UPDATE: At 12:53 pm: Why can't they be honest at City Hall? The City Council delayed their vote under public pressure, and blamed Obama. See below.
UPDATE: More amazing sleaze regarding today's upcoming vote explained at CityWatch, below.Updates with correction that MacNaughton is saying the FBI, not Trutanich, should investigate.
We know that the mini-Politburo — 15 Los Angeles City Council members — votes unanimously 99.993% of time. That numbing fact was dug up in about 1,850 votes studied by a top think tank. Democracy is dead; the City Council is not your friend.
Now, attorney Richard MacNaughton wants
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a criminal probe of City Council doings involving a hunk of land at 1601 Vine Street, calling it “a $1.3 M swindle … definitely in the felonious range.”
It's explained by toughie former Daily News editor Ron Kaye at ronkayela.com. Here's the juiciest angle:
This reeking land deal, laughably, is purportedly being pursued, balls out, to fight “blight” on hopping Vine not far from the posh W Hotel. MacNaughton is suggesting that the FBI step up to the plate if the City Counci fails to appoint a special prosecutor to look into it.
God, would that be a comic delight.
Let's not hold our collective breath, Mr. MacNaughton.
Kaye and MacNaughton raise disturbing points about potential corruption and lying at City Hall and inside the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Read part of the letter from MacNaughton to the council (slight edits made) :
The CRA expressly represented that it had purchased The Property in 2006 based upon the CB Richard Ellis 5-13-2006 appraisal of $5.4 million. According to the CRA, the Richard Ellis appraisal was obtained by the “Developer.” The CRA and Council District 13 [Weekly side note: that would be City Councilman Eric Garcetti] have concealed from this council the May 23, 2006 Pacific Real Estate Consultants' appraisal which the CRA had obtained on May 23, 2006 showing an appraisal value of only $4.07, which is $1.38 M less than the Ellis Appraisal. The withholding of this lower appraisal from the City Council has the prima facie elements of fraud:
For those of you who attended LAUSD, that means:
MacNaughton is accusing top pols like Garcetti, and CRA officials, of a cover-up, of lying to the other 14 council members, and of underpricing the value of this super-choice Vine Street property by more than $1 million in preparation for its sale to City Hall pal Hal Katersky.
Perhaps District Attorney Steve Cooley is the more appropriate guy to take up such allegations, via his public corruption crackdown team.
Other interesting issues:
— The City Council doesn't appear to know, precisely, who the Community Redevelopment Agency really bought the land from years ago. Was it really Hal Katersky and Dana Arnold at Pacifica Ventures? Or was it Steve Ullman?
— It appears that City Council members, each of whom employs a bloated personal staff of 15 to 22 people, haven't got a clue why tomorrow (Friday), they are about vote to sell the land to Katersky's Pacifica Ventures. For $4.65 million less than City Hall paid him for it just four years ago.
When contacted by the Weekly shortly after noon today, Garcetti's press aide said he hadn't heard about MacNaughton's allegations against Garcetti.
Well, they'd been posted online by Kaye for seven hours at that point, and had set off a flurry of emails between activists, bloggers, politicians and journalists around L.A.
Garcetti's reponse will be posted here.
As Jack Humphreville explains today at Citywatch, and as MacNaughton detailed to the Weekly last night, the tricky math apparently dates to the gross overpricing of the land when it was purchased by the city from — WHO from is murky — controversial Parking Lot King Ullman, or Katersky, in 2006.
Writes MacNaughton in an email: The “original Ellis appraisal caused the city to overpay Ullman by $1.38 M. That was the ostensible reason to not disclose the lower $4 M appraisal” that's now being kept secret during this train wreck being put before the 99.993% City Council today.
And remember, this is the same Los Angeles City Council that didn't know LAFD firefighter Tennie Pierce was a big-time hazer before awarding Pierce millions because he'd been tricked into eating dog food during a prank.
Remember? They refused to look at a file of photos showing jokester Pierce gleefully hazing others.
And this is the same Los Angeles City Council who never saw the craftily hidden Measure B cost report — wasn't it hidden from the City Council by Eric Garcetti and Antonio Villaraigosa and only divulged later on?
That consultants' report showed that Measure B, the solar measure/DWP ripoff, was going to cost billions.
Yet the City Council voted in a matter of hours to put it on the ballot, sans report.
So the 99.993% Los Angeles City Council has no trouble, at all, blindly voting on major, stupid, costly blunders lacking utterly in due diligence. Remember. Not your friend.
UPDATE: The City Council punted today, Friday, and will take up the issue in November. But the 99.993% Los Angeles City Council is so used to lying that they couldn't simply announce that “we really don't know what we are doing,” and ” we don't know why this land deal is such as mess” and “we're afraid to call for an outside investigation.”
They blamed President Barack Obama's visit to USC, which was causing street closures all around downtown.
But as observers today inside City Council chambers note, there was a City Council quorum present. More than enough folks to vote to ask for an investigation.