LA’s Most Corrupt City Council: No Reforms Despite Jose Huizar Indictment

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

On Thursday, a federal grand jury threw the book on Councilman Jose Huizar, returning a 34-count indictment on “charges that he lead a criminal enterprise where he used his powerful position at City Hall to enrich himself and his close associates, and unlawfully gave favorable treatment to developers who financed and facilitated bribes and other illicit financial benefits.” 

This is in addition to his arrest on June 23 on federal racketeering charges. 

But this is old news. The real news is that the most corrupt City Council in the history of Los Angeles has done nothing to clean up its act: no meaningful campaign finance reform; failure to reform the City Council’s ability to make decisions on land use; the failure to provide rigorous oversight of land use decisions; and the failure to punish and prosecute developers who bribed Huizar and Englander. 

In 2019, the City Council passed a watered down campaign finance ordinance that allowed developers to continue to contribute to Councilmembers’ pet projects (“behests”), allowed developers to bundle campaign contributions from their cronies, allowed subcontractors to make contributions, delayed implementation until 2022 (conveniently after the March 2022 primaries), and did not provide for meaningful enforcement and penalties. 

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Proposition 15 and the Tug-of-War over Gov. Newsom

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

You’d have to forgive Gov. Gavin Newsom if he’s feeling like the rope in a classic tug-of-war between those on the opposite sides of the Proposition 15 property tax increase measure, each grabbing an arm and pulling him in their direction for an endorsement. 

Yesterday, numerous small business owners and representatives of small business organizations held a press conference urging Newsom to oppose the $12 billion commercial property tax proposal, pointing out the false premise that only big corporations will pay the bulk of the tax. 

“There is a misnomer that this will have zero impact on small business and that is not true,” said Rachel Michelin, President, California Retailers Association, referring to Proposition 15. “It will have a drastic impact, particularly on small and independent retailers who frankly are the cornerstone of local communities.” 

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Fair Housing Door-to-Door Sweep Dead, for Now

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

The federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has withdrawn its controversial regulation subjecting landlords to invasive local reviews of their rental properties to see whether there are “any barriers to fair housing, housing patterns or practices that promote bias.”

 Suspension of the regulation, dubbed the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, will also free localities from laborious analyses of “patterns of racial bias in their neighborhoods” – a welcome change. 

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the AFFH regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson.”

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California loses thousands of jobs and crucial fuel as Marathon Martinez refinery goes idle

Ronald Stein
Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

California just experienced a catastrophic loss from the COIVD-19 impact on the economy, as one of its major refineries, Marathon Martinez has just announced it will be idled indefinitely.

With airlines and cruise ships virtually shut down, and vehicle transportation at an all-time low, the demand for fuels and petroleum derivative products manufactured from petroleum, are at an all-time low, the Northern California refinery, one of the largest in the state has just become a COVID victim.

We have all seen the photos of those foreign tankers with crude oil parked off the coast of California as the refineries had no use to manufacture products that were in limited demand. With in-state crude oil production at an all-time low and going lower with pressure from the Governor, California’s dependency on other suppliers has increased imported crude oil from foreign countries from 5 percent in 1992 to 58 percent today of total consumption. The imported crude oil costs California more than $60 million dollars a day, yes, every day, being paid to oil-rich foreign countries, depriving Californians of jobs, careers, and business opportunities.

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Complying with the Oath of Office for an Elected Los Angeles City Official

Dennis Zine
Former Los Angeles City Councilman and Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant.

Some of us have witnessed an elected L.A. City Officials sworn-in to serve in public office.  Either in person or via media.  There is all the pomp and circumstance that follows the election and then the work begins.  I remember my entry into the political arena and the Oath I truly believed in and with heart and soul.  I wanted to carry out all my duties and responsibilities and live up to my words before God and myself, supporters, critics.

I look back on my years as an elected member of the L.A. Charter Reform Commission and my 12 years as an L.A. City Councilmember and can honestly say that I tried my best to live up to the commitment I made to everyone.  Years later, I still remember the words and my commitment to the oath.  

 I recently reviewed the Oath of Office and it reminded me that it is a promise that one should remember and keep as a base for their service to the people that elected them to office.  

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California’s Choice: New and Enriched Public Programs or Freer Private Enterprise?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Change is coming to California following the double whammy of a pandemic eruption and police reform protests. Responses to the extraordinary dual events will initially flow into California’s current cultural and political liberal tide—a move toward more government involvement in our lives and more spending.

History tells us that government officials and agencies enlarge their portfolios during a time of crisis and rarely reduce them after the crisis subsides. In California, engaging government to confront the pandemic by offering new powers for public health officials and altering the standards of policing, while enlarging the scope of social services and business regulations to deal with societal problems, opens the door for even more government—which always leads to a need for more money.

The pandemic and the social justice protests give an impetus for social experiments in this state whose political leaders generally see spending as the go-to solution for any problem. California has been paving the road for social change with increased tax-funded social welfare programs for a good time now with negligible results. Yet, advocates and officials see the current situation as an opportunity for more of the same.

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How to sabotage a recovery: Raise taxes

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Even before Covid-19, many Californians were struggling with the high cost of living here. The long-time willingness of many Californians to pay the “sunshine tax” premium for living in a state with great weather, universities, entrepreneurial culture, and lifestyle has eroded in the face of high costs of daily life.   

Things have gone from bad to worse during the pandemic crisis. The Sacramento response to the economic and jobs calamity has been not to cut costs, but instead propose more taxes – higher property taxes on commercial, industrial and agriculture property; a new sales tax on services; a new tax on jobs; and most recently another hike in income taxes for families and small businesses that make more than $1 million a year.

These tax proposals each present a host of policy problems, but more broadly they reveal a massive gap between the lawmakers making decisions in Sacramento and the views and needs of average Californians trying to get ahead and take care of their families.     

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Cancel Culture Finds the SF Museum of Modern Art

Kerry Jackson
Kerry Jackson is a senior fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

A “white supremacist” organized exhibits for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for nearly 20 years? How did his hateful bigotry go undetected for so long in a city whose vanity is in large part fueled by its Wokeness?

Gary Garrels, the museum’s senior curator of painting and sculpture, resigned earlier this month over statements that are no longer acceptable in America. According to artnet News, Garrels’ sin was closing a presentation about new acquisitions from artists of color by assuring staff members that they shouldn’t worry, because “we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”

He further sinned against the Church of Wokeness when he said it would be “reverse discrimination” if the museum stopped collecting from white artists.

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Mandate diversity? California bill would ban all-white corporate boards

Elizabeth Castillo
CalMatters Reporter

All-white corporate boards would be prohibited in California under a bill in the Legislature that follows in the footsteps of a controversial law that mandated women in corporate boardrooms.

More than 600 publicly held companies with California headquarters would be required to have at least one person of color serving on their corporate boards by the end of 2021 under the legislation introduced by Assembly members Chris Holden, a Pasadena Democrat, and Cristina Garcia, a Bell Gardens Democrat. 

Holden said many corporations need to be prodded into racially diversifying their boards. 

“This is the time to do something bold,” he said. People of color “need to have the same access as those who have benefitted for so long, and the time is now.”  

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Taking Down Kamala

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Democrats are well aware of their long history of seizing defeat from the jaws of victory; you can ask President Dukakis, President Gore, President Kerry and of course President Hillary Clinton all about it.  Now with Joe Biden on the cusp of what looks like an easy win, many Democrats are working full time to make sure he does follow in their footsteps by picking Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice president.  They rightly fear she might doom the ticket.

The stop-Harris effort now includes a public airing of her considerable political baggage.  And it turns out Harris has lots of enemies in the Democratic Party who fear that her famous take down of Biden in the first presidential debate a year ago as a closet racist would be fodder for Republican attack ads this fall.

One of the loudest criticisms of Harris comes from her quasi-hometown newspaper from her days as California Attorney General, the Sacramento Bee.  The Bee’s editorial page editor Gil Duran was a top aide to Gov. Jerry Brown and once worked for Harris.  But in an editorial last week the paper wrote: 

“Recent reports suggest that some in Biden’s camp are still mad at Harris because she has expressed ‘no remorse’ for the ambush. Harris, however, doesn’t owe Biden any apologies. She played the game of politics exactly as it is played, and she almost succeeded.

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