City of Scandals: Racism Uproar Is Just the Latest in an Ongoing Tradition of Corruption in Los Angeles

It’s gotten so bad that San Francisco is bragging it’s not as bad as Los Angeles, with the SF Chronicle running a headline Tuesday reading, “You think S.F. is a mess? Here’s what’s happening in L.A. right now.” You know it’s bad when the poop-filled, homeless haven that is San Fransicko is dunking on you.


Politico’s headline had the same general theme: “Los Angeles staggers under cascade of scandals.”

The racism on the Los Angeles City Council, revealed in leaked audio Sunday, attracted national headlines, the rebuke of every politician from President Joe Biden on down, forced resignations, and emotional protests. The naked power grabbing and backroom dealing, meanwhile, was just as insidious, but so far hasn’t garnered the same level of attention.

The crisis is far from the only scandal plaguing LA. Politico lists some of the higher-profile transgressions (I’ve added links to RedState’s contemporaneous coverage of events):

Former Council Member Mitch Englander was sentenced to federal prison last year for obstructing a corruption probe. Former Council Member Jose Huizar was indicted in 2020 on bribery and other federal charges for allegedly favoring developers. Former Council Member Mark Ridley-Thomas stepped aside after being charged with facilitating public contracts to the University of Southern California in exchange for favors. (Both Ridley-Thomas and Huizar have pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing).

No, we’re not finished. A Senate report found in May that Mayor Eric Garcetti likely knew that one of his top aides allegedly sexually harassed multiple people. And lest I forget, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl just had her home raided last month by the LA County Sheriff and the FBI in an investigation into a lucrative no-bid contract that benefitted her friend. (She, in turn, accuses the Sheriff’s Department of malfeasance.) Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?


Even the Democrat cheerleader that calls itself a newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, agrees that things have turned sinister:

Former County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and current director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA had this to say:

I don’t think there’s been anything like this in city government since the 30s and 40s, the corruption heyday of Los Angeles. I think the city governance system is profoundly broken, and I think this latest revelation just shatters what was already broken.

A slew of current and former politicians took to Twitter to express similar thoughts, no doubt slightly nervous that someone might look under the hood of their own time in La La Land’s hallowed halls. Antonio Villaraigosa, once LA Mayor and most recently a gubernatorial candidate, had this to say:

It just feels like the city’s falling apart.

There’s always been a level of skepticism and even cynicism with respect to government and the like and political leaders, but I think with everything going on people are really feeling like City Hall isn’t working on their behalf.

FILE - This Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015 file photo shows tents used by the homeless lining a downtown Los Angeles street. On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Los Angeles voters are picking a mayor a

Although the racism charges emanating from the meeting have drawn the most publicity, another sinister aspect of the discussion among the Councilmembers and a labor leader was the casual way they spoke of redistricting in terms of keeping their power, not helping Angelenos improve their lives:

At another point [in the meeting], Martinez recalls a conversation with businessman Danny Bakewell about possibly transferring Los Angeles International Airport out of [Mike] Bonin’s council district and into that of Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

The council president says she told Bakewell to “go get the airport from his little brother — that little bitch Bonin.”

They literally talk about districts as cash machines and power centers, not the neighborhoods where their citizens live.

Although Los Angeles has been plagued by scandals for years, as we’ve shown, this latest one may be the hardest to recover from. Blacks are furious at Latinos, Oaxacans are hurt by the demeaning comments made against them, Armenians are irate at their treatment—while everyone else is just plain appalled. I give kudos to writer Justin Ray, who wrote the Chronicle piece I opened with because I think he sums it up almost perfectly: 

But incidents like we’re seeing in Los Angeles threaten the state’s reputation and give fuel to right-wing critics who can say that liberal cities are morally bankrupt. [Yes. Yes, they do.]

The unfortunate truth is despite the state’s yearning to be a leader in the nation, the messiness of its local politics shows that it may not be as exceptional as it believes itself to be.


California is exceptional, all right—just not in a good way. With nary a Republican in a position of power, the state is basically subject to one-party rule, and the horrible bills coming out of Sacramento along with the rampant corruption, homelessness, and crime in cities like LA and San Francisco are the result.

Sadly, Los Angeles is the poster child of big blue-city corruption.


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