Of all thing things the city does with your tax dollars — writing unnecessary tickets, letting workers drink and go to strip clubs, sending the mayor to Washington every other week — this has to be the worst.

CBS Los Angeles' David Goldstein this week uncovered a video in which a man dresses as a geisha and speaks with a fake Japanese accent as two others perv on him/her:

Amazingly, the video, made to tout the city's use of recycled water at a Japanese garden, is part of a series of almost nonsensical clips that cost taxpayers $48,000 a year to make.

Produced by the city's Department of Public Works, the YouTube videos also include “The History of Trash PART 1,” and “L.A. CityWorks Pick up your dogs poo. Dead Animal Pick up.”

If you watch the trash video you'll discover that the Bureau of Sanitation actually employs its own historian. The latter clip features a man in a dog costume. Really.

But it's a non-Asian dressed up as a geisha that really has some folks steamed. Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans questions why it's okay in this day and age for Asians to be mocked, black-face-style. He told the Weekly this:

They wouldn't have the same actor put on make up to look black. People become so used to this stuff when it comes to portrayals of Asians they probably rationalized it as okay.

The department has not only taken the video down but others as well after the CBS Los Angeles' story prompted a review of its content, Public Works public affairs director Cora Jackson-Fossett told the Weekly.

Not only that, but the person in charge of production has been rotated out of that role, she said.

The department's quarterly videos, which cost about $12,000 each to make, this year featured a new producer who wanted to try something different, Jackson-Fossett said:

I am extremely sorry. Our intent was not to offend or to be disrespectful of Japanese Americans or the Asian Pacific community. We tried to present information about our services at the Japanese gardens in a humorous way we thought. We sorely missed the mark. We're making every effort never to repeat it again.

[Added at 3:46 p.m.]: Just as all this was hitting the fan today the city issued an unrelated statement letting us know that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has kicked off 2013 Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month.

In the City Council's chambers today Villaraigosa honored KSCI-TV, chef Jet Tila, and journalist Bruce Saito with “Hope, Dream and Spirit of Los Angeles Awards.”


Our City's greatest strength is found in its diversity. Each culture contributes to the rich multiculturalism that makes Los Angeles an international capital. That is why I have made hosting these Heritage Month celebrations a priority as Mayor. This month we continue to honor our rich Asian and Pacific Islander American heritage and highlight the work of those who keep API traditions alive in our communities.


[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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