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Unclassified Info: Agency's demise is an interesting development

January 09, 2012

Well, now that the floats are dismantled, the decorations are stored and we are beyond the gluttony of the holidays, it’s time to turn our attention back to matters of civic interest. Let’s start with Assembly Bill 1x 26, better known as the demise of local redevelopment agencies.

In theory, getting rid of redevelopment agencies is supposed to save the state nearly $2 billion in the next fiscal year. And if Gov. Jerry Brown is true to his word, some of that money will go to schools, law enforcement and fire departments around the state. Again, in theory this sounds like good news.

Of much interest to me is how little public outcry there has been on the matter. Admittedly, I’ve spent vast amounts of recent column space waxing nostalgic about papier-mâché elephants and Christmas decorations while paying little attention to the slow, lingering death of our redevelopment agency. But my excuse has its roots in disdain with a subtle hint of “It’s about time!”

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Sure, objections have trickled in from people whose livelihood depends on the existence of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency. I would expect nothing less. When General Motors shut down its Saturn division in 2009, I was laid off because I happened to be working on the advertising account. Needless to say, I was probably more vociferous about the state of GM than most people in Southern California.

So I can empathize with redevelopment employees who are worried about possible pink slips and the obligatory cake-and-punch farewell party. It probably wasn’t a very happy holidays knowing what is coming in the next few months.

For the rest of us with no real investment in redevelopment agencies, there seems to be real apathy associated with whether this particular bureaucratic limb gets saved or amputated. Well, that might not be entirely true.

Super developers like Eli Broad and our own dear leader, Rick Caruso, are probably bummed out on a large scale. Land barons like the aforementioned have had a pretty good time at the expense of redevelopment agencies around the state.

Broad has had a field day in Los Angeles getting the city to pony up big money to help get his museum and the surrounding area fixed up. And as for Caruso? Well let’s just say he’s done all right suckling off our city coffers.

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