COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

Whatever happened to the free market? Since when should the government provide the safety net for cheats, liars and those who’ve promoted fraudulent business practices? It would have been bad enough if the cheating hearts were limited to just those two, but a whole industry of make-believe sprouted to institutionalize avarice.

Real estate brokers aligned with appraisers to create value out of thin air. Contractual arrangements that should have been at arm’s length more often than not were greased with kickbacks and behind-the-scenes arrangements. And for this, the government must provide a bailout?

Here is another big reason why the warm and cozy relationship between government and business must change. Big campaign contributors and the ability of government to regulate too often result in an aberration of the free market.

Locally, the ability to regulate zoning and the ability to tax and spend, mixed with the campaign contributions create a potent mix that corrodes both democracy and the very economic system we uphold. Large campaign contributions are another form of borrowing; sooner or later the lender will come calling claiming their special interests. So, who’s against this practice?

Today, as I write this, the campaign efforts for those who have an eye for the next City Council seat have already begun. From what I understand, people who’ve never shown up for a budget meeting, or participated in discussion of the capital improvements, or proposed a vision for the city are already meeting with big campaign donors. They, in turn, are paving the way for that special reciprocity that will give them an edge over their competitors. I’ve been against that kind of quid pro quo for a long time.

I was opposed to Rick Caruso’s project — the Americana at Brand — not because of Caruso’s urban vision or his ability to create dynamic commercial experiences for shoppers. I was opposed because if an enterprise’s economic objectives pencil-out, then it should stand on its own. If the investment is unsound, then it will fail. The government should not be in the business of guaranteeing its profits.

The rationale for the subsidy, councilmen told us four years ago, was that it would attract other business and developments. Now we find out that this council is ready to make hefty subsidies to other major developers that come into town. Is there no end to this malfeasance?

Here in Glendale, large campaign contributions and the reciprocity expected from councilmen corrupts our democracy and the free-market system.

If our councilmen truly believe that they have a constituency of voters supporting them, then they should not be afraid of limiting campaign contributions to an amount available to most voters — $250. If they can persuade 100 voters to give them that amount, then they’ll have seed money of $25,000 to reach out for more campaign donations from a larger segment of registered voters.

Large campaign donations are nothing more than loans that must be repaid by councilmen in some way or another. Councilmen have an obligation to cultivate democracy, and large campaign donations are its corruption. Here, the words of Lord Polonius in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” ring true:

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

We have two councilmen already committed to the idea of limiting campaign contributions to $250 per person — Councilmen Bob Yousefian and Ara Najarian (“Council looks to cap donations,” Jan. 24). To Councilmen John Drayman and Frank Quintero I offer the continuation of this quotation:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”


 HERBERT MOLANO is a Tujunga resident.

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