LA WATCHDOG - Last Friday, our All About Me Mayor hosted a $265,000 gala event on the steps of City Hall that featured Bill Clinton, Eric Garcetti, Stevie Wonder, Ryan Seacrest, Placido Domingo, Pepe Aguilar, and Wanda Sykes.
Yet, despite all this star power that was there to celebrate Villaraigosa’s eight years in office, only 5,000 people showed up, implying a cost of $50 a person.
However, according to several observers, the estimate of 5,000 attendees is misleading as it included all of the people that floated in and out and around this shindig over a three hour period. These observers estimated that the maximum attendance at any one point in time was around 1,000 people, implying a cost of over $250 a head.
Furthermore, this soiree - that started at 5 and was scheduled to last until 10 in the evening - was essentially over and done by 8 PM as the party animals, including most of the 400 “swells” who were served food and drinks in the fenced off VIP area on the South Lawn of City Hall, had already blown this pop stand.
This event was also controversial in that our cash strapped City forked over $75,000 to help sponsor this self-serving celebration.
While this amount is chump change compared to the City’s $7.7 billion budget, it sends the wrong message to the City’s civilian employees who are being asked to forego their 5.5% raise that is contracted to be paid in January. It also surprised a number of members of the City Council who were not even consulted about this extraneous expenditure while, at the same time, our streets and sidewalks are being neglected.
The City’s three proprietary departments (Department of Water and Power, Port of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles World Airways) were also hit up for a total of $15,000. Of course, this is nothing new as these departments have been footing a significant portion of the mayor’s first class travel budget over the last eight years, including a recent junket to China at the end of May.
The balance of the cost was paid for by Wells Fargo, Time Warner Cable, and Disney, all of whom will no doubt want political favors in the future.
For example, as our basic cable bills continue to soar because of the ever increasing cost of sports related programming, Time Warner Cable (Lakers and Dodgers Networks) and Disney (the owner of ESPN) will fight the increasing demand for a la carte pricing of cable channels by relying on their political clout at City Hall and Sacramento.
Overall, Antonio’s ultimate block party and its direct and indirect costs should serve as an example for Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti of how NOT to conduct the affairs of the City, especially given the City’s precarious finances.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Hear Jack every Tuesday morning at 6:20 on McIntyre in the Morning, KABC Radio 790.)
Vol 11 Issue 48
Pub: June 14, 2013