Does Measure E belong on the ballot?

Why should this issue be on the ballot? Doesn’t the City Council already have the power to provide incentives for businesses to stay in Los Angeles? Click here to read previous exchanges in this Dust-Up.

Beaches and sun don’t cut it anymore
Point: Greig Smith

Measure E would give us the flexibility we need to be more aggressively and effectively competitive in a cutthroat global competition for business. Unlike our neighboring cities, we cannot offer specific incentives to individual companies because the Los Angeles City Charter ties our hands. This limits our flexibility and reduces our ability to respond to opportunities to bring businesses to Los Angeles.

We are in a battle, competing for businesses that will grow our economy and create high-paying jobs for our residents. We have to be able to respond quickly and effectively with incentives that are specifically tailored to the needs or challenges of specific companies.

We want to be able to go after each of them in the most effective, fastest, yet responsible way we can. Time is of the essence when it comes to a company’s business decisions. We need to be able to act fast.

As a Feb. 18 Daily News editorial points out, we can no longer rely on our warm climate, beaches and vibrant culture to keep film production, bioscience information technology and other industries satisfied and based here.

Other cities are aggressively pursuing our businesses. They are advertising and marketing right here in Los Angeles and are working proactively to lure our companies away. Measure E would give us a powerful and necessary tool to fight back and ensure transparency and public accountability.

City Councilman Greig Smith represents Los Angeles’ 12th district.

Can the city invest our money better than we can?
Counterpoint: Walter Moore


You have the right to remain silent.

I mention this because you just tacitly admitted that you and your colleagues have been breaking the law. You have done so by doling out hundreds of millions of dollars per year in subsidies and sweetheart deals to politically connected companies rather than treating all businesses fairly and equally. Not only is that unfair; it also violates our City Charter.

Section 104(B) of the charter protects employers from career politicians who, like you, rob Peter to pay Paul (emphasis added):

No discrimination in the amount of license tax shall be made between persons engaged in the same business, other than by proportioning the tax to the amount of business done, except that the Council by ordinance may provide for license tax exemptions and decreases to promote City economic development under the following circumstances. Any incentives shall be limited to predefined areas of the City, such as redevelopment areas, enterprise zones, employment and economic incentive areas, or revitalization zones, where other federal, state, or local economic incentive areas have been established by the Council, by ordinance or by other method required by state or federal law. In addition, any business tax exemptions or reductions shall require the adoption of an ordinance by the Council specifying the amount of the exemption or reduction; the period of time for which the exemption or reduction will be allowed; the specific business tax classification, or classifications, which will be eligible for the exemption or reduction; and the geographical boundaries within which the exemption or reduction will be applicable.

Why should we abandon the principles of equal protection built into our charter? Do you really expect us to believe that you and a team of civil servants can consistently invest our money better than we can? Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Madoff. If you want to invest other people’s money, start an investment banking firm.

To retain and attract employers, City Hall should repeal the city’s business income tax for all employers; hire enough police to make every neighborhood a safe neighborhood; stop raising DWP rates, trash fees and so on; and focus on “customer service” at City Hall to help, rather than hinder, all honest, tax-paying employers when they need to get permits.

Bottom line: Don’t change the charter, obey it.

Walter Moore, a business trial lawyer, is a candidate for Los Angeles mayor.