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Bizarrely, then, only Perry can reveal why she is not mired in conflict, “if she so decides.”
Not commenting on Perry specifically, Jack Humphreville, a seasoned neighborhood council member, says politicians should “not only make [all potential conflicts] available but they should actively disclose it.”
Some wonder, if Perry has nothing to hide, why she is clinging to secrecy. If it’s a matter of protecting her condominium address, “they shouldn’t pretend that the public has never heard of ‘white-out.’. It should pretty easy to redact it,” observes UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff wryly.
Nor is Grand Avenue the only venue in which Perry has made luxury, money, and those who can produce them, her priority. She breakfasts with Tim Leiweke, president of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s AEG, which owns Staples Center and L.A. Live. She frequently meets with Carol Schatz, CEO of the developer-friendly Central City Association. In January, at a City Council meeting, Perry warmly greeted Steve Kim, a lobbyist with GSD Partners — a firm that obtains the inevitable “exceptions” to city zoning and planning rules.
Those who challenge Perry discover a less congenial individual. Damien Goodmon, an activist involved in the Expo Line, recalls that after a public meeting at which he disagreed with Perry, “She yelled ‘Is that a threat?’ ” He believes she was attempting to bully him by involving a city bailiff. Yet Goodmon says he was neither verbally or physically intimidating her — he simply disputed the imperious Perry.
Even a power broker like attorney Madeline Janis, vice chairwoman of the CRA board of directors, appointed to that influential city commission by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, says, “I have felt fearful about bringing things up, about asking for more community benefits and asking for more good and accountability in council member Perry’s district.”
And Janis isn’t some anti-downtown type. She has supported The Grand and contends that the city redevelopment agency has spent more on the NoHo arts district in the Valley— “Hundreds of millions. It’s eight to 10 projects,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a case of one part of the city being favored over another.”
However, Janis has also lived within 500 feet of a project proposed for public subsidies. “I recuse myself from every decision that comes within 500 feet,” she says, “regardless of what the argument might be” that the state’s math formula might let her vote. “We should err on the side of caution, and I’ve done that.”
Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council activist Steve Twining has a more cynical view of Perry: Even if Perry recuses herself, “I don’t think it really makes a difference one way or another. [Perry’s political colleagues] are going to know what her attitude is” — and will vote how Perry wants, preserving the controversial practice in which each council member is a land-use czar, and none challenges the actions of the other in their 15 individual patches.
Twining’s words were prescient. Via e-mail, the Weekly asked several city council members if they would vote for a project within 500 feet of property they owned, and whether Jan Perry should publicly disclose why she has been exempted.
In a humorous faux pas, Dennis Zine’s office forwarded the Weekly query about Perry’s behavior to Pamela Snowden, Perry’s “economic-development deputy,” one of two dozen members of Perry’s huge staff — and Snowden accidentally sent her dismissive views of the newspaper’s query to the Weekly itself, complaining that the Weekly reporter “has no clue” as to “what the facts are.” Yet another example of the City Council at its most transparent.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.