Wed, Jul

LA Watchdog

Celtics Bill Russell is THE GOAT

LA WATCHDOG--The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by ageless (43) quarterback Tom Brady and a swarming defense, upset the favored Kansas City Chiefs, 31 to 9, in Super Bowl LV (55).  This was Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory and caused LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke to claim in his column, No more doubt about it: Tom Brady is the GOAT of GOATs, that Brady “became the greatest football player ever, and arguably the greatest American team sports athlete ever.” 

Many of us will agree that Tom Terrific is the greatest football player ever who, over 20 seasons and nine Super Bowl appearances, won seven rings.  But no way is Brady the “greatest American team sports athlete ever.”  That accolade, the Greatest of All Time (“GOAT”), belongs to Bill Russell, the Boston Celtics center who led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships during his 13 year career (1956-1969). 

After winning to two NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956 while playing for the University of San Francisco and captaining the 1956 Gold Medal Olympic team, Russell was expected to be drafted by the St. Louis Hawks. In his greatest trade ever, and maybe the greatest trade of all time, Celtics coach Red Auerbach sent All Stars Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagen to St. Louis for the #2 overall draft choice.  This allowed the Celtics to draft Russell, a defensive minded center in an age when centers were offensive machines.  

Russell changed the Celtics, a high scoring team with a porous defense, and the game with his emphasis on defense, rebounding, shot blocking, and the fast break.  In his first season, the Celtics defeated the Hawks for its first title.  And over the next twelve years, the Celtics won an additional ten rings, including eight consecutive titles (1959-1966). 

This success is reminiscent of John Wooden, who in his 27 years at UCLA, won ten national championships, all of those over a twelve year period (1964 to 1975), including seven in a row.  

Russell’s offensive statistics do not compare to many other great players.  He averaged only 15 points a game, had a field goal percentage of 56%, and a free throw percentage of 44%.  Offsetting his lack of offense was over 22.5 rebounds a game, numerous blocked shots, numerous fast breaks, and most importantly, a leader who led by example on and off the floor. 

While many Angelenos will question Russell as The Goat, possibly claiming that Magic and Kareem may be worthy of the title.  But together, they only won five and six titles, respectively, over 33 playing years.  Some may claim Michael Jordan, but he won “only” six rings over 15 seasons. 

When you ask long-time fans of the Los Angeles Lakers about the Celtics and Bill Russell, do not be surprised at a violent adverse reaction.  During Russell’s 13 years with the Celtics and his 11 rings (one for the toe), seven were at the expense of the Lakers (1959, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969).  They know that Russell is THE GOAT.


 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)


Budget Gap Widens as Mayor and City Council Bow to Union Demands

LA WATCHDOG--Once again, Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Nury Martinez and the other three Councilmen (Koretz, Krekorian, and Buscaino) on the Executive Employees Relations Committee placed the interests of the City’s public sector unions ahead of the financial integrity of our City and the best interests of all Angelenos.

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Will LA’s City Council Have the Courage to Investigate Carmel Partners’ 35-Story Mateo Street Development?

LA WATCHDOG--San Francisco based Carmel Partners, a multibillion dollar private equity firm, has “agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation that focused on the Company’s relationship with former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, who voted to approve its 35-story project” located at 520 Mateo Avenue in the low rise Arts District, just west of the railyards and the Los Angeles River, at the entrance to the iconic 4th Street Bridge. 

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If Former LA Councilman Englander Escapes Jail, That Would be the Real Crime … and, Other Random Thoughts

LA WATCHDOG-On March 27, former Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander agreed to plead guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, federal probation officials are recommending three years of probation, a $9,500 fine, and no jail time or community service.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office is pushing for 24 months in jail, 300 hours of community service, and a $45,000 fine.  

Englander deserves the max: three years in the clink and a $250,000 fine.  He has violated the public’s trust and disgraced our City.  Now, if he could give up a few of the higher ups in the criminal enterprise known as City Hall, then he would deserve a lighter sentence. 




Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced that the City has entered into deals with the Coalition of LA City Unions (representing 18,000 civilian employees) and United Firefighters of Los Angeles City (representing 3,600 members) to defer raises in return for no layoffs and furloughs during the term of the agreements.  The Coalition workers are protected until the end of this fiscal year while the firefighters are protected for two years. 

However, the Mayor and the City have not released any details about these arrangements and the financial implications for the City’s budget over the next two or three years.  More than likely, the City is kicking the can down the road, once again selling out the City to their Partners in Labor, just like they did when they approved budget busting labor agreements in 2019, entered into the Separation Incentive Program in July, and failed to implement the budgeted furlough plan that would have saved $140 million.   




The City is not only facing a $675 million “budget challenge” for this fiscal year that ends on June 30, but must also eliminate $130 million of overspending.  But this is just the beginning because the City is looking at an estimated deficit of over $1 billion next year.  

But next year has not been a topic of conversation with Angelenos.  Why not? Most likely because it will require layoffs and furloughs, an anathema to the City’s Partners in Labor. But what the hell, it only concerns the financial integrity of our City.




And speaking of Mayor Garcetti, he is scheduled to be deposed in February in the sexual harassment lawsuit where Matt Garza, a police officer on Garcetti’s security team, is suing the City for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.  Garza alleges that a senior Garcetti operative made inappropriate remarks and hugs that were witnessed by Garcetti and that the Mayor joked about the operative’s behavior.  Unfortunately, tickets will not be available, despite the fact that scalpers believe the prices would be in the five figure range. 




On the brighter side, the Assessed Valuation of the City’s property increased to $696 billion, an increase of 6.6%.  This is good news because property taxes represent over one-third of the City’s budgeted revenues and are not overly sensitive to swings in the economy.  Of this increase, about half resulted from the sale or transfer of properties while the inflation adjustment represented about 30%.  One of the benefits of Proposition 13 is that property taxes represent a stable source of revenues, even during downturns in the economy.




Next week, the Department of Water and Power will be hosting meetings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to discuss its 100% Renewable Energy Study and how the Department will be fossil free by 2045 as mandated by the State.  Unfortunately, there will be no discussion of the impact on rates of this program and the plan to upgrade the distribution system.  The link is www.ladwp.com/CleanEnergyFuture.


(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)




Time to Downsize the Bloated Offices of the Mayor and City Council

LA WATCHDOG--The City of Los Angeles is in the midst of a financial crisis because of the impact of Covid-19 on revenues and unsustainable labor agreements.  This will require drastic action, including layoffs, furloughs, and the elimination of some vital services.       

This year, the City is facing a “budget challenge” of $675 million according to the City Administrative Officer’s Second Financial Status Report.  This does not include overspending of over $125 million. 

And for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1, the estimated deficit may well approach $1.25 billion.  This red ink, along will this year’s budget deficit, overspending, and other contingencies, will most likely exceed $2 billion. 

The Mayor and the City Council will have to make tough decisions, but first and foremost, they need to address their own budgets that together total over $110 million.  This does not include the City Council’s less than transparent discretionary slush funds that are estimated to be in the range of $25 million or more a year.  

Unfortunately, it is difficult to analyze the spending and staffing of the Mayor’s office and the City Council because, unlike every other City department, their budget requests are not available to the public. But it is possible to get a partial understanding of their budgets despite the lack of transparency. 

The City Council has a fully loaded budget of $55 million, the bulk of which is for salaries and benefits.  But there appears to be a disconnect between the 60 Council employees listed in the budget and the over 300 people on the Council rosters, or an average of 20 people per Council office. This is no doubt excessive, especially given that many of these employees are political operatives promoting the careers of the Council Member.  

The Mayor has a fully loaded budget of $56 million, the major component of which is $38 million of “other allocations.”  But there are no details on this item that represents about two-thirds of the Garcetti’s budget.  

The other disconnect on the Mayor’s budget is staffing.  The budget lists 94 positions, but the telephone roster shows over 270 names.  Why? 

Both the Mayor and the City Council need to justify their staffing levels by providing us with detailed information about why they are absolutely necessary during this time of crisis.  Until that time, the City Council and the Mayor should cut their budgets and staffs by at least 50% and their handsome salaries by at least a third.  Furthermore, the Mayor and the City Council need to be transparent about the $38 million and $8 million, respectively, in “other allocations.”  Finally, the City Council needs to come clean on its discretionary slush funds and allocate these monies to the General Fund for the benefit of the entire City.  

The Mayor and the City Council will be asking City departments and employees to make sacrifices.  But they need to be the first to endure the cuts and savings and set a good example for the City, its employees, and all Angelenos.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)




Progressive Gobbledygook

LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council are at odds over how to spend almost $90 million of the $150 million that was reallocated from the Police Department to be reinvested in disadvantaged communities.

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Transparency: Where is the Pension Commission?

LA WATCHDOG--In 2014, the LA 2020 Commission recommended the establishment of a commission to address the “ballooning” costs related to the City’s two underfunded pension plans, the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (“LACERS”) and the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions (“LAFPP”). 

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Former Deputy Mayor Ray Chan Charged with Racketeering

LA WATCHDOG--The US Attorney announced the indictment of former Deputy Mayor Ray Chan along with two other real estate developers in connection with the criminal enterprise involving Jose Huizar and the pay-to-play corruption scandal that is enveloping a City Hall that refuses to reform its policies and procedures involving zoning in the City of Los Angeles. 

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