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Madeline Janis in the headlights

Jim Newton's Stoli shot on Madeline Janis, followed quickly by K-Rod's water back, has sent a few lagging googlers scrambling for more 411 on LAANE, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

Newton, again sluggish on facts and long-toothed on opinions, suggests Janis is a victim of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

In fact, Janis is a key cog on machines privileged and dispossessed alike.

Witness her CRA vote affirming the Broad museum last August. Yes, Janis is not only a lobbyist for the poor, but a CRA commissioner for the privileged, with her fingers on the snaps of one of LA's largest and most developer-friendly agencies.

Janis's own words in justifying her vote:

Well, it's time to come clean. I plead guilty. I represent special interests.

That's right, I am an unapologetic advocate for interests who stand to gain from my position as an appointed volunteer public official for the City of Los Angeles.

Before anyone picks up the phone and calls the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, I should clarify one thing: the special interests I support are rather large in number and might be surprised to find out that they are seen as special interests at all.

In fact, the people whose interests I work to protect are L.A. County's 3.7 million low-income taxpayers and residents, who don't have lobbyists and who mostly can't take time off from work to attend public meetings.

In the brave new world invented by those who cry "conflict of interest" whenever those at the bottom try to lay claim to the promise of the American Dream, they are labeled "special interests," as if they were no different than BP or Goldman Sachs.


So Eli Broad's will becomes conflated with the poor and oppressed of Los Angeles, and LA's 3.7 million poor stand to benefit from the elitist Broad Museum.

Only double-dipping Madeline Janis could come up with that one.

These accusations of the critics are not new. Janis is both a lobbyist AND a figure in civic government. Make no mistake: she is both. And Ms. Janis goes so far as to say, repeatedly, that indeed she does represent a special interest, which, in her mind, is OK, because it's on behalf of people who she says don't have lobby representation.

(In fact the SEIU, which routinely represents such people, is the most entrenched lobby in Los Angeles. I don't mind that fact, but let's not kid ourselves either.)

The researchers need not go beyond the public record. They could easily jump Janis's work on the CRA, an agency that now prioritizes job creation over neighborhood revitalization, as political fodder for whatever they hope to achieve.

The CRA's recent prioritizing of job creation (which it does extremely poorly) over neighborhood revitalization (which it does spottily) has ultimately wrought havoc on its own income stream, because as the income from old projects phased out, the streams haven't been replaced by new meaningful indexed property tax revenue.

This all works as a two-sided squeeze on City Council regarding low-wage worker issues: they get the SEIU coming from the campaign side and now the CRA/LAANE asking for the very same things, yet coming from the government side.

And Newton wonders why there's inquiry? Janis works both right and left alike, all in the name of her own "special interests" which too often conflate with the interests of the almighty, and many who work the local realm are fed up with all of this.

As an aside, the idea of a museum producing good jobs, including jobs for the poor, is simply tortured logic, as museum staffers are among the most consistently overeducated class of workers in America. We may produce fifty security guard slots, and fifty cafeteria workers slots. And what else? Even most programmers and education people at a museum have MA's.

So who needs a background check? Get Janis off of the CRA, and she has less impact at LAANE. But let LAANE alone. That seems fair.

And while you're at it, right wing conspirators, take out the CRA, as Jerry Brown wants you to, if only for the sake of letting Newton catch up with what actually goes on around town.