CORRUPTION WATCH--Before the FBI's widening corruption probe of L.A. leaders erupted, Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu tried two years ago to cripple the undue influence of developers at City Hall -- by banning campaign cash developers give to the City Council.
Reformer Ryu was stopped by powerful Council President Herb Wesson. Wesson later told the L.A. Times, “I don’t kill anything” and said he was too busy with higher priorities to hold hearings on Ryu's reforms. The L.A. Ethics Commission also punted the issue.
Today, everything has changed:
Wesson's chief of staff is a target of the FBI probe, as is Mayor Garcetti's former deputy mayor and two City Councilmembers who sat on the powerful "PLUM" committee.
David Ryu is launching a new plan to fight pay-to-play and corruption, backed by five council members who aren't named in the widening FBI probe: Budget expert Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, Nury Martinez, Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino.
We expect a showdown between reformers and anti-reformers at City Hall.
Yesterday, Councilman Gil Cedillo attacked social justice and open-government advocates at a PLUM hearing who were urging PLUM to clean its house before approving luxury skyscrapers awash in exemptions from land-use rules. The controversy focused on "Crossroads," three luxury skyscrapers seeking 22 liquor licenses that would raze a thriving historic Latino community, create 143,000 new vehicle miles daily — and yet got minimal environmental study from the Garcetti Administration.
Cedillo accused Coalition to Preserve LA, the L.A. Tenants Union and several other groups of creating "a specter! A hysteria exists! ... It's like the Day of Locusts at City Hall now!" Cedillo was met with guffaws as he accused the groups of "Trumpism!"
Jill Stewart, Coalition to Preserve LA executive director, said, "Three seats away from Gil Cedillo was the empty chair of Councilmember Curren Price, named in the FBI warrant. PLUM's chairman Jose Huizar was removed in November. We're seeking a Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury investigation of PLUM and City Hall."
PLUM, with its long history of rubber-stamping, voted unanimously for Crossroads.
To understand the L.A. City Hall pay-to-play system, read our four-month investigation. It unearthed numerous closed-door, non-transparent meetings between Crossroads developers and Hollywood City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and his staff. O'Farrell became an avid backer of Crossroads, and took their campaign donations.
(This perspective provided CityWatch by the Coalition to Preserve LA.)