Billion Dollar Stadiums and Political Football

Mayor Villaraigosa throwing a football

WTF!?! Has the Mayor of Los Angeles finally lost his mind?

Please…someone…anyone, tell me what is going on in Los Angeles? It is clear, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that our political establishment is bought and paid for by big business. Homelessness, an issue that impacts the lives of all L.A. residents, continues to grow at alarming rates. Defying all logic, Mayor Villaraigosa continues to pay lip-service to the issue, opting to say the right things while still doing very little by way of employing proven strategies for homeless eradication.

Oh yes, you will find him at the local missions washing feet and serving meals, but once the cameras leave it is back to the business of doing nothing; nothing, however, does include the costly Safer Cities Initiative, which is geared to sweep skid row clean of mostly Black poor people while also guaranteeing that additional resources head to the LAPD budget. In my neck of the woods we call that a two’fer, two for the price of one.

Buried in a recent LA TIMES article regarding the Mayor’s budget proposal was a partial list of proposed cuts. On that list was a 10% reduction in homeless services funding, that’s right, 10%. Now, the City of Los Angeles does not spend nearly enough of our General Fund monies to deal with the acute homeless crisis that confronts us. Instead, we look to the federal government to simply manage our homegrown problem through a variety of HUD programs—as an aside those programs are under attack as well. So 10% percent may sound insignificant and minute to many; however, in light of the diminutive homeless investment made by the city the impact of a 10% reduction is staggering. (Click HERE to read the LA Times article)

Adding insult to injury the LA WEEKLY uncovered yet another bit of related and unsavory politicking on the backs of L.A.’s poorest residents. Apparently, Mayor Villaraigosa has pledged $1 million to Gensler, the renowned architecture firm that has been selected to design the downtown NFL stadium. The money would be used to move the company from its current Westside location into downtown Los Angeles, creating what Gensler calls the “jewel box.” (Click HERE to read the LA Weekly article)

The $1 million give-a-way, also known in many circles as a “subsidy,” will come from community-development block grant funds [CDBG] slated for the Ninth Council District—the district represented by Councilmember Jan Perry. The total amount of  CDBG funding slated for the Ninth Council District is $2.2 million so the “Gensler give-a-way” equals nearly half of the allocation. The funds, in normal circumstances, would be earmarked to assist in the intractable issues of homelessness, poverty and blight.

Only one question remains, “why would the mayor hand over $1 million of scarce hardship resources to a company that enjoyed $463 million in revenue last year?

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