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Mimosas on the Terrace


A billion? For us? Really? Good job, girlfriend!


Essel's arrogance, Essel's peril: The CRA board directed agency head Chris Essel to move nearly a billion dollars to City coffers last week, and neither she nor anybody at the agency validated to the public one cent of the end-around disbursement of tax-funded money to the municipality. The question now is, will State Attorney General Kamala Harris be forced to bring charges against Essel and the agency? Essel, who knew almost nothing about redevelopment when Mayor Villaraigosa appointed her to head the agency last year, may even find herself facing criminal charges should she fulfill the sudden, belligerent, kleptocratic order of the CRA's board and disperse the funds in the way the board has instructed her to.

Meanwhile, Ryan Vaillancourt in the Downtown News says that Essel's legal team is trying to counter with a favorable reading of last year's Proposition 22, which the voters passed in support of redevelopment agencies. It won't likely fly, because while the State cannot confiscate what it has earmarked, the State is indeed empowered to eliminate what it created: redevelopment agencies themselves. “If the legislature [simply] eliminated redevelopment agencies, then it’s just property tax,” the Brown budget office contends.

[Essel also fed Vaillancourt quite a line when she touted the Agency's "success" by comparing the downtown zone's property value in 1975 to today--a tenfold valuation increase. Check what your own home was worth in 1975 and see if you can't slash a zero off of what it's worth today and arrive at a similar success story.]

At any rate, it's worth recalling that the Times would not give any of the Mayoral candidates who advocated abolishing the CRA any coverage in the last Mayor's race. Not even two years later, the fishwrap is giving Jerry Brown's plan to abolish redevelopment agencies across the State a surfeit of attention.

One veteran politician told us last week that the timing of Brad Smith's withdrawal from the CD 12 race is entirely consistent with a credible departure for personal reasons. "Fifty-some days away is both a long ways away and no time at all," the pol said. "You look at that timeframe and if you're way behind, it's, like, 'what's the point?'"

Two well-trafficked items appeared here over the past two days. Here is our item on Greig Smith and Enterprise Zones. And here is our item about David Zahniser's neo-Rovian coverage of the CD 14 race.