RemodelGate: Concerns about $707,000 remodel for Supervisor’s office shows disconnect with public

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Dec• 22•09

Taking elected office is often a Cinderella-like experience. Normal people with private lives are thrust into a strange and magical public world where their dreams really do come true.

Maybe no singing birds or supernatural pumpkins accompany them, but they are beset with many other surreal experiences: instant celebrity, power, deference and hundreds of new best friends vying for their attention with flattery and promises.

If that's not enough, there are the perks of the job – the taxpayer-funded cars and phones, the gifts from lobbyists, the tickets to games, the parties, the beautiful women wanting to be with them.

Then there's the money.

If it is a job like one of the 15 L.A. City Council or five county supervisors' seats, it comes with a fat salary and flush discretionary account. On top of that are the billions of taxpayers' dollars that can be spent (or misspent, as the case so often seems to be; just note the LAPD's spending revelations this week) as part of the job.

It is understandable, then, that this kind of experience would alter – in some cases corrupt – any normal person.

But new Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' disconnection with the public goes far beyond what's reasonable. Less Cinderella, more Wizard of Oz.

He's planning a $707,000 remodel of his office suite in the county Hall of Administration and can't understand why people are offended. His reaction shows he's completely

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