LA City Council redefines “responsible”

The Los Angeles City Council last week passed a “Responsible Banking” ordinance. Banks will now be required to disclose lending and foreclosure activity in the city if they want to get city business.

But once, just once, I’d like to see the City Council pass a “Responsible City Council” ordinance.

We have a City Council that somehow, irresponsibly, has allowed a chronic budget deficit – that’s now at $238 million – fester and go unresolved. As a result, the Fire Department’s critical response time has slowed, and Los Angeles is now notorious in the Third World as that gang-infested place with really cratered streets.

The City Council faces huge burdens of responsibility, requiring focused, critical thinking. So what has the City Council done in the last month? Well, they’re spending a lot of its time telling grocers they must stop using plastic bags and instructing bankers how to do their jobs.

Since the City Council seems so interested in poking their noses in the private sector, apparently it’ll take a Responsible City Council ordinance – at the very least – to remind them they should do their own job first.

Councilman Richard Alarcon authored the Responsible Banking ordinance. He put out a press release after the ordinance passed last week, which isn’t surprising since he’s been touting it for three years now. He was proud of his ordinance.

Mind you, this is the same Alarcon who authored a resolution last October praising the Occupy Los Angeles folks. He invited them to attend a City Council meeting to hear his long, three-page resolution read aloud, which concluded by saying “the city of Los Angeles hereby stands in SUPPORT for the continuation of the peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment Rights carried out by ‘Occupy Los Angeles.’ ”

I guess the Occupy L.A. folks figured that Alarcon’s SUPPORT was really an INVITATION to squat on City Hall Park. You know, like the unemployed brother-in-law who came to your house party and ended up sleeping on your couch for two months.

The bill was toted up recently and Occupy L.A.’s vibrant exercise cost L.A. taxpayers $4.7 million – that’s $2 million more than earlier estimates – including the cost to fix monuments they damaged.

Now that’s some responsible resolution-crafting, no?

Oh, and remember, this is the same Alarcon who has a problem with his address. A legal case – involving a grand jury – has been going on for two years trying to figure out if he really lives in his district or not. A judge dismissed the case against Alarcon earlier this month, but the district attorney immediately refiled 24 perjury and voter fraud charges against Alarcon and his wife related to the residency question. So this case will go on, costing the taxpayers money and clogging up the court.

Say what you will about bankers, but I’d bet most of them don’t need a grand jury to figure out where they live. Say, maybe our Responsible City Council ordinance should include this provision: City Council members must pick an address and stick with it.

But do you know who I’m most disappointed with? The various business groups in town. They privately grumble but, in public, they swallow and say OK, we can go along with this stuff.

I wish they found the courage to remind the City Council that they have spectacularly mismanaged Los Angeles to the brink of bankruptcy. And since some of the council members are among the most irresponsible people in the room, the City Council utterly lacks the moral authority to instruct business people, or pretty much anyone, for that matter, how they should conduct their business.

(Charles Crumpley is the Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal. Originally posted on Fox & Hounds.)