Monday, February 28, 2005

Mayor Hahn Agrees to Allow Neighborhood Councils to Audit City Budget - And All City Departments!

At tonight's debate by candidates vying to become Mayor of Los Angeles (sponsored by the Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, City Watch, KCBS-TV Channel 2, KCAL-TV Channel 9 and KFWB radio), I was one of the people chosen to ask a question. My query was: Would any of them would support a commission organized by the Neighborhood Councils to audit not just the Mayor's budget, but also all of the departments of the City of Los Angeles. While four of the candiates gave the idea varying degrees of support or opposition, Mayor Hahn jumped right in and not only pledged to have such a commission convene - but he said that he welcomed and needed our help in doing this. The moderators, Laura Diaz and Paul Magers, were so surprised by this - Magers of them gave each candidate an opportunity to clarify their answers - and Mayor Hahn reiterated his full support of the proposal.

Now should Mayor James Hahn be successful in being reelected, and should Jim Hahn follow through on this pledge - then the relationship between the Neighborhood Councils and the City will be completely reinvented. And the Genie will be totally out of the bottle.

Mayor James Hahn Asks Neighborhood Councils to Help Vet LA's New Planning Director.

Quick -- who is LA's City Planning Director?

Ok -- don't feel bad. No one knows who he is, other than, of course, Mrs. Con Howe, and I wouldn't even want to put a lot of money on that bet. For a variety of reason's (the CRA, the powers of councilpersons in their own districts, etc.), the City Planning Department has become a backwater with little impact on the actual planning of the development of Los Angeles. But all that may changed -- either under a new Mayor or by the appointment of a new Planning Director by the current Mayor. See the below e-mail I just received from the Mayor:

As Neighborhood Councils continue to grow and develop in our City, I
want you to be a part of important city decisions before they are made.
Since planning issues are of great concern at the most local levels, I
want to make sure that Neighborhood Councils are involved in the
selection of the City's next planning director.

I need your input to help develop the key selection criteria that will
guide my selection of the best candidate for the job. Surveys will be
available for you and public comment will be heard throughout March at
the following Area Planning Commission (APC) and Planning Commission

City Planning Commission March 10
South Valley APC March 10
South LA APC March 15
Harbor APC March 15
West LA APC March 16
North Valley APC March 17
Central APC March 22
East LA APC March 23
City Planning Commission March 31

Additionally, I will appoint a seven-member Neighborhood Council
advisory group to interview the final three candidates for Director of

Planning to make a hiring recommendation directly to me. One
Neighborhood Council representative from each of the City's Planning
Areas will comprise the advisory group.

The Planning Director is an important position in our City, and I look
forward to hearing from your councils and the community. I will make
sure our new Planning Director will promote sensible, balanced and
proactive planning to preserve single-family neighborhoods, manage
development in key areas, promote affordable housing, and stimulate
mixed-use development and 'green' construction, especially near
public transportation.

I look forward to your input and working with you on this important

Very Truly Yours,

----------------------- Headers --------------------------------
Received: from ( [

Eating Humble Pie On Grand Avenue - And Savoring Every Bite of It.

This morning the Grand Avenue Authority met for an update on the first set of development plans by the Related Companies for the 1.2 billion dollar project along Grand Avenue on Bunker Hill and their proposed plans for the new Civic Park Between the DWP Building and City Hall.

And history was made on two counts.

First, I privately told Eli Broad that I should have never doubted him when he told me that Related was an appropriate choice for the project. Of course, considering Mr. Broad's quite advanced age, I needed to break this to him very gently to keep from outright killing him. Second - in a move that stunned the audience - I publicly admitted I was wrong about Related.

Then, after paramedics finished resurrecting audience members, I further announced that this project was going so well - that I couldn't believe that it was actually happening in Los Angeles. At this point everyone realized that it actually was me speaking - and not a non-celebrity imposter.

In the less life threatening parts of the meeting, Bud Ovrum - head of the CRA - expressed his concerns about the three streets the cut across the various parts of the new civic mall. And he and I had earlier talked about platforming over Spring to have the monumental - but now closed Spring Street entrance to City Hall - with its great staircase re-open and attached to a bridge/plaza built over of a slightly lowered Spring Street - creating a great civic park across from City Hall.

The other positive note was that Supervisor Gloria Molina expressed her desire to demolish both the old Courthouse and the old Hall of Administration (yea!) - something that the vast majority of downtowners will concur with.

The only negative note was that there was no juice served with the coffee and the pastries... were lacking in imagination.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A Night at the Oscars - OR ... Billy Crystal, Please Come Home!

Chris Rock did a good, entertaining, hard working performance hosting the Oscars tonight. BUT... the problem was that the hard working aspect was visible during every second of the performance. The great thing about Crystal - and Bob Hope and Johnny Carson before him - is that they were the effortless hosts of a party who made the audience feel at home.

In addition, the material could have been funnier (I smiled a lot, but never laughed), but the jokes were always never less than good, if not stellar. Still, in the hands of a Billy Crystal, I think they might have been a lot funnier.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Can't the LA Times get ANYTHING right?

Once upon a time there existed in Los Angeles a newspaper that actually wrote about the people of Los Angeles and provided the information the people of Los Angeles wanted to know about their lives and their city. Once upon a time the LA Times was run by people who had lived in this city more than a few years and had columnists and reporters who actually knew about and cared about this city.

Once upon a time the front page of the sports section actually had the standings of the local teams so one could start off by seeing where the teams stood before delving into the rest of the section. Once upon a time there actually was a Metro section that actually had stories about the City of Los Angeles.

But, of course, it was too much to expect for any of this to continue.

But - is it totally unreasonable to ask that the TV section actually tell us what is on TV during all the hours of each day?

Is it to much to expect that the weekly TV Guide - inadequate as it is - actually be included in the Sunday Times - which it was not the last two weeks I purchased the paper?

Is it too much to expect the newspaper to actually give even the most basic information about the weather during record setting storms? I mean - how hard is it to have a little column that says how much rain we have had during this storm, how much we have had so far this year - and how much last year?

I guess it is. And I would ask other people if they, too, miss these little things, but no one I know (at least among those under 65) actually reads the LA Times - even the very few I know who subscribe to it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Bakery Comes to Main Street.

The former site of the single most notorious den of Skid Row drug dealers on Main Street - between 5th and 6th Streets - has just been officially leased to a new French Bakery and French Cafe. It will be open before summer. The rebirth of Main Street continues.