Zwartz Talk

Betrayers of the Public Trust

Betrayers #1by Scott Zwartz

April 27, 2016

A predator stalks Angelenos – every day – every night – it relentlessly preys upon Angelenos endangering their lives and at times needlessly destroying their homes and killing them. Yet, no one does anything. Law enforcement turns a blind eye.

     The attacker is Los Angeles City Hall and we all are in danger. Even the city itself is becoming sicker and weaker with each new attack launched by the Mayor’s Office and the City Council.

      We’ve recently learned how the City diverted money to real estate developers allowing our sidewalks to crumble to the point that the City lost a $1.3 BILLION lawsuit. What does the City do? It says that next year, it will spend $31 Million to repair the sidewalks, but the first $15 Million of that money goes to pay the attorneys who sued us. Why doesn’t the City claw back the $17.4 Million it gave CIM Group for the illegal project at 5929 Sunset rather than using ½ of the annual sidewalk fund to pay the attorney?

       For over a decade, The Angel of Death has prowled the City, seeking its victims – there are too few paramedics to rescue even those who could be saved. In 2005, USA Today alerted Angelenos to the extreme danger in its story, The Price of Just a Few Seconds Lost: People Die, by Robert Davis, http://usat.ly/Qhh4Ab

     What was the response of our illustrious Mayor Garcetti upon learning that Angelenos were needlessly dying? At the time, he was councilmember for CD 13 in Hollywood as well as City Council President. The following year in April 2006, he slashed the size of Hollywood’s newly proposed 2 acre Regional Fire Station by 75% and moved the proposed site to gridlock Hell at the tri-intersection of Van Ness, Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood Freeway. Fire stations is where we house our paramedics.  If a city reduces the number of paramedics and then moves them farther away from where people live, the longer it takes the paramedics to reach people in an emergency.   One city hall staffer leaked that Garcetti wanted to the 2 acre site west of the Hollywood Freeway for a CRA mixed-use project, and thus, Garcetti killed the City’s original a acre choice.

     Then Eric Garcetti, as City Council President, arranged for a partial defunding of fire fighters and paramedics. In January 2011, Garcetti arranged for a $200 Million reduction in the LAPD budget claiming that if LA had fewer paramedics, it could provide faster and better emergency services. Meanwhile, the City Council had been funneling close to $1/3 Billion of tax dollars to real estate developers.  The city chose developers over paramedics.

     Fix The City, Inc. [FTC], a group in the Mid-Wilshire – West LA part of town, knew that reducing the number of paramedics would cause more needless deaths, but the City refused to release the raw data so that the public could see that the response times for the paramedics were becoming longer.  The longer it takes the paramedics to get to a home, the higher the death rate. Through a variety of means, FTC obtained the raw data, and then FTC wrote the code to translate the raw data into a useful form. They found that since the 2005 USA article, Los Angeles’ emergency response rates had been getting worse.

     As fire fighters and paramedics later testified in 2012 during a Town Hall meeting held by Hollywood United Neighborhood Council [HUNC], the l/2 acre Hollywood Boulevard location was farther from the Hills and the responses times were now longer than before. The reduced number of the paramedics also was increasing the responses time for emergency calls. HUNC issued a call for a Grand Jury investigation into The City Council’s partial defunding of paramedics.

      In June 2013, the District Attorney’s Office issued it report and found that when the City took money away from paramedics, the City Council KNEW that people would die as a result. I used capitals for the word KNEW because it shows that Angelenos are under attack. The Grand Jury did not say that the City Council was foolish or careless. It said that when it took away the money, it KNEW people would die and that people did in fact die as a result.  June 2013 Grand Jury

     If I took a rifle and fired it into a passing bus and killed someone, I would be guilty of murder. I do not need to know who will be killed in order to satisfy the legal term, “malice aforethought.” All I need to do is show a wanton and reckless disregard for the life of another person. In fact, the City Council KNEW with more certainty that someone would dies as a result of its partial defunding of paramedics than I would have of killing someone by firing into a crowded bus.

        The Grand Jury Said That the Funding Cuts Should Be Restored.

     At the same time, the City Council taking money away from the paramedics, the City’s own Community Redevelopment Agency [CRA] had hundreds of millions of dollars which it could have used to improve the deplorable emergency response times. In 2009, the CRA had $304,485,000 in its unreserved fund balance and in 2011, the CRA transferred $930,000,000.00 to the City, but none of the money was used for paramedics. That money was earmarked for developers.

Matters Have Deteriorated Since 2012

      The City Council’s attack on the health and welfare is part of a large orientation of City Government. As we shall see, the Mayor and the City Council do not represent Angelenos, nor does the City Attorney. They represent real estate developers. Virtually everything the City Council does is for the benefit of real estate developers and to the detriment of everyone else.

The Hollywood Community Plan

     By now, everyone should know that Garcetti’s 2012 Update to the Hollywood Community Plan was rejected by the courts in January 2014 due to its fatally flawed data and wishful thinking. In laymen’s terms, the court caught the City lying about the need to Manhattanize Hollywood.

NYC 3rd Ave #3

      The facts showed that Garcetti had so ravaged his portion of Hollywood, that his council district #13 ceased to qualify as a legal council district. While Garcetti called this “revitalization,” Patrick Range MacDonald writing in LA Weekly gave the proper perspective. It was an ethnic cleansing of Hollywood to make way for real estate developers. http://bit.ly/XjXmGk Jan 1, 2013, LA Weekly, Hollywood’s Urban Cleansing, by Patrick Range McDonald

     The City Mobility Plan 2035

     As one Hollywood resident lamented, “I didn’t know that I had to spend all my time watching over the shoulder of my councilman.” The Mayor’s office and the City Council staffs are larger than the White House staff. That is not counting all the people who working the Planning Department and all the outside consulting firms to whom the City pays millions of dollars to write pro-developer reports and code sections. When Angelenos have such a gigantic bureaucracy working against them, it is impossible for us to protect ourselves from all the scams.

    One scam is the new Transportation Element of the City General Plan. I will cut to the chase. The transportation plan is to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to create a subway-light rail system to serve the high rises of a few real estate developers. Once a subway’s station is located in the basement of billionaire developer’s high rise Century City project, he has a competitive advantage for the next 50 years. The fact that buses are far more efficient is concealed, and buses like paramedics are slowly defunded. Developers hate buses because they can go where people want to go and they are not tied to specific buildings like subways or fixed-rail transit.

      Because the data show that Angelenos do not like either subways or fixed rail systems, the Mobility Plan 2035 is designed to make street traffic as unbearable as possible in the hope the city can make people so frustrated that they will use the subway and light rail.

Nightbus

      The purpose of subways and light rail is not transportation, but rather to increase the land values of the mega-high rises. The Mayor and City Hall believe that as the Lords of Los Angeles and of each of its 15 fiefdoms, they can compel the serfs to do what the developers want.

What are the results?

     By all measures, the City of Los Angeles is doing horribly. Our homeless rate has skyrocketed due to systematic demolition of rent controlled housing. As City Watch and other have noticed, the destruction of thousands of poor people’s homes had a purpose – the faux justification to give hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize the building of more high rises.

    Our housing prices are increasing but there is so much disinformation that almost no one knows which way is up.

     The city is both become more crowded and losing people with more people leaving LA than are coming here.

    According Inrix’s 2016 Scorecard, we have the worst traffic congestion and the worst unemployment. We know that employers are not relocating to Los Angeles as are taxes and other rates are going up and we are governed by litigation since the City cannot follow the law.

     The school district is atrocious. LAUSD is at the bottom of the state and California ranks near the bottom of the nation and the USA ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world. That means employers who need educated upward mobility people have an extra $11,000.00 to $35,000.00 per year per student costs for private school. Upward mobile parents will insist that their children receive a quality education.  Unless one lives in Chatsworth, Granada Hills or Woodland Hills, that means sending your kids to private school.

Why Does the City of L.A. Do So Poorly?

    The glue that holds together this mounting disaster is the unlawful vote trading at City Council. Penal Code 86 makes any type of vote trading a felony, but the city council operates according to an agreement that no councilmember will vote against project in another council district. That means that any project that a councilmember wants including all the perks, and subsidies and fee waiver z will be unanimously approved.

Los Angeles City Council’s Bizarre Voting System

Where Zero Votes = Unanimous Approval

      The Los Angeles City Council has a unique system. Any item that is placed on the council agenda and is called for a vote will pass unanimously even if not a single councilmember votes “Yes.”

Unanimous Voting #2

    Councilmembers do not have to actually vote because all Non Votes count as Yes Votes,  Because councilmembers may not Vote “No” on any development project, if none of the councilmembers bothers to vote, the City declares that the Project was unanimously approved. Watch Channel 35 or the video from the Council website. You can see that the vote tallies are unanimous, but there are always more Yes Votes than councilmembers who are anywhere near their seats.  Look closely and you will see that even those in their seats are no physically voting.

       As a result of this system, all a developer has to do is be “nice” to one councilmember and his project is unanimously approved. The zoning laws mean nothing unless someone sues. Let’s face it, less than 1% of 1% of projects are sued. There are high profile lawsuits like the Target store in Hollywood and the high rise at 5929 Sunset in Hollywood, but very few projects result in a lawsuit.  Lawsuits are very expensive and every a middle class family knows that it is wiser to sell out to a developer and move away than to file a lawsuit and incur thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs.

      It does not matter of the project destroys a neighborhood or will bring gridlock traffic or requires the entire zone to be changed, everything is approved. When the Mayor’s own commissioners could not stomach the high rise in Koreatown, that too unanimously passed because Garcetti rejected their decision.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Do Anything
about the Felonious Vote Trading?

      When Penal Code § 86 made vote trading at city council a felony, Garcetti was City Council President and his Daddy had been District Attorney. No one was going to go against the former DA by indicting his son for multi-felonies. Each day the DA failed to act, each day the DA became more of an enabler. Weeks became months, and months became years. Now, the DA has to explain why it permitted a decade of felonies to continue – and these felonies have victims. They are you, me, people who needlessly died, and democracy. When a city councilmember decides that he will vote how other council members want and not how his constituents want, he has betrayed the public trust.

   Betrayers #2

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