Tag Archives: corruption

Paytriotism

lady libertyI happened to pass the Roybal Building in downtown L.A. a couple of days ago . That’s the federal building . There was a string of news cameras on tripods ready to go , pointed at the entry doors .  Small bunches of camera men chatted . I say camera “men” because I didn’t see any women .

I did see one woman reporter out in front of the L.A.P.D. headquarters building across the street and up the block a bit  . She was interviewing a policewoman . The reporter was young and attractive  . She wore a short and tight red dress . Maybe it wasn’t a dress . Maybe she was wearing shorts . I had to look again but try not to be too obvious . Dress , I think .  She looked a little bored . Her trying-too-hard beauty-queen contestant  appearance wouldn’t work so well on a police woman , probably , as on a man . She seemed sorry to have been stuck with a woman to interview this time .  I assume that was the intent of going to that fashion extreme : to get a man’s attention , to woo the poor dumb cluck  for a few minutes , maybe bat the long  eyelashes a couple of times  ,  to coo and to coax a few extra-juicy bits of information out of his mouth and immediately into her receptive microphone   .

I went to the police station to see the old 1920s police car that had been there on display in the lobby last time I dropped by . The desk cops stared at  me as I walked in , watched me as I looked around .  ” There used to be a car here , ”  I said , and they looked at each other . I knew that look . It was a now we gotta deal with another nut case  look , or some version of that .

” A car ? ” one of the cops said , like that was the craziest idea he’d heard all day . They both smiled .1926-1927_Chevrolet-nov27

State senator Calderon was turning himself in at the federal building that morning , one of the cameramen told me . They expected him to come out for a news conference any minute . Another camera guy made a joke that he might bring Miley Cyrus with him , something about twerking , and the cluster of them laughed . They were bored , too , like the cutsie  reporter interviewing the female cop across the street .

I’m retired . I’m just a casual downtown tourist seeing the sights . I started at City Hall , riding the elevator up to the 24th floor , then climbing the marble steps , then riding the smaller elevator up a couple more flights to the observation tower .  The mayor wasn’t up there . The news conference room was empty , so I just walked outside into the air and  looked around the city from above . Good clear day ; but not clear enough to see the ocean .

One of the city councilmen is in trouble , too , at the moment , for fixing up his garage at his home into a real classy office . He did the construction on the taxpayers’ dime as well as obtaining no building permit . When it  came out in the local paper he ducked and weaved ; said council members are entitled to it ; said it wasn’t out of the ordinary ;  said he was paying most of the cost back  as if he’d always planned to ;  then he got a little miffed when the reporters wouldn’t give up on the story .poster save food

Another state government guy was found not to live in the district that he represents . He had a place in the district that he’d claimed was his residence , but no one had ever seen him there ; they  hadn’t seen anyone there within recent memory .

Calderon never came out to face the cameras , I guess , but  I heard that his lawyer did . There was no twerking that I know of . I suppose that they all filmed the lawyer’s statement of outrage that his client  wasn’t being treated fairly , that the timing of the indictment was suspect , that ………..

A report came out today that major corporations pay an average 19 per cent rate of  income tax . I read that some of the most profitable corporations  don’t pay any income tax at all . I watched a documentary about how corporations send their money overseas , often to an address in some non-taxing country where no one remembers ever seeing anyone there ever  in recent memory ; but this is the giant corporation’s  overseas operation , the corporate office , the mailbox where the American -earned profits go so as not to have to pay American taxes on them .milk pasteurizer

I’m reading a history these days , about the 1920s . Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy commented that American steel producers were selling steel to Russia cheaper than they’d  sell it to the American government . He called American industrialists  paytriots . I think paytriots fits .

This country’s full of paytriots .

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City of Bell

There’s a small city near here called Bell .   Maybe you’ve heard of it .  It’s been in the papers for corruption . Rizzo ?   Does the name ring a bell ? ( sorry ! )  Councilmen were being paid $ 100,000  for part time positions . They were being paid for committee work on committees that never met . Bell is a working class city of 36,000 . The former  city manager , Rizzo , was making a salary of about $ 800,000 per year . Not bad work if you can get it ! He goes on trial later .

Justice_statueFive of six former Bell officials were convicted yesterday of misappropriation of public funds . The one city councilman who was acquitted claimed ignorance of the ongoing graft . A reporter had asked him last year , as revelations  the corruption unfolded ,  if he ever wondered where the stream of $ 8000  checks he used to receive for no apparent reason were coming from .   ” I thought it was a gift from God ,”  he said .

Misappropriation of funds ?  I worked with a school administrator who  eventually stood trial for misappropriation of funds . He struck a bargain with the D. A. and admitted to ” misappropriating”  $45,ooo   of middle school money . Instead of going to the school , the funds went , instead , to shoes for this guy’s  kids ,  barbeques for his home , a futon for his condo in Hawaii .  Those are the items I heard about .  At the time  I knew people with some inside information . Nothing came out in the papers as the potential  scandal was unfolding . I kept waiting  in vain for publicity of the crime . I heard that he had actually stolen  about $ 350,000 of school funds   over a few- year period . He was Assistant Principal and oversaw the school’s budgets . The Principal didn’t notice ?  Both he and the ‘ see-no-evil’  principal got promoted before the thief , sorry , the   ‘misappropriator’  was arrested .

Finally , a brief story , hidden on page 19 , appeared in the L.A. Times . The headline said : School Administrator Admits To Misappropriation Of Funds . The short article said that he had admitted to misappropriating $45,000 and agreed to pay back $75,000 . It made him sound like a good guy , like maybe he had used funds meant for textbooks  to , instead , buy desks , or something like that . And now he was admitting fault and willing to pay more money back to make up for it .  The school district , I think , had done a good job at sweeping this potential scandal under the rug . His career was ruined , of course , but , as far as I know , he never went to prison . And , the way this system works , he is probably  getting his pension from the state , and at administrator rates . But , that’s a story for another day .more courtesy

The Bell defendants were not convicted of some other counts . The jury was deadlocked on whether or not the outrageous salaries constituted a violation of the law . The jury deliberated as long a period of time as  the trial had lasted . The judge told them , after the first verdicts were presented but the others remained  undecided , to go back and finish the job . They couldn’t . The judge later said that ” All hell had broken loose ” in the jury room . Today’s  L.A. Times front page headline reads :  BELL TRIAL ENDS IN CHAOS .  Yesterday’s was : FIVE GUILTY IN BELL .12 angry men

One juror described all of the defendants as “good people” .

The defendants had all blamed Rizzo for their current troubles .  He was the one who determined the salaries . Some of them , to justify a salary 10 times what it should have legally been , said that they had worked nights and weekends to help the poor city .

If these people manage to avoid prison , which is possible , then that will truly be a gift from God . Or someone .cropped-girl-and-devils-poster-circus.jpg

   

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