A VIEW FROM HERE - Angelenos are like Covid deniers. No matter how bad things become, they refuse to admit something is wrong.
Like anti-vaxers and anti-maskers, Angelenos insist on doing the same thing and become outraged when anyone suggests that they can stop the death and destruction.
There will always be greedy politicos and corrupt judges ready to fleece the public of everything. The solution is not to elect saints to the city council or appoint honest people as judges. For one thing, the public has no way to distinguish a scoundrel from a mensch. Another problem is that the structure of government can either facilitate or retard evil.
The Structure of Los Angeles Guarantees Corruptionism
One civic evil, which Western Civilization has come to condemn but which keeps cropping up, is accumulation of power in the hands of a few psychopaths whose motto is “Too Much is Not Enough.” The city of Los Angeles is tailor made for vast, never ending corruption.
In 1925, the city charter divided Los Angeles into fifteen (15) council districts each with one councilmember. Also, the state Constitution forbids political parties in local elections. Together, these two laws create a crimongenic city.
LA City Council’s Criminal Voting System
Although the law has recognized for eons that selling a vote was bribery, no matter how the councilmember was paid, many people were under the false impression that bribery had to involve cash. Thus, giving a councilmember $70,000 to buy a Cadillac was a bribe, but giving him a Cadillac was OK. Legally however, whenever any councilmember is given anything for his voting a certain way, he has taken a bribe. It does not matter whether the developer gets the councilmember’s grandson into a private school or gives the councilmembers insider stock information or has the councilmember’s kitchen remodeled free of charge. In 2006, California amended Penal Code § 86 to make explicit that councilmembers trading votes for other votes is criminal.
While many legislatures thrive on this type of deal making, especially in Congress, it is bribery under California law. There is a significant difference between Congress and the LA City Council. Congressmen belong to political parties who have particular agendas over and above what an individual Congressman may want. The power of political parties in Congress counterbalances the bribery passions of individual Congressmen. Rather than discuss Congress further, let’s return to Los Angeles.
How the Criminal Vote Trading System Functions
Each councilmember must vote Yes for any project, no matter how horrid, which another councilmember places on the city council agenda and in return that councilmember must vote Yes for any project another councilmember places on the agenda. This criminal vote trading which was perfected by Eric Garcetti is exquisite in its operation. A developer need pay off only the councilmember in the district where he wishes to construct some monstrosity in order to guarantee that his project will get unanimous approval. Can you imagine how much it would cost a developer if he had to bribe a majority of the LA City council!
Garcetti’s Mini-Me Mitchie O’Farrell, for a hypothetical example, can construct atrocious mixed use project as far north as the south side of Franklin Ave and Councilmember Ryu had to vote Yes. Worse yet, one councilmember is not to criticize a project in another district. The deaf, dumb, and blind LA Times (aka Pravda West) ignores the fact that Garcetti’s Manhattanization legally destroyed his CD 13 between 2001 and 2010. In ten years, Garcetti’s CD 13 lost so many people that it ceased to be a legal council district. Rather than penalize Garcetti, he was rewarded and CD 13 borders were expanded so that it took over parts of CD 4 and parts of Koreatown. Between 2010 and 2020, Mini-Me continued the Manhattanization of CD 13 which lost an additional 12,500 ppl by 2020. Yes, corruption destroys, but developers make billions of dollars.
No matter how much Councilmembers Koretz or Cedillo may realize that the Manhattanization of Los Angeles is destroying LA as a viable urban area, there is nothing they can do. They absolutely, positively must vote Yes for each and every project. As Citywatch predicted years ago, corruption was driving people out of LA. The 2020 Census showed that the city as a whole has lost population since 2010. The city constantly lies and says that we are growing and we need to construct more and more housing, but Angelenos believe anything they are told. They are like die hard Trumpists who believe Trump won the Nov 2020 election.
Why LA’s Criminal Vote Trading System Is Out of Control
By virtue of the state constitution, city councils may have no political parties. If Los Angeles City Council had political parties (Whigs and Tories), then two bad things would combat each other. The individual corruption of Whig party member Mini-Me would be balanced by his political party. When Mini-Me wanted to destroy more of Hollywood, it would reflect on the Whig Party and Angelenos in other parts of the city would complain to their Whig councilmembers. The Whig Party would favor its own power over the corrupt ambitions of a single councilmember. Also, the Torries on the council would vote against it. Without the political party dynamics on the city council, the criminal vote trading system is out of control. That is why each step in the destruction of Hollywood has received unanimous council approval.
A Better Way to Structure City Council
We can destroy the corruption without opening the door to political parties. The key problem is each district’s having only one councilmember, who knows that whatever she wants, even if 90% of her district is opposed, knows the city council will give her unanimous approval. If, on the other hand, each council district had three simultaneously elected councilmembers in the same election , then no single councilmember would speak for a district.
It Is Crucial All Three Be Elected at the Same Time
The top three voter getters become the three district councilmembers. Assuming Wall Street still snookers enough CD4 voters to elect one of its stooges, the other two Councilmembers are unlikely to be Wall Streeters. One may be a preservationist, one may want more parks, one’s shtick may be less traffic congestion. When all three are simultaneously elected, the developers cannot control any district.
Presently, CD 4 homeowners can do nothing as woker Councilmember Nithya Raman moves to destroy single family neighborhoods in CD 4. Her power rests in the Vote Trading System. No matter what homeowners in Los Feliz want, every other city councilmember will support CM Raman and vote Yes. When there are three CD 4 councilpersons all elected in the same election, then not all of them will be Woker Wall Street stooges. While Wall Street no doubt will get one CD 4 councilperson elected, one or two of the other CD 4 councilpersons will vote No.
Three councilpersons per district destroys the corrupt Vote Trading System. The non-developer councilpersons will vote No, which will allow other councilpersons throughout the city to vote No. The reason the non-developer councilpersons in CD 4 would vote against Nithya Raman is that in order to get re-elected, they have to listen to their segment of the voters. No preservationist would vote to destroy stable neighborhoods. Similarly, the less traffic congestion councilperson will oppose more density.
Thus, three simultaneously elected councilpersons times fifteen districts equals forty-five councilpersons for a city of almost 4,000,000 people. Chicago has 2.7 Million people with fifty aldermen. NYC with 8.4 million people has 51 councilmembers. Thus, 45 councilpersons for LA is reasonable.
The 3/15/45 Plan has been previously raised.
September 19, 2019, CityWatch, Vote Trading: Why LA’s House is in Shambles, by Richard Lee Abrams
(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. The views expressed herein are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch. You may email him at RickLeeAbrams@Gmail.com )