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In interviews with the Weekly, planners and administrators throughout the city bureaucracy expressed irritation at Genesis for what they perceive as its taking credit for the work of others. This frustration reaches even into the Mayor’s Office itself.
At the same time, sources interviewed were confused over what Genesis has been up to. In that respect, Genesis has assumed the secretive and even undemocratic modus that has long typified the Riordan administration. Genesis puts the city seal on its documents, but when reporters wanted a list of the for-profit fund’s investment properties, an official said the information was “proprietary” because the fund is private and not subject to public-records laws. City Council members and staff complain that they’ve been shut out of development negotiations, then presented with done deals that they either must approve or face criticism for being obstructionist or “anti-business.”
But there haven’t been many realized deals — done or otherwise.
“I think they’re still trying to find their way,” said City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Genesis effort. “What they’ve accomplished is unclear.” Like other Riordan initiatives, he said, it’s “been rather difficult at best to get off the ground and have an impact.”
In Ridley-Thomas’ South L.A. district, a rising shopping center called Chesterfield Square was recently promoted to Genesis status. In his view, however, Chesterfield Square has been of more help to Genesis than the other way around. “That project is not under construction as a result of the mayor’s economic-redevelopment office,” said Ridley-Thomas, adding, “The Mayor’s Office was largely disruptive, even to the extent of discouraging potential business tenants. We were told personally by tenants that they were being steered away from the project, that it ‘might not be the best deal in which to participate.’”
At the time, the Mayor’s Office was heavily involved with Magic Johnson’s development team in a plan to rejuvenate the nearby Santa Barbara Plaza. The Johnson venture never took off. Said Ridley-Thomas: “There are no two ways about it, the mayor’s staff, Delgadillo et al., did precious little to help the Chesterfield project come to fruition. As a matter of fact, they stood in the way.”
Chesterfield’s developers took a more positive view, saying they are grateful for the recent efforts of the mayor’s Business Team to help their project get government subsidies. Several Chesterfield developers are among the many who have contributed to Delgadillo’s campaign.
And why not?
“Rocky gets shit done,” commented one developer, who asked that his name not be used.
Take, for example, the deal involving Alfred Mann and the Lakeside Debris Basin. Eventually, the Mayor’s Office got the initial asking price lowered by more than a third. Mann’s purchase was approved by the City Council last week without discussion. Mann is holding a second fund-raiser for Delgadillo later this month.
“What Rocky gets done will have a lot do with who gave him dollars and who is friends with him,” said the developer. “But Rocky gets shit done.”
Dennis Dockstater contributed to this story.