The 21st century got off to a terrible start in its first decade what with unending wars and economic meltdown and I can’t say the opening acts of the second decade are all that promising.
On Sunday, the National Football League disgraced itself by allowing its playoff-bound teams to throw the final games of the season, much to the displeasure of fans, fantasy sports enthusiasts and hapless bettors.
Football may just be part of the circus of a runaway culture that distracts us from what matters but It says a lot about what’s happening when fabulously rich athletes and billion-dollar enterprises have so little pride that teams like the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints can go undefeated until the final weeks of the season and don’t even bother to try against weak teams because their playoff berths are secure.
Today, state Assembly Democrats are geared up to show once again there is no honor left, even among thieves.
For five months they have dawdled about passing pro forma legislation that would make California eligible for nearly $1 billion of Obama’s “Race to the Top” educational funding.
The delay was caused because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero are pushing for two measures that would give parents similar rights to force reforms in failing schools as teachers now have.
But after lengthy negotiations following passage by one vote in the state Senate, Assembly Democrats today plan to gut these reforms out of the education bill.
Bowing as usual to the political money and clout of the education lobby
of teachers unions and the school board association — organizations
that bear heavy responsibility for the failure of our schools –they do not have the courage to even put these reforms to a vote.
Their compromise is to split off the difficult choices into a separate for possible later consideration just as they did with the hard choices on the budget and water resources issues.
What does it say about the principles of the Democratic Party that they oppose empowering parents to force change in failing schools?
What does it say about us that we have tolerated both Democrats and Republicans to gerrymander our political districts to strip us all of our voting rights and bankrupt our state and yet we still elect them to office at the state and local level?
What does it take for all of us to stop talking and talking and talking about how things have gone to hell and to start really doing something about it?
There is no mystery about what’s broken.
Our political system has been taken hostage by special interests while ordinary people have been left out in the cold.
There is only one way I know of to change the political — or the cultural — dynamics. Power must be seized and that can only be done when community groups stop yakking and start acting by coming together in a well-organized movement that raises money and raises consciousness through news and information.
Eighteen months ago, we launched the Saving LA Project as a loose-knit organization that would research local issues, build an information network and pressure City Hall.
We’ve had some success but fallen far short of achieving our goals.
Whether SLAP is the vehicle or needs to be reconstituted or a new organization formed makes no difference to me. But the task needs to be done and time is critical.
The business community, private sector labor, community groups are preoccupied with their own narrow issues and all too willing to settle for crumbs from the table of power while the spoils still go to developers, public employee unions and other special interests.
Given the state of the city and state, the only issue that matters is power.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and hopefully the new City Council member Paul Krekorian, give us a beachhead inside City Hall. State elections are coming and the campaigns for seven Council seats will start by summer.
What is at stake is the quality of our lives, the value of our homes, the security of our jobs and businesses and the future of our children.
If that isn’t enough to move us to look at the big picture and unite into an effective movement, nothing will ever change.