One day the head of the Police Commission resigns “unexpectedly” one day to spend more time in his private law practice.
Two days later, Fire Chief Douglas Barry “abruptly” hangs it up at age 55 after two years in his post. He spent 35 years in the Fire Department so he’ll draw most of his $258,000 salary and full health benefits for the rest of his life so who can blame him.
In between, ex-cops-turned-Councilmen Dennis Zine and Bernard Parks opened their guns on the scandal-shrouded city employee pension funds and the mayor’s role in naming a majority of the members of the boards that have overseen disastrous investment policies and insider dealings.
This is no small matter since three of the five mayoral appointees to the Fire and Police Pension fund have resigned in recent days over ethical questions but members of the closed City Hall power structure to point fingers is a rare event.
If the weren’t enough, the passions of the community are aroused and the masses — so easily beguiled and confused for so long — are suddenly challenging just about everything the city does.
Too many billboards, too little planning, 16 percent electricity rate hikes, 28 bump in water rates, 300 percent increase in water runoff charges, the monumental budget crisis — there’s no end city issues that have become battlegrounds.
Or more local ones like the La Brea-Willoughby neighborhood’s fight over the Gateway Project which just got committee approval and goes before the full council next Wednesday.
Or the decade-long battle over preservation of the Southwest Museum which will come up again June 16 when the Board of Referred Powers considers approval of the Autry Museum’s application to expand a new wing in Griffith Park.
Then, there’s Hollywood’s fight over a long list of building code violations like front yards that have become parking lots with open storage and fences that are too high.
The list goes on and on.They are signs of LA’s new political realities where the mayor can no longer count on a City Council intimidated into submission, where the Council is looking over its shoulder at an increasingly dangerous electorate, where the community is becoming increasingly emboldened to fight City Hall.
On Friday, as the video shows, the council led by an impassioned Richard Alarcon derailed the mayor’s plan for distributing $19 million in federal stimulus money for community development projects targeted to low- and moderate-income residents and left bureaucrats and mayoral staff speechless.
Bernard Parks supported increaseing Janice Hahn’s share of the money while Alarcon fought for a greater share for himself and Parks and Dennis Zine presided over a delicious floor show that gave the mayor until Wednesday to come up with a revised plan.
Welcome to the rise of democracy in LA.