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Is This Sodom 2016? The City of Los Angeles Falls to #60


CORRUPTION WATCH-After a decade and half of corruption, the City of Los Angeles continues to decline. The relationship between corruption and urban decay is one of the oldest stories in western civilization, and yet, it is also the most current. 

Corruption Leads to Destruction--Genesis and rabbinic tradition instruct us that injustice, abuse of the poor, and corrupt leaders destroy society. Sodom was ruled by four judges: Liar, Habitual Liar, Deceiver, and Perverter of the Law. Through a variety of ploys, the rulers of Sodom stole the wealth of others especially of the poor and strangers who had no friends to protect them. 

It has been reported that Sodom’s rulers destroyed the homes of the poor and then charged the people of Sodom billions of dollars to build homes for the poor, except they built luxury homes for the wealthy while the poor languished in the streets of Sodom. Oh, no…wait. That wasn’t Sodom. That’s Los Angeles under the reign of Garcetti. 

Just as the rulers of Sodom were smug in their complacency believing that no one would disturb them in their wealth, the city councilmembers and mayor are confident that no one will hold them accountable. Certainly not the district attorney who sees nothing wrong with the massive vote trading scheme which has dominated the City Council since Garcetti became City Council President in 2006. 

One of the worse cruelties of the Garcetti Administration has been the intentional and systematic destruction of the homes of the poor. Surely, the destruction of over 20,000 rent-controlled apartments -- throwing the elderly, the disabled and poor into the streets -- is a measure which would make the rulers green with envy. 

As CityWatch recently reported, one of Garcetti’s planning commissioners revealed the purpose behind destroying the homes of the poor: to make the Metro system more profitable. 

Why does Garcetti want an expanded the Metro system? It has nothing to do with improving transportation but rather with getting people to tax themselves another $120 billion which will be given to the campaign supporters of Garcetti and the elected officials in Los Angeles. 

Destroying the homes of the poor swells the ranks of the homeless so that the same politicos who have destroyed poor people’s homes can pretend to come to their rescue. Here’s Garcetti’s plan in a nutshell: Destroy a poor person’s home, give a million dollars to a billionaire. 

The Absolute Right of Councilmembers to Steal--Los Angeles City Councilmembers have this absolute right to steal because they’ve made their Faustian deal with each other: “I will never vote against a project in your district, if you never vote against a project in my district.” In 2006, Penal Code § 86 criminalized vote trading by councilmembers as a form of bribery. The votes of other councilmembers may not be purchased by cash or by another councilmember’s vote. 

This unlawful vote trading pact has been a form of “Mutual Bribery,” by which the City Councilmembers approve each and every construction project UNANIMOUSLY -- over 99.9% of the time. What does the City Attorney say about Mutual Bribery? 

“ . . . City Council’s unanimously agree[ing] 99% of the time . . . Does not give rise to a reasonable inference that a Councilmember ‘gives, or offers or promises to give, any official vote in consideration that ...another member of the legislative body ...shall give this vote either upon the same or another question.’ (Penal Code, § 86.)” Thus, sayeth the City Attorney. 

Really? Ten thousand consecutive unanimous votes in a 15-member city council does not give rise to an “inference” of vote trading?   

If you went to Vegas and the House won 10,000 times in a row, would you pretend that it was just the luck of the draw? If a casino’s tables won every hand for just one day, does anyone think that the Nevada Gaming Commission would allow that casino to operate the next day? 

Yet, the District Attorney has allowed these types of astronomical odds to rule LA City Council for ten years while accepting the absurd explanation that the unanimous votes are just the luck of the draw. 

As the judges of Sodom learned and the rulers of Los Angeles are discovering, some laws come with built-in penalties. Retribution for corruption tends to be slow, but it is devastating. People move away from Los Angeles, making the city poorer and poorer day by day. 

Before Garcetti was first elected to the LA City Council in 2001, Los Angeles was one of the nation’s premier cities. In less than a decade, Garcetti destroyed his own council district in Hollywood so much so that, between 2000 and 2010, Hollywood’s population dropped by 12,596 people. 

Los Angeles’ Brain Drain --Furthermore, recent data shows that Los Angeles as a whole has suffered greatly due to the corruption in Garcetti’s City Hall. The most important segment of a city’s work force is its “professional and business services section.” This portion of the population is crucial not only for the wealth it adds to the city; it’s also the bell weather of a city’s future. 

As noted by Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires in their July 22, 2016 article in NewGeography.com,  “In many ways, the business and professional service sector may be the best indicator of future U.S. economic growth.” 

As the name implies, “professional and business services” are dependent upon a strong economy with a growing business section. A city that does not attract the “professional and business services” sector is a city in decline. 

Los Angeles has fallen to Number 60 among U.S. cities for attracting the “professional and business services” sector of the work force. These workers are the stable middle and upper-middle class. They are the classes that can afford to pay taxes; they also have enough education and jobs skills to move to a less toxic municipal environment. 

It is no mystery why a pathologically corrupt City Hall drives away businesses and the city’s more productive people. 

“Los Angeles is barely treading water while the rest of the world is moving forward. We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a City in decline. § For too many years we have failed to cultivate and build on our human and economic strengths, while evading the hard choices concerning local government and municipal finance presented by this new century.” -- December 2013, 2020 Commission, “A Time for Truth.” 

When the rulers expropriate a city’s wealth for themselves and their cronies, the streets are not repaired, the sidewalks are not fixed and water mains constantly burst. Los Angeles has fewer parks than any large city and its traffic congestion has become the worst not only in America but also in all of Europe. Businesses look at the long-term when deciding whether to stay or leave Los Angeles. Increasingly, businesses are finding that they should get out while they can. 

Businesses Move Away from Corruption--Likewise, when businesses consider where to re-locate, they look at the long-term. When they look at Los Angeles, they see a city which has shot itself in the foot when it comes to obtaining federal money. Is anyone surprised that after Garcetti stole the Promise Zone money from South Central and gave it to his developer buddies in Hollywood, that the Obama Administration skipped Los Angeles when giving out its transportation grants?    San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 07/11/1, Southern California Gets a Big, Fat $0 from Feds for Freight, Road Improvements. 

Businesses look at Los Angeles and see our possible future: (1) Continued decaying infrastructure as more and more money is drained from the city treasury and diverted to developers; (2) huge tax increases that will be needed to pay to rehabilitate our infrastructure. 

Businesses see that the City is incurring billions upon billions of dollars in debt that they, the business leaders, will have to repay. The only people who can avoid paying their share are the developers who form LLCs and LLPs in order to receive their influx of cash from the City and then BK their “collapsible” LLCs and LLPs. No rational businessman willingly remains in such a morass of corruption. 

We Angelenos need to ponder the fact that LA has fall to #60 in attracting the “professional and business services” sector of the work force. Can you even name 60 other U.S. cities? That’s how far down the list Los Angeles has fallen. If our City was on American Ninja Warrior, we wouldn’t even advance to the next round. 

“Power corrupts and corruption destroys.” – GOD, Genesis 18 (more or less.)


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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