I am (as you may have noticed) a "facts and figures" girl. I believe in numbers. There is no more perfect a world. I depend on them. That is why I was thrown for a loop when I attended the Los Angeles Economic Development Commission's (LAEDC's) 2007 Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook this week.
And the outlook wasn't so good. A bit of the local entertainment industry tanking, a bit about a slipping housing market, a bit about defaults and how to hedge your bets in the old investment department (I took notes on that last).
When Jack Kyser, Sr. Vice President and Chief Economist, LAEDC gave his presentation I was all ears. This was man after my own heart. His spreadsheets were impeccable and his data was strong and beautifully represented in elegant graphs. I had that very satisfying feeling of camaraderie with Mr. Kyser. I love that. You may guess where I am going here, but no. He was right on point with no qualifications. So why am I using the ambiguous "was". Here we go:
The numbers were solid and verifiable. Since I gave my seal of approval there, we were good to go. Until...
He moved to his conclusions. All would be well (or at least correctable), he assured us if we could avoid the influence of pie in the sky hopes. Enter...MR. UTOPIA! (and yes this was picture in the slide show). Kyser was one of the lucky ones, he could...read Mr. Utopia's mind! He started by telling us what Mr. Utopia likes: he likes beautiful renovated perfectly landscaped downtown revival, he told us? What else did this weird looking "Utopia" character like? How about ridiculously expensive, unrealistic projects, like restoring the Los Angeles River?
And what did Mr. "U" dislike? A place where business was driven out of downtown by no more cheap office space, effectively killing the whole job markets offered by the garment industry and the flower mart. He dislikes river development, he dislikes converting downtown buildings into lofts with sky high rents, etc. etc.
Everything would be okay he assured us, as long as we didn't fall for silly utopian dreams.
Apparently, the L.A. times agrees with Kyser. In a 2/2/07 article, Steven Hymon gave us "Costly L.A. River plan contains a raft of new ideas"
Hymon's opening paragraph starts out sounding like reporting but gives a "tell" of things to come (emphasis mine):
"Proposed $2-billion makeover of the ugly concrete waterway calls for a string of parks, housing and offices. After decades of enduring jokes about the city's concrete-lined waterway, officials today will release an ambitious master plan for restoring the Los Angeles River, a project that reflects lofty dreams and carries a big price tag."
Then the opinion piece begins:
At this stage, the plan is largely hypothetical. Most of the money has not been secured. Beautifying the river could be a hard sell in a city that chronically struggles to hire more police, repair streets and sidewalks, and find funding for transportation improvements.Sounds like the Times and Mr. "U' have the same idea: Going Green costs too much money, puts people out of good working class jobs and takes money away from essential policing and transportation budgets.
Well, at least the Oscar's were green (sort of)!
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