Sun, Jun

A Little Corruption Here, A Little Abuse There Makes LA Ungovernable


THE VIEW FROM HERE - Bad things never occur without causes. The same is true of good things. 

Often it is hard to figure out the causes.  When the government fails to secure individual inalienable rights, the consent of the governed wanes and can fall so low that the government loses its legitimacy.  Every American should instantly recognize this phenomenon. It’s lives in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.   

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” 

How The Declaration Of Independence Applies to the City of Los Angeles 

(1) How long is a long train?  

The answer is subjective. One could use the start date of 2001 when Los Angeles was rated the most desirable destination city, but by 2010, it had become the least desirable city. One could select 2006 when Penal Code § 86 clarified that vote trading by a city council was criminal.  One could say that the time period is not as crucial as the harm which has been done.  Homelessness was identified as a crisis before the pandemic. Los Angeles has declined to the point where it is losing population and the population segments which it is losing are the most important: Family Millennials and middle class immigrants. Since everyone who ran for a position in city government in November 2022 complained about corruption, there is probably a consensus that LA’s abuses are well into the “too long phase.” 

(2) LA has abuses and usurpations galore 

The vote trading system causes the abuses because it kills any opposition to corruption. Whatever a councilmember proposes for his/her district gets unanimous approval with no regard to how much harm it does to everyone else.  If a developer hires thugs to intimidate the poor into vacating their rent controlled apartment complex, his project receives unanimous approval.  Thus, tens of thousands of poor people are thrown on to the streets so that developers can squeeze a few more dollars out of the projects, as if being billionaires was not enough.  

Vote Trading at LA city council killed the rule of law. Judge Fruin found that the city council’s criminal actions were de facto “non-justiciable,” which means “above the law.” When developers, insurance companies and corrupt attorneys like Thomas Girardi have bought the judges and justices, we have abusive usurpation of our inalienable rights including the Pursuit of Happiness.  

(3) “Right to throw off the government” 

Have we reached the point where we should throw off LA City government? Without a doubt.  While most of the citizenry will allow the new mayor, Karen Bass, a little time to start the process of ending the old regime, the time to revamp the old city council structure is overdue. September 16, 2019, A Cure for LA’s Criminogenic City Council: End the Vote Trading Pact 

“Throw Off” Does Not Necessarily Include Violence 

Nonetheless, the Declaration was written to justify violence if need be to achieve our independence.  Extremists, however, tend to be nut cases who think that their cause justifies violence. When one looks at Los Angeles, however, it takes a mentally deranged person to think that violence has any role in stopping the crimogenic nature of our city.  (Hello Jason Reedy.)  The 13 Colonies broke away from Great Britain.  From whom would LA break away? LA County? California? If all we irate citizens circled city hall with bayonets stuck on the ends of our muskets, what would we do ? Drive the city council to the Principality of Santa Monica and dump them off the pier?

Corruption Has Made Us Vulnerable to Violent Criminals 

Power corrupts, but corruption destroys.  It tears apart the socio-political and economic bonds which allow us to cooperate.  When attempts to rectify social injustices fail, then the extremists arrive urging bolder measures, which lead to violence. The old guard does not away willingly.  There are too many hundreds of billions more dollars for the developers to suck out of Los Angeles for them to stop now. Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights cry out to the developers, “Gentrify me, Gentrify me.” 

How Many Hundreds of Billions of Dollars in Mortgages Encumber the High Rises Int DTLA?   

All across the nation, downtowns face mortgage disasters.  June 3, 2010  The Suburban Exodus: Are We There Yet? by Wendell Cox   As far back as 2010, theses developers made the absurd gamble that Millennials would favor dorm style living for the rest of their lives and shun the suburbs. Developers over invested in downtowns, especially in Los Angeles. Surprise! Family Millennials did not break the pattern since 1620. They wanted more space for their families. By 2012, Los Angeles was using bogus data to justify densification. In January 2014, Judge Goodman rejected the Hollywood Community Plan as intentionally based flawed data and wishful thinking, but that did not deter the corrupt Manhattanization of DTLA and Hollywood.  Hollywood’s population noses dived as homeless encampments became ubiquitous.  Before the pandemic, the flight of Family Millennials was well establish with more people opting for telecommuting than those used mass transit.  With the pandemic, telecommuting zoomed. People moved away from city cores to have larger homes.  If you’re going to be trapped in the house all day with your kids, you need to have a larger home, the bigger the better.  Los Angeles lost population 2021. 

Now developers are caught with billions of dollars of mortgages for all those high rises. How can developers pay their mortgages as offices move to the suburbs and workers insist on remote work?  Sure, you can fire them. Like Elon Musk. You can demand they return to Wall Street only to find that your former employees now work for your competitor who allows remote work. 

Suppose, however, LA had some pristine neighborhoods on the bluffs just to the East of DTLA.  Wouldn’t it be grand to tear down all the ratty old homes and put up more upscale condos in Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights?  The new residents could merrily ride their bicycles to work. The office towers would turn into bee hives and developers could pay their mortgages. Wouldn’t it be loverly? 

But suppose a scrappy ½ Chinese ½ Guatemalan Mexican councilman wouldn’t authorize Gentrification in his district. Just supposing . . . 


(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor.  You may email him at [email protected].   The opinions expressed by Mr. Abrams are solely his and not necessarily those of CityWatch.) 

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