city skyline during night time

Read the full report recommending the expansion of L.A. City Council from 15 to 25 Representatives

The “Interim Report of the L.A. Governance Reform Project,” published this June 2023 by a team of researchers and academics from USC, UCLA Luskin, and Cal State, among others, says about the leaked recording from October 2021 of L.A. City officials discussing the city map’s redrawing:

“At the time of the conversation, the city council was exercising its charter authority to draw lines after an advisory redistricting commission had presented its report. (emphasis mine)”

The report also notes about current calls to expand the council that:

“Such a wave of reform energy does not occur very often. Sometimes decades pass between reform eras. Los Angeles is in the midst of one such moment now, and it is not to be taken for granted.”

Regarding the question of exactly how to expand the number of representatives at L.A. City Hall, the report states that this is most likely best advanced through an amendment to L.A.’s city charter, or the city’s homemade version of the U.S. constitution:

“Passed by the voters in 1924 and implemented in 1925, the charter, as amended, has been the city’s governing document for nearly a century. The charter can only be changed by a vote of the people. Charter amendments can be placed on the ballot by the city council or by an initiative based on the signatures of registered voters.”

As to when this and other changes to L.A.’s governing structure might be pursued, the report leaves no room for misinterpretation:

“Our first overall recommendation is that a package of governance reforms be placed on the November 2024 ballot.”

And on the question of how to pay for more offices and salaries, the report points out that the city budget’s current share for funding the council is already a small share of the total annual city budget, which this fiscal year is roughly $13 billion:

“Our research shows that it is a very small share of the city’s budget. A cap on the share of the budget that goes to the council’s operations could be part of the ballot measure as well as a pro-rated reduction in council salaries. A cap on the share of the budget that goes to the council (including member and staff salaries, and offices at city hall and in the field) could be part of the ballot measure.”

Last but not least, the report contends that increasing the number of L.A. City Council Representatives from 15 to 25, including with the introduction of 4 “At Large” offices, should bolster representation for more of the people who make up L.A.’s neighborhoods:

“Communities with a likelihood of gaining representation include those of Korean, Filipino, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran origin.”


Why All 15 L.A. City Council Members Should Now Resign

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 60)

Following George Chiang’s guilty plea in the FBI’s case against Council Member Jose Huizar, I am firmly of the belief that all fifteen members of the L.A. City Council should now resign, pack up their bags, and try their luck elsewhere. The reason is very simple:

The fact that Huizar’s back-door dealings with L.A. taxpayers’ money could even take place at city hall over the last three years (at minimum) shows a complete and utter failure of oversight.

We’re supposed to live in a country with “checks and balances” to govern power and prevent abuse. I don’t know about the rest of Los Angeles, but I know that when I cast my vote for my elected officials here, I do not sign up for the FBI’s knock at their door to serve as that check and balance. It’s a waste of my time and my money, and that of millions of other taxpayers’.

But since it’s clear that the council members are incapable of checking and balancing each other, and that even the L.A. Ethics Commission needs the council’s permission to have it regulate itself, the writing is on the wall: It’s time for a shake-up. A real gravitational one.

The whole council’s resignation shouldn’t seem like an unreasonable order, either. Voters can also demand to recall the officials. Less than 20 years ago, voters in California recalled Gray Davis and installed a Hollywood superstar with no prior experience in office to the state’s highest office. In the city of Los Angeles, recalling a local official is supposed to take between 50,000 – 100,000 signatures.

At a time when nearly 2.3 million workers in L.A.’s formal economy are without work, what’s the cost of registering them to vote and having them sign off on checking a broken institution at City Hall governing their tax dollars?

And I’ve got to be honest with you, Los Angeles: the state’s republicans have certainly already started their petition online to recall Governor Newsom for “violating civil liberties.” I’ll let readers look that one up themselves. Who am I kidding, here it is.

In any case, while the council’s collective resignation is obviously technically possible, I admit that the record on such bold action after prior scandals in Los Angeles makes that highly unlikely. So in the meantime, here’s some more data for you to enjoy during your morning commute, or breakfast, or sleeping in…

Mitch O’Farrell, who’s served as the representative for the 13th district in Los Angeles for almost seven years, has taken home at least $1.1 million taxpayer dollars since first stepping into the office on June 29th, 2013. He is not the only council member with these earnings. Go and see for yourself at the L.A. City Employee Payroll website.

Mitch O’Farrell’s Salary from 2013 – 2018
The 13th District: Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown, Rampart Village, East Hollywood, Hollywood, Little Armenia, and more.

During those same five years, more than 10,000 residents in the city of Los Angeles lost their homes due to high rent, low wages, and unemployment, ending up on L.A.’s streets.


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