LA Lies!

ALPERN AT LARGE--At this time, there appears to be two choices for those of us living in the City of the Angels:  Enjoy the Show, and just get used to being lied to while your neighbors either don't vote and/or complain about things while doing nothing ... or leave.  Because telling the truth and spending the taxpayers' money well?  That's just in the movies. 

Much of the problem is that "representative democracy" and "civics" and the like is too often relegated and dismissed as "nerd-talk", and much of the problem is that we're all so exhausted with our jobs, families and personal crises that, well, who has the time to keep up with all the corruption and chicanery of local and state government?  

So let's go over two big lies, shall we?  And not just, "That's life in the big city" but real whoppers that will really affect the lives of many Angelenos: 

1) The LAUSD Board, flush with last November's financial surge, just gave the middle finger to LAUSD students and their families. 

That big change in the school year to move the end of the summer break closer to Labor Day? The nice compromise that saves energy bills and the quality of life for the school district, students and parents?  The reasonable preservation of the school year that starts the week before Labor Day and allows most of August (and its high air-conditioning bills) to be part of "summer"? 


In the dead of night, the LAUSD Board showed they lied to us when they said they would listen and that they cared about the needs of parents and students. 

Yep, we all now know that the LAUSD Board, who clearly did NOT promote this vote, did a nice whipsaw and punked the daylights out of their paying constituents ... and didja notice this unannounced change in schedule occurred AFTER the November elections, and AFTER they got their money from the trusting voters? 

But perhaps this is what happens when you give those with a history of lying and misspending our money a blank check ... they realize they can punk you, hurt you, slap you, kick you in the crotch, punch you in the nose ... and yet they know you'll come back for more. 

And for those who, like the lying and treacherous LAUSD Board member Scott Schmerelson, changed their minds because they were "concerned" that kids would be pulled out of district-run schools and enrolled in charter schools that started earlier, lemme give you a hint (and my kids go to charter schools): 

This move will only encourage a GREATER exodus of parents who truly LOVE their kids to go to charter schools, because charter schools want to give parents a choice--and these parents will do what it takes to both have a summer with their families and make them study hard during the summer to be prepared for their AP and honors classes. 

It's creeps like the LAUSD Board that truly, sincerely, brazenly, makes us all wonder if a new Trump-led federal Department of Education is just the thing we need to slap down these insulated miscreants who would take our money and then slam us with this treasonous move.   

School choice has just made a great leap forward, because this can and should be "Exhibit A" as to why more money, and more centralized power, is the last thing that families and societies should do for their school boards. 

2) The Pension Crisis--it ain't going away! 

Oh, how those of us who don't read CityWatch, or listen to the radio, or read a newspaper, or go online to find out what's really happening in local and state politics, really wish we would just SHUT UP and GO AWAY about this whole "pension issue". 

I mean...just LOOK!  The sun is still rising and setting, the roads are usually working OK, and things are still all fine in the big picture, so what is this doom and gloom about "pensions". 

Well, maybe if enough middle-class families have their utility bills go up enough, they'll start ignoring this pension issue as mere "blah, blah, blah" and realize that maybe there's some relevance to this issue, after all.  

As fellow CityWatch contributor Jack Humphreville recently noted the LADWP retirement plans are both expensive to maintain and underfunded. 

So we should all just FORGET about funding of old/unrepaired infrastructure unless we pay even higher utility bills. Because those bills are going to folks who stand to enjoy virtually the same amount of retirement income that they got while they were working. 

Nice deal--those retire earlier than the rest of us, and will live life richer and happier than the rest of us.  Fair, right? 

And this pension thing is hardly limited to the LADWP. All over this City and State, we're seeing this problem at the city, county, and statewide levels.   

Occasionally, we see cities going bankrupt.  Occasionally, we see projects and first-responder funding get halted. And sometimes, we see exposes in other states (like in Dallas, TX) when the police/fire pension plans achieve critical mass. 

Perhaps we'll see massive walkouts of public sector employees.  Perhaps we'll see elections won or lost based on these issues. 

But so long as we keep feeding the fire with our tax/ratepayer dollars, and so long as we keep re-electing the insulated leaders who know that--in the end--we'll just continue to "take it" then these lies will just keep happening. 

So maybe we shouldn't worry so much, or scream about so much, Trump the anti-Christ and last November's election results. 

Because the real horror story is that last month we threw away all evidence that Californians, and particularly Angelenos, have any fiscal sense whatsoever. 

And the politicians and public sector union leaders all know it...and will act accordingly.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties.  He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)