Petra Fried at Mayor Sam's Sister City took umbrage today twice — over City Councilman Tom LaBonge's absence from the council and the fact that he's apparently junketing in Northern England, doubtlessly impressing locals there with his plenipotentiary powers as District Four's man in the U.K. What really ticked off the Sister City scribe was LaBonge's coup in signing Manchester on to be yet another sibling city of L.A. (There's already 25 of them.) In fact, he's in England wearing the hat of the nonprofit group that arranges such symbolic niceties, and not as a councilman.

“With LaBonge traveling on behalf of the organization on City time and City dime,” Petra Fried says, “this probably makes the Sister Cities non-profit the most privileged charity in town.”

Conferring Sister City status on another town is one of those civic pantomimes that are probably good for a politician's digestion. At least in the Manchester Evening News article Petra Fried links to, the British pols seem to take the gesture in the spirit of good fun in which they believe it was made. Either that or it's time to pull them out of Yates' Wine Lodge before they do themselves much harm.

After misidentifying L.A. as the home of Silicon Valley the Evening

News solemnly noted that “Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese

and Tom Labonge, President of Sister Cities of Los Angeles, will sign a

tasselled scroll to seal the twinning agreement at the town hall in

Albert Square this evening.”

More interesting still are the snarkastic reader comments that followed the Evening News' online version of the article.

“What a joke, means nothing,” as one fumed.

LA Weekly