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Tue, May

Meanwhile in La La Land … is the Prop HHH Oversight Committee Picking Our Pockets?

LOS ANGELES

THE PREVEN REPORT-It was “La La Land” at City Hall…the Greatest Show on Earth! Bungee jumpers (photo above) plunging from impossible heights -- and Mayor Eric “move-over-Scott-Joplin-there’s-a-new-sheriff-in-town” Garcetti jamming hard on the piano. (He’s good. See photo, below left.) 

Not advertised but taking place at the same time on the 15th floor of City Hall East was a magnificent pick-pocket demonstration by the Prop HHH Administrative Oversight Committee (AOC), headed by Richard Llewellyn, who made the unorthodox leap from being Eric Garcetti’s personal lawyer to being the Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Los Angeles. The public couldn’t believe its wallet was gone. How’d they do that? 

Since we last wrote about this group, things have gone from bad to worse. 

Prop HHH was a great victory for Mayor Garcetti, no? He was proud to have led the charge, and wasn’t shy about saying so on TV. 

So why the sudden secrecy? Don’t they want to keep that Great Spirit going? Fill the room with excited members of the public? Celebrate our progress towards ending homelessness in LA?  

Apparently not. Just the opposite. Now, it’s round-the-clock evasion, obfuscation and silly tricks. 

Is this because they’re doing a great job?  Are they planning a surprise party? 

It’s time for the public to send a message to Mayor Garcetti and his team: We are watching. It is not OK to persuade Angelenos to give money for a cause they believe in only to have that money diverted to serve an alternate agenda.  

Here’s some specific demands: 

Meeting agendas must include links to all supplementary materials to be discussed at the meeting -- and audio recordings of those meetings should be posted without delay -- just as every other meeting does. 

The AOC discussed the need for the city to be compensated for the time it spends on work related to Prop HHH. It would take the form, in effect, of a “commission” on each project.  

The precise percentage has not been determined, but it’s not a good sign that when co-author Eric Preven asked what the commission would be on a $3.5 million project and, as the presenter started to answer the question, the CAO shushed the staffer, saying that they weren’t taking questions from the floor. He then authorized another employee to not-answer the question. 

It's true the proposition allows for the City to recoup “costs incidental to issuing the general obligation bonds,” but those should be minimal. And that phrase does not give permission to set up a “billable hours” system.  

It’s the City’s job to handle various funding sources. If we’re going to take a commission off every HHH project, then let’s go to the car dealership model. There are slow months and busy months in any job. You don’t get paid extra for the busy months.  

Also, the bond will save the City money by, as the bond says, mitigating “financial pressures on the General Fund.” 

Something’s got to give. If Mayor Garcetti keeps pushing forward with his public-unfriendly agenda (why else would his team be hiding themselves away?) then public outrage will mount until the whole ugly story winds up on the front page of the New York Times. There is such a thing as bad press, and it’s called “being accused in a national newspaper of stealing money from the homeless.”  

Alternatively, the Mayor can throw in the towel on his agenda, open up the whole process, and wind up on the front page of the NY Times as a star. La La Land forever!

 

(Eric Preven and Joshua Preven are public advocates for better transparency in local government. Eric is a Studio City based writer-producer and Joshua is a teacher.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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