Archive for April, 2012

Despite a college career limited by injuries at both USC and the University of Richmond, quarterback Aaron Corp will get a shot at the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills signed the Richmond Spider senior, who performed very well in the NFL Scouting Combine.

I had the pleasure of watching Corp play three times last season.  He was exciting to watch and overcame opponents’ tendencies to concentrate on pass defense and pressuring the quarterback.  Without a viable ground game at his disposal, Corp would have to throw on third and short often.  The other teams were expecting just that and adjusted accordingly, but it did not stop him from picking up critical first downs time and again.

He made good decisions and was cool under pressure.

The Bills are not deep at quarterback, so Corp should have a decent shot at playing time this spring and summer.

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Chances are, most of you have received e-mails similar to the following (this is my compilation of various themes I have seen in the ones that have arrived in my inbox):

Greetings.  I hope this message finds you in goood helth. May God’s blessings fall upon you!

I am a barrister representing the eztate of the late Iwantu Monet, the basteard son of the Nigerian Oil Minister, who was killed by his father in a jellice rage when caught in bed with the elder’s mistress.

Before Mr. Monet was murdered, he had accumulated a sum of $10.000.000 USD in a Swiss bank account.  The money was from kickbacks receeved from hi government officials.

My research shows you are someone I can trust.  I need to transfer this fortune to a Safe bank account in your Country.  If you agree to this 100% risk free transaction, I will split the sum with you. Utmost secretivenessish is a most concern

Pleese send me your informations including your social security number, bank account number and a copy of your passport so I can instruct the Swiss bink manager to expedite this transfer.

Your trusted servant,

Ineda Cash

I used to believe it would be impossible for anyone to fall for these offers.

No longer.

I know there are 5.2 million individuals in California who would send their “informations” faster than these e-mails can be distributed. They represent the voters who approved Proposition 25 last year.  I am proud to say I was not one of them.  I publicly opposed the measure at meetings of Neighborhood Council Valley Village, my blog and in Citywatch.

Prop 25 allowed the California State Legislature to pass a budget by a simple majority vote, but stipulated that the legislators would forfeit their pay for every day the budget was past the mandated deadline. We were told passage would break the chronic logjams that have resulted from partisan struggles over spending and taxes.

The forty-five percent of the turnout who cast a “No” vote were not hoodwinked by the promise of docking legislators. They were aware of the legislature’s penchant for fabricating unrealistic revenue forecasts, which meant that a “balanced” budget could be passed even though it was based on whims.  That virtually assured no one would ever forego a payday.

A recent tentative ruling by a Sacramento superior court judge just knocked the legs out from under Prop 25’s no-pay provision.  Judge David Brown believes the legislators have the power to define what balanced is. 

When will voters learn that ballot measures cannot fix bad government; especially when they contain subjective provisions easily overturned by the courts?

State Controller John Chiang is challenging the judicial ruling.  He appears to be one of the few in Sacramento who takes his responsibilities seriously.

Perhaps the legislators can raise revenue and close the budget gap by e-mailing registered voters the equivalent of a Nigerian scam.  It appears there are more than enough takers who would unwittingly allow their bank accounts to be drained by the very people they elect.

PS: For a good laugh about Nigerian e-mail scams , follow this link.

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Someone should inform Mayor Villaraigosa that the chairmanship of the DNC Convention in Charlotte, NC does not expand his executive power beyond the City of Los Angeles. He wants to ram a project down the throats of many who will never benefit from the subway to the sea – or any other subway project.  Los Angeles County is not the City of Los Angeles.

For that matter, what about residents of the San Fernando Valley who would still be stuck with the 405 and canyon roads as their main routes across the Hollywood Hills?  Heck, the MTA has not even added much-needed parking to the North Hollywood Red Line station!

The mayor’s proposal to expand the Measure R sales tax beyond the lifetimes of generations yet to be born is a publicity campaign to win a seat on President Obama’s cabinet.  The chances are fairly good, although by no means guaranteed, that the President will win reelection.

Villaraigosa would love to occupy a spacious office within sight of the United States Capitol.  That’s where he would be if named the Secretary of Transportation.  It would be a non stop ride from LA to DC on a virtual subway stretching 2,669 miles.

What irony that would represent.  As the driving force behind national transportation policies, he would graduate from serving as the architect  of a local train wreck to one on a coast to coast scale.

But how could he leverage an extension of Measure R to a cabinet post if it is uncertain that the measure would win support of two-thirds of the voters? Current polling suggests about 54% might support it, a far cry from two-thirds.

The extension does not have to win for the mayor to benefit.  Even if the measure fails, the White House will hail him as a public transportation visionary. He will rally support from labor unions who have their own visions – inflated contracts. Couple that with his popularity among much of the Latino population and you have the political equivalent of owning all four railroads on the Monopoly game board. We’ll pay the price for landing on them while Antonio Villaraigosa will reap career benefits.

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In announcing her department’s latest audit report, City Controller Wendy Greuel accused the mayor and City Council of being “asleep at the switch” when it came to managing fuel usage for city vehicles.

That is a true statement, but incomplete.  First of all, the mayor has never been close to any switch in the city, in a state of sleep or otherwise.  Management is not a term in his vocabulary. 

Greuel, herself, was also snoozing.

The problem was first reported by former City Controller Laura Chick in 2009. Greuel was still on the City Council, serving on the Budget and Finance Committee. Chick reported problems with the system and was highly critical of management’s lack of involvement and scrutiny:

“Beginning in 1999, the city paid a vendor in excess of $12 million to implement and maintain a fuel automation system. However, departments are not using the system’s capabilities to monitor fuel usage. If they had, they could have identified the extent of high risk transactions, as well as data inaccuracies being generated by the system.”

After the city invested in the system, the mayor, department managers and members of the City Council should have followed up to see if the system was working as expected, even without an audit.  After all,we are talking about 14 million gallons of annual gasoline usage.  Even at 2009 prices, that came to $28 million for the year – and prices were heading higher.

Chick’s audit was released March 29, 2009.  There was still time to modify the Fiscal Year 2009/2010 budget, which was not approved until June 2, 2009.  Slapping a 20% cut to the fuel budget, or about $5 million, until adequate controls were in place would have been a reasonable measure given the history of lax management oversight. Beats the hell out of layoffs or transferring staff to the DWP.

Greuel and Budget Chair Bernard Parks should have insisted that a cut be allocated among the departments.  Too much work, I guess.  Maybe they had to top off their tanks.

It gets worse.

Greuel had Chick’s roadmap.  She knew the city was bleeding gas when she stepped into the role of City Controller in July 2009, but waited three years to follow-up.  Pursuing an important issue already raised by your predecessor just doesn’t generate the same publicity as something developed under your own watch, so I’m not surprised she let it ride .

An audit is only as effective as subsequent actions to correct deficiencies.  Greuel is only interested in pumping out reports claiming largely unsubstantiated savings. She does not apply pressure on the mayor, his department managers, and council members to implement timely changes.

Greuel has turned the Office of the Controller into a personal stage for her mayoral campaign. She knows all to well that people react to juicy findings rather than actual results.

That’s our fault for letting her get away with it.

I hope her opponents in the mayoral field don’t.

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