As I’ve watched the circus that passes for politics in L.A. over the years, that phrase often has popped into my head so it was amusing when I heard someone near me last night at the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association meeting murmur a similar sentiment.
It was near the end of Councilwoman Wendy Greuel’s talk and she was answering a question about why for so long garbage collection was provided out of taxes like police and fire services, a basic commitment of City Hall to the people, and now the city is recovering the full cost of garbage collection.
Now here’s the most capable member of the City Council talking gibberish as if no one in the room is smart enought to know the simple truth: The city squandered all its tax dollars and has no chance in hell of getting two-thirds of the voters to approve higher taxes so they’re charging for services that have long been free.
That way the public doesn’t get a say, which is the point to be sure. The less say the public has, the easier it is for the mayor and council to have sweetheart deals with city unions and sweetheart deals with Arab oil sheiks who want to profit from city-subsidized developments.
Oher videos of Councilwoman Greuel’s talk to SOHA at http://www.youtube.com/user/ronkayela
When your real policy goals are to soak the middle class and pander to the rich and poor, it becomes clear why City Hall imposes garbage and other fees the way it does.
In the case of garbage, the poor for the most part live in apartments which get garbage pickup from private companies at a lower cost (and don’t have to recycle) and the rich don’t give a damn. In fact, the rich get the added bonus of not being charged the $11 million they should be paying for oversized refuse cans and extra cans — an inefficiency that would do more to bail the city out of debt than many of the penny ante items Greuel cited in her talk.
When it comes to the policy only recently announced by the mayor that the city intends to recover the full cost of services, you haven’t heard anyone suggest that gangsters, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes pay for the cost of cops, gang injunctions, prosecution or jailing.
No, the target is always the middle class, which is why L.A. is headed down the dark path towards becoming “Blade Runner” city, a city of rich and poor.
That image also came into the discussion last night in the context of the new giant billboards going up everywhere with digital signs flashing new images every four seconds.
Greuel’s engagement of the billboard issue had the same kind of disingenuous blather as if the city wasn’t fully in the pockets of the big-spending billboard companies.
The worst part is that Greuel has the chance to be a real leader. She’s smart enough and strong enough and knows what’s really going on as well as anybody. But the political system of L.A. is so corrupt, so punishing of those who would challenge it, that it takes real courage to speak the truth and to do what’s right.
So as one who is permanently outside the system, I’m happy to give the wannabe City Controller some free.
Stop positioning yourself with the unpopular Councilman Jack Weiss who wants to be City Attorney, stop dancing around the truth about what’s going on at City Hall and start talking straight about how you are going to make the system work for the people.
I guarantee that if Greuel or any other elected officials stood up for what’s right for the city as a whole, the people would rally behind them. The moment is ripe for a real leader to emerge out of the muck of City Hall but will any of them have the guts to step forward?