Inside the politics of Downtown lofts

The subject is the Alexandria Hotel, the Rosslyn Lofts project and City Hall's support of an $8 million subsidy for alleged slumlord Ruben Islas. Tibby Rothman, in the LA Weekly, shows how Valley councilman Tony Cardenas went out of his way to back Islas, a campaign contributor. Rothman also got hold of emails showing a trail leading to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

L.A. Weekly has learned that City Councilman Tony Cardenas and his colleague Jan Perry — with an assist from Assemblyman Fabian Núñez — sought Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s personal involvement last August to make an unguaranteed loan of public funds to Islas, a rich political insider.

The push came after Islas, his wife, his business partner, his employees and their family members gave Cardenas $10,100 in contributions in 2006 and 2007. In fact, city records show, just 27 days before the raucous CRA hearing in August, Islas and his wife gave Cardenas $2,000. And 10 days after Islas got final City Council approval for the subsidy, Cardenas received another $2,000 in total from Islas, his wife, his business partner Jules Arthur and Arthur’s wife.

Cardenas made his highly unusual appearance at the August 2007 CRA meeting, lavishing his political contributor with public praise — even as Islas’ tenants, sitting nearby, accused Islas of taking public money and misusing it to exacerbate a slum situation at the Alexandria Hotel.

When Rothman isn't writing for the Weekly she's behind the Venice Paper.

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