Wed, Apr

Thank You Mayor-Elect Garcetti For a Moment of Optimism


ALPERN AT LARGE - As a CityWatch columnist, I have to call it as I see it:

 last Saturday afternoon, at Windward School in Mar Vista, it was a victory of the Bill Rosendahl Paradigm over the Antonio Villaraigosa Paradigm for the City of Los Angeles.   

(But before I get all giddy and warm and fuzzy, I'd like to dedicate this article to a wonderful human being who doesn't get the opportunity to share in what's hoped to be an optimistic future for Los Angeles--MTA bus driver Olivia Gamboa, who was tragically killed in an accident that never should have happened, and was/is a hero to us all.) 

I've not been shy over the years in supporting departing Mayor Villaraigosa in his tough efforts to improve transportation, education and safety/security for the City of Los Angeles, but I've also lately not been shy over the past few months of my gratitude for his imminent departure--regretting only that we have to suffer a few more weeks from the "political payback" and top-down dictatorial policies that he's going to hurl at us before we survive him. 

I've also not been shy about supporting the Bill Rosendahl Paradigm of Government, which is to be more transparent, accessible and supportive of grassroots volunteers and create an auxiliary staff support of his City Council District 11 office.  Ditto for Bill's supporting and respecting the wishes of the Neighborhood Councils of his district. 

And although I'm still horrified and saddened about Bill's health dragging this outgoing supporter of the grassroots, and the removal of this affable advocate of regional consensus on transportation issues ranging from bicycle to automobile to rail to airline traffic in order to improve the mobility, economy, environment and quality of life for all LA City, LA County and Southland residents ... I'm excited about how his successor and chief of staff, Mike Bonin, can do the same. 

Councilmember-Elect Mike Bonin and Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti shined last Saturday, and both LAUSD Boardmember Steve Zimmer and Westside Councilmember Paul Koretz were there to support them, and for a moment...a pleasant, perhaps naive moment, I enjoyed a surge of optimism of shared unity and respect for the Common Citizen as a new Eric Garcetti Paradigm for running a better, happier City of Los Angeles. 

On the other hand, the top-down approach of Mayor Villaraigosa, an in-your-face approach of I-do-things-behind-closed-doors-unless-there's-a-camera-or-fine-dining-opportunity-for-me-so-otherwise-talk-to-my-army-of-highly-paid-deputy-mayors-and-appointed-bureaucrats-and-if-you-don't-like-it-then-you-can-run-for-Mayor-yourself-because-I-have-these-princely-perks-coming-to-me-so--why-should-I-give-a-damn-about-you-and-oh-check-out-that-cute-babe-over-there-I-wonder-if-she's-available-to-talk-with-and-maybe-date...has really hurt our fair City. 

The outgoing Mayor's policies are great for those who like the concept of a "Benign Dictator" but horrible for those who prefer "Representative Democracy" and a civil service that respects and serves the taxpayers and voters of Los Angeles...because no one person has all the answers, and "Benign Dictators" have been proven to never truly end up being "benign". 

We deserve a Mayor who's able to make tough decisions, and with a lean and mean approach to politics that asks others to practice what he himself preaches--shared sacrifice, negotiations and compromise that is both unpleasant yet extraordinarily productive, and which moves things forward to virtually everyone's satisfaction. 

It's hoped that the reduced mayoral workforce and the greater demand on volunteer/grassroots citizens to do their civic duty--and getting beyond racial, labor, lobbyist or other corrupt and/or "Big Brother" policies will be the Mayor-Elect's working paradigm to running Los Angeles. 

The modest, sober and respectful (but smiling and confident) Eric Garcetti was not so much a force to be reckoned with but will be--hopefully--an example of a Rhodes Scholar who's still unafraid of admitting he doesn't know everything, and that he can always be both supported and corrected by an army of altruistic volunteers that can solidify and improve his efforts and vision to create a better City of Los Angeles.


My own breakout group to discuss solutions, and not just problems, for our economy and neighborhoods and City Hall operations had a heavy concentration of seniors; they favored youth employment efforts, connecting MetroRail to LAX, and outsourcing City efforts to repair our roads and sidewalks and alleys to improve cost-effectiveness of such endeavors.


The breakout group next to us was younger, and had focused more on an issue which is (as with my own group's issues) near and dear to me:  stopping the oversized Casden Sepulveda project, which along with the "ginormous" Hollywood Millennium project is what pro-transit supporters like myself agree is by far better an example of Overdevelopment, Bad Planning and Environmental Rape than an example of true Transit-Oriented Development.


Eric Garcetti, Mike Bonin and Steve Zimmer, along with Paul Koretz and the rest of the City Council, can effectively (and perhaps easily) fix LA's problems by working together and letting those attending Saturday's event move forward by consensus.


Consensus means that Garcetti's first-rate listening tour is followed up by a first-rate mayoral approach to running a big city with the effectiveness of a small-town, democratic operation that allows no one to enjoy a pay-to-play insider approach to the suffering of the rest of the populace.


In other words, there will be no "higher life forms" or "lower life forms" among the human beings of the City of Los Angeles.


In other words, there will be greater opportunities on weekends and evenings for Angelenos to attend meetings and weigh in on City policies that affect all of our lives, and it will be up to the elected representatives and hired civil service to meet the needs of the citizenry, and not the other way around.


In other words, Neighborhood Councils will get more than lip service and enjoy an equal (and required!) presence at all budgetary/pension negotiations with public sector unions at open and recorded meetings to ensure appropriate expenditures and tough decisions when discussing public funds and resources.


In other words, I want Brian D'Arcy, Elena Maria Durazo and Alan Casden to have a say in what they feel is best for Los Angeles, but they shouldn't be allowed to bring in their army of thugs, paid testimonialists, lobbyists, former Governor Gray Davis and everyone else to suck up all the oxygen in the room and squash the citizenry.


In other words, there needs to be critical Westside, South Bay/San Pedro, Eastside and Valley issues discussed openly and in a manner that favors access for the local residents--and not force these residents to have to choose between going to work and having their views represented. 

In other words, I want entitled public sector employees (particularly LADWP employees) to have to stare down not only the Mayor and City Council, but the taxpayers who pay their salaries and benefits ... in an open and recorded arena for all to see and hear when public monies are discussed. 

In other words, when (not if) there are new taxes to be paid for improving our roads and infrastructure, they will be determined in a transparent and cost-effective manner that ensures the best bang for the taxpayers' buck that can be achieved to get the jobs done on-time, on-budget and done right the first time. 

It is indeed possible that the Moment of Optimism I enjoyed last Saturday is one borne of naiveté and gullibility ... but I'm not so old and jaded (and neither were the seniors present who were almost twice my age) that I refuse to look forward to a better future, with better leadership, under a new mayoral era of Eric Garcetti.


(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. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.




Vol 11 Issue 49

Pub: June 18, 2013



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