The Highway Patrolman’s red lights were flashing as I stood outside my car just across the border into Arizona Thursday night waiting for him to write the ticket when I heard the “tweet” alert.
I reached for the cell phone in my pocket, slowly, and told him I was waiting for an important message. He stiffened but I went ahead and looked: “We won, Measure B Lost.” It didn’t mean a thing to him.
By the time I got to Phoenix, I realized this was a dream come true. David beat Goliath. The People beat the Machine. Business, labor and the community came together and showed Antonio Villaraigosa he’s living in a political fantasy world believing he can get away with pandering to special interests and smiling his way out of the failure of his policies.
This wasn’t an election about solar energy. We all want clean energy instead of the dirtiest power plants in America. We all want clean air instead of the dirtiest air in America.
It was an election about back room deals, about the DWP monopoly and whether it serves the public interest or private interests, about the IBEW and whether it has abused its power for the last time.
It was an election about the failure of City Hall and the demand of a broad coalition for open, inclusive and democratic processes on solar energy and billboards and budgets and everything else City Hall does.
The mayor and City Council can follow the lead of the IBEW’s Brian D’Arcy and the DWP’s David Nahai and ignore the will of the people. They can pay lip service and say they “heard” the people. Or they can change course and embrace the changes that are coming with — or without — them.
No, this wasn’t an election about solar energy.
The majority of LA voters repudiated City Hall itself and the way it has worked for far too long.
This is a mandate for change. The mayor could seize the day. Anyone on the council could step forward. Dozens of prominent and important people could see the momentum and step forward.
I hope he does and they do. But my belief is the future hopes for a prosperous and liveable city will rest on somebody who comes out of a new generation of leadership, someone who isn’t tied to the politics of the past, who puts the greater good of the city and its people ahead of the interests of the few.
The task at hand for all those who want to be part of something greater than themselves is to demand the kind of processes that bring us together instead of keeping us apart, to demand policies that serve the public interest, not the special interests, to elect the people who see themselves as public servants, not officials elected to high office who serve themselves.