Letters to the Editor: You can’t fix L.A.’s corrupt planning process without campaign finance reform

Immigrants rights activists protest outside Jose Huizar's City Council office
Immigrants rights activists protest outside Jose Huizar’s City Council office in Boyle Heights on June 30 after he was indicted on a federal conspiracy charge.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Los Angeles has become a poster child for municipal corruption. In their op-ed article Rick Cole, Gail Goldberg and Bud Ovrom, all former officials in City Hall, have offered sound thinking on “replacing political muscle with modern rules that are consistently enforced.”

Understandably, they homed in on the city’s planning and land-use process, which has generated scandals and headlines that already brought down more than one city councilmember.

But the city’s failures do not stop there. While the corruption that characterizes Los Angeles planning and land-use decisions is far-reaching and appalling, the city’s capitulation to its public employee unions is equally disgraceful and consequential. Abusive practices and ludicrous investment assumptions underlie payrolls and pensions that are bleeding us dry.


Both problems are the predictable outcome of a campaign finance system that makes officeholders beholden to special interests with deep pockets. Concerned citizens will welcome equally informed, insightful and constructive ideas on meaningful campaign finance reform.

Shelley Wagers, Los Angeles


To the editor: I could not agree more with the article written by Goldberg, Cole and Bud Ovrum. I have been a real estate developer my whole life and my four sons have followed me in the business.

Developing in L.A. is a nightmare, so corruption is sure to follow.

My only suggestion for the outside planning commission proposed by the writers is to keep all developers, NIMBY activists and eggheads (like professors at USC or UCLA) off it. Having Goldberg, Cole and Ovrum on it would be a good place to start, and they could have open meetings where the public could share their views.

Other retired members of the city staff could be on the commission, as they know the problems and the solutions.

Salvatore Gangi, Glendale