Editorial: Tired of City Hall scandals? This is the moment to reform Los Angeles city government
A number of years ago, I wrote for the New York Times a story about an alleged scheme to illegally award contracts to favored companies, and I wrote about it in the Times. I was then a city government official in the City of Los Angeles, about to be elected to the position, but when the story appeared in the newspaper, the mayor told me I had to leave town. He said that the city couldn’t give me support on my campaign, and that if I were elected I would be a thorn in his side because I would raise enough money to run the city. (I was a very wealthy man.) I told him I would not leave, and I am still here. It was then that I realized what a serious problem Los Angeles government had.
The mayor was right to be wary of me. My story was well-documented, and it made me the subject of much public speculation and derision. There have been many scandals since, but I have also experienced another, perhaps more insidious, scandal over the last few days: The sudden announcement by the mayor’s office that I am under investigation for criminal conduct.
I am not under investigation for what I have done in my life, or for any illegal acts. The Mayor’s Office has decided that I am under investigation because of my job performance as a city official: the way I have handled myself in the face of corruption. The allegations are made against me by the mayor’s critics, including Mayor Villaraigosa, who is being investigated by his own ethics department because he has allegedly over the years made campaign contributions to public officials in exchange for their political support of his various initiatives related to city government.
The mayor’s office is making the allegations because it cannot support the candidate it put in office eight years ago, because it is not willing to let me keep my job, and therefore because it fears I will be a thorn in its side.
I have always tried, above all, to be a good citizen. I have always tried to uphold the city’s laws. I have tried in other ways, too, to be a good leader. I have tried to make the city a better place, a safer place. I have tried to keep the public informed. I have tried to find the most effective and efficient ways to serve the public,