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Politics

What Ever Happened to 'Transparency' at L.A. City Hall?

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Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:41 PM

click to enlarge L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti
  • L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti
L.A. City Hall watchdog and CityWatch columnist Jack Humphreville sounds the alarm today about the City Council's apparent lack of transparency when dealing with pension reform and the possible sale of the city's parking garages.

"The sale of the city's parking facilities and the ever escalating demands of its massively underfunded pension plans are two of the most important line items in the 2010-11 budget," Humphreville writes. "And yet, the city is unwilling to share any basic information that allows its citizens to make any informed judgments or recommendations as to the proper courses of action."

"Transparency," though, was the word of the day when the City Council, whose president is 13th District City Councilman Eric Garcetti, was fighting with the Department of Water and Power over a proposed rate hike this spring -- City Hall politicians charged that the agency was too secretive in the way it operated and needed to be more transparent.

L.A. Weekly News Editor Jill Stewart wrote about that mess in a story titled "City Hall's 2010 DWP Debacle."

Now with the City Council considering pension reform and the sale of its parking garages as ways to help solve the city's budgetary woes, Humphreville complains that L.A. politicians are doing exactly what they condemned only a few weeks ago.

Humphreville points out that the City Council recently "met in closed session to discuss the ill-conceived sale of the city's revenue producing parking facilities without any hearings or input from the impacted communities or the public."

The longtime neighborhood activist also writes that City Hall politicians are "playing rope a dope on providing meaningful information on the city's two pension plans -- the Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System and the Fire and Police Pensions -- and their future funding requirements."

Interestingly, the L.A. press corps has also been battling the City Council over a transparency issue.

Restrictions have been placed on journalists for how and when they can interview City Council members during meetings, which KABC reporter Michael Linder recently blogged about.

"There's growing sentiment among journalists that council leadership is simply attempting to bury the issue," Linder writes about the media restrictions, "a common tactic to sidestep City Hall controversies ranging from authorization of expenditures for Michael Jackson's memorial to consultant fees paid to former DWP General Manager David Nahai. Just keep stalling, the issue will eventually go away."

Linder can now add parking garages and pension reform to that list.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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