Wed, Sep

LA Watchdog

LA’s Pension Shenanigans: Stealing from Our Kids

LA WATCHDOG--On August 24, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a press release where he touted that the City and union leaders for the police and firefighters “reached an agreement to make the Deferred Option Retirement Plan (“DROP”) more effective and less susceptible to abuse.”  

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What About LA Giveaways to Amazon?

LA WATCHDOG--Investment Incentives, Controller Ron Galperin’s excellent report on Tax Abatements and Subvention Agreements, outlines the $1.3 billion in subsidies and giveaways for 11 DTLA hotels with 5,732 rooms that have been approved by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Herb Wesson-led City Council or are in the pipeline waiting the pro forma blessing of City Hall.   

However, only about $500 million (38%) for two convention hotels with 1,850 rooms are legitimate subsidies. They have been developed or are being developed by the Anschutz Entertainment Group in connection with its pioneering $3 to $4 billion investment that revitalized the area north of the Convention Center and its proposed $1.25 billion investment to finance the long overdue expansion of the Convention Center and an adjacent four-star convention hotel with 850 rooms. 

The other nine hotels with almost 3,900 rooms were granted or are asking for giveaways of almost $800 million from the round heeled occupants of City Hall. However, preliminary due diligence confirms that the developers of these three-star hotels have above average returns on their investments without the benefit of the City’s giveaways because of the positive impact of the AEG investment in the LA Live and the Convention Center.  

Galperin made several reasonable, easy to implement recommendations, including one that the City develop a comprehensive economic development plan that incorporates the use of incentives, including those for hotels that are within walking distance of the Convention Center.  

He also recommended that the City hire experienced professionals who have a thorough understanding of the hotel business; are able to do an in-depth business and financial analysis of the transaction and the need for, if any, incentives; develop reasonable alternatives; and negotiate favorable deals for the City. 

Finally, Galperin recommended that the City develop a process to review the individual transactions after their completion to see if the deals are meeting expectations.  This post completion review would allow for “clawback” provisions if the developer fails to honor his commitments.  

[I would add that if the deal exceeds expectations, the City should be entitled to the return of its subsidy, interest on that subsidy, and a small equity kicker, similar to what occurs in the private sector.]  

The implicit message is that the City should not participate in any more giveaways for service hotels, especially those sponsored by Councilmen Herb Wesson and Curren Price that are not within two miles of the Convention Center. 

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The Not So Independent Bank of Los Angeles

LA WATCHDOG--Charter Amendment B: Shall the City Charter be amended to allow the City to establish a municipal financial institution or bank?  

The proponents of the November ballot measure that would allow the City of Los Angeles to establish a bank tell us that it would be an independent entity, free of political interference, because it would be “managed by a civilian commission made up of Los Angeles residents from every council district.”   

But this claim is nothing but campaign rhetoric and empty promises as the Bank of Los Angeles will be controlled by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Herb Wesson led City Council, the same fiscally irresponsible crew that is responsible for the City’s budget deficit, its $15 billion unfunded pension liability, our lunar cratered streets, and the Structural Deficit that is in the range of $1 billion a year. 

[See - LA’s Unbalanced Budget: City Hall Stealing from Our Kids! 

The civilian commission will be appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the City Council.

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Send the Pols a Message! Demand Pension Reform: Vote NO on State Bonds and County Rain Tax

LA WATCHDOG--On November 6, the politicians who occupy the Sacramento Capitol and their special interest cronies are asking us to approve $14.4 billion in bonds to finance the State’s water infrastructure ($8.9 billion), its affordable housing program ($4 billion), and children’s hospitals ($1.5 billion). At the same time, the County’s Board of Supervisors are looking for us to bless a $300 million a year forever tax to fund its yet to-be-developed stormwater program (the “Rain Tax”). 

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Eric Garcetti’s Pension Tsunami: What, Me Worry?

LA WATCHDOG--You would never know that the City of Los Angeles is in the midst of an ever-growing pension crisis if you attended or listened to a meeting of the Board of Administration of the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (“LACERS”), the $16 billion pension plan for the City’s civilian employees. 

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Power Outage: Blame City Hall

LA WATCHDOG--Beginning on Friday, July 5, many Angelenos were without power for 72 hours because of the record demand for power during the unprecedented “heat storm” that overwhelmed the Power System’s outdated infrastructure. 

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Transparency a Must for LA’s Underfunded Pension Plans

LA WATCHDOG-The People’s Republic of Santa Monica is showing its fiscal responsibility by seeking to hire an independent consultant to review and analyze its unfunded pension liability of $461 million and develop alternative solutions on how to eliminate this “debt” over the next decade. 

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The Bank of Los Angeles: A Weapon of Mass Financial Destruction?

LA WATCHDOG--On Tuesday, the City Council passed a Herb Wesson sponsored motion, without any discussion, that requested “the City Attorney, with the assistance of the Chief Legislative Analyst, to prepare and present the documents necessary to place on the November 2018 Ballot the necessary amendment to Section 104(g) of the City Charter to authorize the City to form a municipal bank.” 

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The Escalating Price of LA’s Civic Center

LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles has very ambitious plans for the Civic Center, the area surrounding City Hall. According to the City’s Information Statement, the City is “considering major improvements to its Civic Center, with estimates ranging from $730 million to $760 million for the first of multiple phases of its Civic Center Master Development Plan.” 

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LA’s Unbalanced Budget: City Hall Stealing from Our Kids!

LA WATCHDOG--Despite a 36%, $1.6 billion increase in revenues since Eric Garcetti was elected the Mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, the City still has an unbalanced budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2018 and a Structural Deficit that will total more than $4 billion over the following four years. 

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A Vote for Prop 70 and a Vote Against Pork 68 are Votes for Transparency, Accountability

LA WATCHDOG--When the political establishment, the public sector unions, the environmental community, the building trade unions, and the business community support a ballot measure that involves our money, rest assured that the ballot measure is not in our best interests as this cabal, once again, wants to pick our pockets clean of our hard earned cash.    

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