Wednesday, March 10, 2010

“The Broad Effect”: Part Two

Read Part One here.
Because of his immense wealth and interest, billionaire Eli Broad is one member in a very small set of non-elected, extremely wealthy individuals who have acquired the power to determine U.S. public education policy and the future of our public education system. Most of the masses are not aware that public schools are being dismantled by the coup. For those who have caught on and are reading this, I offer you some information about him, all easily accessible on the internet. Just consider "The Broad Effect": Part Two my variation of the popular TV show, ""Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

The Inauguration Party thrown by Broad for President Obama
Broad, a longtime Democratic supporter, was so thrilled at the election of Barack Obama that he threw what was described as “the most exclusive dinner of the week” to salute his friends who are members of the new president's cabinet. As the New York Times reported:

Anyone who is anyone in Washington was at Tuesday night’s pre-ball dinner, thrown by the California billionaire Eli Broad at the Park Hyatt Hotel to honor members of the new Obama administration.
The guest list looked like a who’s who list of Washington old and new: Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama’s choice for secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton; Lawrence Summers, the former treasury secretary and new White House chief economics adviser; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; Arne Duncan, Mr. Obama’s pick for Education Secretary, Leon Panetta, the nominee for director of the C.I.A.; Vernon Jordan, the power lawyer, as well as media celebrities like Larry King and Charlie Rose.
Jim Horn at Schools Matter expressed the feelings of betrayal felt by many when Obama selected Arne Duncan:
While many of us were out busting our humps to gather up a few dollars and votes for the change we thought we could believe in, the Harvard boys were cutting backroom deals with the multi-billionaire oligarchs to fully engage their plan to corporatize American public education, beginning with the urban schools.

(If you clicked on Horn's link, did you enjoy looking at the photo of Arne Duncan hanging out with Broad at the party?)

Eli Broad’s living quarters, lifestyle, etc.

Eli Broad’s primary residence is on Oakmont Drive in Los Angeles. (Brentwood, zip 90049). This would give Broad about a 5 mile & 11 minute commute to the Broad Foundation’s headquarters located at 10900 Wilshire Blvd. (at the corner of Westwood and Wilshire, zip 90024).

In June 2009, Broad threw a party at his home in honor of the 40th anniversary of Art Basel, an international contemporary art exhibition ("the Olympics of the art world") held each year in Basel, Switzerland, and in Miami, Florida. W Magazine describes the event:
Almost everything about a recent dinner at Eli Broad’s Los Angeles home in honor of the 40th anniversary of Art Basel was outsize, starting with the estate itself. Visitors approached the mansion—designed in part by Frank Gehry—through a private sculpture park, then entered a sitting room the size of a hotel lobby before descending a stairway into a series of double-height galleries. “This is bigger than the Gagosian Gallery,” said fashion-world fixture Richard Buckley as he arrived at the first subterranean white cube, with its cranelike Calder sculpture and pair of giant Chuck Close portraits.
High-end art collectors like Eli Broad pursue collecting as a financial investment. The article continues:

Throughout the evening, Broad loomed almost as large. “Times are tough,” he allowed, when he rose to address his guests. “But we got a lot of great things in the early Nineties, which were also tough times.”
Look at a slideshow of the amazing art party here.

As an aside, Broad’s Brentwood residence is only about 10 minutes from the Getty Center, a stunning and relatively new major art museum. J. Paul Getty (1892-1976) was an American industrialist who founded the Getty Oil Company, making him one of the world’s richest-ever men. He was an avid art collector.

Incidentally, the Getty Center was designed by Richard Meier, the same architect who Broad commissioned to design a Malibu beach house in 1999. On Meier’s Web site, scroll down near the end to see several photos of the house which is located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu (zip 90265) along the famed Carbon Beach, “…the highest value beach neighborhood on Pacific Coast Highway…” where:

Homes here tend to be carefully designed by leading architects and adhere to very tasteful standards. Privacy has a high value along with insulation from PCH noise. Money, of course, is no object. When billionaire entrepreneur Eli Broad planned his Carbon Beach house he employed Getty Center architect Richard Meier to design a home on two adjoining parcels. Broad paid $2.5 million for one lot, then owned by Freddy DeMann, Madonna's former manager. It had 45 feet of beach frontage -- the 1952 three-bedroom 3,000-square-foot house was demolished. Next door was another 55 feet of beach frontage Broad bought for $2.6 million, including an 1,800-square-foot house built in 1955, also demolished.
But back in Brentwood...

In 2002, Barry Munitz sold a piece of Getty Trust-owned land to his close friend Eli Broad at a substantial discount. The LA Times reported the story:

The J. Paul Getty Trust sold a valuable piece of Brentwood real estate in 2002 for $700,000 less than its appraised value to billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a close friend and professional associate of Getty Chief Executive Barry Munitz, according to trust documents and officials.
Munitz directed his aides to delay listing the property so that he could discuss a transaction directly with Broad, despite what Getty records call "many requests to purchase the property," which is adjacent to Broad's hilltop estate.


Not long after Munitz took the Getty's helm, Broad invited Munitz to sail along the coast of southern France on his yacht, mixing recreation with visits to a string of small museums.
" 'Don't you think it would be nice if you actually knew something about what you are about to get into?' " Munitz recalled Broad, a noted art collector, teasingly asking him. Munitz came to the Getty with no background in the art world.
It was Munitz's first invitation to join Broad's "boat trip summers" and travels to such places as Croatia, Greece and Cuba with a circle of entrepreneurs and philanthropists. The group sometimes included then Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan and billionaire investor Ronald W. Burkle.
Back in Los Angeles, Munitz and Broad's collaborations in the arts, education and politics continued.

Did you notice Richard Riordan’s name popping up?
Riordan (b. 1930) is a longtime and good friend of Eli Broad (b. 1933). They have a strong common interest in LA civic and business affairs. Both are also strong promoters of charter schools and school choice, and, in particular these days, with supporting the candidacy of State Senator Gloria Romero for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Riordan served as Mayor of Los Angeles (1993–2001) and as the California Secretary of Education (2003–2005). Originally trained as a lawyer, he had become wealthy by founding a series of private equity firms which focused on venture capital investments and leveraged buyout transactions. Riordan ran for Governor of California unsuccessfully in 2002. The funding priorities of his foundation are listed as “…technology, school choice, and leadership development programs.”

Ravitch (p. 197) reminds us that, “Foundations exist to enable extremely wealthy people to shelter a portion of their capital from taxation...”

It is important to mention, that when Riordan was mayor, he employed Ben Austin as one of his Deputy Mayors. Austin, also once employed by Green Dot, has been serving as the Executive Director of the Parents Union (aka LAPU/aka Parents Revolution, a phony grassroots organization) for nearly two years. All those connections are reviewed here and here. (Maybe someday I'll write a book!)

In addition to yachting together in exotic locales, Riordan once owned a house next to Broad’s beach house along Malibu’s Billionaires Beach (aka Carbon Beach). It seems to now be officially owned by Riordan’s estranged wife, Nancy. At times, residents in this neighborhood have been annoyed with noisy, paparazzi-attracting parties thrown by the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton at beach houses which they've rented:
"On any given Monday morning, Eli Broad would be calling city hall with a list of what he'd had to put up with the previous weekend," said Jay Marose, a PR guru who worked alongside Fingerprint Communications in developing the Polaroid Beach House.

Billionaires Beach residents have also been annoyed by members of the masses who have demanded public beach access. That particular conflict seems to have been resolved:

Last Monday, two white wooden doors swung open for the first time onto Carbon Beach, courtesy of David Geffen, the DreamWorks co-founder, who owns a large shingled compound on the ocean and has the option of borrowing suntan lotion from billionaire neighbors like Eli Broad and Haim Saban. The mile-and-a-half-long beach, among the first glimpses of Malibu on the drive up from Los Angeles, is public by law, but to get to it, visitors must find a way to penetrate a wall of multimillion-dollar homes. [Here’s the solution to that puzzle, just in case you're in the area and feel like going for a beach stroll.]
Lastly, Broad has a New York City residence located on the 33rd floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on 5th Avenue (zip 10022), adjacent to the bottom of Central Park on the east side. He had been trying to sell it and had even reduced the asking price, but ended up taking it off the market last June. Of course it is lovely, with a view of Central Park. Photos of the interior can be seen here

UPDATE: More than two years after listing it, Broad's luxury apartment was finally sold in March 2011 for $8 million. Its original asking price was $15 million.

Eli Broad’s wealth was most recently listed at $5.2 billion. Imagine that you are a person with a net worth of $50,000, and you happen to drop a penny and watch it roll away. No big deal, right? Broad would have the same relative mental response as you did, if he tossed $1040 up in the air and watched it blow away.

By this comparison I am just trying to describe the degree of relative wealth; it's nearly incomprehensibly vast, which is why Broad is winning, and public school devotees are loosing.

Hopefully, the picture I’ve now painted sufficiently illustrates the nature and lifestyle of Broad, the man. It doesn't seem right to me that this unelected individual should get to control so much of the direction of the future of our city’s, my state’s, and my country’s public education, education for which ALL taxpayers, each of them as hard-working as Eli Broad, are paying their fair share, and know about the realities and needs in the public schools much more than he ever will. Does it seem right to you?

Is there anyone with political power who would be willing to stand up and stop this anti-democratic force?

1 comment:

  1. Money talks. Sounds like more of the same old same old. If not this billionaire or millionaire, then it'll be another one.