Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Snickers for the Council

September 23, 2003

Pity Bob Hope wasn't around last week. The late master of the withering one-liner would have found lots of material watching the Los Angeles City Council bumble from tiny topic to parochial concern.

Take the council vote banning lap dancing. Goaded mostly by one neighborhood, council members thundered about nearly nude women gyrating over customers within moaning distance of homes and about X-rated activity spilling onto sidewalks. The council couldn't ban the acts outright any more than it could shut dozens of porn movie studios in the city. But instead of using common sense and existing laws to curb prostitution and illegal parking, it created a made-for-television circus. So, as Hope might have said with a smirk, let's get this straight: While gang bullets flew near schools, council members for months parsed the permissible distance between dancers and customers?

Speaking of movies, an audit released last week provided dismaying new details of the cost of council inattention to one of the city's bread-and-butter industries. The audit identified more than $1 million in expenses paid to Cody Cluff, former president of the agency created to keep film production in the county and make local shoots less disruptive to residents. He awaits trial on charges of embezzlement, forgery and misappropriation of public funds. City Council members, county supervisors and others make up the board of the agency, the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. But current and former council members, indignant over Cluff's deeds, admit they almost never attended board meetings or monitored the agency's budget when he lavished its money on country club memberships, strip club visits and gifts to his kids' high school. What one-liner might Hope have ripped over this?

And even Hope, who made merry about government spendthrifts, might have been hard-pressed to understand the council railing about city services to the entertainment industry. Sure, it started with grousing over $183,000 the city paid for police and traffic control at his memorial last month. That launched the council into a full-bore debate over whether to cover $75,000 in city costs for Sunday's Emmy Awards. The two events aren't comparable. The Emmys, along with the Oscars and Grammys, generate millions of dollars for L.A., and the Grammys have moved before to New York. Where's the perspective on what's key? And where's the leadership on a council that's trying hard to make itself the butt of its own zingers?

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|