Los Angeles: Tyranny of a Bankrupt City

The City of Los Angeles – you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Slowly, ever since the departure of Mayor Richard Riordan in 2001, the parade of inept mayors and spineless city councils have dragged the city into a morass.


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has always been an empty suit, a smirking, glad-handing fool of epic proportions with a history of questionable ethics. Besides successfully lobbying President Clinton to commute the sentence of a convicted cocaine trafficker, Villaraigosa pulled a John Edwards by allegedly fooling around while his spouse was undergoing cancer treatment. Add to this the L.A Times report that the Los Angeles Ethics Commission accused him of 31 violations of campaign finance and disclosure laws during his 2003 City Council campaign. Toss in the report that Villaraigosa was a member of MECha, a Hispanic separatist organization, while at UCLA, and attended an unaccredited law school in Los Angeles that allegedly promoted illegal alien causes (He failed the bar exam four times).

This is the Mayor of Los Angeles, and Angelenos have gotten what they deserve. They re-elected a man who has shown absolutely no leadership in times of crisis. His inability to use the bully pulpit has contributed to the dismal record of the Los Angeles Unified School District. LAUSD is falling apart, unable to manage its budget, unable to fire teachers due to outrageous union rules, and increasing class sizes. This is not surprising. A report by the LA Weekly, an alternative newspaper usually known for supporting left-wing causes, did some strong investigative work into Villaraigosa’s schedule. During one period, the Mayor spent only 11% of his time working on city business. He has refused to direct LAPD to repeal Special Order 40 – which does not permit officers from asking about someone’s immigration status.

So even in circumstances where an officer sees a KNOWN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT that he himself helped deport following a prior arrest, he cannot report this individual to I.C.E. This outrageous policy by the Mayor and City Council resulted in the shooting death of a young man named Jamiel Shaw.

However, the most egregious lack of leadership Villaraigosa demonstrates is occurring right now.

The City is $500 million in the red. Rather than do what is necessary – cut expenses and show leadership – Villaraigosa and the spineless City Council has taken to terrorizing the city’s residents by slamming them with fees. This includes sharp increases in fines for parking and directives to the LAPD to “increase traffic enforcement”.

With respect to fees, in a recent controversy involving the LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Villaraigosa attempted to strong-arm the City Council into approving a 37% rate increase. He has tripled the city’s trash collection fees, and supports ballot measures to increase other taxes on city residents, including additional property tax surcharges.

In another terrific piece by the L.A. Weekly, reporter Michael Goldstein notes that, despite 13% unemployment, Villaraigosa and his hacks have instituted these regressive taxes with no regard for the citizenry. Rather than include his staff of 205 in budget cuts, Villaraigosa saw fit to raise parking ticket fines. The city plans to double the number of red-light cameras by next year – despite mounting evidence that they contribute to accidents rather than prevent them. This, while he and the City Council drive free cars with free gas, are exempt from parking tickets, and make 4 times the median income of LA residents, according to Mr. Goldstein.

Sources have informed me that the LAPD has been told to increase traffic enforcement. While never overtly stated, this is obviously intended to help bridge Villaraigosa’s irresponsible budget gap. Last week, I observed four times as many traffic stops in the San Fernando Valley than I normally do. I won’t fault LAPD for this. I support LAPD in their community service. However, they have been made pawns in this budget nightmare. If they don’t do their part to close the budget gap, guess whose budget gets cut? There are many purposes to traffic tickets. However, citing my 72-year-old mother, who allegedly slow-rolled a stop sign at an empty intersection, does not seem to serve much purpose. Deterrence and education can be valuable tools. Adding a monetary component to some traffic stops is simply unnecessary.

Now, however, the City has moved to illegal means in which to reap additional revenue. This past week, I observed three separate Parking Enforcement Officers videotaping cars parked in 15-minute or loading zones, around three elementary schools. This videotaping occurred during school pick-up hours, as kids leave to be reunited with their parents – who will receive tickets by mail in a few days.

This, however, is an illegal method under California law by which parking tickets may be delivered. The 2010 California Vehicle Code, Division 17, Article 3.5, Sec. 40202(a,b,d) explicitly states: “40202. (a) If a vehicle is unattended during the time of the violation, the peace officer or person authorized to enforce parking laws and regulations shall securely attach to the vehicle a notice of parking violation setting forth the violation… (b) The notice of parking violation shall be served by attaching it to the vehicle either under the windshield wiper or in another conspicuous place… (d) If…the vehicle is driven away prior to attaching the notice to the vehicle, the issuing officer shall file the notice with the processing agency…and mail a copy of the notice to the registered owner.”

The Code says nothing about videotaping a parked car and serving the notice by mail at a later date. A retired traffic court judge I spoke to said any ticket issued in this manner should be “dismissed unconditionally…the City should be ashamed of itself”.

Take heed, Angelenos. If you are a victim of this scam, the law is on your side. Here’s how you can fight it.

At some point, I can only hope that Angelenos wise up and toss the bums out. They’ve willingly handed their city, and pocketbooks, over to a group of circus freaks who are not acting in their interest. If you are a voter, and you vote for an idiot, then don’t complain about those fines and fees.

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