Updated below with Eric Garcetti today telling Los Angeles Times he “has no memory” of owning a lease to drill oil under Beverly Hills. Headline has been changed to reflect this breaking news. Updated throughout.
For an Ivy League grad and Rhodes Scholar, Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti has the uncanny habit of not knowing certain details when facing controversy.
This happens so often that L.A. Weekly has come up with four of the most notorious times Garcetti pleaded ignorant — or personally saw to it that other people were truly kept in the dark. Without further ado, we start with No. 4. (See the breaking news, No. 5, on final page.)
4. In 2008, Garcetti played a very shady role in keeping the Los Angeles City Council and the public ignorant about a brewing controversy over DWP's union push to control much of L.A.'s solar-panel industry, an issue on the ballot known as Measure B.[
Los Angeles Times reporter David Zahniser revealed that Garcetti hid an important study from City Council members showing that allowing the DWP to dominate many solar installations would cost billions of dollars.
In the dark about the study Garcetti had in hand, the City Council voted to put the controversial solar-power ballot Measure B before voters — without knowing that the solar plan was deemed by consultants “extremely risky.”
3. Garcetti and his staff were unable to speak about the real-life consequences of his aggressive push to redevelop Hollywood and East Hollywood, where nearly 12,000 Latinos — hard-working mothers and fathers and their children, among others — were shoved out between 2000 and 2010.
For the L.A. Weekly cover story “Hollywood's Urban Cleansing,” Garcetti and his staff could not provide such basic figures as how many “affordable” housing units had been built in Hollywood, or the total amount of housing built or lost, since 2001. They also could not give even a ballpark figure for how much taxpayer money has subsidized Hollywood's makeover since 2001.
2. Garcetti led the move to slash the budget of L.A.'s once-proud public library system, which was revealed in the award-winning L.A. Weekly feature story “City of Airheads.”
Two years ago, Garcetti told KPCC reporter Frank Stoltze that the public library debacle, which forced libraries to close two days a week and drastically cut additional hours, “kind of went under the radar.”
Once again pleading ignorance, Garcetti was rebuffed by librarians' union boss Roy Stone, who noted that librarians sent Garcetti 10,000 postcards, informing the City Council president of the budget cuts before he voted on them.[
1. L.A. Weekly's Gene Maddaus revealed that Garcetti voted on a city settlement that provided an economic windfall for billboard operator Clear Channel Outdoor, while also owning stock in Clear Channel Communications.
Clear Channel Outdoor is a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, and that's a major ethical lapse on Garcetti's part.
How did Garcetti, a Rhodes Scholar and Columbia University graduate, explain it away? He said he did not know that Clear Channel Communications owned Clear Channel Outdoor.
Additionally, Maddaus reported that “Clear Channel Outdoor also donated $500 — which was then the maximum allowed — to Garcetti's officeholder account on the day before the council voted on the 2006 settlement. The council voted 12-0 to support the settlement.”
It's something that directly contradicts what he told the Weekly.
For the 2008 Weekly feature story “Digital Billboards Become a Bohemian Blasphemy,” Garcetti told award-winning former staff writer Christine Pelisek that he stopped taking money from billboard operators Clear Channel, Regency Outdoor and Vista Media after his first campaign, in 2001.
Guess Garcetti didn't know about the 2006 Clear Channel contribution when he made that 2008 remark.
Do you have other favorites? Let us know in the comments section.
UPDATE: We've had to add No. 5, from the Paul Pringle story about Eric Garcetti's oil lease holdings in the Los Angeles Times this morning:
5. Garcetti, a trust-fund baby who co-owns a chunk of land in Beverly Hills, in 1998 co-signed a 20-year lease with Venoco Inc. oil company and stands to profit from its controversial drilling operation near Beverly Hills High School.
Garcetti signed the quiet deal along with other Garcetti family members who own the pricey land. According to Pringle's report:
The lease enables Denver-based Venoco to tap oil and gas underneath the Wilshire Boulevard property by slant drilling from the high school about a half-mile away.
In other words, Venoco would tunnel its drilling operation, beginning at the high school, under lots of other private and public land, until it reached Garcetti's land a mile away to suck up whatever oil is beneath it.
Garcetti's response to Pringle at the Times?
Well, Garcetti ducked the reporter, sending out hapless spokesman Jeff Millman to declare that Garcetti “has no memory” of signing the oil lease along with several members of his family.
Needless to say, the Times spends several inches of its story today explaining that Garcetti has put himself forth as the greenest mayoral candidate, even earning a Sierra Club endorsement. Sierra Club did not respond to queries by Pringle.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.