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Piecemeal Reform Won’t Fix City Hall — Just More Crumbs from the Table of Power

Maybe, the one election reform we need is to make our officials run every year to remind them their jobs are public service, not self service or worse service to special interests.

Just look at what Meg Whitman has done for the economy with her $120 million personal stimulus package. It might even awaken Jerry Brown from sleepwalking all the way to election day.

And consider what running for state Attorney General has done for District Attorney Steve Cooley.

In short order, he’s indicted state Sen. Rod Wright and LA Councilman Richard Alarcon for voter fraud and brought the leadership of the City of Bell into court in handcuffs — charges that could have been brought long ago.

And Eastside Councilman Jose Huizar, not exactly the most energetic representative, is throwing around lots of money for community events in his district and working diligently with Common Cause, League of Women Voters and the Clean Money Campaign on well-intentioned proposals for city election reform.

Could Huizar facing a tough re-election campaign in March against labor mediator Tony Butka and businessman Rudy Martinez has something to do with that?

With nine out of 10 voters now saying the state legislature is doing a lousy job and the LA mayor and City Council widely condemned as failures, there is suddenly great interest among politicians for reform of just about everything — better reform than being thrown out of office by an angry public.

Why else would half the Council be jumping aboard the bandwagon for creation of an independent and fully-funded Rate Payer Advocate to protect the public from crimes of the DWP?

At every level of government, our officials are dancing like crazy to deflect responsibility for the messes they have created of our city, our state and our nation..

They blame everyone but themselves and do their best to foment conflict over peripheral issues among the citizenry to keep us divided and conquered.

It is the economy, stupid. We no longer manufacture enough to sustain the growth economy driven by hyper-consumerism since the end of World War II, 65 years ago.

The good old boom days are never come back. What was normal is over and the new normal that is coming requires major structural changes in American society, politically and economically.

That’s what I believe and why piecemeal reform is just a Band-aid to cover up the failure of leadership and not a solution.

The Voters Bill of Rights.doc put forward Monday on the steps of City Hall by Huizar and the well-intentioned political groups seeks to increase turnout at the polls in city elections and to make it possible for grassroots candidates to stand a chance against fortune in dirty money poured into the machine candidates’ campaigns.

It takes a minimum of  $100,000 for even the best known grassroots candidate with a large and well-organized base to be able to run a strong campaign and that’s what the Voters Bill of Rights proposes to provide in city funds if a candidate reaches modest goals in fund-raising.

Every voter would get a mail-in ballot, election day registration would be allowed and instant runoff would be introduced with voters listing their fist and second choices.

There’s something for a lot of different constituencies and the promise none of this will cost more tax dollars.

I’m leery of some of the proposals but believe they would work in a city where power is shared broadly, where every segments of the community has a seat at the table of power, where the public is fully engaged in the civic and political life.

Sadly, none of that is true in LA.

There must be comprehensive reform to devolve power to Neighborhood Council or better creating boroughs that would be the governing body on local issues with the city divided into five or seven largely self-governing regions and sending representatives to a Metro Council to decide citywide policies.

You wouldn’t need public financing at all to win a seat as a part-time member of the Borough Council and special interests would have a hard time prevailing over grassroots candidates deeply involved in making their communities better.

Nothing sparks civic engagement more than putting power and money on the table.

Charter Reform in 1990s started with those ideas in mind when Richard Riordan and David Fleming launched the movement but their effort was derailed by the same special interests that now have the run of City Hall.

The new Charter, now 10 years old, is a disaster.

That will certainly be my position at the forum on the Charter on Thursday Oct. 7, 8 to 10 a.m. in Council Chambers. Huizar is the moderator and other panelists are Julie Butcher, Jackie Dupont-Walker, Fernando Guerra, Xandra Kayden, Greg Nelson and Raphael Sonenshein — all people I respect even when I disagree with them.






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4 Responses to Piecemeal Reform Won’t Fix City Hall — Just More Crumbs from the Table of Power

  1. Anonymous says:

    You’re damn right Huizar is going to face a tough re election bid. A lot of people are emailing the voter mail in is an open invitation to fraud. Huizar does’nt do a damn thing unless something is in it for him. ITs no secret the Latino communities are known for voter fraud even though the media doesn’t report it. Drive around Huizar’s district and see how horribly its deteroriated. And instead of raising money for the poor mothers in his area that had their child care services cut or more library hours for kids who don’t have computers or books at home, thanks to the idiots in city council, Huizar decides to have a fundraiser with develpers Caruso and Lieweke to raise $100 million for a ‘streetcar” for downtown LA. He’s spending a fortune on Bring Back Broadway and the hell with the rest of CD14.

  2. Aonymous says:

    How can Lost Angeles Council do anything right when council members can NOT obey their own council rules?
    In Addition, stakeholders complain and whine but vote for SAME LACK OF LEADERSHIP POLITICIANS back into office along with their ill conceived ballot measures that will only benefit the SAME LACK OF LEADERSHIP POLITICIANS.
    Los Angeles Council members continue to violate their own Council Rules with NO consequence which is customary here in LA. Los Angeles Need to Set Precedent Garcetti needs to introduce a motion to change the Council Rules that will allow council members to be present at council meetings at the hour of their choice and TAKE AWAY the council members city CARS and GAS.
    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 council again is awaiting a quorum as the following NINE council members were late.
    District 3 – Dennis Zine
    District 5 – Paul Koretz
    District 6 – Tony Cardenas
    District 7 – Richard Alarcon
    District 8 – Bernard Parks
    District 9 – Jan Perry
    District 10 – Herb Wesson
    District 12 – Grieg Smith
    District 14 – Jose Huizar
    Today, September 29, 2010 ELEVEN council members were LATE to council chambers as Mr. Garcetti said he and one other council member were present at 10:00 a.m. and Zine and Perry were excused to arrive late.
    Then the, I, arrived LATE AGAIN to chambers Tony Cardenas tried to educate the public by saying that some council members were still in the Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee. This meeting is chaired by Wesson with the following Council members Alarcon, Cardenas, Reyes, and Perry, who was excused to arrive late at 11:00 a.m. to chambers, was scheduled to attend. Even if these four council members were present in chamber at 10:00 a.m. as mandated per their own Council RULES, council would still be lacking a quorum again.
    Council member Cardenas should introduce a motion asking council members to hold their committee meetings on Monday or Thursday when there is No Council meeting scheduled or late at 7:30 pm on these days to encourage public participation. http://ens.lacity.org/clk/committeeagend/clkcommitteeagend2368418_09292010.pdf

  3. Anonymous says:

    Don’t be fooled by this “reform” package. Go read Doug McIntyre’s column in the Daily News today. He says it better than I can, except for one thing.
    What ever “reform” that is created, I guarantee you it won’t benefit us.

  4. Anonymous says:

    September 29, 2010 TWELVE Council members were LATE to council chambers as Council President Garcetti said he was the only council member present at 10:00 a.m. and Zine and Perry were excused to arrive late.
    Then the, I, arrived LATE AGAIN to chambers Tony Cardenas tried to educate the public by saying that some council members were still in the Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee. This meeting is chaired by Wesson with the following Council members Alarcon, Cardenas, Reyes, and Perry, who was excused to arrive late at 11:00 a.m. to chambers, was scheduled to attend. Even if these four Council members, Wesson, Alarcon, Cardenas, and Reyes, were present in chamber at 10:00 a.m. as mandated per their own Council RULES, council would still be lacking a quorum again.
    Council member Cardenas should introduce a motion asking council members to hold their committee meetings on Monday and Thursday when there is No Council meeting scheduled or start committee meetings at 7:30 p.m. to encourage public participation.
    http://ens.lacity.org/clk/committeeagend/clkcommitteeagend2368418_09292010.pdf

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