Friday, October 28, 2016

I’ll meet you at Tom LaBonge Square

labonge square
LOS FELIZ — Only a few days before termed-out District 4 Councilman Tom LaBonge leaves office, some fellow council members want to give him a going away present: Tom LaBonge Square. The intersection of Tracy and St. George streets  next to John Marhsall High – LaBonge’s alma mater – would be named in his honor under a council motion presented by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.

LaBonge, who was the captain of the varsity football team, has maintained close ties to the campus since he graduated, helping repair the quake damaged school’s Gothic-style buildings and constructing a new football and track  field. The motion notes that LaBonge frequently asks local residents what high school they attended,  and, in response, ” he will correctly name the mascot.” Says the motion:

It is only appropriate that the intersection of Tracy and St. George streets be named after the proud Barrister alum and accomplished Councilmember TOM LABONGE for all his numerous contributions to John Marshall High School during his lifelong devotion to public service.

The motion, if adopted by the full council, would see the installation of permanent “Tom LaBonge Square” signs at the intersection.

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  1. It’s distasteful and tacky that politicians can get away with scratching each other’s backs this way by naming things in the city after each other.

    The proliferation of these “squares” is also indicative of the prevailing mindset of the current civic leadership of Los Angeles. Whereas a town square traditionally has meant an outdoor public space for community gatherings, these rink-a-dink “squares” are merely traffic intersections, as well as easy excuses for doling out “naming rights” without having to make any public improvements.

    If we’re going to continue going down this path of naming things after politicians while they’re still alive, we might as well pick objects and names more appropriate to their legacy. How about renaming the reconfigured Glendale-Hyperion Bridge as the “LaBonge-O’Farrell Auto Speedway”?

  2. While termed out Councilman LaBonge may soon qualify for a symbolic gesture of recognition, Councilman O’Farrell’s motion to rededicate a Los Feliz intersection for LaBonge is, at best, premature.
    At worst, O’Farrell’s motion uses the impending retirement of Councilman LaBonge to cloak an elevation of the LaBonge name appropriate only following a complete and comprehensive evaluation.
    Tracy Steet and St. George Street each boundary the John Marshall High School campus and they intersect adjoining the school’s main entrance.
    Thousands of parents and students will be confronted on a daily basis by the LaBonge memorial signage the City attaches to the renamed intersection.

    In effect, this particular placement attempts an elevation of LaBonge status to match or even usurp that of the school’s namesake, John Marshall –
    who was Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801 – 1835 and under whose tenure the Court established its Constitutional authority of Judicial Review and its coequal status with the Legislative branch and Executive branch of the Federal Government.

    The information required for vetting LaBonge’s record for memorializing alongside John Marshall cannot be obtained until he has left City Hall.

    An investigative reporter for a local newspaper has documented continued delay by LaBonge’s office to comply with a California Public Records information request concerning staff salary expenditures. This request needs to be met and time given for a review of the documents which are already past due the statutory compliance

    The final month’s and days of a Councilman’s term in office are laced with temptation to participate in less-than-honorable legislation sponsorship and administrative influence peddling.
    It will take some time following LaBonge’s departure from office to cull the record for ethically impaired LaBonge Council motions which may have flown under the radar.

    June 30 is Tom LaBonge final day on City Hall payroll and the last day of the City of L.A. Fiscal Year.
    The City Controller needs to close the books on the fiscal year before we can certify LaBonge’s final expenditures from discretionary spending accounts controlled by his office comport with standards equivalent to those associated with the record of John Marshall

    Tom LaBonge time at John Marshall High School as a student/football jock when paired with his status as an active Marshall High alumni/ booster creates a nice point for sentimental reference in friendly conversation.

    Mitch O’Farrell may believe a memorial to Tom LaBonge legacy of involvement with Marshall High School rates high visibility placement next to the school’s main entrance; however, it would be inappropriate to move forward without first vetting LaBonge’ complete council record and engaging Marshall High itself in an open process of consultation over placement of the LaBonge memorial. .

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