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Neighborhood Awards: Scheming, Lying, and Other Questionable Behavior

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The Year in Review posts march on. With this edition, we pay special attention to the neighborhood stories of 2009, the incidents that brought the best and worst in everyone.

Award for Crafty Protesting: Pissed off about a Tropicana supergraphic posted on the side of an office building in West LA, protesters showed up on a Sunday morning in front of the home of the building's owner, Frank Rahban. Bringing a miniature Tropicana supergraphic---plastered on the side of a truck--the protesters marched up and down the street, attracting attention in Rhaban's Brentwood neighborhood. Who knows why the sign is gone, but today Rahban's building on National Boulevard no longer has a large supergraphic (a smaller one is on the side).

Award for Choosing the Wrong Battle: Why go after a blogger? When a certain street artist decided to attack a popular Eastsider blogger after he put up an innocuous post, commenters jumped in, defending Eastsider LA.

Award for Audacious Lying: Supergraphic king Mike McNeilly told a federal judge that 118 buildings deserved to be grandfathered in under the city's old sign ordinance, but the LA Times went out and counted all the buildings McNeilly claimed deserved protection (and hence, allowed advertising) and found that 66 of those buildings didn't have signs. In the end, the judge allowed McNeilly to keep signs up on 18 buildings. Meanwhile, we've been patiently waiting all year for a real estate listing with a ratty Statue of Liberty in the background to show up...and there it is (pictured). Short sale off Wilshire, $730,000.
Award for Not Improving Street Life: We don't know why developer Geoff Palmer hasn't added any retail to the ground floor of his Orsini projects on Caeser Chavez. It could be the economy, but there are critics who say he keeps it empty to spite the city, which encourages developers to put in ground-floor retail. But Palmer has added some retail in other projects, so the spite argument may not hold water. Regardless, how about some actual stores in this stretch of Orsiniville?

Tuna Pizza Story Gets Tastier: Those alleged forced bribes to city council members from a developer over a proposed Temple City project went down in 2008. But that delicious story of the Mayor's door being kicked in by police? That happened in 2009. Make that former Mayor. The whole crew is now under indictment.

Everyone's a Puppet Award: Looking to pack a City Council meeting, a member of the Melrose Neighborhood Association offered $50 gift certificates to Whole Foods to anyone who would show up and oppose a proposed project at La Brea Avenue. At the hearing, the City Council initially refused to hear from anyone opposed to the project. But the council had just approved historical status for the Bob Marionette Theater, and as part of the hearing, the council members were entertained by dancing puppets. "They'll watch puppets, but not listen to homeowners," was the take-away from the La Brea group. Low point for everyone involved. But let's all strive to go lower in 2010, people---this stuff is highly entertaining.