The futility of advocating ethics in Los Angeles

City ethics commissioner Bill Boyarsky heard from friends what the scene was like inside the exclusive, closed "VIP reception" before last week's political roast at the Century Plaza. He posts on his LA Observed blog that "such events fill me with a sense of futility."

They told me that the biggest sponsors were the corporate developers of two huge development projects. One was the firm behind the 5,553-home Las Lomas project just north of the intersection of the Golden State Freeway and the 14 Freeway. The other was NBC Universal, which has proposed $3 billion worth of homes--2,900 of them-- along with new production facilities, restaurants, stores, a hotel, an entertainment center and other features at Universal City.

At the VIP event, I was told, representatives of the two firms socialized in pleasant, comparatively intimate surroundings with the elected officials and others who will decide the fate of their projects. So did other business chiefs, assorted big shots and lobbyists.

This kind of gathering is common practice and there is nothing illegal about it. Nor should there be. We already have too many laws.

But as I finish the last four months of my City Ethics Commission term, such events fill me with a sense of futility. We work like mad to make sure that city politics are played on a level field. The world of fund raising dinners and high-powered developers and lobbyists guarantees the field will never really be level.

Read more of Boyarsky's exclusive LAO blog about serving on the ethics commission and observing City Hall.

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