Bill Boyarsky
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Politicians, pay your bill

theluxe-lao.jpgWhen you stay at a hotel, or throw a big event there, you usually don't get out the door without paying.

That wasn't the case with Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and other prominent L.A. politicians who threw big fund raising events at the downtown Luxe City Center Hotel and didn't receive a bill until the Los Angeles Times' intrepid reporting duo of David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes asked them about it. Their inquiries jogged sluggish memories and the politicians paid up.

The amounts, as detailed in Thursday morning's paper, were not big compared to the total campaign contributions of the developers racing to build high rises in downtown Los Angeles or the billions spent for such projects. Wesson and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez paid their $3,026 bill two weeks ago for an event held last April. "They're not the only politicians to go months or, or even years, without paying the hotel," the reporters wrote. "A Times review of campaign records found no evidence of payment by at least seven politicians involved in three separate fundraisers at the Luxe, whose owners spent several years seeking city permission to redevelop their property...After the Times inquired about the lack of payment, participants in those events said they were paying the bill or planned to do so."

As I said, these amounts are fairly piddling compared to the huge amounts being made by downtown developers and to their generosity toward politicians. "The community remains red hot and the skyline is filled with cranes. Thousands of housing units are coming online," the Downtown News reported this week.

For those who have watched downtown mired in disrepair and were afraid to venture there, this is good news. Unfortunately, like all good news from city hall and its environs, it's coming at some cost. The FBI is investigating possible city hall corruption, including two businessmen connected to the Luxe redevelopment project. In addition, developers have been given subpoenas from a federal grand jury seeking information about their relationship to council members.

How this will all end is unclear. But so far, the probe has focused badly needed light on the close relationship between city hall and the downtown developers. The Times' revelation about the Luxe affair is just another example of that relationship.

For politicians, the lesson of the Luxe is clear: Even if the innkeeper is your best buddy, remember to settle the bill before you leave.



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