LA WATCHDOG--The 2019 Assessment Roll for the 790,556 properties in the City of Los Angeles rose to a record $653 billion, an increase of $42 billion, or 6.8%, from 2018.
LA WATCHDOG--The lack of transparency concerning the economics of the new labor contracts for the City’s civilian workforce is nothing short of a cover up orchestrated by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson.
LA WATCHDOG--On Friday, August 9, the Los Angeles City Council will approve 21 Memorandums of Understanding for the Coalition of City Unions (the “Coalition”) without any public comment. These MOUs will cost the City $300 million over the three-year life of the contracts (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021).
LA WATCHDOG--A public bank is a vehicle for politicians to divert legislatively designated funds into a blind pool to fund noneconomic pet projects and loans to politically connected, uncreditworthy borrowers. This will result in losses that will have an adverse impact on the bank’s ability to continue as a going concern and on the government’s credit rating.
LA WATCHDOG--Our Department of Water and Power has been front and center ever since the FBI raided its offices and those of City Attorney Mike Feuer looking for evidence of “bribery, kickbacks, extortion, mail fraud, and money laundering” in connection with the fraudulent settlement of the class action lawsuit involving the botched rollout the Department’s customer billing system.
LA WATCHDOG--On Tuesday, agents from the FBI raided the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer; the Department of Water and Power, including the office of now former General Manager David Wright and that of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners; and other locations connected to DWP.
LA WATCHDOG--The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”) and the Pacific Maritime Association (“PMA”), an organization that represents the Pacific Coast maritime industry, have entered into an agreement that will allow APM Terminals, a subsidiary of Maersk, the giant Danish shipping company, to proceed with its $1.3 million infrastructure improvement program that will allow APM to operate efficient driverless electric cargo handlers.
LA WATCHDOG--On Thursday, July 11, the Board of Harbor Commissioners once again voted 3 to 2 to deny the appeal by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”) of its decision to allow APM Terminals, a subsidiary of the giant Danish shipping company, Maersk, to proceed with an environmentally friendly $1.5 million infrastructure improvement plan to its multibillion operating marine terminal.
LA WATCHDOG--On July 9, the members of the Board of Administration of the Los Angeles City Employees Retirement Systems (“LACERS”) unanimously approved the expenditure of $7,500 to send Board President Cynthia Ruiz to Paris, France to attend the Principles in Responsible Investment in Person 2019 conference.
LA WATCHDOG--On Friday, June 28, the Los Angeles City Council, as expected, voted to assert jurisdiction over a recent decision by the Board of Harbor Commissioners
LA WATCHDOG--The following is a summary of my remarks on Budget Day, Saturday, June 29, at City Hall to more than 250 Angelenos that packed the Council Chambers at City Hall.
LA WATCHDOG--On Friday, June 28, the Los Angeles City Council will consider a motion by Councilman Joe Buscaino to assert jurisdiction over a decision by the Board of Harbor Commissioners to approve a minor construction permit that would allow Maersk, the world’s largest shipper of cargo containers, and its subsidiary, APM Terminals, to install electric charging stations, wi-fi antenna poles, and traffic barriers in its 484 acre facility.
LA WATCHDOG--On Friday, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the that Marty Adams will replace David Wright as the General Manager of our Department of Water and Power on October 1.
LA WATCHDOG--Last week was not a good one for Mayor Garcetti.
LA WATCHDOG--On Tuesday, 54% of the voters rejected Measure EE, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $500 million parcel tax.
LA WATCHDOG--On May 16, the Federal Rail Administration (“FRA”) terminated its agreement to provide $929 million to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (“CHSRA”) because, among many other failures, the CHSRA has been unable to make reasonable progress in completing the Bullet Train from Union Station in Los Angeles to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.
LA WATCHDOG--“This has to be about congestion relief, not revenue.” Mayor Eric Garcetti.
LA WATCHDOG--On Friday, the Los Angeles Unified School District sent an unsolicited email to the parents of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District that contained a link to highly partisan video supporting Measure EE, the $500 million parcel tax.
LA WATCHDOG--The special election for the $500 million parcel tax that will benefit the Los Angeles Unified School District is a little more than three weeks away. As a result, we will be bombarded by mailers and advertisements urging us to reject or support Measure EE, inappropriately named the “Quality Teacher, Class Size Reduction, and Local School Safety Measure.”
LA WATCHDOG--The Los Angeles Unified School District has voted to establish an Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee “to provide increased accountability and ensure that funds from Measure EE [the District’s proposed $500 million parcel tax], if approved, are used as approved by the voters.”.
LA WATCHDOG--Ever since Eric Garcetti became Mayor in 2013, the City’s General Fund revenues have increased by $2 billion (44%), to a record $6.5 billion. And despite lots of lip service, the Mayor and City Council President Herb Wesson have not made any effort to restore full funding for the Department of Recreation and Parks or develop a plan to maintain and repair its parks and facilities.
LA WATCHDOG--The Los Angeles Unified School District, its union, United Teachers Los Angeles, the Los Angeles City Council, and the political establishment are asking us to approve a $500 million parcel tax to finance LAUSD’s Structural Deficit. This will cost the average renter and homeowner about $200 and $500 a year, respectively.
LA WATCHDOG--Since 2011, the City of Los Angeles has done a reasonable job of building up its two rainy day funds, the Reserve Fund and the Budget Stabilization Fund. Nevertheless, despite record revenues, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Herb Wesson led City Council have shortchanged the rainy-day funds by diverting money from both entities to the General Fund to pay for increased personnel costs and overly ambitious spending programs.
LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed budget for next year shows a significant increase in revenues which eliminates the previously projected $160 million deficit and funds the raises for the City’s civilian employees.
LA WATCHDOG--On Wednesday afternoon, April 17, Mayor Eric Garcetti will deliver his sixth State of the City Address at Abraham Lincoln High School in Montecito Heights.
LA WATCHDOG--United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents over 30,000 teachers, is spending millions to seize control of the Los Angeles Unified School District. If UTLA is successful, the union will use its influence to eviscerate charter and magnet schools, adversely impacting approximately 200,000 students.
LA WATCHDOG--County Supervisor Janice Hahn is bent out of shape because the University of Southern California wants to change the name of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum.
LA WATCHDOG--So many shenanigans, so little time. Here is a brief preview of some of the stunts where the our elected politicians are trying to bamboozle us. And trust me, there are more, starting with the Mayor’s budget proposal that is scheduled to be presented to the City Council on April 22.
LA WATCHDOG--When Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson announced in December that he was entering the race to succeed termed out County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, he was considered to be the “instant front runner” because of his name recognition, political connections, and ability to raise campaign funds, especially from real estate developers and public sector unions.
LA WATCHDOG--We always knew that City Hall was dirty: a rat-infested nest where money trumped our best interests, especially when it involved pay-to-play real estate developers. This fact was hammered home when the FBI raided the home and offices of Councilman Jose Huizar, the chair of the powerful, favor granting Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the City Council.
LA WATCHDOG--QUALITY TEACHER, CLASS SIZE REDUCTION, AND LOCAL SCHOOL SAFETY MEASURE
To retain/attract quality teachers; reduce class sizes; provide counseling/nursing/library services, arts, music, science, math, preschool, vocational/career education, safe/well-maintained schools, adequate instructional materials/supplies; support disadvantaged/homeless students; shall Los Angeles Unified School District levy $0.16 per square foot of building improvements annually, exempting seniors/certain disability recipients, providing approximately $500,000,000 annually for 12 years, requiring annual audits, oversight, and funding local schools?
LA WATCHDOG--On February 21, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the City of Los Angeles, the Department of Water and Power, and the Bureau of Sanitation would embark on an $8 billion plan to recycle 100% of its wastewater by 2035. This ambitious sixteen-year plan will involve recycling over 200 million gallons a day of wastewater into around 195,000 acre feet of potable water a year.
LA SPORTS WATCHDOG--Once again, we are hoping for the Dodgers to end its 30-year World Series drought. And in that quest, many believed that the team should have signed Bryce Harper, a 26-year old wunderkind who was the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2015 NL MVP.
LA WATCHDOG--Ten years ago, on March 3, 2009, just over 50% of the voters of the City of Los Angeles rejected Measure B, Mayor Villaraigosa’s solar initiative to have the Department of Water and Power install 400 megawatts of solar power within the City limits.
LA WATCHDOG--The blue wave has caused politicians throughout the State to believe that money grows on trees in our back yards. Many are planning tax, rate, and fee increases, including LAUSD, DWP, Metro, the City, and the State. But at the same time, all are experiencing record revenues.
LA WATCHDOG--Our trust and confidence in the City’s elected officials and institutions has sunk to new lows as revelations about City Hall’s pay-to-play culture have been front page news ever since Councilman Jose Huizar’s offices and home were raided by the FBI in November.
LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti’s hastily called press conference (photo above) on Tuesday morning, February 12, was essentially a pep rally for the Los Angeles New Green Deal team where he announced the depowering / phase out of the Department of Water and Power’s three coastal natural gas power plants that are a major source of reliable electricity for the City of Los Angeles.
LA WATCHDOG--The recent reports of rats, fleas, and vermin in City Hall have gone viral, eliciting comments from around the world. This includes an appropriately titled, front page article in The Wall Street Journal, “Politics is a Dirty Business – Starting with the Rats at Los Angeles City Hall.”
LA WATCHDOG--The process for developing and approving the City’s annual budget is not transparent because it does not allow Angelenos to have any meaningful input on how the City will spend our hard-earned money. Nor does it allow us time to review, analyze, and comment on the operational, financial, and policy issues that are contained in over 1,500 pages of mind-numbing figures.
LA WATCHDOG--“This is the eradication of congestion.” Phillip A. Washington, Metro Chief Executive.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering congestion pricing which, if approved by the voters, would charge motorists to drive on our freeways and streets. This new tax is intended ease traffic on our roadways and reduce the County’s carbon foot print by cutting down on the emission of greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.
LA WATCHDOG--The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times believes that Mayor Eric Garcetti made the right decision in not running for President of the United States, stating that “Los Angeles is a big, complicated [see below] city with serious challenges and tremendous opportunities. It’s a city that needs a full-time, fully invested mayor.