YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Meetings Are Running Right Off Schedule

January 26, 2006|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

The new president of the Los Angeles City Council, Eric Garcetti, convened the first meeting of the year Jan. 11 at 10:01 a.m. -- just one minute late.

The significance: Council meetings begin on time about as often as Halley's Comet shows up.

For two-plus hours, the meeting crisply proceeded as council members argued over policy.

Then, a woman stepped to the podium, held up a pair of singed pants and claimed they belonged to a friend who "spontaneously combusted" at the giant Playa Vista housing complex.

And all was well in the universe again.

Question: How long did the council's newfound discipline last?

Answer: Six whole days!

On Jan. 17, the council also managed to convene its meeting on time, but spent the next 50 minutes praising and being praised by outgoing council President Alex Padilla.

"You're not just a Rhodes scholar in your intellect, you're a Rhodes scholar in your heart," Padilla said to Garcetti, the former Rhodes scholar who deposed him as president and then whacked his mentor and ally Tony Cardenas from three key committees.

At another juncture, Padilla thanked Jack Weiss' empty chair -- Weiss wasn't in the room -- for recommending the book "Moneyball," saying that "it has changed my thinking about baseball forever."

Q: What in tarnation is "Alger gear?"

A: To help finance his state Assembly campaign, Jim Alger is selling 32 types of "Alger gear" on his website,, to raise money for his campaign.

There's a stuffed bear wearing an "Elect Alger" T-shirt ($25.99); 20 styles of shirts with Alger's name on them; a clock featuring Alger's face ($21.99); and what appears to be a seat cushion -- sit on the candidate! -- but is actually a tile coaster.

"We sold a couple hundred bucks worth of clocks," Alger said. "That people actually buy some of this is funny as heck."

Alger, president of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, is running as a Democrat in the 38th District and faces an uphill battle against Cameron Smyth, a Republican member of the Santa Clarita City Council.

A frequent critic of Councilman Greig Smith -- and someone not exactly soft-spoken -- the 35-year-old Alger said he wants to serve in the state Assembly and then run for City Council, probably in 2011, when Smith is termed out.

Only 1,870 days or so until election day, but is anyone besides Alger counting?

Q: How did Los Angeles' float fare in the Rose Parade?

A: Not so well. But at least it didn't break down.

The float -- featuring a small yellow Victorian house symbolizing L.A.'s architectural legacy -- failed to win a prize. L.A. floats have won eight prizes in 75 years and one in the last five.

Smallvilles such as Cerritos, Torrance and Ontario have won four prizes apiece in the last five years. St. Louis has won three over that span and St. Louis isn't even in California!

There are two issues here: money and civic pride, both of which seem to be in short supply.

In December 2003, in a tight budget year, the City Council considered axing funding for L.A.'s float during discussions about trying to close a projected budget shortfall of over $100 million.

Responsibility for the float was shifted to the city's tourism bureau. Officials there said they raised $120,000 to build this year's float.

"We are always trying to be up there with the other award recipients -- we know that L.A. is America's creative capital and we want to make sure that what we're putting out there is well received," said Christopher Heywood, communications manager for the tourism bureau.

Luckily, according to Tournament of Roses estimates, hardly anyone watches L.A.'s can-do attitude in the Rose Parade ... only 40 million Americans and folks in 150 countries and territories around the world.

Q: Will the San Diego Chargers be moving to L.A. anytime soon?

A: The Chargers announced last week that they wouldn't put a proposal for a new stadium on the November ballot because they couldn't find a development partner for a new ballpark.

Some media have interpreted that to mean the Chargers could be L.A.-bound by the 2009 season, playing in a renovated L.A. Coliseum.

Not so fast, said Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who has helped spearhead efforts to land a team in the city. He believes that the NFL sees California as a growth market and wants five teams in the state.

That would mean keeping existing franchises in San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco and adding teams in L.A. and Orange County, Parks said.

If the Chargers move, here's something local fans can look forward to: The NFL schedule has the Chargers hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009.

That would mean USC hero and Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer, with his recently rebuilt knee, would return to the Coliseum and rake over the newly renamed L.A. Leafblowers.

Q: If you are standing on the curb at Terminal One at LAX, what are the chances that 30 minutes will pass before a shuttle bus to Parking Lot C arrives?

Los Angeles Times Articles