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A New Mayor: The Tyranny of Expectations


CERDAFIED - One can’t help but be hopeful, even if in the minutest degree, that new leadership will bring new changes, despite the long history of bureaucratic inertia, ridiculous spending and diminishing returns in terms of city services, city planning, and livability. 


Eric Garcetti may want to avoid the tyranny of expectations, but it comes with the mayoral gig. Too many promises and too much wishful thinking will collide with the reality of “now”. “Now” is the moment you aspire to change things, but new ideas and new visions are driven by forces outside of ourselves. They come from inspiration, a muse that is often disregarded as worthless daydreams. 

They cannot be summoned. They don’t go where they are not wanted. City Hall may allow a muse in, it happened 10 years ago when the Neighborhood Council system was formed. 

However the Neighborhood Council system was being shaped by two opposing forces. From within, the members were eager, persistent, brimming with new ideas and talent and from without, pressured by concepts of LA’s city council that tried to limit their influence, their reach, their voice. So they created an equally burdensome, bureaucratic, hog tied system. 

Emerging from the mold of these two pressures, came a neighborhood council system that is still soft and pliable due to the hearts of its participants, but also constrained by the limited imaginations of City Hall. 

The new mayor may want to avoid the tyranny of normality, where indoctrinated systems churn out the same results. He could reward ingenuity and boxless solutions in order to bring about changes. To redirect our course, he could renegotiate an equitable and sustainable contract with unions and pension holders. No easy task, but certainly a worthy first step. 

I am wondering how Garcetti, who helped set the pattern of “business as usual”, could be the beacon of change? It was on his watch that disgruntled citizens came to city hall to air their grievances only to be met with empty city council seats, distracted staff and council members.  While City Hall was efficient, and Garcetti’s temperament soothing and sincere, the message was clear, citizens were clogs in the wheels of their daily dealings but for that brief moment when the audience applauds recipients of appreciation certificates. 

Garcetti could avoid the tyranny of economics, where the city seeks tax dollars from development that short changes the cities livability. Concealed behind disastrous plans for “smart growth” are the insidious lies that accompany them. It is where mitigation mantras become a distortion of reality. 

Behind the scenes, campaign contributions exchange hands, and communities are sold out for short term gains. 

The increasingly common demand for immediate response and action has given our city burdensome ordinances that are worse than the problem they seek to solve. They grant special privilege to some and inequitable burden on others. This degree of unjustness is immoral. 

The City may want speedy solutions, but the citizenry wants more time spent on critical thinking so that conflicts can be resolved. It is your obligation to examine and understand the costs and impacts on the communities you are sworn serve. The City owes its citizens a deliberation that looks at strategic goals, their deficiencies and their counter intuitive nature in today’s market. 

Garcetti could work at restoring the city of Los Angeles, by starting in the ghetto’s, where racial profiling creates misery, abuse, and a new generation of hate and fear. No easy task to be sure, but the Dorner case is painfully fresh and lessons have not been learned.  We are increasingly seeing a “shoot now and ask questions later” mentality that must be rooted out of law enforcement. 

Under pressure and under scrutiny, some of our police departments are coming up short on community relations and long on a history of abuse.  The best way to change a culture of ignorant bias is to remove leadership who tolerates the evidence of its existence.   

Let the heads roll. It’s better to pay off settlements for fired officers than to pay off law suits by abused citizens. One speaks to honor in corrective action, the other speaks to the shame, for tolerating such abuse of power. 

Garcetti’s mission can only be defined by him. He can become the absentee father of our city like Villaraigosa who spent more time trying to feather a new political nest elsewhere than leaving a legacy of restoration and recovery. Ultimately, time will tell.


(Lisa Cerda is a contributor to CityWatch, a community activist, Chair of Tarzana Residents Against Poorly Planned Development, VP of Community Rights Foundation of LA, Tarzana Property Owners Association board member, and former Tarzana Neighborhood Council board member.)




Vol 11 Issue 43

Pub: May 28, 2013

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