On the day before Tuesday’s primary, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chief Bill Bratton got publicity all over the news media with their boasts that the LAPD had reached a record number of police officers – just 105 short of the less than magic 10,000 number and 244 less than we were promised when trash fees were tripled.
It took until Thursday before anyone bothered to ask Bratton how many more officers were actually on the streets protecting us. None, he had to admit, because most of the added officers were filling desk jobs since the LAPD has more than 500 fewer civilians on the payroll.
Of course, it was nothing but one in a long line of political stunts intended to deceive the public and hide the failure of Villaraigosa to deliver on his mountain of empty promises.
Political stunts like that are symptomatic of much more serious abuses that are going on.
Villaraigosa is systematically politicizing every aspect of city government.
That’s what political machines do to squelch all opposition, to corrupt public policy for their own advantage. It’s the kind of corruption that leads to graft and bribery and demoralization of the vast majority of honest city employees.
Numerous top city officials and commissioners have told me in recent weeks how every decision they make is being vetted by the mayor’s vast staff and political team and twisted for the benefit of the mayor regardless of the consequences to the quality of life of the people who live, work and do business in the city.
They understand that their positions are on the line if they cross the mayor, if the push too hard for what they believe is right.
It’s why people of integrity and courage like Jane Usher and Nick Patsaouras quit as commission presidents rather than participate in corruption.
It’s why it’s so dangerous that Wendy Greuel was elected City Controller when she has displayed no courage to stand up to the mayor.
It’s why Jack Weiss who is the mayor’s well-trained lapdog, must be defeated in the runoff for City Attorney against Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich.
It’s why the political advertising that Bratton did for Villaraigosa and Weiss, his endorsements of Greuel, Council President Eric Garcetti and Measure B and Measure E undermine the integrity of city government and compromise everyone involved.
It’s why the ordinary people rallied to fight Measure B and the city’s civic elite is ready to join the Pitchforks and Torches Movement.
The future of this city is at stake.
I’m not exaggerating. We are at the precipice, the point of no return.
Other than Laura Chick, who is reviled at City Hall for her courage, not one single city official has shown the strength of character to stand up to the machine.
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has become invisible and the City Council does what it is told – unanimously.
Intimidation has become standard practice. You will be punished if you get in the way, rewarded if you go along with what you know is wrong.
Business, labor and the council were all threatened that they would suffer if the came out against Measure B. Yet, some did in the end like the LA Chamber and the Carpenter’s Union and Councilman Smith, Zine and Parks when it was clear Measure B might lose.
We are at the turning point. We have shown by fighting Measure B to a draw that the machine can be beaten. It will break down in the face of public resistance. We have shown just how weak it is when all their millions and all their power cannot triumph.
There is strength in numbers. The ordinary people in Neighborhood Councils and homeowner groups showed the way. Now, it is the duty of the city’s civic leadership to rise up and take a stand with the people.
Unemployment in the city is over 10 percent officially and far higher in reality. The poverty rate is soaring as middle class jobs disappear.
We have been taxed to death with fees and rates soaring and more coming and yet we face cataclysmic cuts in public services with a budget deficit approaching $700 million in the coming fiscal year and far higher in following years.
Antonio’s machine is broken and weak. It will fall apart of city commissioners stand up to it, if the business and labor leaders refuse to look the other way any longer, if elected officials fulfill their oaths of office.
The people are aroused and have gotten organized. We are beyond being mad as hell. We are doing something about it and we are going to do a lot more in the days and weeks ahead.
There will be no backroom deal on solar energy. The mayor, in his arrogant contempt for the will of the people, will not get away with his boast that he’ll go forward with the DWP/IBEW monopoly on solar energy.
We can move forward quickly with a real plan but it must be done in the open with all stakeholders at the table.
We can get our arms around the budget deficit but city employee unions must face the reality that everyone in the private sector is facing. That means doing more with less, redoing contracts to a level of cost we can afford so that we maintain vital services while eliminating those that are unnecessary in hard times.
Stop the machine. Join the movement to save LA.