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Occupy L.A: As City Debates Cost of Occupation, Port Spends Nearly $200,000 on Party

Drink up, City Hall.
Drink up, City Hall.
Moet & Chandon

As the skies of tolerance for Occupy L.A. are getting gloomy (both Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and city Councilman Bill Rosendahl have expressed that there are limits to how long demonstrators can camp out next to City Hall), our own tolerance for bullshit grows even darker.

One of the stated reasons that city leaders, who once embraced Occupy when it seemed convenient, are now backing away is money: Earlier this month a dubious claim was made that it would cost $400,000 to fix the City Hall lawn after protesters leave.

That's a lot of dough for a cash-strapped city. But consider this:

-The city is giving $1 million in redevelopment money to help the Genser architectural firm move downtown from Santa Monica ... even though it planned to make the move regardless (the company has been chosen to design the proposed football stadium next to Staples Center).

-The city is giving $52 million in redevelopment cash to billionaire Eli Broad's planned art museum to help build a parking lot. Really.

And if your blood isn't boiling yet, there's this gem from CBS Los Angeles' David Goldstein, who uncovered the existence of a $192,000 city-organized party ... in South Korea!

The Hollywood-themed, premier-party-like event was hosted by the Port of Los Angeles, a city department, to attract the International Association of Ports and Harbors convention, even though the gathering is already sold on L.A for a 2013 shindig!

The festivities included dancers flown in from Los Angeles for $41,000, $3,800 Oscar statuettes and $61-a-bottle wine.

City Councilman Dennis Zine, no occupier himself, wasn't happy to hear about the event, telling Goldstein:

It's absurd, absolutely absurd. Another example of frivolous waste in city government.

Of course, the port says it generates its own money, which is true. But that's still your money. You own that port. The LAPD generates cash through tickets, and so does the L.A. Department of Transportation. The L.A. Department of Water and Power gets money through utility bills.

They still belong to the people and should be aware of the city and nation's budget crisis.

Goldstein points out that the port got "$23.5 million in federal taxpayer subsidized stimulus money over the past few years."

So yeah, occupy that.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]


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