Zealous Straw Ban Exposes City Council’s Bombast and Refusal to  Listen

@THE GUSS REPORT-Aye yai yai! How do these people keep getting elected? On Tuesday, LA City Council moved toward banning plastic straws that, while a promising ecological goal, exposed its preference for hyperbole misrepresented as the truth. 

During the un-contested discussion, Councilmember Paul Koretz declared that the oceans will have more plastic than fish by the year 2050. Aside from the impossibility of knowing how many fish there are in the world, given the complexities of predation, reproduction, fishing and weather, and his failure to explain whether that’s a comparison by headcount, weight, or some other method, let us assume Koretz’s statement is at least remotely accurate; that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Fine, let’s work on doing something about that. 

But as anyone who spends time following local government meetings knows, zeal often overcomes logic. Take, in this case, the man sitting next to Paul Koretz, the other Paul K., Paul Krekorian. 

Seconds after Koretz made his bombastic claim, Krekorian showed he wasn’t paying attention, stating, “…the problem has gotten dramatically worse in a variety of different ways since (I was in the legislature) … to the point, as Mr. Koretz just indicated, there is more plastic than fish in the ocean.” 

Did you catch that? 

Krekorian stated that there “is” more plastic in the ocean than fish and lost the part about 2050 from the guy who said it a few seconds, and two feet, away from him. 

Also, on the not-listening list was City Council president Herb Wesson – often accused of not paying attention to any given subject – who added, “Mr. Krekorian, I want your permission to use that.  We have more plastic (in the ocean) than fish. So, I will be repeating that from here on. More plastic than fish. And when you think about it, that is a frightening thought.” 

No, what’s frightening is that these people are in charge of the city’s budget, and your welfare and mine. This, during the first City Council meeting since Wesson announced he is running for LA County Supervisor, which some see as his running away from City Council now that everyone knows it is on the FBI’s corruption radar. 

Krekorian’s Communications Director Ian Thompson told me that Krekorian spoke based on Koretz’s 2050 statement a few seconds earlier. But he did not respond when asked whether his boss understood that what he actually said, and what Wesson adopted as fact, was untruthful. And more importantly, did Krekorian vote and implore his colleagues to vote based on his own misinformation?

As this column pointed out twice already this year, Krekorian is prone to cringe-worthy and bombastic statements. 

During City Council’s Jewish Heritage event he dropped an anti-Semitic, “My name is Paul Krekorian and I am here to represent the goyim minority of the Budget and Finance Committee.” 

Then there’s Krekorian’s utterly fallacious claim that “more Americans have died from gun violence since the massacre at Columbine than World War II, World War I and the Civil War combined.” 

But back to the issue of straws, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s zealous intent here is to have something to soapbox by next April’s Earth Day. But the Councilmember who dumped plenty of straws into the environment during his days at Jamba Juice hasn’t thought out the issue: 

What are they going to do about the four BILLION straws that come with juice boxes? Why not disrupt an entire industry by banning them from all LA supermarkets and schools and do so before Earth Day! Why ban only restaurant straws and not the half-straws of half-pint Angelenos? 

How about the unintended consequences of this ban on disabled people for whom there may be a need for a plastic straw rather than a paper one? Imagine the chaos and waste of a disability discrimination lawsuit against the city and its businesses. 

Let’s dive off the deep-end of the pier with O’Farrell: what to make of all the burning fossil fuel as motorists at fast food drive thru windows are told about their straw options and responsibilities? Try sipping a cool one while cruising the Sepulveda Pass without a straw, they might suggest. 

We should all be for a cleaner earth, but what we have here is more about a distraction from City Council’s failure on our bigger and biggest issues, as was pointed out by people on O’Farrell’s social Media: 

One attorney Tweeted a GIF of an exasperated Judge Judy with the comment, “Wow, looks like LA can't do anything about the crime or the homeless problems. But they are ready to stop those dodgy plastic straws!” 

Another wrote, “STOP your nanny-state overregulation and focus on jobs & helping legal citizens. You should all be ashamed.” 

And they should be. While we can all be in favor of more eco-friendly straws (did I really just type that?) once again, LA City Council proves that while its heart is in the right place, they haven’t thought this out, using misinformation to precariously race for a date on the calendar, when they aren’t even listening to one another.


(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. Join his mailing list or offer verifiable tips and story ideas at TheGussReport@gmail.com. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.