailander, Mailander Musings, John Noguez, LA County, County Controller, District Attorney, Public Integrity Unit, Mayor Villaraigosa, County Supervisors, Mike Woo 

Vol 10 Issue 34
Pub: Apr 27, 2012