Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Environmentalists Have Filed Legal Papers Accusing the City Council and City Attorney of Taking Bribes to Approve Dangerous Development in Playa Vista


City Council Took Money, Then Voted to Approve Playa Vista; City Attorney Also Implicated

By John Davis


After prevailing in their lawsuit against the Los Angeles City Council and the Playa Vista project, the environmentalist winners have filed legal papers accusing the City Council and its attorney of taking bribes to approve the dangerous development. The city is doing everything in its power to avoid following the order delivered by the California Court of Appeals.

Allegations that the California Political Reform Act of 1972 was violated by the City Council and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo in their avoidance of the court order are supported by another California Court of Appeals decision that set the standard.

The council took money and voted for the project within 12 months, a violation. The City Attorney took money in his run for Attorney General and then advised the City Council to make decisions favorable to the development within 12 months, a second violation.

Responding to allegations aired on Channel 4 TV that has faithfully covered the story, a few councilmembers made statements but most did not. The network won a prestigious Peabody Award for its excellent and ongoing coverage of the issue. Only one Council Member did not dip his snout into the hog trough of developer money. All others did.

What else could a developer hope for? But a City Council in its pocket was not enough. In his run for State Attorney General, Delgadillo also dipped his snout in the PV money and then advised the City Council to vote for Playa Vista. He too appeared on TV saying the State Political Reform Act did not apply to him or the Council. The attorney for the environmentalists rejected his position, saying he had not read the case law.

The city did not even challenge the allegations in court but responded outside with desperate public relations bluster. [CLICK READ MORE]

The council understands that if the environmentalists prevail again all of the recent orders of the lower Superior Court Judge made in favor of the developers will be thrown out, as well as the Council decisions to support the project. This is the same lower court judge that was overruled originally. Worse may yet come for the Council and City Attorney. Violations of the Political Reform Act of 1972 are punishable as criminal misdemeanors, like drunk driving.

The environmentalists then discovered that even the judge who seemed unwilling to implement the order of the higher court used to work for the developer’s law firm before he became a judge. This immediately raised a red flag. Could he be impartial in the matter? The environmentalists believed not and asked him to step down, and before he did, to void all of his recent orders and decisions of the City Council. The legal papers also request the judge to reveal all of his financial dealings with the developers hired law firm, including if he was receiving retirement funds at the time of his rulings favorable to the developer.

At the most recent hearing, the judge made no ruling at all and said the next judge also worked for the developers hired law firm at one time and would probably have to step aside. Judge George H. Wu was then appointed to the federal bench by none other than President George Bush, himself. A second judge who worked for the developer’s law firm has since recused himself.

In summary, it appears Playa Capital Corporation had the City Council and the City Attorney in their pocket with indebtedness. The only ones not bribed by this dangerous development were the local environmentalists and their attorneys.

In the interest of disclosure I, too, have an interest in this case as I am one of the environmentalists who sued. Others include Dan Cohen, GrassRoots Coalition and Environmentalism Through Non-violent Action, both nonprofits.

Patricia McPherson of the GrassRoots Coalition engineered the successful lawsuit and we all followed her lead in the interest of protecting public health and safety. Other community leaders such as Kathy Knight, Rex Frankel, Leslie Purcell and Jeanette Vossberg, to name a few, were instrumental in this successful challenge.

Larry Teeter was the gifted lead Attorney for the group and filed the original papers before his passing. Local Attorney Sabrina Venskus made the final winning arguments to the Appellate Court. Now former U.S. Attorney Richard Fine is assisting the winners in enforcement of the Appellate Court order that has led to the new allegations of bribery and influence peddling."

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