When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Democratic insider Jay Carson to chief deputy mayor last week, a whole bunch of people in L.A. political circles were scratching their heads, trying to figure out why a 32-year-old, “hard-hitting hipster” who only recently moved to Los Angeles was willing to work for a lame duck mayor.

After all, Carson has worked for some big time Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and billionaire and major Democratic donor Steve Bing.

Former Daily News editor Ron Kaye, though, believes he has some answers, suggesting on his blog that Carson, with “a huge ethical cloud” over his head, may be a shill for Bing and his Shangri-La Construction company.

Kaye writes that Shangri-La Construction, which is owned by Bing, stands to make “billions of dollars in profits” from the development of high-speed rail lines in California.

A key deal in making that happen is Bing's relationship with AnsaldoBreda, an Italian rail car manufacturing firm that's had a stormy history in Los Angeles. If AnsaldoBreda gets a $300 million MTA contract to build more rail cars, Kaye writes, Shangri-La would construct its L.A. manufacturing plant.

It just so happens that Villariagosa is a board member at the MTA and one of Carson's new assignments is working on “transportation” issues.

The whole thing has a Chinatown feel to it, with rich folks looking to make some major cash through Villaraigosa's “green economy” rather than water rights. Kaye writes that many ethical questions need to be asked and sorted out.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly