Garcetti-land, Where Simple Projects Become Rube Goldbergs

@THE GUSS REPORT-It’s no wonder that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti can’t stop the ever-worsening homeless crisis that ballooned on his watch; he can’t even get out the door two pigs with a safe, open sanctuary waiting for them. 

Last week, I shared the story of an offer to help those two abandoned pigs, Wilbur (above right) and Peppa Pig (above left), currently residing at Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), the high kill impound of the City of Los Angeles which has fraudulently insinuated that it stopped killing healthy, adoptable animals. 

The offer was made by pig rescue experts in response to a public plea from LAAS that was made at the direction of Brenda Barnette, a dog breeder moonlighting as Garcetti’s $314,534.20 General Manager despite her having zero experience running a government impound, let alone a law enforcement agency.  

The offer was repeatedly made to, and ignored by, Barnette and Garcetti’s five LAAS Commissioners, whose spotty attendance and poor preparedness is legendary. 

As a result of their failure to respond, the two spots arranged for the pigs at Solvang’s magnificent pig sanctuary, Little Orphan Hammies, LOH, went to other pigs in equally dire circumstances. 

Fortunately, Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office got the parties speaking, resulting in more space being arranged for the LA porcine duo. 

The only requirements were that the pigs must first be spayed or neutered, given two weeks to heal and for the lingering hormones to dissipate, waive all fees and for the City to transport them to LOH once the 14 days pass. 

But as this column pointed out last week “government is great at snatching failure from the jaws of success. . .” 

Last Monday at 12:20 p.m., another Barnette staffer (annual compensation: $145,414.75) sent an email demanding two $26 fees from the donor-supported sanctuary payable to the City of LA, which has a $10.6 billion annual budget, not counting its mismanaged Animal Welfare Trust Fund

“Just a mistake,” another well-paid Garcetti staffer said when I said no such ransom would be paid.  The “mistake” is a dubious claim, given that the demand was accompanied by, “It looks like we are having public interest and they are available for adoption to the public,” despite zero screening process to ensure that the allegedly interested parties have only humane intentions for the pigs. It intimated that if the $52 wasn’t paid by the charity, the pigs would wind up in the hand of others. 

But there’s more. 

LAAS also wrote, “They are both getting sterilized today and are at the hospital. Do you have someone that would be able to pick them up and process the adoption?”  

Aside from the fact that it was nearly half-past 12 noon, and that it was repeatedly said that two weeks must pass for the pigs to safely go to LOH, it is a 226-mile round trip requiring personnel who know how to get groggy pigs to stand up and walk; large transportation vehicles with ramps; and money to move the procession. . .and the fact that the City had already agreed to handle the transportation. 

Way to pay attention and coordinate, Team Garcetti. . . 

Then, LAAS wanted to process the paperwork without first providing proof that the pigs were sterilized; a reasonable concern given that when we were eventually shown the spay/neuter certificates, it was unclear whether they were for the same pigs, since the name of one was switched, the spelling of the other was changed and the certificates do not identify the gender of either pig. 

That raises a curious question: if the certificates don’t reflect gender, how does LAAS know how much to pay the vet, given that female sterilization is much costlier than the procedure for males?

To reset matters, I recapped the endeavor’s timeline, identifying where things stand and what needs to be done to get the piggies out the door and everyone on to the next project. 

No response. 

We’ll leave it at that. If the City still needs help, it just needs to confirm that it will bring the pigs to the sanctuary once the second week passes. If Garcetti’s minions go in another direction, we’ll obtain the records to find out what they did with the pigs instead of sending them to the safest destination possible. 

But remember, it’s the Garcetti administration. If he can’t even take advantage of a welcoming, safe and secure place for two homeless pigs to go, it helps explain why he has failed to make progress for tens of thousands of homeless human beings in, from, and still coming to Los Angeles on his watch.  

None of Garcetti’s proxies, Barnette, and the five LAAS Commissioners, Larry Gross, Olivia Garcia, Alisa Finsten, Jose Sandoval or Roger Wolfson would field live questions. Had they responded when the offer of help was originally made, this all would have wrapped weeks ago. 

So why are they still there? It’s because in Garcetti-land, it is always about exerting power and retribution, rather than solving and fixing. 

It’s a piggy story that legitimately asks whether LA’s 42nd Mayor is even worse than the 41st.


(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and its Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.)  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.