EDITOR’S NOTE: Earl Ofari Hutchinson interviewed me Friday about LA Clean Sweep on his radio show on KTYM 1460AM. You can play or download the show by clicking here.
Sweep took a major step forward on Sunday with about 100 people showing up for
professional training to make them more effective as activists and candidates
for public office.
who was there came away feeling they had learned valuable tools that will aid
them in the struggle to elect candidates to city office who will put the public
interest first – a point emphasized by remarks by City Attorney Carmen “Nuch”
Trutanich during a 30-minute appearance.
was elected last year in no small part by support from the same coalition of
community activists who help Paul Krekorian win the CD2 seat and defeat Measure
B, the solar energy boondoggle.
He made is
clear in his remarks that given the political culture of City Hall, its
subservience to special interests and the budget crisis, have made public
service a challenge every day to do what he believes is right for the city as a
whole and its people.
was not without its moment of controversy.
Robbins of the nonprofit American Majority that trains Tea Party activists
began the training programs for activists and candidates for city offices with
a lengthy presentation on the group’s view of
failure of our governmental institutions today.
It is based
on a very fundamentalist view of the Constitution as outlined by James Madison
Progressive movement at the start of the 20th century for
federalizing the government.
It is a
viewpoint that did not sit well with some activists, myself included who
believe in Jeffersonian democracy and think Teddy Roosevelt was our greatest
president for breaking up the monopolistic cartels and taking the most
beautiful lands in
out of private hands by creating the National Parks.
emotional argument ensued that threatened to disrupt the event – an argument
that does to the heart of City Hall political machines attacks on Clean Sweep
and the misgivings of many activists who share Clean Sweep’s goals to get
It is no
small matter and we must get past it or we will remain divided and powerless
while our city officials put the future of the city at risk by slashing basic
services, subsidizing unwanted developments with tax dollars and turning a
budget crisis into a catastrophe.
goals are clear and simple. We are trying to bring together people from all
over the city regardless of their political views to work in common cause for a
and to create a new spirit of LA that unites people no matter what their
backgrounds or economic condition or political beliefs.
have to agree on anything except the need for dramatic change because our city
government has failed us.
We need new
leaders who owe their elections to the people in their district, not the dirty
money provided by special interests, officials committed to fiscal
responsibility and providing the core services that make a city livable for all
its people, to rebuilding the aging infrastructure to create a healthy economic
climate and healthy neighborhoods.
political culture at City Hall where elected officials and the bureaucrats see
themselves as servants of the people – not their lords and masters – will not
be without its conflicts over policies and programs.
with honesty and integrity and reflect the values and interests of the
communities they represent will quarrel and conflict our in the open where the
public can learn the facts and understand the arguments. They will reach
compromises or one side or another will prevail issue by issue.
not vote unanimously 99.93 percent of the time as our current City Council does
without meaningful public debate because the consensus is built in the privacy
of back rooms outside the public view.
It was a
heated and scary moment at Sunday’s Clean Sweep meeting but Nick Dalton-Pawle
of the Sun Valley Neighborhood Council somehow found the words that quelled the
fire of conflict.
walked out and the meeting got down to the basic tools of how to work
effectively for change and in the end everyone felt they had learned something
about how to work more effectively for their goals, and hopefully how we can
all work together for the goals we share.
down in the end to a choice: Will we break apart and remain a conquered
populace because we disagree with or even find abhorrent the views of some on
some issues or stand united on the common ground where he can win power and
begin the hard job of building a better city for all.
This is the
choice we all have to make, rich and poor and everyone in between.
We will not
stop the City Hall political machine from its course of destruction if we got
lost in all that divides us. We must find our way to the light of unity.
another way, any other way, let those who attack Clean Sweep bring it forward.