Scandal City: Betraying Kids, Ripping off the Public, Going Broke . . . LA’s Bad Karma

childrens_museum“Padilla, now a state senator, did not return phone calls Thursday” — Daily News.

The fiasco of the LA Children’s Museum is now visible for all to see, a tragedy that began with then City Council President Alex Padilla’s demand — that everyone in power went along with — to locate what was supposed to be the Valley’s first such cultural institution in the most remote northern reaches of a gridlocked city of four million.

It could have been in North Hollywood at the end of the Metro subway line. The MTA had the land and wanted it there as part of creating a wonderful cultural center that would have regenerated a whole neighborhood and was easily accessible by public transit and freeways to the whole city.

But no, Padilla wanted this prize for his district, as well as a $25 million Major League Baseball training facility at Hansen Dam that even the community didn’t want.

Now, after years of failed leadership, the museum is going to go into bankruptcy and will be liquidated, leaving LA as the only major city in America without a museum that could light the imaginations of children with a sense of wonder and awe.

And Padilla does not return calls. His council successor, Richard Alarcon, (ALARCÓN.doc) instead proposes that the $52 million underground building be used as a school.

Where’s the inexorable laws of karma when you need them?

Look at almost everything that City Hall does (and the state Legislature and Congress for the matter) and you will find self-service, special-interest service and a failure to serve the public interest.

If I had my way, everybody — Democrat and Republican alike — now holding public office would be banned for life like the moral felons that they are.

Look at the Zahniser story in the Los Angeles Times about how the mayor, council and DWP Commission under then President and now General Manager David Nahai jacked up our water rates three years ago at the height of the economic boom in order to transfer $30 million to the general fund to pay bloated salaries to city employees.

A judge has ruled tentatively in favor of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association that the rate hike violated Proposition 218 which “bars municipal utilities from overcharging ratepayers for water and then using the surplus to pay for other city programs.”

So what does the embattled Nahai say: “We have received the tentative ruling and are studying its ramifications.”

What’s to study? Nahai and everyone else knew damn well it was illegal but they kept on collecting the illegal tax. They were so sure it was illegal they put it in a special account, now totaling about $100 million, for safekeeping.

They’re supposed to refund the money but don’t rush out to your mailbox because the checks will never come.

They’ve found other ways to keep on raising your water rates like Nahai’s phony “water conservation” program that punishes the struggling middle-class homeowner and by transfering all kinds of city workers to the DWP payroll to drive up costs that would further justify higher and higher rates.

Scratch the surface of the billboard mess, or the Housing Authority and its half-million-dollar-a-year boss, or the CRA or just about anything City Hall does and you will find a scandal, a total disregard of the public interest and the public’s money.

That’s why the city is facing a $1 billion deficit next year that will soar even higher in the years ahead as the cost of employee pension funds suck the life out of city services.

If there was a shred of integrity left among our elected officials, the city would follow the lead of the Children’s Museum and file for bankruptcy today. They would appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission to deconstruct Los Angeles into governable regions that empowered the people to create livable neighborhoods, good schools and safe streets.

ronkayecartoonThey don’t have to take my advice on this matter. The inexorable laws of karma are at work and sooner rather than later, the city will run out of money to pay the bills and the public will rebel against the endless increases in fees, rates and taxes and diminishing public services and lies and deceits.

LA is broken and nearly broke. They are running out of tricks to hide their failures. It’s for the people who live and work here to rise up and take ownership before it’s too late.

Ron Kaye

Ron Kaye is the former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News where he spent 23 years helping to make the newspaper the voice of the San Fernando Valley and fighting for a city government that serves the people and not special interests. Twice in recent years, Los Angeles Magazine listed Kaye among the city’s most influential people, specifically in the area of politics. Kaye has been variously described in the media as the “accidental anarchist,” “the Patrick Henry of the San Fernando Valley” and a “passionate populist.” He is now committed to carrying on his crusade for a greater Los Angeles as an ordinary citizen.

Republished with permission from Ron Kaye L.A.

LA Progressive

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