Friday, January 21, 2011

CityWatchLA - Seeing Through the CRA’s Fog of War

CityWatch, Jan 21, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 6

The CRA’s announcement of a “Special Meeting” was the battle cry and the subsequent barrage of agendas, supplemental agendas, and revised supplemental agendas were the weapons in the ongoing war of City Hall vs. the People of Los Angeles.

Last week’s announcement by Governor Brown that he intended to return locally generated tax revenue to local municipalities drew an aggressive response from the City of LA’s Community Redevelopment Agency, demonstrating once again LA’s knack for alienating potential allies rather that looking for common ground.

At issue was Brown’s announcement that he wanted to close nearly 400 municipal redevelopment agencies and return nearly $5 billion in locally collected tax revenue to the general funds of the local communities.

Somehow the traditional cut-and-paste media was only able to reformat CRA press releases and Browns effort was referred to as a “hand-out” that would benefit...gulp...general fund support for police, fire, health and education.

The Downtown News went so far as to say “Brown’s proposal would skim (emphasis mine) $1.7 billion from new tax increment generated by redevelopment agencies across the state...”

Providing balance, LA Weekly was able to discern between mythology and reality, calling out LA’s City Hall leadership for jumping into the Fog of War fray that is standard operating procedure when it comes to moving funds from one pocket to the other, all while claiming that the city is broke.

Just last year, budget advocates were confronted with the City of LA’s $450 million budget deficit at the same time that the CRA/LA was holding a $480 million surplus.

Now that the State of California and the City of LA have an opportunity to connect, to work together to ensure that our budget is balanced and that our Public Safety, Public Works, Public Health, and Public Education commitments are met, the City of LA has taken the money and run.

In many ways the subject is simple, the money comes from the local community, it belongs to the local community, and it must serve the local community.

As the City of LA discusses cutting police and fire and libraries and maintenance of infrastructure, it’s imperative that the process of bringing the CRA into the city family be open and transparent, something that isn’t happening.

The people of Los Angeles will have a great opportunity to discuss the CRA, Brown’s plan for redevelopment agencies, the City of LA’s budget and our financial future at Saturday’s Alliance of Neighborhood Councils meeting.

Vince Bertoni, Deputy Director of Planning, Cary Brazeman, founder of LA Neighbors United and Jim Dantona, Chief Deputy to Chris Essel, CEO of the Community Redevelopment Agency are headlining the Alliance’s 10th Anniversary meeting at the Los Angeles City College in East Hollywood. The meeting is Saturday, January 22nd at 9:30 at the LA City College Faculty Lounge. It’s open, it’s transparent, and it’s your opportunity to engage in the future of our communities.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Disclosure: Box is also a candidate for 4th District Councilman.)

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