Sunday, January 17, 2010

News from the week on local matters- Los Angeles

Looking back on the week in local matters, here are a few comments that I passed along yesterday to another group for sharing that I think might be worth repeating generally, and so, here it is as a sort of "weekend update":


1. CITY AUDITS: City Controller Wendy Greuel has presented some findings this of audits on some aspects of city government, including the Neighborhood Councils, with Highland Park's NC one with problems. "Neighborhood Councils Accused of Misspending Public Money." By EGP News Service DONE [Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment] has been working with them since at least the summer to resolve the problems with their operations and maintain their status as a certified NC. You many have read of some of the issues affecting their operations appearing in the Boulevard Sentinel over the past months. .

2. AUDIT- CITY PHONES WASTING MONEY. A news item in the past week showed a huge cost to the city of phones that were apparently unused- [from] NBC news, "LA Wastes $237,800 a Month on Idle Phone Lines- Wendy Greuel calls the city on its wasteful hones." By OLSEN EBRIGHT and CHRISTINA VILLACORTE

Among the problems was the failure of the call-blocking feature that allowed international calls to the Phillipines, Canada and Mexico. The Daily News report shows that corrections have begun on the problems. "Audit: 12,000 idle phone lines cost city $3 million." By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer. Updated: 01/14/2010 10:32:21 PM PST

3. DA'S PUBLIC INTEGRITY DIVISION AT WORK. An investigation into CM Alarcon living outside of his council district is under way. "Alarcon says his legal residence isn't safe, so he's staying elsewhere- The councilman says he stopped living there after an October break-in and has been living outside his district." By David Zahniser and Maeve Reston, January 16, 2010- L.A. TIMES.,0,2218965.story Neighbors said he's not lived there for months and the CM has an explanation that he says supports his actions.

4. SHOWTIME FOR THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL PRESIDENT. And probably the most bizarre item among city-related matters involves the Mayor and Council President Eric Garcetti as reported in the new, with a representative report linked here: Friday, January 15, 2010, 6:54am PST, "Villaraigosa, Garcetti to appear on 'All My Children.'" Los Angeles Business from bizjournals

You can read the particulars yourself.
I will comment on the significance of things like this that we see too often from people who might look at themselves with a bit more scrutiny. Role models? Getting down to business? Doing their best for you, the public?

I have to say -and it's all personal opinion- that this is typical of the way "leaders" continue to put the business of the city on the back burner while they engage in self-indulgence that continues to operate as a distraction from the urgent business of city survival. In a few weeks or months we will be seeing services cut back and city employees facing reduced hours or no work at all. Wendy Greuel told us at her appearance at our meeting that the city was spending a million dollars a day more than it was taking in, and where does that leave us? Not with time to waste, I'd guess. And that is why this dalliance into show business adventures is so irritating to me.

Until the financial picture of the city is in a presentable condition, things like this are "inappropriate." Some may say "stupid." City "leaders" should be in a 24/7 mode to address the crucial issues (and there's more than enough to go around), which would exclude a lot of their recreational activities. I don't see them doing that in the least. It's just my own opinion, but I don't think it is any more crazy than what you see happening with the electeds and appointeds around town.

REMINDER - THE amended MMD ordinance is coming back to council chambers on Tuesday. Many speakers are really distorting the picture in their public comments. The fact is that an ordinance to allow MMDs to operate is going to occur. The maximization under the most lax provisions is what many "pro" speakers are really looking to accomplish. There are many speaking as if there will be a complete cut off of this method of obtaining med. marijuana. Already noticed is the usage by CMs of "medicine" in place of marijuana. The City is trying to fix a condition that shouldn't exist but already an "entitlement" attitude appears present since laxity in this area was the rule for so long. The recreational usage is blending in with the separate purpose that the state law carved out for this drug.

Many on the Council are really in favor of complete legalization but that is not what is before the Council. Instead, a system of regulated operation of MMDs is the goal. Those CMs have to remember that and focus. They had the option to completely reject MMD operations in the city as many other cities have chosen, but that choice, as convenient as it would be to end the matter for now, is history. I think that the intimidation factor that large numbers of speakers creates is at work with this issue. I have to give credit to CM Huizar's restrained operations approach here, and he appears to be in the minority.

SIDE NOTE- Mention of proposal at the State level, I believe, to legalize and tax marijuana has been made. The proposed tax would be $50 an ounce. A matter of dollars in their eyes has overtaken some legislators. The value is arbitrary and may even make illicit street sales more economical, promoting instead of reducing the trade of marijuana on the illegal market.

"Marijuana legalization bill approved by key Assembly committee- The measure, which would tax and regulate pot for users 21 and older, is unlikely to get additional consideration until next year." January 12, 2010By Patrick McGreevy

And that's it for city business as usual as it is.