Well it’s settled, signed sealed and delivered, written in stone…and thoroughly peed on by all who felt the need to make their mark on the thing:
Just before 1 pm today, the Los Angeles City Council voted to officially take all the city’s gang prevention and intervention programs and move the whole kit and kaboodle to the mayor’s office for oversight.
In act of transparent face-saving, Councilman Tony Cardenas made the needed motion using glowing terms that suggested that the idea of shifting control of the programs from the City Council to Villaraigosa’s office was his all along—never mind the fact that he’s been fighting the idea tooth, nail and press release ever since Controller Laura Chick made the transfer recommendation in her February report.
It was Controller Laura’s contention (and Connie Rice’s before her) that having the programs strewn among various city agencies made adequate oversight impossible (hence things like the No Guns scandal). Chick further pointed out that, if the city’s budget-challenged gang funds were to be used effectively, they needed to be consolidated under a single roof, and the most logical roof was that of the mayor’s office.
Cardenas, who has positioned himself as the Council’s gang guy (and despite his annoying behavior seems to genuinely care about the issue), is the chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development, a body that has managed in 2 years to do little more than spawn a gang intervention subcommittee, which itself spent nearly a full 11 months settling on a definition of gang intervention—and not a very good one at that. (I say this with all kindness and affection since some of the gang intervention players I most like and respect are on this $#$&^%$#* subcommittee, but too many cooks…..yadda, yadda, yadda.)
Yet, despite the fact that his own committee was displaying increasing signs of terminal dysfunction, Cardenas refused to cede power (and accompanying budget) to the mayor.
A City Hall source told me today that City Council Prez Eric Garcetti was the main person who managed to sit Cardenas down and slap some sense into him about abandoning his increasingly indefensible turf battle.
There was also another teensy, weensy event on the horizon that prodded Cardenas to cease his non-stop roadblocking. And that was the inconvenient fact that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reportedly intends to make gang violence reduction the center piece of his State of the City message to be delivered on Monday. And once the mayor put forth his own gang plan, Cardenas territorial foot-dragging would look more foolish than ever.
Faced with the aforementioned realities, yesterday Cardenas said the equivalent of “maybe. I’ll think about it,” as David Zahniser at the LA Times reported here.
But, what David Z did not spell out is that Cardenas demanded a 18-22 month “sunset clause,” which would have meant that at the end of 18 months or two years, even if the programs were working just swimmingly under the mayor, they would automatically revert back to council control.
In response to this so-called compromise Chick rightly said, .Oh, he-e-ell, no (or words to that effect)
So today Cardenas finally read the political graffiti on the wall, got religion, and embraced he relevant motion that authorized a transfer of power (with a review but not a Sunset clause), as if it was his baby all along.
“The Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development has been meeting regularly for over two years carefully reviewing all gang intervention, prevention, re-entry and youth development programs [and so on and so on and so on]….” began the motion.
“We have come to the conclusion that it is necessary for the Los Angeles City Council to move toward the immediate restructuring and consolidation of gang intervention……. [blah, blah, blah]….”authorize the Mayor to begin the consolidation of…”
You get the picture.
In other words, Tony Cardenas did the right thing for the wrong reasons. But that’s okay. With gang members still daily blowing horrific holes in the lives of LA families and communities and throwing away their own futures in the process, we’ll take this much needed move any way we can get it.
PS: The shape of new agency at the mayor’s office has yet to be outlined. Will LA Gang Czar Jeff Carr run the thing? While smart, sincere, honorable and knowledgeable, Carr has yet to distinguish himself as the savvy political player needed to lead such an endeavor, so some feel that having a strong administrator to support Carr’s field and inter-agency liaison work might be a good combo.
Likely we’ll know more on Monday. So stay tuned.