ALPERN AT LARGE - This is a companion piece to my other CityWatch article, as is evidenced in the title.
As with the other article, it was also inspired by the participation of so many young Scouts (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Sea Scouts, and a host of other youth organizations) and their parents who got up very early Saturday morning on Memorial Day Weekend to pay honor to our fallen heroes at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in West LA.
Our fallen soldiers, those missing in action, and those who now live with the physical and mental and emotional scars as a result of their sacrifice and service, deserve an America that is tolerant of free speech, and an America that demands both the left and the right work through their shortcomings and come to grips with our evolving reality.
On that note, let's start by remembering that every history book and modern discourse addressing the origins and operations of the United States of America recognizes that this country was founded on, and exists by, the overriding principal of MAJORITY RULE.
In other words, whether it is a far-left or far-right minority, or any other minority, it is their right to strive to win over the majority--but it does not have the right to control the majority. Similarly, the majority has the right to call any attempt by a minority to control the majority by its proper name: TYRANNY.
The outrage expressed in my previous CityWatch articles addressing overdevelopments such as the Casden and Millennium Projects is wrapped up in this concept of Tyranny.
City Planning utilizes the term "Overriding Considerations" to smash through all environmental, openness and City laws to do what it wishes, whether it be at the behest of their elected bosses currying favor to lobbying developers, or whether it be to adhere to some form of planning/transformation fetish or trend that rules the hour.
Either way, "Overriding Considerations" are not democratic, are not consistent with what this country was founded on, are not consistent with the City Charter, and are a result of a City Planning that is both politically appointed and drunk with its new-found power. City Planning has become more of a Soviet-style Politburo, and less of a civil service dedicated to the taxpaying, voting residents of the City of Los Angeles.
Moving to major transportation projects, I wish to congratulate the Leimert Park community--and those throughout the City and County who fought for it--in receiving a properly-located light rail station that will prove both costly but also one that will spike up ridership for the future Crenshaw/LAX light rail line.
Political leadership from Mark Ridley-Thomas, Don Knabe, Bernard Parks, Bill Rosendahl, Eric Garcetti and a host of other leaders led to a combined $40 million from the City of Los Angeles as well as a matching $80 million from Metro to create an underground Leimert Park station located in a tunnel portion of the Crenshaw/LAX line that is truly located in Leimert Park.
It is hoped that this city/county sacrifice is respected in that it allowed both inclusion of Leimert Park to this light rail line, but also allowed inclusion of Westchester and adjacent Inglewood to this light rail line with a $15 million surface-level station at Hindry Ave. in Westchester (near the Inglewood border). The Westchester station was incumbent on creation of a Leimert Park station at the best of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and the Metro Board.
It is similarly hoped that the shared sacrifice and compromise needed to create the right betterments for a Crenshaw/LAX light rail line doesn't get sidetracked by a $200-400 million Park Mesa tunnel that no Metro planner or Boardmember supports, because it involves a portion of Crenshaw Blvd that is so wide that tunneling is not necessary.
Furthermore, this $200-400 million is money better spent on tunneling the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line north to the future Wilshire Subway...
...or to the future connection of the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the central terminals of LAX, which Supervisor Don Knabe has called for by 2020.
Metro has come up with two plans: an indirect approach using a People Mover Monorail that connects to the Crenshaw/LAX rail line at Century/Aviation, and a direct approach by redirecting the Crenshaw/LAX line as planned to go underground, have a station directly below LAX, and proceed to connect to the Green Line in the South Bay.
Either connection will require $1-2 billion, and will require a new extension of the Measure R sales tax (otherwise known as "Son of Measure J" or "Son of Measure R") that delineates clear goals such as a Foothill Gold Line and Metrolink connection to Ontario Airport, a Westside/Valley transit connection, and the creation of light rail projects to serve the South Bay and Southeast Los Angeles County Cities.
Add to this a host of road, freeway and related repairs and upgrades, and we've got a Memorial Day-level goal of shared fiscal, planning and political sacrifice that will make both the City and County of Los Angeles proud...to say nothing of a country looking for leadership and examples of getting things done right, and by majority rule.
Moving to social issues, we also deserve majority rule and free speech that allows ALL parties to speak their minds without fear of retribution.
For example, I'm proud of my friend Bill Rosendahl's "coming out" as a cancer survivor who required medical marijuana to make it through of his life-threatening health problems, but medical marijuana is still not medical enough--and the more medical it becomes, the greater the access will be for those who desperately need it.
Cannabis, as with all controlled substances, has both the potential for health betterment and substance abuse. I've spoken with both patients and their family members who've observed first-hand the benefits of those who've needed it for medical purposes...and those who've lost years to decades of their lives to an addiction which much of society sadly and childishly glamorizes.
Ditto with alcohol and cocaine and prescription medications--marijuana/cannabis, as with all medications, needs to be regulated and defined with respect to dosage, concentration, and vehicle (pill, inhaler, or just plain cigarette). And with the advent of new mega-high-potency marijuana variants that will (as with crack and meth) NEVER be legal in any reasonable society, this need is more timely and necessary than ever.
The recently-passed Measure D will--despite its difficulties--allow our City to demand medical marijuana dispensaries remain both medical and responsible, and I'm glad I voted for it. Bring on the lawyers if the misbehaving dispensaries sue--our City needs to pull back from being an embarrassing example to other cities of how NOT to address medical marijuana.
We also need to recognize that society-splitting issues such as Abortion must be discussed with free speech, and a lack of any attempt of one minority to get the rest of society to "shut up" if anyone else raises a valid point.
For example, those claiming to be "pro-life" must confront the life-destroying potential of an unwanted pregnancy, and that the decision of a woman early in an unwanted pregnancy to end it is as responsible a choice as it is unresponsible to end the life of a viable fetus after 4-5 months when so many options exist for adoption.
Similarly, "pro-choice" advocates too often forget that men lose their choice altogether (as it should be) at the beginning of intercourse, and must abide by the decision of the woman should that lead to pregnancy. Similarly, helpless unborn babies (which, if they are viable at 4-5 months, must be considered potential human beings) don't have any choice if their mothers choose to exercise their rights...but not their responsibilities.
All rights in our majority-rule nation must be justified by accompanying responsibilities, so (moving to the War on Terror), the rights of Muslims to be free from persecution and bigotry must be balanced with the responsibility of a louder (MUCH louder) decrying of terrorist acts such as that we've recently seen in Boston and Britain.
It's not bigoted but just common sense to suggest that most Americans are terrified and deeply concerned by the overall-deafening silence from the American and world Muslim community to these acts of terror. Simply put--isn't is reasonable to ask Muslim leaders whether these terrorists and their cohorts will be "excommunicated", and whether Muslim edicts declare that these individuals are--as per Muslim religious leaders--going to Hell?
So many of us talk of bipartisanship and fears of censorship, and now scream at the concept of the conservative Koch brothers buying out the Los Angeles Times because it will limit the free press that now runs that paper...but isn't it fair to suggest that (as everyone, including most liberals, recognize) the Times is currently guilty of under-reporting and burying issues that belong on the front page?
Isn't the Times already outrageously and unforgivably partisan, and guilty of not reporting both local and national issues of importance to readers of all political bents? Is either extreme, conservative or liberal, acceptable to those who just want to know the balanced truth?
Finally, since I began this (and its companion article) with the subject of the Scouts, will anyone give credit to the Boy Scouts for their decision to allow openly gay Scouts to remain within the organization?
While it's a prima facie bad idea to kick out a Scout because of his sexual orientation, the new policy of the Boy Scouts to this issue is one consistent with Scouting--it's a youth organization that is meant to foster working and friendly relationships between boys in a manner that is outside of the sexual arena. Neither heterosexual nor homosexual overt behavior will be tolerated within Scouting functions.
Which means that our society's tendency to oversexualize everything won't be part of the evolving Boy Scouts of America...as it should be for all youth organizations. And if rules and policies for openly gay Scouts must be confronted and created, then so be it--the concerns of sharing a tent with an openly gay Scout will be out there, and are as valid as any concerns over whether a young heterosexual Scout should share a tent with a girl.
And as the Boy Scouts confront gay leaders and Scoutmasters (who've always been in Scouting, but just not openly so), it's to be considered that an openly gay Scout leader--particularly if he is in a committed relationship with a partner--is by far, far a lesser threat to Scouts than any leader who chooses to keep his orientation secret.
It's Memorial Day Weekend as I write this, and it's hoped that freedom of speech and majority rule will continue to rule the day. The issues addressed are all tied in to what we're Memorializing--the ideals of what our brave men and women fought and died for.
May we be as worthy of benefiting from their sacrifice as they were in giving it.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember 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 CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. He is also a physician and Board-Certified Dermatologist and an active parent in his son's first-rate Boy Scout troop. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.
Vol 11 Issue 43
Pub: May 28, 2013