LA WATCHDOG - The FBI raided the offices and home of Councilman Jose Huizar over 3½ years ago, but nothing has been done to curb the corruption associated with the City’s land use policies.
Two years ago, in May of 2020, Councilmen David Ryu and Paul Koretz introduced a motion, Limiting Unilateral Influence in Development Decisions, calling for “a ballot measure on the November 2020 election ballot to remove Subsection (e) of Section 245 of the City Charter to eliminate the ability for the City Council to overwrite the actions of planning commissions and instead align the City Council’s oversight of planning commission decisions with the authority and process in place for all other city commissions.”
To date, there has not even been a public discussion on this anti-corruption motion.
However, corruption is once again making the news now that David Lee (aka Dae Yong Lee) is on trial on bribery charges related to his payment of $500,000 to Huizar to facilitate the development of his high-rise apartment building at Olympic and Hill. As part of his testimony, George Esparza, an aide to Huizar who has already pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges, outlined Huizar’s pay-to-play schemes, including Huizar’s spread sheets and his call to “hit these guys up.”
We can also expect more testimony that will reveal the unsavory details involving corruption at City Hall and the refusal of our elected officials to stop this abuse of power.
How can Nury Martinez and her fellow members of the City Council ignore this blatant corruption? How can they sit on their hands and do nothing? Or are they also “milking” the cow.
There will also be the October trial of Shenzhen New World I in October followed by Huizar’s trial in February, both of which will be sideshows.
But what can we do to influence Council President Nury Martinez and the City Council to place a measure on the ballot to eliminate Section 245 (e) of the City Charter? Will Nury and the gang continue to ignore calls for reform? Most likely.
But Angelenos do have some leverage, especially when it comes to approving a ballot measure that involves the ultimate aphrodisiac for politicians. And that is cash!
The City Council has placed on the November ballot a measure that will raise between $600 million and $1.1 billion for affordable housing by taxing real estate transactions that are over $5 million. While this so called Mansion Tax or Flip Tax is ill-conceived because of its adverse impact on private development, the threat that we will vote NO may be an incentive for the City Council to place a measure on the ballot to delete Section 245 (e), eliminating a major source of corruption in our City.
NO reform earns a NO vote on the Flip Tax.
Sec. 245. City Council Veto of Board Actions.
Actions of boards of commissioners shall become final at the expiration of the next five meeting days of the Council during which the Council has convened in regular session, unless the Council acts within that time by two-thirds vote to bring the action before it or to waive review of the action, except that as to any action of the Board of Police Commissioners regarding the removal of the Chief of Police, the time period within which the Council may act before the action of the Board shall become final shall be ten meeting days during which the Council has convened in regular session.
(a) Action by Council. If the Council timely asserts jurisdiction over the action, the Council may, by two-thirds vote, veto the action of the board within 21 calendar days of voting to bring the matter before it, or the action of the board shall become final. Except as provided in subsection (e), the Council may not amend, or take any other action with respect to the board’s action.
(b) Waiver. The Council may, by ordinance, waive review of classes or categories of actions, or, by resolution, waive review of an individual anticipated action of a board. The Council may also, by resolution, waive review of a board action after the board has acted. Actions for which review has been waived are final upon the waiver, or action of the board, as applicable.
(c) Effect of Veto. An action vetoed by the Council shall be remanded to the originating board, which board shall have the authority it originally held to take action on the matter.
(d) Exempt Actions. The following actions are exempt from Council review under this section:
(1) actions of the Ethics Commission;
(2) actions of the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners;
(3) actions of the Board of Administration for Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System;
(4) actions of the Board of Administration of Water and Power Employees Retirement Plan;
(5) quasi-judicial personnel decisions of the Board of Civil Service Commissioners;
(6) actions of a board organized under authority of the Meyers-Milias Brown Act for administration of employer-employee relations;
(7) individual personnel decisions of boards of commissioners other than the Board of Police Commissioners; and
(8) actions which are subject to appeal or review by the Council pursuant to other provisions of the Charter, ordinance or other applicable law.
(e) Exceptions for Actions of City Planning Commission and Area Planning Commissions. The Council shall not be limited to veto of actions of the City Planning Commission or Area Planning Commissions, but, subject to the time limits and other limitations of this section, after voting to bring the matter before it, shall have the same authority to act on a matter as that originally held by the City Planning Commission or Area Planning Commission.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)