The local former fishwrap of record known as the Los Angeles Times devotes premium space trying to blow the cover off a petty-cash problem at a not-for-profit this morning:
Sam Zell. But this is an irresponsible article in two ways.
One is the scale here: a mere $165,000 a year expenditures are in question. (The City of Los Angeles is facing a $30,000,000 a month deficit; and the Times itself, of course, is in a billion dollar bankruptcy, thanks to the irresponsible acquisition of Tribune Co. by one Sam Zell.) And yet the Times is zeroing in on a tangential organization that at the end of the day spends exactly what it takes in: a chunk of change that couldn't keep a land-use attorney's family fed through April.
The other way in which this article is irresponsible is in raising the expectation of meaningful results for this nonprofit each year, rather than long term. We are talking the development of affordable housing. The viability of government- or workforce-assisted affordable housing development remains economically highly debatable, with in the best case some lottery-like results for the few administered over the course of years. But the idea that an organization can develop meaningful affordable housing units without consultants, and make progress every year, all for $165,000, which is below the price of a single unit, is patently ludicrous. Affordable housing development sometimes takes up to a decade before results are realized.
This kind of story is exactly the kind of story that got the Times in the place it is in now. It's Doug Dowie, it's Pellicano, it's an errant parish priest---it's the petty and vindictive LA Times news staff, aiming low at petty cash swindlers because editors have lost the will and the ability and adequate management of the art of political access to investigate truly shady government and truly shady big business practices.
Of all the affordable housing tales to tell around town, this one is the lowest of all hanging fruit. Again, again: shame on the Los Angeles Times.