What is it?
Every day driving home on Los Angeles' Southbound 101 freeway, I pass a weird convoluted mass of metal directly across the freeway from "Our Lady of the Angels," the Cathedral Cardinal Roger Mahoney built in downtown Los Angeles.
At first, I thought it was a parking structure which would be connected across the freeway to the Cathedral. Then as time went on, I thought it must be some public infrastructure project for the Department of Water and Power or an ugly antenna project.
But listening to drive-time radio, I finally found out it was a school. A very special school which is the project of the dysfunctional and cash-strapped Los Angeles Unified School District, home of the $1 BILLION high school complex that has yet to open after years of controversy, cost overruns and toxic land problems. (Of course, to be fair, hundreds of millions were spent to acquire the original site, build the school, demolish the school, change the site and build another high school.) The home of a $100 MILLION payroll system disaster. The home of incompetence, malfeasance or something more sinister, depending on whose version of the story you believe.
So what is it?
According to the Los Angeles Times...
"The futuristic metallic edifice, with a wraparound spiral Dr. Seuss would love, is not part of a theme park. It is the signature adornment on a new arts-oriented public high school that will cost roughly $230 million."
"In fact, The Times reported in 2003 that an ordinary high school with a no-frills budget was being planned until philanthropist Eli Broad lobbied school officials to 'redesign the Grand Avenue campus into an elaborate visual and performing arts school' with 'a soaring tower.' The Times went on to say that it would 'cost taxpayers at least $18 million extra and delay construction by a year."
"The Times reported that Broad had a behind-the-scenes role in the redesign and the selection of an Austrian architectural firm, and our crack team of reporters noted that the snazzy new high school would nicely complement the Grand Avenue revival that was one of Broad's babies."
"Broad denied exerting undue influence over the use of public funds back then, saying he was only trying to help the district build a marquee campus."
But like all other projects based on input from politically-connected patrons...
"But the cost of the project has gone from $30 million in 2001 for the standard-issue high school to roughly $200 million more for the new-and-improved version seven years later. The tower rises from a 950-seat performing arts theater, and this part of the project alone is priced at $49 million."
For the children?
So instead of building seven additional high schools for approximately $210 million, we have a single high school located in downtown Los Angeles that is going to cost upwards of $230 million dollars. All while the school district and unions are crying for additional money "for the children."
And considering the neighborhood, the children will be mostly of illegal alien parentage or children will be bussed-in (good conservation program) from other areas.
Special interests at work?
One of the names that is often mentioned during political campaigns for the Los Angeles Unified School District is that of billionaire Eli Broad who apparently must personally approve candidates or they are unlikely to get elected.
For those who do not recognize the name, Eli Broad was co-founder, with Don Kaufman, of Kaufman and Broad Homes (now KB Homes) and Sun Life, the insurance company. He is widely acknowledged to be a "hands on" philanthropist with interests in art and education. Both of which have apparently influenced the LAUSD project.
"Underscoring the Broads’ profound commitment to public museums and to the city of Los Angeles, Eli and Edythe Broad and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 2003 announced the Broads’ $60 million donation to create the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) at LACMA. This unprecedented gift encompassed three philanthropic goals: to ensure LACMA’s crucial role in the presentation of modern and contemporary art in Los Angeles; to bring a great architect to LACMA to help redress its architectural and functional problems; and most importantly to catalyze and advance the growth of Los Angeles as a global capital of contemporary art. The Broads’ gift was their largest gift to a single arts institution and the largest donation ever made to LACMA."
"Billionaire Eli Broad has used his extraordinary financial and political clout within the Los Angeles Unified School District to commandeer a planned downtown high school to suit his educational and architectural vision, the Daily News has learned. "
"At a time when LAUSD has launched a crash school-building program to relieve overcrowding and end year-round schedules, Broad has used his influence with school board members he helped elect and with Superintendent Roy Romer, who he hand-picked, to radically alter plans for a high school on the site of the district's old headquarters, according to numerous interviews."
"Plans for a traditional school intended to ease overcrowding in the district's most impacted area has been transformed into a FAME-like performing arts academy. The prominent local architect hired to design the school has been replaced by an international architect to create landmark buildings, consistent with Broad's goal of creating distinctive cultural structures downtown."
Political plausible deniability?
"While some actions have been taken in public, others have been made behind the scenes without board members even knowing.
Last month, for instance, after a quiet selection process conducted at The Broad Foundation in West Los Angeles by a panel partly put together and paid for by the foundation, the district hired Vienna architect Wolf Prix with Coop Himmelblau for $800,000."
Whoops, got that wrong...
LAUSD officials said the 1,584-seat high school remains on schedule for completion by the end of 2005, and can be built for the $72.3 million the board agreed upon in August.
Venture Philanthropy or Vulture Capitalists?
Every time I turn around, I see the same old names pop up. Many in connection with multi-million dollar self-serving deals involving the Los Angeles Unified School District and a cadre of high profile names. Eli Broad prominent among them. For some insightful reading about some of these men and their deals, I strongly suggest that you review Bill Ring's Guerrilla Guide to LA Unified.
Before you vote for the next educational bond offering or decide to elect public officials...
I would consider how the money is being spent and what special interests are interfering in the administration of public works. It is now time to turn off the free-running money spigot as we can plainly see that the majority of the taxpayer's money is not going to educate a single student or ease classroom crowding in the near future.
There are severe problems with our political system, which appears to have been corrupted on the local, state and national levels. With the taxpayer being played for a sucker.
What can YOU do?
On a day when the news media is preoccupied with the Hillary Clinton campaign disaster and Barack Obama's chances to beat John McCain, the special interests seem to be plundering our public treasuries, full-well-knowing that it really doesn't matter who wins the election, because they have given enough money to both side to remain influential enough to continue to pick the people's pockets.
Here in California, the next time Schwarzenegger pipes up and claims "it for the children," tell him to "put up or shut up." Demand to see the scores, demand to see the graduation ratios, demand to see the money trail between the school administrators and the special interests. And, above all, ask to meet the students to verify that they are the recipients of what they have been promised in the past.
I think of teachers standing in line at Staples, Office Max and Office Depot with bundles of school supplies in their hands... paid for with money coming directly out of their pockets -- after the taxman and the unions have taken their share. This is not right. Have a giant bureaucratic administration burden reflected in a $10 pencil which can be bought anywhere, by anyone for 50-cents or less is WRONG.
I think of Rob "Meathead" Reiner, a great director, but lousy far-left liberal spending millions of educational dollars, not on pre-school children, but on politically-correct "awareness" campaigns. More on Reiner can be found on capoliticalnews.com.
We are fast approaching an era of fiscal irresponsibility of "disaster" proportions. Whether it is at the federal, state or local levels, the system is being gamed for personal profit. This must stop now -- unless you are willing to allow your pockets to be picked by the already wealthy and powerful. Limousine liberals who pay no taxes and who purchase protection from the unpleasantness of daily life?
Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.
Quote of the Day: "Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting." --Napoleon Hill
A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…
The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS