The best way to understand Los Angeles county and city government is to figure we live in a Communist state.
Not a Marxist state, nothing that Karl Marx could have possibly envisioned as he researched and wrote in the British Library Reading Room in London in the mid 19th Century. I am thinking of a more modern Communist model, something along what the Chinese Communist government is doing.
As China hurtles toward attempted conquest of the multinational economy, it has employed an opaque, secretive, none-of-your business combination of state and private enterprise.
This process describes three Los Angeles projects. One is to transform Grand Avenue into a downtown Los Angeles cultural and retail ‘hub,” as the Los Angeles Times put it. The second is to transform the area around Staples Center into another cultural and retail hub for those whose tastes run more toward sports than the LA Phil. And finally, there is the newest proposal—transforming the seedy area around LAX into a cultural and retail hub for hurried travelers in search of conference rooms, heavy dinners with the clients and whatever else business travelers seek.
What all three of these proposals have in common is that they demand enough government funding to permit the risk adverse private sector to take a chance. This is not the market economy. This is what the Chicoms are doing as they lure massive private investment to pretty up the place for the Olympics.
Individually, two out of three of these projects are OK. I think it’s great that the Los Angeles City Council and the county Board of Supervisors are promoting a new hotel by the Disney Concert Hall, even though the room, bar and restaurant prices will probably be too high for this non-expense account retiree. The residential developments are nice. It’s wonderful that a portion of the housing will be cheap enough for the almost- poor to afford—although one of the project executives said the developers will seek some reimbursement, presumably from us taxpayers. And I like the idea of the park reaching from the Music Center to City Hall, even though I may have trouble persuading my wife to take a romantic post- theater walk there at 11 p.m. Maybe they’ll have a lot of bars and cops.
And I think I will enjoy the taxpayer subsidized Staples area, LA Live. It’s going to be hot, hotter than ESPN’s Sports Center.
The airport deal leaves me puzzled. After subsidizing two downtown deals, why must the city create some sort of a development zone to help the area around the airport? Because the mayor and the city council paid off the airport area hotels so the hoteliers might possibly pay a living wage to their workers. The taxpayers are going to have to subsidize yet another project, one that nobody needs. Don’t those hotels already have meeting and entertainment rooms?
What all these deal have in common is that they are done mostly in secret, in the Chinese Communist manner. Mark Lacter made this point in LA Observed when he wrote about LA Live and the developer, AEG: “ …who knows which numbers are real and which ones are just made up. AEG sure ain't telling.”
You could say that about all these developments. The trouble with such state supported capitalism is that the deals are done in the privacy of corporate offices, then trotted out for so called public deliberation and votes. China's President Hu Jintao would be pleased,