Roots of L.A. City Council’s leaked audio scandal can be traced back decades
The audio scandal that rocked Los Angeles City Council was leaked to the public Wednesday night, and it has been the most damaging leak in the city’s history.
It was the result of a two-year effort by the council’s executive committee to obtain details about public comments made during the council’s monthly meetings, as well as the contents of minutes that were not made public.
The transcripts, released by the executive committee, include audio that was not made public by the five council members or their staffs — some that had been leaked to the media in the past.
But for City Council members, this audio was the final straw, bringing to the surface what could easily have been a career steeped in scandal. And it has been just one small part of what is believed to be the biggest scandal in the council’s history.
‘This could all be your legacy as a council member or a future council member,’ one council member told me. ‘It could be one or the other, and it will make an impression on people.’
The first revelation is that the council did nothing to stop former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to build an Olympic-size indoor sports complex.
Ald. Danny Zastera (15th) said that he found out about the project from the Los Angeles Times less than two months before the council voted to approve it and that he didn’t do anything after that information appeared in the newspaper.
Zastera told me: ‘I didn’t have any idea until I heard about it in the news,’ adding that he learned that Villaraigosa had plans for a basketball arena from the Times on Aug. 31, 2011.
The second revelation, and the main part of the scandal, is that the council voted to approve a tax break for private developers — a controversial tax break that was criticized by neighborhood activists — the day before it approved the basketball arena.
In March, when the basketball arena was being debated, the council voted 5-2 to approve the tax break — the votes on the tax break were 5-2, 3-1,