Paul Taka

Corruption at City Hall won’t end without campaign finance reform

FBI agents removed items from L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar's Boyle Heights residence during a raid in 2018. <span class="copyright">(Los Angeles Times)</span>
FBI agents removed items from L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar’s Boyle Heights residence during a raid in 2018. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: For far too long, Los Angeles City Council members have handed out high-value zoning and land-use exemptions to deep-pocketed developers, and I share the L.A. Times Editorial Board’s conviction that this must stop.

But I take issue with your observation that councilmembers’ “unchecked power over land-use decisions” constitutes the “larger problem.”

Granted, approvals for projects like the Arts District high-rise you mention in your editorial violate the rule of law, undermine real planning and disfigure the city. But the larger problem is the inherently corrupt practice of funding campaigns with donations from special interests.

Developers are not the only special interest benefiting from the city’s pay-to-play system. The dependence of officeholders on their campaign donations enables police unions to evade transparency and accountability and allows numerous public employee unions to “negotiate” indefensible pay schemes and unsustainable retirement benefits.

Until we step up with public campaign funding, we will continue to get the best government money can buy.

Shelley Wagers, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: The Editorial Board’s suggestions for ending corruption at City Hall are all good, although I think they live on the edge of the problem. Here are three that I believe go to the core.

First, publicly funded elections would prevent institutional bribery through campaign contributions.

Second, public oversight of council members’ private finances would ensure that any unexplained influxes of

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Abinader claims victory in Dominican Republic presidential race

Santo Domingo (AFP) – Opposition candidate Luis Abinader has claimed victory in the Dominican Republic’s presidential race after voters on Sunday braved a worsening coronavirus outbreak to cast their ballots for a new leader and legislature.

Abinader’s rivals and the outgoing president also recognized his win, which ends 16 years of unbroken rule by the Caribbean nation’s center-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

“We won, today we win, but we will never forget who we owe this victory to,” the 52-year-old businessman said from a platform before dozens of followers at his campaign headquarters in the capital Santo Domingo.

“We owe it to you, the Dominican people. That is why tonight we all won.”

According to data from the central electoral board after around 60 percent of ballots had been counted, Abinader gained around 1.2 million votes — around 53 percent.

The PLD’s candidate Gonzalo Castillo came second in a six-man field, with 838,000 votes — or 37 percent — according to the incomplete figures.

Castillo said the official count “shows that there is an irreversible trend and that from now on we have a president-elect… Our congratulations to Mr. Luis Abinader.”

Outgoing President Danilo Medina also accepted the businessman’s victory, tweeting his “congratulations to the new president-elect @LuisAbinader.”

Abinader’s win was is yet to be formally announced by the electoral board.

Gunfire outside a polling station in the capital left one person dead after an argument among opposing party activists turned violent, police said.

But elsewhere, voting appeared to progress

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NASA funds small-business ideas ranging from AI medicine to plumbing for the moon

NASA says it’ll fund more than 400 ideas from small businesses, aimed at creating technologies ranging from plumbing fixtures suitable for the moon to AI-based medical assistants that can provide “an extra pair of trained eyes” for crews on Mars.

The contracts will provide about $51 million to 312 small businesses in 44 states and Washington, D.C., to support the development of technologies that could come in handy for space exploration or Earth-based applications.

“NASA depends on America’s small businesses for innovative technology development that helps us achieve our wide variety of missions,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a news release. “Whether we’re landing Artemis astronauts on the Moon, sending rovers to Mars or developing next-generation aircraft, our small business partners play an important role.”

Six Washington state businesses are among the recipients of Phase I contracts under NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, or SBIR. Two more teams, pairing up businesses and universities, will receive Phase I contracts in the Small Business Technology Transfer program, known as STTR.

Each contract is worth up to $125,000. SBIR contracts last for six months, while the STTR contracts last for 13 months. Depending on their progress, Phase I companies could be win additional support during follow-up SBIR/STTR phases.

Here are the six Washington state proposals funded through SBIR:

  • Jeeva Wireless, Seattle: Developing protocols an ultra-low-power backscatter networking platform that can synchronize timestamping on a scale of microseconds between sensors and a wireless hub/aggregator. Such
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Inside the lavish lives of the billionaire family behind Boohoo, the fast-fashion giant called out in an investigation into workers being paid just $4 an hour at suppliers’ factories

Mahmud Kamani (L) is photographed with rapper Snoop Dogg, business partner Carol Kane, and his son, Samir.
Mahmud Kamani (L) is photographed with rapper Snoop Dogg, business partner Carol Kane, and his son, Samir.

Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for bohooo

  • Boohoo is the UK’s fast-growing fast-fashion retailer that was set up in 2006 by Mahmud Kamani and his business partner Carol Kane and is now valued at more than $4.3 billion

  • The company has come under intense scrutiny this month after a Sunday Times investigation found that a factory supplying its clothes was paying workers as little £3.50 ($4.37) an hour and flouting COVID-19 social distancing rules.

  • The company said it is investigating the report and described the conditions as “totally unacceptable.”

  • Here’s the story of Kamani, the man behind the empire, and his glamorous life with his wife and three sons. 

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The rise of the Kamani family is frequently described by the British tabloids as one of the UK’s great “rags to riches” tales. 

Mahmud Kamani, the patriarch of the family, is the 55-year-old billionaire behind Boohoo, the UK’s fast-fashion clothing company that has achieved explosive growth in the past few years and is considered to be one of the few retailers to have dodged the retail doom and gloom. 

Kamani, who is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country and has worked his way up the UK’s rich list to be worth just over $1 billion, started his career by selling cheap clothes to market stallholders and high-street brands in the UK

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