But what does it really mean to be a good fiscal watchdog in the city of Los Angeles? As a long-time city commissioner and community leader, I have found that the biggest demonstration of strong leadership is the willingness to stand up to the powerful corporate interests and their lobbyists, who continue to dominate most of the decisions made at City Hall.
In 2012, “clients” spent more than $35 million on lobbyists hired to influence City Hall decision-makers. For-profit corporations accounted for more than $31 million of that. Unions spent less than $700,000 on paid lobbyists. The list of companies paying lobbyists to represent their interests at City Hall is a Who’s Who of corporate America.
After spending more than $1.6 billion, Tesco, the world’s third- largest food retailer, has finally thrown in the towel and announced the closure of its Fresh & Easy stores. This move brings closure to the British company’s effort to establish a foothold in California’s highly competitive grocery industry. Many analysts believe this decision has been a long time coming, with Fresh & Easy stores never seeing the kind of market penetration that the U.K.-based giant expected from the chain. Investors cheered the December 5 announcement, but U.S. workers have reason to celebrate too — this marks the end of a five-year struggle with Tesco.
Like most new entrants into the grocery market field, Tesco planned to operate non-union. Indeed, a Tesco employee-relations director described the primary responsibilities of that job in an advertisement as “maintaining non-union status” and “union avoidance activities.” The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) sought to organize the company,