CORRUPTION WATCH--I fear that today's shocking revelation in the Los Angeles Times about Mitchell Englander flying down to Arizona with a staff member for a Taser fundraiser, concurrent to the company seeking a major body worn video contract with our city, may be the tip of an iceberg. First of all it's not okay.
Regardless of the contorted logic and twisted thinking that the downtown lobbyists and their pack of lawyers will put forward, it is still not okay.
As for the council members who will come out to defend or may feel sympathy for Mr. Englander (photo), claiming that the disclosure requirements were too confusing, we ought to demand, as some of us have, that the Ethics ordinance be rewritten, immediately
And without any disrespect intended for Common Cause or Clean Money or other groups trying to bring accountability, while indirectly seeking political support from the very group they help regulate, we should be sure to include in any discussion, a reasonable number of outraged residents with a modicum of street smarts, to help explain what quid pro quo means so that your average eighth grader could grasp the concept.
But make no mistake, Mitchell Englander is the man of the hour and he should receive the strongest possible sanction. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, whom the council member crassly honored as the CD12 Pioneer woman in April, ought to remove any endorsement from Englander's campaign website as should the City Attorney Mike Feuer, and both should team up to provide the public with an overview of what they are doing to help enforce state bid rigging laws … or, admit that they’re not really paying attention.
One excellent way to avoid bid rigging is to avoid bidding and competition altogether. Unfortunately, that is in direct conflict with the public's best interest. We need to make that clear. All too often, good journalists are left with bad campaign finance laws scribbled down by the Englanders, Knabes et al. and the public must endure a chorus of "it's perfectly legal" on the opinion pages.
Enough is enough.
Council member Englander should put all of that Taser money he received and put it into a special city ethics fund.
Taser should also be fined, and, in exchange for the right to participate in fair and open bidding, the company should be required to provide 15 state of the art body worn video cameras, to be worn by ALL 15 members of the City Council during the several months it will take to have a fair and reasonable RFP. As Englander himself put it in September 2013, just after teeing Taser up for a near-exclusive trial, it's a "great opportunity to set the record straight, to give us extra eyes and ears" where we obviously need them.
The Lobbyists, including Arnie Berghoff, mentioned in the Times article, who shares an office and presumably bunk-desks with the regularly highest grossing lobbyist firm, Uncle Harvey dba (Englander Knabe & Allen), ought to explain just how deep the relationship between Taser and the council member really is, and make a substantial voluntary deposit into the aforementioned special city fund.
Politicians trying to score political points by being anti-cop is truly unsavory. What's far worse is politicians like Mitchell Englander, who pretend to have the cops best interests, while doing real damage to the brand. By selling out Main Street to Wall Street … and Taser … Englander has violated something most good cops hold near and dear and work hard to deliver every single day: FAIR and HONEST protection and service to Los Angeles citizens.
(Eric Preven is a Studio City based writer-producer and public advocate for better transparency in local government. He was a candidate in the 2015 election for Los Angeles City Council, 2nd District.)
Vol 13 Issue 103
Pub: Dec 22, 2015