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Report: How to Course-Correct Los Angeles's Ship

Among the suggestions: combining the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Shipping containers at the Port of Long Beach. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.
Shipping containers at the Port of Long Beach. Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.

Suffering from chronic budget shortfalls and dwindling numbers of jobs, Los Angeles city officials should take steps to improve accountability at City Hall and bolster economic development activity -- including combining the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a residents' panel recommended today.

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission, a panel convened last year by City Council President Herb Wesson to come up with budget-balancing ideas for the city, also made recommendations including the creation of a city Office of Transparency and Accountability and establishing an independent oversight and rate-setting body for the Department of Water and Power.

The report, titled "A Time for Action," proposed the steps in an effort to "put the city on a path to financial stability and renew job creation in Los Angeles."

"There are no 'silver bullets' or simple solutions to these challenges, but the proposed measures, taken as a whole, are a solid step in the right direction and will provide a foundation for further change," according to the report. "Change is never easy, but unless Los Angeles embraces a different approach, it will become a city left behind in the 21st Century."

The report reiterated issues outlined in the panel's initial report -- "A Time for Truth" -- released in January. That report said the city suffers from a crisis in leadership and direction, along with high poverty levels, unemployment, traffic congestion and other ills. The report laments that the city is being held back by stagnant economic growth, "failing" schools, low voter turnout, rising city employee retirement costs and "chronic budget deficits."

Today's report offered recommendations aimed at addressing those issues.

The panel proposed the creation of an independent Office of Transparency and Accountability that would be charged with "preparing critical analyses of what goes on in City Hall and how effectively the city is using taxpayer money to provide services."

It also recommended an oversight body for the DWP to relieve the utility of "political interference" and "high leadership turnover."

"We need a system that works for both the ratepayer and DWP's long-term best interests, independent from politics," according to the report.

The panel also said there needs to be more regional collaboration to generate jobs, most notably by combining the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

"All too often the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach issue press releases boasting of new customers -- one only has to study the details to understand these customers are just switching from L.A. to Long Beach or vice versa and not bringing new jobs to the region," according to the report. "And with the ongoing widening of the Panama Canal, maritime trade is about to get a lot more complex -- and competitive. We should be competing with ports in other regions, not with each other."

The report also recommended holding municipal elections at the same time as state and federal elections to boost turnout, adopting a "truth in budgeting" ordinance requiring three-year budgets and baseline budgets, establishing a commission to review the city retirement obligations and establishing a regional tourism authority.

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor chairs the commission. Other members include former Gov. Gray Davis; former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Brian D'Arcy, who heads the IBEW Local 18, the Department of Water and Power workers union; David Fleming, an attorney at Latham & Watkins and a board member on the Southern California Metropolitan Water District; Tyler Izen, president of the city's police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League; and Thomas S. Sayles, senior vice president for university relations at USC and president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.

--City News Service


Scott Zwartz April 09, 2014 at 10:32 PM
This report should make Mickey Kantor the laughingstock of Los Angeles. He thinks that appointing an Office of Transparency and Accountability, where Garcetti and the City Council appoint 4 of the 5 members, will stop Garcetti and the City Council from gross incompetence and corruption. This report was more Mickey Mouse than anything else. For example, Garcetti's Hollywood Community Plan had a 70,000 page Administrative Record. After reviewing everything, Judge Goodman found that Garcetti and the Council had subverted the law. That was something which Mickey just happened to over look in his farce, A Time for Action. After all, Mickey is a downtown lawyer so he should be an expert on subverting the law. So you write a comprehensives report on how to fix LA and omit the most important event in the last two years!?! We've got 35 community plans. That would be 2,450,000 pages for this Office of Transparency to review if it limited itself to only the community plans and ignored the millions of other pages of nonsense. Even if the Office members were not all stooges of a corrupt city hall, they physically could not do the job. Only an idiot would make such a suggestion. And, what about Accountability? How does Mickey Mouse think the Office with no power will hold people accountable? They will write reports!!! WOW, Shock, I am certain Garcetti is cowering in fear. Oh, No, Heaven forbid, they will write a report! The biggest mystery is how this group of yahoos did not realize what fools, utter fools, they make of themselves with the Office of Transparency and Accountability. In fact Mickey could have shown the way for transparency by revealing his conflict on interest about the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Transparency, I guess, is not for the rich and powerful. Just when one thinks this clown car of altercockers couldn't be more inane, they turn themselves to the matter of community plans. Do they mention that Judge Goodman just through out the prototype of all future community plans, the Hollywood Community Plan, as a subversion of the law? There is no mention that community plans are a compendium of lies with the single goal to justify giving more tax dollars to developers? What does the esteemed commission want? That the city should turn out these subversions of the law faster and faster -- "Do them all by 2020" cries the Commission. Some people act as if they just arrived from Mars; this commission beamed in from Uranus. They wrote "Plans were adopted almost two decades ago and haven’t been updated since. Without valid information it’s difficult to assess where, for example, to put bus stops or transit lines that reflect a community’s current circumstances and future needs." No one who is concerned with city government does not know that Garcetti is changing the law so that community plans will NOT monitor infrastructure! Not a word about THAT absurdity in Mickey's report. [BTW, The Hywd Plan was 26 years ago. Get a calculator.] This Commission and its *&@# Report merits all the derision and insults that one can muster. The idea that anyone would write such sheer balderdash is close to inconceivable. "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton 1887, "Corruption destroys." Hywdwoodians Encouraging Logical Planning 2014

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