|Hopefully a one way ticket|
Probably one of the most heavily viewed articles we've posted in quite some time was called "Arcadia Officials Going On A Fully Paid Trip To China - Many Arcadia Residents Pray They Never Come Back" (link). We ran it on Feb 18, and in that piece was the following excerpt from that week's Arcadia City Council meeting agenda report:
"The City has been offered two donations, each in the amount of $10,000. One donation is from Companhia de Domercial Dingyuan Limitada, a, international trading firm based in Macau which is believed to have operations in the United States. The other is from Sichuan Arrow Recovery Tech Co. Ltd., an electronic waste recycling firm based in Sichuan, China, which is not believed to have operations in the United States but may receive recyclable goods from within the United States. Neither donor has previously done business directly with the City of Arcadia. However, one or more owners of each firm may have interests in real estate and development companies in the San Gabriel Valley that may operate in the City of Arcadia. More donations may be solicited as well , and the Council will be updated if and when additional donations are offered."
The notion that City Councilmembers, staff and their happy families might be accepting a very expensive trip to China from not only heavily capitalized foreign nationals with business interests in Arcadia, but also some of the very parties responsible for the out of control mansionization of that city, raised quite a few questions there.
On Feb 22 the Pasadena Star News printed a follow-up story to their previous investigations. Here is a screen shot of what the lead portion of that article looks like on their website. To read the entire piece click here.
This PSN piece also raised a lot of concern in Arcadia, especially from those who have come to believe that much of that city is practically being bought outright by nationals from a not always friendly foreign country as a place to launder dirty money and other smuggled assets. Mostly in the form of crass McMansions and other forms of predatory real estate investment.
I received the following email from one resident, someone with a lot of insight into the ethical and possibly legal ramifications of this suspiciously funded China junket for Arcadia's wayward city officials and their loved ones.
Some pretty good stuff. The Pasadena Star News article cited above also dug into the ethical and possibly legal ramifications of this potentially ugly conflict of interest.
When this news organization filed a Public Records Act request seeking the names of the business owners of each firm that donated funds, along with the real estate and development companies the individuals are affiliated with in the San Gabriel Valley, City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said he did not have that information.
“It isn’t our normal practice or policy to investigate unencumbered donations to the city,” he said via email. “In this case, we stopped asking for greater details when we opted to limit the amount of reimbursements for City Council members.”
Open-government advocate Gil Aguirre said the city’s vagueness about the origin of these funds is cause for concern.
“It’s problematic that elected officials who are making decisions about development in the city would be accepting money from organizations that do business in the city,” he said. “What’s even more problematic is when you have a city manager who can’t even tell you where the money came from.”
Los Angeles Ethics Commissioner Jessica Levinson, an attorney and professor at Loyola Law School, said the city should disclose the identities of those funding portions of the trip and what their interests are.
“Does it raise concerns or questions? Sure. Clearly these are people trying to influence our elected officials, but in the interest of transparency, it’s good for the public to know who they are.”
In a response to the city attorney’s request for informal advice about travel and gifts relating to the Political Reform Act, the California Fair Political Practices Commission stated that the facts provided by the City indicate the delegation would take tours to understand development and land use in the cities. The city would then use the information obtained to “market and seek investment into the city from Chinese and Taiwanese developers looking for real estate investment opportunities within the city.”
This information was not mentioned during the city manager’s report about the donations at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, nor was it listed in the accompanying staff report.
You know what the real deal might be, right? Asian capital and the interests that control it now have such pervasive control over Arcadia's land use decisions that they decided to fly their de facto City Hall functionaries to China for a series of home office meetings designed to detail just how they are to perform over the next few years.
To boil it all down to its core essence, Arcadia City Hall is for all intents and purposes owned, and the bosses decided it was time to make certain their investments are performing at the most optimum and profitable of levels. And a good way to do get that done is to arrange for a little face time with the employees.
That seems to me to be a likely possibility for the officials of what has become known in China as the "California Mistress City."
Last night's Sierra Madre City Council Meeting
I tried to watch it on my cell phone, and then my computer, but due to the ineptness of the third rate company the city contracts with for broadcasting such events both proved impossible. So I have no idea how things went. If I did I'd have posted about it.
However, here is an early comment posted here that indicated things did not go well.
If you have more info please share it here. I'm all ears.