Corruption vs Corruptionism: How Garcetti’s LA Has Become a Fact-Free Zone

CORRUPTION WATCH-Corruption is dishonest or fraudulent conduct by individuals in power, typically involving bribery. “Corruptionism” denotes a system, be it political, economic or social. There are tons of “isms” -- Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, etc., and the one most near and dear to Angelenos: “Garcettism.” 

Under Corruptionism, the individual is not the wrongdoer but rather the system itself is corrupt. In fact, in such a system as Garcetti’s Los Angeles, individuals may want to be honest, but Garcettism makes that impossible. Here’s a brief refresher. 

Each councilmember is forced to always vote “Yes” for every project another councilmember places on the city council agenda. Since Garcetti began as City Council President in 2006, his vote trading system has been criminal. Penal Code § 86 expressly mentions city councils in its prohibition of buying votes with return votes. The legislature reasoned that there is no difference between bribing in money and bribing by a return vote. 

Since 2006 tens of thousands of criminal votes have been cast. Over 99.8% of all projects pass unanimously in the LA City Council. The term “unanimously” is important since it shows that individual projects are not being okayed by old-time horse trading, where projects would have split votes, some passing with a bare majority with others losing. Ten thousand consecutive projects have been approved by unanimous Yes votes. This means a Yes vote is mandatory. 

The advantage for a developer is that he only has to buy the mayor and one councilmember to have a guarantee that his project will be unanimously approved. Without the vote trading system, no councilmember could make such a guarantee of passage, forcing developers to round up at least 50% plus one councilmembers. That would be very difficult and very expensive. 

In case anyone has any doubt that the criminal vote trading systems exists, Judge Richard Fruin accepted as true the allegations of its existence when he ruled in December 2016 that the City is above the law and that its criminal vote trading system and its violations of the Brown Act were “non-justiciable.” When a corrupt city and a corrupt judiciary cooperate, everyone else suffers. 

An Individual Honest Politician is Powerless 

If a Los Angeles City Councilmember is not a crook, he is powerless. If he starts voting against construction projects in other districts, he will find that nothing he wants is approved. Each councilmember must face reality, “If I buck this corrupt system, there will be nothing I can do for my constituents.” Any realistic person also knows that under Garcettism, the result will be that city services for his district will dry up -- no trees will be pruned, no sidewalks will be repaired, no streets will be re-paved. 

How Garcettism Has Impacted Los Angeles 

As mentioned previously, the December 2013, 2020 Commission report stated that LA was already headed into a steep decline, and since then, everything has become worse. We have the worst traffic congestion in the world, we have among the highest housing costs in the nation, we have a huge drop in transit ridership yet we are spending billions more in tax dollars to expand a doomed system. In addition, we are losing Family Millennials at an alarming rate and this new middle class will not return after they build lives in Nashville or Austin; employers are avoiding Los Angeles, we are the most park poor large city in the nation, and our GINI Coefficient (which measures income disparity) is among the highest in the nation. A high GIN Coefficient indicates a high level of corruptionism, but GINI Coefficients are a complicated subject. 

Garcettism Has Resulted in Constant Decline 

Eric Garcetti was first elected in 2001 and gained real power as City Council President in 2006.  Thus, he is the person most responsible for Los Angeles’ extreme deterioration. Does he take any responsibility for his 17-year reign? No. 

On the sycophantic Conan Nolan’s Channel 4 News Conferenceon Sunday, April 22, 2018, both Nolan and Garcetti blamed the rise in homelessness on criminals. The subtext of their carrying on about the huge criminal element was not subtle: homeless = criminals. While Garcetti claims that the release of nonviolent offenders is the cause of an increase in homelessness, both he and Nolan do not mention that the rise in homelessness began long before the state began to release prisoners after the passage of Props 47 and 57. 

Also, neither mentioned that the increase in homelessness parallels Garcetti’s policies to destroy poor people’s homes to construct luxury apartments. Close to 25,000 rent-controlled units have been destroyed since 2001 and the criminal vote trading system in Garcetti’s City Hall has unanimously approved each replacement project that required a council vote.  

Twenty-five thousand rent-controlled units would house about 60,000 people, which is more than all the homeless in the city. Garcettism is making Los Angeles a fact-free zone. Nolan only has one question for Garcetti: “Will you tell us again how wonderful you are?” 

Crime Does Pay! 

Whoever said that crime does not pay was a propagandist for corrupt politicos. Of course, crime pays -- when you own the government. That is the essence of Corruptionism – a few of the super wealthy buy the government and all the government’s decisions are designed to make the super-wealthy into the super-duper wealthy. That is one reason LA’s terrible GINI Coefficient is pertinent – when the spread between the poorest and the 1% becomes greater, there is corruptionism.  

The reality is that the top 1%, aka the Davos Set, do not add more to society’s productivity than the other 99%. They merely have the power to steal and the power to make certain they are not prosecuted. Thus, any city like Los Angeles, where the top 1% is constantly getting a larger share of the wealth, is a city based on corruptionism. 

If other Americans want to see how a government cons the people while helping the top 1% steal our productivity, all they have to do is watch Garcettism in action.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.