Thu, Mar

The Firing of Kathy Riordan: A Window into the Depths of Corruption at City Hall


KAYE KNOWS LA - The simmering controversy over how and why Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fired long time Animal Services Commissioner Kathy Riordan finally boiled over into public view today — thanks to a comprehensive report in the blogosphere, not the mainstream media. 

The Daily News early in March told the story of Riordan, daughter of the former mayor, being forced out after 14 years on the commission but it was left to animal rights activist Phyllis Daugherty to report the back story of how narcoleptic Deputy Mayor Jim Bickhart arrogantly carried out orders — one that delighted him having long expressed his dismay at Riordan’s independent-minded efforts to provide sensible policies.

When Riordan questioned why she was being when the next mayor can replace the entire commission in July, Bickhart responded to her by e-mail, “If you want to raise a stink or question the Mayor’s logic or authority to make the change, I can only report that to my supervisors and they will just accept your boiler-plate letter and be done with it.” 

Daugherty reports the “boiler-plate” letter is “the undated, pre-signed letter required of all Animal Commission appointees and kept on file in case they don’t vote the wishes of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It undermines the original purpose of having a citizen oversight panel to expose questionable practices and proposals” as it was in Riordan’s case. 

Her article at opposingviews.com opens a window into the culture of the Villaraigosa administration where influence peddlers spouses are appointed to the Ethics Commission, where the six-figure seats on the Board of Public Works are handed to political hacks and insiders, where the highly-paid top executives of city departments are reduced to slavish obedience to order from above. 

The result is a city government that is totally politicized, totally corrupted to the point where solving LA’s problems and serving the public are no longer the goals of a system that serves itself. 

Daugherty’s article provides a glimpse of what went on for a long time and continues to go on in one department but you can look at any aspect of city government from financial management of the never-ending budget crisis to the way the parts and libraries are run and contracts are awarded and you will find the same thing. 

Are Wendy Greuel or Eric Garcetti going to change any of that? After all their years as part of it, do they even see what is wrong? 

Will the Kantor LA 2020 Commission comprised of union bosses who helped corrupt City Hall for their own benefit or the members of the commission who have profited from it or gone along for the ride even take note of fact that the city’s real problem isn’t the economy or the budget. 

The real problem is political corruption. You can be sure that no one who can do anything about that is about to stand up to it like Kathy Riordan tried to do time after time.


(Ron Kaye is the former editor of the Daily News, founder of Save LA Project and blogs at ronkayela.com where this column was first posted.)






Vol 11 Issue 29

Pub: Apr 9, 2013