MARK, MY WORDS - As the elected official bar continues being lowered with every LA City election cycle, I often feel compelled to remind myself to not become depressed or complacent. As scandal after scandal eats away at any remaining integrity of the LA City Council, I am forced to choose between perpetual animosity towards the City or simply accepting the self-fulfilling circus of corruption as the best LA is willing to do. But that wouldn’t be an interesting article, now would it? Let’s go with animosity.
Having denied the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council access to our newly renovated North Valley City Hall (to the dissonant tune of millions of taxpayer dollars) , Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez is once again, showing her disregard for the public and a continued lack of =stewardship of the office she holds. By mandating police presence and charging our Neighborhood Council $808 for any meeting that goes past 7pm, Rodriguez is essentially locking the neighborhood council out of a public building.
The mandatory fee would pay for two police officers at $102 each per hour with a four hour minimum. This requirement is imposed at the council woman’s discretion and is not required by law or equally applied to all groups that meet in the building. Neighborhood councils are a part of our municipal government and must be allowed to meet and perform their duty to represent their communities regardless of whether or not they are favored by the council office.
A 7pm curfew makes it near impossible to hold NC meetings since members are volunteers and most have day jobs. As NC meetings can sometimes go three to four hours, the meeting would have to be scheduled to begin about 3pm in the afternoon on a weekday. This would obviously make it near impossible for the members and the public to be able to attend. This policy is suspected by many, as an intentional strategy to hinder the NC’s efforts.
Adding insult to injury, a sufficient number of chairs will not be provided for the meetings and no electrical devices will be allowed. No seats, no coffeemaker, and a looming pressure to end the meeting and evacuate the building by 7pm. I wish I was making this up, but I am not that maniacally creative. Obstructionist bureaucracy on this level is best left to Los Angeles politicians.
Essentially, Rodriguez is asking you, the public, to pay twice for access to a City building that was financed with your tax dollars, by requesting that the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council use $808 per meeting, of their annual budget just to hold a meeting to discuss how to spend their annual budget! At only one meeting a month, that would be $9,696 of a yearly $32,000 NC budget. I suppose the money could be used to print more of Rodriguez’s “look what I’ did” literature to clutter our email and mailboxes. We all love that, right?
This sort of behavior begs the question of the councilwoman’s motive. It doesn’t take much of an assumptive leap to suspect petty intent by a councilwoman who is unwilling to work with all of our communities rather than the “chosen ones.” Alas, this is the standard modus operandi we have all come to expect. As State developers and far left discontents have become the only voices that resonate in the city chambers anymore, the rest of us, the reasonable democrats, the moderate conservatives and the vast common sense hard working law abiding majority, are left wondering what we did wrong.
Gutted budgets for more police, road repair, safe public transportation and protection of local zoning laws leave us scratching our heads as we gather around the smoking funeral pyre to mourn the loss of billions of our tax dollars wasted on failed programs. In the meantime, families avoid parks that have become city sponsored playgrounds for addicts, potholes damage our car’s suspensions and criminals are no longer punished for criminalizing.
What is the minimum a voter should expect from an elected official? Adhering to truth? Executing one’s duty to the best of one’s ability? Avoid lying, stealing, looting, bribery, and extortion? As far as I can see, that memo was not distributed or received. Public office is not a right or a gift. It is a sacred duty that effects the lives of generations of families and the long-term sustainability of cities. Government service is just that. Service to others, not an opportunity to get rich or enrich donors.
At the end of the day, we have a dysfunctional LA City Council with a revolving door swung wide open to a parade of politicians who are unable or unwilling to serve the general public good. Councilwoman Rodriguez continues to show a disregard for constituents and for the efficient and transparent spending of taxpayer dollars. Until the unspoken covenant amongst the LA City Council to vote for any and all of each other’s self-serving politically driven agendas is broken, Los Angeles will continue to be…Broken, that is, from the inside out.
(Mark Dutton is a lifelong musician, music producer, and writer. He was arguing politics with his parents since he was a pre-teen. Majored in psychology and left college in his 3rd year on a 30 year magic bus trip around the world playing and writing music with some of the best in the biz. Mark is a contributor to CityWatchLA.com.)