Category: Desperate election moves. Check out the new deal between former Police Chief Bernard Parks, now an L.A. City Councilman, and Clear Channel, whose bad neighbor approach to doing business has helped plaster L.A. with illegal billboards (Clear Channel denies this). Clear Channel forced LA Weekly into court to get very public information contained in City Hall's so-called "List" — the secret, and long-repressed, locations of 4,000 illegal billboards that are draped across L.A.
Parks is running for L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Second District. Critics say the election is being bought by Big Labor, which is spending millions to elect Parks' rival, Mark Ridley-Thomas. To counteract the riches spent on Ridley-Thomas, Parks has tried some really odd moves to get media coverage of his race. Enter Clear Channel, which is suffering from a very tattered image for plastering L.A. neighborhoods with billboard clutter. Now, together, Clear Channel and Parks are going to find the Grim Sleeper serial killer.
It has nothing to do with finding the Grim Sleeper.
Parks and Clear Channel announced that the huge billboard division of the huge company is going erect a billboard urging people to provide the LAPD with information leading to arrest of the Grim Sleeper, the longest operating serial killer West of the Mississippi.
As the Weekly revealed in its exclusive article by Christine Pelisek, police have quietly been trying to find the Sleeper, whose DNA has been left behind at numerous killings in South Los Angeles. The cops know this guy's DNA intimately, but they don't know his name.
The L.A. City Council, the highest paid city council in the nation, was apparently utterly unaware of the Grim Sleeper. (The city council spent much of 2008 finding ways to raise residents' utility bills, raise residents' taxes, raise residents sewage fees, and — watch out for this one folks — also severely jacked up the price of parking violations and car-towing.)
In reaction to the Weekly's revelations on the Grim Sleeper, the city council created a reward of up to $500,000 for info leading to his conviction. The suspect was described by a sole survivor, many years ago, as a black man in an orange or red Pinto-like car.
So a lot of debt is piling up. If anyone steps forward with a real, live tip on the Grim Sleeper, leading to an arrest and conviction, that tipster will be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's good debt, happily paid by taxpayers.
Whether he wins or loses, Mark Ridley-Thomas will owe Big Labor. Whether he wins or loses, Bernard Parks will owe Clear Channel.
If you think that's an unfair assessment, look back to the election of City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and all 15 members of the L.A. City Council. As KCET reported the other day, they all took billboard industry help to get elected — they either got wads of cash, or had their faces slathered on billboards for free.
After their elections, Los Angeles Council members and Delgadillo cut a bizarre deal that now allows rich billboard firms to erect more than 850 hyper-bright, energy-draining, motorist-distracting, controversial digital billboards in neighborhoods citywide, including on a quiet street in Silver Lake.
Almost nobody knew the digital billboards were coming — except Delgadillo, the city council, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The digital billboards not only suck up enough energy to power about 15 homes each, but can be easily seen for several miles. The city council is so in debt to billboard concerns that they are also letting huge billboards go up on the freeways.
The new billboards represent staggering new profit for these corporate giants, profits almost impossible to grasp. The 850 or so digital billboards can generate ad revenues reaching into the billions of dollars. That's right, BILLIONS.
What does L.A. get in return?
It gets: 1. A virtual end to night-time darkness on some blocks. 2. A massive new energy drain from each billboard. 3. Distracted car accidents caused by distracted motorists. 4. A city fee of about $100 per year from each incredibly profitable billboard, said to reap $150,000 per month each.
The city is trying to reverse its ill-advised digital billboard deal. Meanwhile, expect more and more "public service" moves by Clear Channel and others, ala the Grim Sleeper billboard, in a crass PR effort to make Angelenos feel like billboards are good for our lives.
Here's how the press release today spun it: "Parks Enlists Clear Channel in Search for 'Grim Sleeper' Serial Killer. Eighth District Representative Teams Up With Advertising Company to Post Billboard Announcing $500,000 Reward."
Watch for more and more LA City Council members to announce fantastic new "public service" uses for the thousands of billboards, legal and illegal, that now clutter Los Angeles, while other cities — newly attractive and livable — continue to remove billboards.