Index
RSS Feed
Search
Archives
Wednesday
Oct132010

POLITICS: Fiscal policy, municipal retiree health costs.... 

* New York Times:  "N.Y. Faces $200 Billion in Retiree Health Costs" - From the NYT:

   The cities, counties and authorities of New York have promised more than $200 billion worth of health benefits to their retirees while setting aside almost nothing, putting the public work force on a collision course with the taxpayers who are expected to foot the bill. 

   The total cost appears in a report to be issued on Wednesday by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a research organization that studies fiscal policy. It does not suggest that New York must somehow come up with $200 billion right away. But the report casts serious doubt over whether medical benefits for New York’s retirees will be sustainable, given the sputtering economy and today’s climate of hostility toward new taxes and taxpayer bailouts.

   The daunting size of the health care obligation raises the possibility that localities will be forced at some point to choose between paying their retirees’ medical costs and paying the investors who hold their bonds. Government officials aim to satisfy both groups, and have even made painful cuts in local services when necessary to keep up with both sets of payments.

Wednesday
Oct132010

L.A. CITY HALL: Ethics Commission, support for ballot measure to bar city contractors from contributing to candidates....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Ethics Commission backs measure to bar contractors from contributing to candidates" - "Firms that fail to comply could lose out on city contracts for four years.  The council must decide by Nov. 17 whether to send the proposal to voters in the March 8 election." -- From the LAT:

   The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission voted Tuesday to support a planned ballot measure that would bar city contractors from giving campaign contributions to candidates, including those running for mayor and City Council. The council must decide by Nov. 17 whether to send the proposal to voters in the March 8 municipal election. Council President Eric Garcetti and four other council members have proposed such a move in recent weeks.

***LAT notes that the Ethics Commission first voted to seek such a ban in 2005, but the council did not move forward with this at that time.  Also, that the proposal, in its current form, would largely ignore real estate and development entities, which means that such entities — as well as their architects, engineering firms and financial backers — would not be covered by the ban, but that, according to Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb, their office is waiting to hear back from City Atty. Carmen Trutanich on whether the proposal could be written to apply to developers of real estate projects.

Wednesday
Oct132010

POLITICS (Land Use/Development): Federal investigation of L.A. developer....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Federal authorities probe L.A. developer" - "ADI is accused of bilking taxpayers out of millions of dollars.  Accusations came to light during a divorce case." -- From the LAT:

   Federal prosecutors have launched an investigation into a prominent Los Angeles developer accused of bilking taxpayers out of millions of dollars, building potentially unsafe apartments and possibly making improper gifts to public officials. Advanced Development and Investment Inc. has submitted fraudulent bills to cities for affordable housing projects, failed to keep proper records on more than $650 million that flowed through its checking accounts and transferred as much as $80 million to personal accounts — at least one in India — according to a court-appointed receiver's report on the company's activities.

   The report was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court as part of a divorce proceeding involving the company's former president, Salim Karimi, and Jannki Mithaiwala, the daughter of company founder Ajit Mithaiwala. It was also turned over to the U.S. attorney's office and, at a hearing on Tuesday, receiver David Pasternak asked the court's permission to comply with subpoenas for records from a federal grand jury. In his report, Pasternak indicated that ADI had "virtually no financial records," no general ledger, no balance sheet and no bank reconciliations. Working with forensic accountants, he said he had discovered "potential fraud and criminal activity."

   ****

   Laura Chick, the former Los Angeles city controller and now state inspector general of federal stimulus funding, said she was appalled at the allegations." "It's not just potential misuse and abuse of significant amounts of public money," she said. "It's also messing with low-income housing that's so desperately needed." Chick said she learned last week of the investigation, which involves an array of agencies, including the  FBI. ADI had six projects that were slated to receive $10.7 million in stimulus funds, but none of that money has been released to the company, she said.

Wednesday
Oct132010

POLITICS: Whitman-Brown - "Debate rhetoric gets personal"

****Lots of coverage and commentary regarding last night's gubernatorial debate, including:

* Sacramento Bee:  "Debate rhetoric gets personal"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Whitman and Brown's final debate a contentious one" - "The rivals for governor continue their attacks on each other and stick to their talking points without offering details on how they would fix the troubled state."

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Whitman, Brown tangle over maid, slur in debate"

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters column):  "Whitman may have won the debate, but effect on contest with Brown uncertain"

Tuesday
Oct122010

L.A. CITY HALL: "City Council meeting canceled, no quorum"

* Daily News:  "City Council meeting canceled, no quorum" - A somewhat unusual occurrence today at L.A. City Hall:  L.A. City Council meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum.... From the DN:

   Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti canceled today's council meeting due to lack of a quorum, refusing to wait more than 15 minutes for tardy council members. "Colleagues, I've given two or three speeches in the last two weeks on this. We really need to create the time to be here in City Hall before 10 o'clock," Garcetti said.

   Council meetings are supposed to begin at 10 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. At least ten of the council's 15 members are needed to constitute a quorum for conducting official business. When only nine council members were in their seats by 10:15 a.m. today, Garcetti decided to cancel the meeting, even though additional council members were expected to arrive late.

   Garcetti apologized to the public, then scolded council members for frequently arriving late. "I understand there are committee meetings but we need to schedule those in ways that can accommodate what is prescribed by our own rules and in our ordinance," he said.