FROM Laura Chick
LA's Department of Water and Power: Who's in Charge? LA's Department of Water and Power is the biggest utility of its kind in the country, but it's had five managers in the past seven years. Last week, Ron Nichols announced his resignation, raising a host of questions. Among them, why can't he or Brian D'Arcy — business manager of the city's most powerful union — reveal how $40 million in public money is being spent. Jack Dolan is following the story for the Los Angeles Times .
Was City Controller Wendy Greuel Slow to Check Out a Scandal? SoCal Connected on KCET has added a third report to its ongoing series on HACLA . That's the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, which spends a billion dollars in mostly federal money each year, supposedly to help find homes for people who need them. The first report was last March, and the story has finally caught the attention of elected officials.
Economic Stimulus: The Promise and the Reality President Obama's stimulus package is officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act . It was advertised as a fast-track program for hiring the unemployed as well as creating new jobs. After it was enacted in 2009, California received $50 billion. Two years later, only half that amount has been spent. We hear from Laura Chick, California's former "stimulus watchdog" and others.
What Has 800 Billion in Stimulus Spending Bought? During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt put four million people to work in four months. In two years, President Obama's $787 billion stimulus has failed to reduce unemployment as promised, and much of the money hasn't even been spent. When it was enacted in 2009, it was advertised as a fast-track program for hiring the unemployed as well as creating new jobs, and was to focus on projects called "shovel-ready?" So-called stimulus watchdogs in Vermont and California say there is no such thing. What about the money that has been spent? Has the Reinvestment and Recovery Act been a victim of false advertising as well as red tape?
Economizer Laura Chick 'Economized Out' Laura Chick was an Los Angeles City Council Member whose next office was City Controller, where she polished her reputation as a relentless auditor. When she was termed out, Arnold Schwarzenegger asked her to make sure that $50 billion in federal stimulus money were being properly spent. Now Governor-elect Jerry Brown says he'll abolish her job to save money. Segment image: Governor Schwarzenegger names Laura Chick to the first-in-the-nation position of Inspector General to act as watchdog over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds as they are dispersed in California, April 3, 2009
California's Share of Federal Stimulus Money California’s received about $42 billion in federal stimulus money , roughly half of what is expected. Governor Schwarzenegger has hired former LA City Controller Laura Chick, to keep track of how it’s being spent. Her latest report involves $3.5 million for creating jobs in San Bernardino County, where unemployment’s at 14%. Chick is looking for specific cases of waste, fraud and abuse. The nonprofit news service ProPublica is trying to keep track of how much is going where nationally and what it’s supposed to be for.
State Inspector General to Watch Over Federal Stimulus Money Laura Chick is termed out of office as Los Angeles City Controller and will be replaced by Council member Wendy Gruel. But Chick is taking off one hat to put on another. She’ll be leaving for Sacramento to be the Governor’s Inspector General for federal recovery money .
Measure B: Solar Power Nobody disagrees that solar power should be developed -- the sooner the better, but there's a major debate about Measure B on the March 3 ballot for the City of Los Angeles. It calls for 400 megawatts of solar power by 2014, installed, operated and maintained by the city-owned Department of Water and Power . The City Council put the measure on the ballot unanimously, with full support from Mayor Villaraigosa. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers , which contracts with the DWP, is helping to finance the campaign. We hear a debate between City Controller Laura Chick, who publicly broke with the Mayor and is urging a “no” vote, and David Freeman, a former General Manger of the DWP, who helped put Measure B together.
Earthquake Centered Near Chino Hills Measures 5.4 The Los Angeles region was hit with a moderate 5.4 earthquake this morning. It rattled windows for miles but apparently caused no serious damage. The quake was centered east of downtown in Chino Hills. How prepared is the city for a major earthquake?
City Faces Budget Crunch and Expensive Gang Problem Between Echo Park and Eagle Rock last week, several schools were locked down into the evening while the LAPD shot it out with reputed members of the Avenues street gang. Yesterday, 19 alleged gang members were picked up in North Hollywood in a sweep involving some 200 officers.
Problems Assessing the Number of Affordable Housing Units in Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick has ruffled feathers at the LA Housing Department by reporting that nobody knows how many affordable housing units are needed or how many have been constructed. Yolanda Chavez, the Department’s Executive Director, told the LA Times Chick’s office does not understand how complicated the problem is.
Summertime Blues: LA Kids Locked Out of LA School Pools Last week, Evan George wrote a lengthy story in the Downtown News about the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. It was opened nine months ago with city officials joining the school district to applaud an additional benefit: state-of-the-art facilities for an entire community with scarce recreational resources for a large population of young people. Despite that promise and with summer temperatures rising, the Olympic-sized swimming pool has been closed to the public.
City Officials Respond to LA Gang Study A prestigious group called the Advancement Project has produced a massive report on Los Angeles , now called the world capital of gang violence. Despite the efforts and expenditures of multiple public agencies and dozens of independent projects, the problem is worse than it was 20 years ago and is comparable to a public-health epidemic. Officials have decided that rather than dealing with symptoms, it's time to treat basic causes and involve the LA Unified School District as well as law enforcement. Yesterday at Los Angeles City Hall, the City Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Gangs heard a "power panel" of high-level officials respond to the report. The Chiefs of the Fire and Police and County Sheriff all said law enforcement isn't enough to deal with gang violence. We hear from the report's author and get response city officials, the committee and the LAUSD.
Putting out Fires at the Fire Department The former president of LA's Fire Commission has told the Los Angeles Times, " The public just doesn't understand what goes on " in the fire department. Chief William Bamattre was hired 11 years ago to get racism, sexism and homophobia under control, but the accusations continued. Bamattre was replaced today—temporarily--by Mayor Villaraigosa. Assistant Chief Douglas Barry is an African American with 31 years of service. The job change comes just days after the Mayor vetoed a $2.7 million settlement the City Council made with black firefighter Tenny Pierce, who claimed racist colleagues caused him to eat dog food. City Controller Laura Chick had called for Bamattre to leave after her office audited the Fire Department. Will a minority veteran succeed where Caucasian predecessors have failed?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?