NEIGHBORHOODS HAVE LOST THEIR VOICE—Over the years I have spoken to a number of neighborhood councils and neighborhood council alliances. I almost always open by asking how many folks have read The Plan for a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils or Article IX of the LA Charter. I’m always amazed at how few activists know why neighborhood councils were created. Some really do believe their purpose is to distribute funds for causes and projects. 

Neighborhood Councils, The Plan will tell you, are here to among other things, “Promote public participation in City governance and decision making processes …” and to “Facilitate the delivery of City services …”. The Department of Water and Power (DWP) and the Mayor have negotiated a new labor agreement and they did it pretty much behind closed doors. Begging the question, where was your neighborhood council in that “decision making process”? 

The LA Times editorialized on this a few days ago. They noted the lack of transparency and the fact that neighborhood councils were not involved but … they blamed the Mayor. I’m suggesting their blame was misplaced. 

GUEST COLUMN--Understandably reluctant to be "a co-star on the reality show,” the Congressional Black Caucus has declined a most kind invitation from our Great If Kinda Racist Leader to come "meet" with him so he can show everyone that black people like him so much, really!  

Of course he likes them too, at least a few of them, especially Omarosa Manigault, the former “Apprentice” contestant and current White House "advisor" who actually was the person to summon them because, being black, she probably knows how to, you know, talk black to them and stuff. 

After rumors had floated that the 49 members of CBC were unlikely to accept an invitation to a self-serving photo op with a political figure who has done nothing for the people they represent except pass legislation that would "affirmatively hurt" communities he's persists in portraying as carnage-ridden, hell-hole ghettos, the head of the CDC released a scathing mic-drop of a letter Wednesday saying, in essence, yeah, about that, thanks but no thanks, loser.  

The letter from CBC chair Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) was the latest in a series of fraught incidents between the group and Trump, who had failed to respond to a requested meeting in January, asked reporter April Ryan if she wanted to set up a meeting because hey they're her peeps, and neglected to read a 130-page policy proposal on helping black families the CDC gave him.

GUEST COLUMNIST--In another bizarre exhibition of the ragged state of the Republic, the Senate Intelligence Committee heard "testimony"  Tuesday on the Russian connection from Attorney General, wilted southern flower,  good ole obstructionist boy and "flustered Gump in the headlights" Jeff Sessions … who despite his high-ranking position as the country's top lawyer somehow couldn't seem to remember being anywhere or doing anything, except not to worry, whatever he did that he can't rightly recall, it was all good and proper. 

The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz captured the drama of a man suddenly, inexplicably "ravaged by amnesia," quoting a bewildered doctor: “In all the medical literature, we have never seen an example of someone capable of holding down such a high-powered job while having no memory whatsoever of people he met, things he said, places he has been, or thoughts he has had,” Logsdon said. “It’s the stuff of science fiction.” 

According to commentators, it also may or may not be the stuff of obstruction of justice; many lawmakers argued that Sessions' answers, or lack of same, "do not pass the smell test."

GUEST COLUMN--Coming to a bar near you: The Comey Show! Aka the Super Bowl of Washington and the Shit-Just-Got-Real-Tour! 

Come see the Republic crumble on live TV! Prepping for James Comey's Senate testimony Thursday, bars and restaurants in DC and around the country are opening early - very early on the West coast - and offering tasty specials like The Impeachmint, Drop the Bomb, Bad Hombre, Paid Protester, $5 Stoli Vodka, the mysterious Covfefe cocktail, the FBI Breakfast - French toast, bacon and ice cream - and free rounds every time Trump tweets himself in the foot. 

"Come watch the drama unfold!" urges one establishment. "Grab your friends, grab a drink and let's COVFEFE!"

The watch party circus is no more or less tawdry than what's come before. Comey testimony released Wednesday reveals a needy, bullying, cringingly-off-the-charts inappropriate Trump demanding an unseemly "loyalty" and wooing, Godfather-or-Bachelorette-like, the wary Comey with an intimate dinner laced with "awkward silence." But "we had that thing," bleats Trump. Ewww.

GUEST WORDS--The leaders of both parties are divided on numerous matters, but on one critical piece of business they seem united: keep Donald Trump in office.

That rather extraordinary, and by no means welcome conclusion, stems from this simple observation: Republicans want to squeeze as much advantage as possible from Trump’s presidency to pursue and complete their domestic agenda, while Democrats want to squeeze the same advantage from Trump’s constant missteps and failure to push through his agenda. Thus, while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan make excuses for every Trump excess and idiocy, they still value his continuation in office more than his removal—even for a tweet-less Pence presidency.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, attack every Trump move that undermines democracy and world order, but insist that impeachment is premature and that investigations of collusion and obstruction of justice must be allowed to proceed.

KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE—Fake news is out there. We all agree on that. Whether some news is fake or not is not the issue. Knowing the difference between fake news and the real stuff is the problem.

What we’re learning is that the best insurance against phony facts is our own diligence. Care and caution win the day. Watch out for group think.

As an example, Pacific Standard’s Tom Jacobs reports on Academy of Sciences findings that formats like Facebook are ‘fertile ground’ for fake news. There is an inclination to assume that when information comes to you in a group setting it is more likely proofed and fact checked. A horrendously false assumption.

DISCOVERING REALITY—Most of us are inclined to base our conclusions on our own experiences. It comes as a shock when we discover facts that contradict what made so much sense to us. Our country is going through that kind of shock these days. Certainty splintered into tiny pieces when we discover things are not what we thought. So shocking that it’s hard for us to absorb. To make sense of it. Leaves us wondering, “What happened?” 

There’s a lot of that going on in CityWatch today. Ideas different enough from your own that you need to take a deep breath and reread what’s in front of you. ‘Did I read that right?’ 

Julie Butcher, in the CityWatch lead today, offers a reasonable argument for keeping Billy the Elephant at his happy home in the LA Zoo. What she writes makes sense, but we’ve heard the angry and passionate case for moving Billy to a sanctuary so long and so loud it may take a second reading to see the truth. 

More Articles ...