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Letters to the Editor: Arresting Councilman Jose Huizar won’t end corruption at L.A. City Hall

Anti-gentrification protesters demonstrate Tuesday outside the Boyle Heights home of L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar.
Anti-gentrification protesters demonstrate Tuesday outside the Boyle Heights home of Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who had been arrested on corruption charges.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: For the last four years, the 14th Los Angeles City Council District has seen an abundance of developers submitting applications to build. These developers simply said this was an up-and-coming area, but it is now apparent why the district was so hot: Councilman Jose Huizar was selling out the district to any developer with money. (“How L.A. City Hall enabled Jose Huizar’s alleged corruption,” editorial, June 23)

According to federal investigators, Huizar orchestrated an elaborate pay-to-play scheme that enriched him and his wife by extorting money from developers and strong-arming anyone who opposed him. Their fiefdom was allegedly fortified by willing and unwilling city employees who helped establish them as the oligarchs of the 14th Council District and made them power players on citywide land-use issues.

Now is the time for Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council to grow a backbone and reform the system that allegedly allowed Huizar and his enterprise to enrich himself. If they could take a knee for the protesters, then they should be able to stand up for their constituents and fight corruption at City Hall.

Ken Walsh, Los Angeles

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To the editor: As long as the political class has the arbitrary power to veto what people do with their property, the corruption allegedly practiced by Huizar and its consequences on housing shortages will remain uncontrollable.

If owners could decide how to develop their own properties, perhaps the affordable housing crisis would be solved because builders could more easily undertake larger projects. But the NIMBY power to block development is based on allowing arbitrary decision making by the political class and its regulatory minions.

I may not want a 20-story complex next door, but I don’t own the property, I am not paying the taxes on the property, and if more housing availability decreases rents in my area, it’s good for society.

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Dallas Weaver, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: It’s about time. Although I don’t know Huizar, that was my reaction to his arrest.

Don’t many politicians partake in unlawful or unethical practices? As one honest member of the Los Angeles City Council revealed to me more than 20 years ago (before I retired as an attorney) when she apologized for voting against me, you can’t get anything done for your constituents unless you agree to play along.

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In fact, about that same time, your paper published a few opinion pieces I wrote about the corrupt practices of our L.A. Council members.

Harriet Kremer Bilford, Reseda

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To the editor: In a sordid episode, two powerful council members (one former and the other current) may go to jail for accepting bribes. But what will really change at a City Hall that is corrupt as an institution?

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When I testified against digital billboards, no one listened. The unions, the campaign contributors and the business lobbyists had fixed the outcome in advance. And they had done it legally.

I commend the FBI for its investigation and strong action, but the problem is far deeper.

Dan Silver, Los Angeles

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To the editor: So we arrest and prosecute the alleged recipients of bribes. Can we arrest and prosecute the donors as well?

Wayne Pearl, Westlake Village


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