Randy Economy: Fighting Corrupt Politicians for Years.

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@EconomyRadio Follow Randy Economy on Twitter!
Follow Randy Economy on Twitter @EconomyRadio

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thanks Tim Cavanaugh from Reason.com for your plug today

Reason's Tim Cavanaugh.....
1. The downfall of Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez continues. In May, I wrote about the arrest of Noguez underling Scott Schenter in a scheme wherein West Side property owners would pay a fixer to arrange lower tax assessments. Now two more high-ranking officials in the assessor's office have been gotten the axe. The wonderfully named Randy Economy breaks the story in Los Cerritos Community Newspaper

Mark Mc Neil, who is the West District Division Chief and his counterpart Andrew Stephens who oversees the East District operation for the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office have been removed from their positions.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper obtained a copy of an internal memo late Tuesday afternoon under the direction of Santos Kriemann, Chief Deputy Assessor that confirmed the move.
LCCN published hundreds of internal emails between Stephens and McNeil during the past several months that outline their close working relationship with several private tax agents who represent multimillion dollar property owners in Los Angeles County including Ramin Salari, who is one of the key figures involved into a massive criminal probe that alleges “pay to play” allegations by members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Kriemann said in the email that “after careful consideration of the department’s current management assignments, and in an effort to encourage a collegial environment of collaboration and mutual respect, I have concluded that changes are needed.”
Noguez is a California type: a supremely corrupt official with an eventful history of ethical violations (including repeated use of assumed names and credible reports of threats and physical harassment against opponents when he was mayor of Huntington Park) who also manages to lack the color and charisma you'd expect of an accomplished crook. For me it all comes back to the mania for maintaining an artificially inflated real estate market
The grownup thing might be to say “Hey, even Jesus hung out with corrupt tax collectors,” and leave it at that. But it’s illustrative of how far from a free market real estate has wandered that you have to bribe public officials to get a lower assessment in a county where 30 percent of all mortgages are underwater. It’s true that the West Side, where Noguez’ office is said to have done much of its business, has less negative equity than other parts of L.A. County. But this interactive map from the L.A. Times (a fine national newspaper), shows Santa Monica’s beachfront zip code with 20 percent negative equity, Brentwood with 11 percent, Malibu with 16 percent and Marina del Rey with 21 percent. 
Here in the land of the million-dollar starter home and the half-million-dollar teardown, in an era that has given us the deathless phrase “repenetrated bottom,” the idea that real estate can only go up remains so stubborn that we don’t even have language to describe the decline. Predictably, local pols are agitating for re-assessments, and I'm guessing they don't expect those assessments to be lower than Schenter's.
Nationwide, housing will mark its sixth straight year of deflation next month. Yet to this day you only get in trouble if you say a house has lost value. If you pretend the price is still inflated, nobody will bother you.

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1 comment:

Michael Crosby said...

Hey Randy,

Very cool. I got linked backed to you via Instapundiit, via Reason. Good work.