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Sun, Apr

Karen Bass is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Third Term

LA POLITICS

AN ANGRY ANGELENO - It's sad to say and I was hoping for so much more, but what a disappointment Karen Bass has been. 

In some ways, Bass is worse than Garcetti, whose political career is now exiled to India (he couldn't even land a Cabinet position with the President that he had endorsed and backed) after Garcetti, aided and abetted by the LA Times, destroyed Los Angeles. 

Karen Bass Lacks the Political Courage to Lead Los Angeles 

Gotta give Garcetti this:  as bad as he was, he took a position on controversial issues and owned that position, even if he chose the wrong side.  He led...badly.  Bass can't even lead.  Look at Measure HLA.  Garcetti would have come out in favor, even if he would have been dead wrong, more like bad faith wrong.  Because Garcetti wanted Congestion Pricing via LA Metro (the Massive LA County Transportation Agency that LA's Mayor leads) and Creating Horrible Traffic, sheer gridlock, by stealing Traffic Lanes from Angelenos and Parking Lanes from Small Business through “Road Diets” that HLA REQUIRES is the way to get there.  It's ok if a lot of businesses die.  Then the Big Developers that back LA Politicos will finally get their hands on all those commercial properties.  Kind of like Garcetti and Bass letting homelessness and crime flourish has caused financially broken mom-and-pop owners of high vacancy commercial and residential properties to give up and sell. 

But Karen Bass is a political chicken.  She hasn't taken a position on Measure HLA.  Instead, she's out there campaigning for the Absolutely Horrible Nithya Raman.  And if Bass truly cared about Public Safety, she would have abandoned Raman after the latter voted against more money for policing the City.  Instead, I keep running into web ads for Raman starring Bass.  Why?  Because Karen Bass is afraid of the LA Times, owned by Progressive Activist Nika Soon-Shiong's Daddy.  Bass needs LA Times support again in the future.  That's the main reason she was able to defeat Caruso in the last Mayoral Election.  And Caruso might run again against Bass...only because she's doing such a lousy job. 

In the absence of a position by the MAYOR OF THE CITY on a Measure that will add a Third Massive Headache for Angelenos:  Homelessness, Crime, and, now, Gridlock at All Hours (so that Middle Class Angelenos will vote for LA Metro's Congestion Pricing Plan and Angelenos will Yet Again be fleeced by LA Metro), what has filled the void?  Silent council members, bothsidesing council members, and 6 out of 15 council members openly endorsing Measure HLA, because it's the fashionable “progressive” thing to do in order to maintain LA Times political support.  And at this point it should be noted that LA Metro spends A LOT of money on newspaper advertising.  I witnessed at least two council members quickly make it clear that they have issues with Measure HLA, then proceed to make lengthy arguments that seemingly help Measure HLA, because they're both termed out.  But that was only at an LA City Council Meeting.  The meeting where City Administrative Officer (CAO) Matt Szabo came in to try to torpedo Measure HLA.  The City Firefighters Union also sent in a rep to speak for 60 seconds against Measure HLA.  Which the LA Times conveniently left out of its post council meeting coverage.  The LA Times uses (what I refer to as) an “All Hands On Deck” or “Full Court Press” effort to get bad legislation passed or defeat good legislation...or to help bad politicians win reelection.  The LA Times went all out to make sure that Measure S, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, went down in flames back in 2017 and now they're going all out to make sure that Measure HLA passes.  I've always thought that the Times Motto should be “Sell Out Or Get Out” 

Now, I don't believe for one second that CAO Szabo can come into a City Council meeting and try to torpedo Measure HLA without the Mayor's blessing.  And he sure didn't look happy doing it.  He looked miserable.  He became persona non grata.  And, frankly, I don't think he did a good job trying to torpedo Measure HLA.  His heart didn't seem to be in it.  You see, Matt Szabo has run for office in the City of LA before.  He ran for Council District 13, Eric Garcetti's city council seat, in the same election in which Garcetti ran for Mayor (because he was termed out for city council), way back in 2013.  I remember way back when Szabo was Mayor Villaraigosa's Spokesperson.  And his time at LA City Hall goes back even further than that!  He's been there for OVER TWO DECADES (with short breaks), including stints in (two-termer) Mayor Richard Riordan's (but not one-termer Hahn's) Administration, Wendy Greuel and Rocky Delgadillo's offices, and a long stretch working in Villaraigosa's Administration.  He also had a long stretch working in Garcetti's Administration.  The fact that Mayor Bass kept Szabo in power is another sign that she's Mayor Garcetti's Third Term.  Now is not the time for Matt Szabo to become courageous, at least not if he wants to run for office again.  So, assuming Mayor Bass knew what Szabo was doing or sent him in to do it, it was bound to end in a weak result. 

In my opinion, Bass is also using UFLAC, the LAFD firefighters Union, to try to take down Measure HLA.  But they're not doing a good job at it, either.  I don't see them putting their weight behind it, kind of like just doing it for show.  I haven't gotten one mailer from UFLAC opposing Measure HLA.  And, as far as I know, the candidate they're backing, Heather Hutt, a sitting council member, hasn't pulled her support for Measure HLA.  See, Heather Hutt opposed a Road Diet for the La Brea Peak Hour Bus Only Lanes South of Olympic in her Council District.  So it makes zero sense that she would support HLA.  I believe she only did that to try to get the LA Times endorsement, which she did not get and won't get.  So why hasn't UFLAC gotten Hutt to pull her endorsement of HLA...because it's a weak effort. 

Why would UFLAC oppose HLA for Traffic and Response Time Reasons while the LAPD Union stays on the sidelines?  It makes no sense.  Until you consider that cops already got their big contract raises from Bass.  But, in my recollection, she's still negotiating with UFLAC on their next contract.  Also, we have a HUGE Budget Deficit (close to Half a Billion with a B) and the biggest places to cut are the Police and Fire budgets.  And Measure HLA is gonna make our Budget Deficit FAR worse, with a 1 to 3 Billion (with a B) Dollar Pricetag AND...here's the kicker...it CREATES LITIGATION against the City!  Come to think of it, why hasn't our City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto come out loudly against it the way Council Member Traci Park courageously has?  Perhaps it's because Feldstein Soto was endorsed by the Times and she wants that Times endorsement in the future... 

Why would the LA City Police and Fire Unions even care about LA Traffic becoming hellish?  They stand to gain!  Even worse response times, and they are horrible (I emptied a fire extinguisher trying to put out a dumpster fire set by a homeless person while waiting for LAFD stuck in traffic to get to the scene) (typical LAPD response times in my Beverly Grove hood are Two Hours), would only lead to more fire stations and police stations and more police and fire positions to man those stations.  It would lead to a decline in service while cops and firefighters are stuck in traffic, so we would need even more of them to be stuck in traffic.  Remember when Steve Lopez exposed in the Times that many LA City Firefighters don't live here and a few even live in Other States?  I wish he had done a similar investigation for our cops, but I imagine the higher ups at the Times wouldn't have that.  Cops can work a shorter 4 day week and have 3 day weekends, helping them live outside of LA.  I'd personally like to see LA cops get rent or mortgage assistance to actually live in the City that they police (I know, what a concept) in lieu of raises.  I think you do a much better job if you live in the city you police, and you're also more likely to care about legislation that will create gridlock at all hours if you live in that city. 

Bottom line:  having the CAO and the Fire Union fight your battles for you because you're a political coward is NOT enough in a situation like this.  HLA WILL pass because Bass didn't have the courage to come out against it.  And Angelenos should hold her accountable for its passage! 

But why is Bass seemingly secretly trying to use others to kill HLA?  Because the extensive damage that HLA will cause, both financial (the HUGE cost of HLA) and the Traffic Nightmare, will lead to Angelenos blaming Bass.  Bass deserves the blame and she knows it's coming.  When she's running for reelection and we're dealing with Crime, Homelessness, AND Traffic...Bass is politically over...she can succeed Garcetti as Ambassador to India. 

Reckless Financial Management Under Bass Just Like Under Garcetti 

An example of this would be that DASH neighborhood circulator buses are STILL FREE under Bass' LADOT, Department of Transportation.  Those are run by the City, not LA Metro.  I recently took a full DASH Bus in Downtown LA.  The professionals in it could afford to pay a small fare.  But instead, the Bass Administration THROWS AWAY that revenue, which means a lot more animals will die in our City “shelters” during our new Budget Crisis.  She also kept LADOT's Commuter Express buses FREE long after the freeway damage from that fire (likely set by homeless people) was fixed.  Why?  Every dollar that Mayor Bass throws away causes innocent helpless animals to die at our city “shelters”. 

So where is the City financially?  The LAPD Union got a new “four-year package of raises” back in August of last year (according to Zahniser writing for the Times).  I don't have a problem with that deal, although, as I stated above, I wish that instead of raises, cops would be offered mortgage or rent assistance to actually live in the City that they police.  I also think there should be less use of Overtime Pay and that cops should not be allowed to work longer days in order to work shorter weeks.  8 hours of police work is more than enough for a single day.  Cops should not be working more than that.  They also should not be moonlighting policing LA Metro for additional Overtime Pay, and that's something that Mayor Bass, as the head of the Metro Board, can put an end to. 

Then on January 12 of THIS year, Zahniser wrote up “Salary Deal Struck by Bass Would Give LA City Workers SEVEN Raises by July 2028” [emphasis added]  “Thousands of LA City workers are on track to receive a package of raises that would exceed 24% over five years, a deal similar to one that contributed to one of the City's most wrenching budget crises more than a decade ago.” Clearly, Zahniser being at LA City Hall for so long, he SEES what's coming.  This is blatant financial recklessness by Bass and the chickens will come home to roost MUCH sooner than expected.  Because these are not Public Safety workers.  These are All The Other City Workers (or at least six of the unions, because there is also the LA DWP Union, but DWP has its own separate Budget, as do LAX and the Port, and all three are swimming in extra money).  It gets worse:  “The proposal...also would...hike minimum pay of coalition workers – many of them part-time employees – to $25 per hour by 2026...”  Wow.  Totally irresponsible.  Political courage would have dictated NOT doing this deal, but that's political courage that Bass does NOT have. 

Zahniser warns: “The terms of the salary proposal [are similar] to a contract negotiated in 2007 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – one he later described as a mistake. That deal...delivered salary increases of nearly 25% over five years.”  You see, Bass is LOCKING IN inflation through a long term Union contract.  When inflation recedes, these folks are gonna be getting overpaid with money that the City will not have.  “The 2007 coalition deal was finalized shortly before...a slowdown in tax proceeds and rapid growth in retirement costs.”  Sound familiar (considering what is happening at the State and Federal level and that we're about to lose a lot of that financial help on homelessness, especially if Trump wins) ?  Keep in mind that these salary increases also increase the City's PENSION costs.  “Before leaving office...Villaraigosa voiced regret over his support for the salary agreement, saying it had been [his biggest Mayoral mistake].”  How appropriate then that Villaraigosa campaigned for the financially irresponsible Bass, especially in Latino communities, and helped get her elected!  Deja Vu.  By the way, “The Coalition of LA City Unions represents 24,000 full- and part-time city workers, including clerks,...custodians, gardeners and [others]” 

Well, that was quick.  On January 24 of this year, less than two weeks after he wrote up the LA City Union Coalition deal with Bass, Zahniser writes “LA Officials Had Been Hoping to Fill Vacant City Jobs. The New Plan?  Eliminate Them”  That's the headline!  Well, gee whiz. I hope a lot of helpless animals are not gonna die in the City's half dozen “shelters” because of Mayor Bass recklessly pandering to City Employee Unions in order to get reelected...but they probably will.  Because when the LA City Council has to fix a Huge Budget Deficit created by the Mayor, helpless animals at our shelters, dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies, come dead last in their priorities.  In this article, City Council Member Hugo (a member of the so-called “Gang of Four” Progressive Extremists on the Council who are all supporting HLA) says “the Council must look seriously at eliminating about 300 police positions that are currently vacant.” 

Ah, here we go: “Last year, officials reported that nearly 1 in 5 [City] jobs were unfilled, with high vacancy rates [for]...animal services...”  So helpless animals ARE gonna die.  Truly sad.  So, in this article, the LA City Council has not voted on Bass Union Coalition deal yet, but Bass is NOT backing off it, even with talk of eliminating cops!  The article mentions that LAPD now has fewer than 9,000 officers – a drop of about 1,000 over the past 5 years.  Well, that would explain LA Crime. 

Public Safety in Shambles Under Bass Just Like Under Garcetti 

On February 15, Zahniser wrote an article entitled “Mayor Karen Bass' Plan for Rebuilding the Size of the LAPD has Fallen Short So Far”.  The plan was to get to “about 9,500 police officers” in the middle of this year.  CAO Szabo's “new assessment...shows the department is falling well short [of that]. By June 30,...the department is expected to have 8,908 officers...”  Wow.  Bass is truly failing on all cylinders.  She even gave Mayor Garcetti's Police Chief  Michel Moore ANOTHER Five Year Term!  Thankfully, he's retiring early right about now.  She kept A LOT of Garcetti's top people when she took over as Mayor.  She even invited most of Garcetti's many staffers to stay on after she started as Mayor, at least for many months.  If you knew she was gonna be Garcetti's Third Term, would you have voted for her? 

But being so understaffed at LAPD is good for LA Cops.  It means they can make more Overtime Pay, which is bad for us taxpayers...we get even less bang for our buck.  One of the things Garcetti was known for was Personnel Mismanagement and one of the biggest signs of that is Huge amounts of Overtime being paid out at our Police and Fire Departments...and Inflated Pensions.  Check out Jack Dolan's Times piece from mid-2018 “Before Becoming LAPD Chief, Moore Retired, Collected a 1.27 Million Payout, Then Was Rehired”  with a picture of Moore and Garcetti hugging it out, which was the talk of the town.  Then why would Bass give Moore ANOTHER 5 year term?  Because she's Garcetti's Third Term. 

How about the LAFD (LA City Firefighters) Union?  In mid-2022, Zahniser (writing for the Times) wrote that “In June, council members signed off on a package of bonuses and benefits for the City's firefighters, which is expected to cost $48 Million over 2 years.”  Well, it seems those two years are almost up.  Sounds like their next set of raises are coming real soon!

(“The Angry Angeleno” is the nom de plume of Yuval Kremer.  Yuval is a Registered Democrat; a Cali-Camp, Harvard-Westlake (pre-merger), USC, and Loyola Law School Alum; and a former ballot candidate for Mayor of LA (failing to prevent Mayor Garcetti's reelection) and LA County Supervisor (ran against Sheila Kuehl, Katy Yaroslavsky's former boss).  The opinions expressed by Yuval are his and his alone (not those of CityWatchLA), but will likely be yours soon!)