Thursday, March 11, 2010

County Supervisors as wasteful with tax money as L.A. City Council

The story in the L.A. Times bears out the fact that wasting taxpayer dollars is not a practice confined to the politicians at City Hall but also done, maybe even bettered by the Board of Supervisors for the County of Los Angeles. Each Supervisor gets $3.4 million dollars (taxpayer dollars) each year to use freely as they decide, for a $22 million total. This kind of money source that allows for accessibilty without any oversight is commonly referred to as a "slush fund."

"L.A. County supervisors spend millions on pet projects - From chauffeurs to charities to parties, the five-member board hands out money from its discretionary accounts with little oversight." By Garrett Therolf, March 10, 2010 5:40 p.m.,0,4253145,full.story

There is more that I want to get to on this story but there is so much happening with the money-dealing and mishandling all around in local and state politics and governmental agencies that compete for time to point these out. Read the story for some eye-opening views to have you informed on what kind of life-styles and attitudes the Board of Supervisors maintain at your expense.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, the elected replacement for Yvonne Braithwaite Burke as Supervisor, was the one who planned on using $700,000.00 to remodel his office a few months ago. A littel price for an office that only he thought needed immediate and major improvement. Guess what? The other four supervisors unanimously approved that. There was so much flak that the Board was getting from the public on this that they had to retract that approval. (There was a suggestion made to Ridley-Thomas that he do the remodelling in smaller chunks so as not to draw attention to the expenditure. Such sneaky devils, these politicians.)
I got this email reply about the Ridley-Thomas waste on January 4, 2010 from Supervisor Gloria Molina, a form letter (notice there's no salutation), but nevertheless a part of the Supervisor's "damage control" effort:

Thank you for your correspondence. I have received numerous letters, e-mails,
and phone calls from individuals expressing your same sentiment and I want you
to know that, for the most part, I agree with it. The funds allocated for the
office remodeling project you are unhappy about could pay for a great many
services, from health care and foster care to law enforcement and

As you may or may not be aware, the expenditure came from Sup. Mark Ridley-Thomas' discretionary account, which means he may spend these funds at his discretion however he thinks is best for his district. However, Sup. Ridley-Thomas has since reconsidered his decision -- and, at the Tues., Dec. 22nd meeting of the Board of Supervisors, he moved to refer the item back to his office for reconsideration. In layman's terms, this means that the remodeling project has been rescinded for the time being, though Sup. Ridley-Thomas may resubmit office remodeling plans -- most likely at a much smaller sum -- in the future. All four other supervisors supported today's action -- including me.

For the record: As for myself and the discretionary money entrusted to me for the residents of the First District, I have always applied stringent standards when it comes to spending it. I have never approved such a large sum for office remodeling or any expense like it. First Supervisorial District discretionary monies go toward an array of projects and organizations -- but always with a public purpose.

Thank you again for your letter. Please feel free to contact me again regarding this or any other County-related matter.


Supervisor, First District

Well, some of the spending that goes on does not appear to be in the "public's" interest, but more as a demonstration of vanity. Ridley-Thomas is one such case. According to the story, the supervisor spent $25,000.00 to have his name placed in a "Who's Who in Black Los Angeles," a very clear demonstration of the self-indulgence so many politicians engage in with public funds.

Read the story and let's see what you think about it all.

And as for the Molina reply, I guess SHE thought a Cultural Museum for Latinos, though important among the ideals one may hold, should be the recipient of $7 million of public funds. I see it differently. In these times we have seen health services shutting down and trauma centers and the like being reduced for lack of funds. A funding for a museum especially one of a separate ethnicity, may not be seen as the best choice by the general public for pouring in a huge amount of tax dollars. This was something that should not have been done with taxpayer money at all, especially since it's not been approved by any of the public or part of it.

Instead, what's worth doing as far as culture should be worth some fundraising efforts for private donations to show support for the idea. This is not the plasc for a supervisor who applies dollars collected, and collected as REQUIRED by law, with no choice in how the dollars are spent. Cultural things should be personal above all and not something that the government has to promote for a single ethnic group. Most culture in this country is promoted and sustained by the members of the group. They see the value to it, and it's their choice.

Molina is into her own agenda and I have mentioned before that getting votes is worth it at all costs- to the public, of course. That's part of the idea that I also mentioned before- a politicians first priority is keeping his or her office and working on getting re-elected or elected to another office when termed out.

Well, that's enough to think about for now along with what the story shows. Zev says the claim of $200,000.00 being spent on the web site, Twitter and Face book is "absurd." There's a guy in charge of that who is being paid very well.

Sappell, a former Times editor who heads the effort and other special projects,
earns a salary of $142,000, plus benefits.

He recently got a 5.5% raise.

Meanwhile, department heads' salaries are frozen.