Regarding “Los Angeles on $300,000 a Year,” by Patrick Range McDonald (February 25):
Thank you for exposing the unpleasant reality of our City Council leadership. It’s critical that the public knows what its elected leadership is doing with its money. Where I think the article missed the mark was in its assessment that the incumbents up for election were assured victory on March 3. It is self-fulfilling prophecy when this article and others like it brand challengers as “long shots” and assure the re-election of our city’s unaccountable incumbents.
The job of the media should be to inform the public, not to make the decisions for them, and I hope that L.A. Weekly will follow this philosophy as it reports on elections in the years to come. If we truly wish to see change, we need to believe it can happen, not simply fuel the cynicism.
Posted by Gary Slossberg, candidate for City Council in District 13
Mr. McDonald’s insightful exposé on government waste and abuse in light of a $400 million deficit in this year’s operating budget only proves how broken city government has become downtown. How can any council member justify a salary of nearly $175,000 and another $100,000 in perks when the unemployment rate for the county of Los Angeles is now approaching 11 percent?
More importantly, how does Councilwoman Wendy Greuel justify seeking another office when she’s enabled the city’s work force to swell to nearly 50,000 employees of which 21,000 earn more than $70,000 and 6,000 earn more than $100,000? How does Bill Rosendahl, with his bombastic and clownlike approach to government service, earn more than a U.S. senator or member of Congress? Can old Bill look voters in the eye and tell us with a straight face that he should make more than the state’s lieutenant governor ($159,134), secretary of state ($159,134), controller ($169,743), treasurer ($169,743) or assembly speaker ($133,639)?
And while you’re examining outrageous pay scales for elected officials, how about the $200,000-plus salary for each county supervisor and the nearly $400,000 in salary for the county’s CEO, William Fujioka?
The time for structural reform of city government is now. That means doubling the size of the L.A. City Council, introducing partisan nominating primaries and ending term limits with highly competitive legislative districts.
Posted by Nick Antonicello, Venice Beach
Term limits aren’t the problem — just about everything else about the council is. Drastically increase the council to reduce the size of the districts (45 is good for 90K people each district). Create a no-carpetbagger rule (must have lived in the district for five years prior). Institute real campaign-finance reform (no donations from anyone coming before the council 10 years past). Let them keep their cars (all of them should be hybrid or electric), but reduce their salaries (cap it at $100K — this should allow everyone to comfortably raise their families). Then we’d have a system where average Joes can challenge any of these guys and better hold them accountable. We might actually get people focused on the long-term vision for their districts and city.
Posted by Real Reform, L.A.
And this is just the part we know and the Weekly was able to dig up and squeeze into this one article. The truth is that our City Council members don’t seem to be living as large as bling-ridden rappers, or raking in the dough like failed Wall Streeters. Their chief problem is a “good enough for thee — but not me” approach. They go out of their way to live on hilltops and in condos that keep them well out of the way of the crummy decisions they make for those residents who can’t buy their way out of the areas [suffering from] ill-conceived density, lack of parking and overblown signs. No one knows better what areas to avoid than the people who disserve them.
Posted by Miki Jackson, L.A.
If Councilwoman Jan Perry owns a condominium within 500 feet of the Grand Avenue Project and stands to benefit financially from increased value of her property, Government Code Section 1090 makes it illegal for her to vote on the project and it may even invalidate all project approvals she participated in. It may not trouble her ethically challenged colleagues at Los Angeles City Council that she was put on the Grand Avenue Authority Board, but why are District Attorney Steve Cooley and Attorney General Jerry Brown so asleep at the switch? Why are Brown and Cooley not investigating Perry and prosecuting her for failing to disclose her conflict of interest and recusing? The ghost of the corrupt Mayor Shaw is treading the corridors of City Hall and no one with authority will lift a damn finger to stop it.
Posted by Jack, L.A.
Thank you for writing this article that illustrates so well the problems with our current city government. I might also ask where the following are: our city attorney (poor advice to the council members on so many topics); the ethics commission (to disclose the ethics violations); the district attorney (to prosecute those ethics violations that you noted); and the residents of L.A. (to vote the bums out!). I echo the “anybody but Jack, anybody but Wendy and anybody but Antonio” sentiments — remove the bloat, eliminate the troika and elect people who will honestly address the problems in the city of Los Angeles.
Posted by Sandy Hubbard, Valley Village
Why the gratuitous snarkiness about LaBonge? Okay, he likes sports. But if that’s the worst you can say about him, why not just spotlight him as one of the good ones, or omit him from this monstrous tale altogether? I live in LaBonge’s district and he is the personification of what a politician should be. He is accessible and, along with his team, gets things done for his constituents, from the lowly to the lofty. At first I thought he was too good to be true: responsive, seemingly everywhere at once, on the job 24/7, in love with Los Angeles and eager to spread that love. Now I know I’m just lucky to live in District 4.
Posted by Laura Foti Cohen, L.A.