Crime and punishment in L.A. all too often means the victims get punished and the criminals get rich.
That’s the experience of thousands of people in every part of the city and the fires of their discontent are blazing so brightly that those with power and influence have begun to take notice.
Our elected officials in their desperation to protect themselves from accountability are trying to drape themselves in the cloak of reforms that do little or nothing to change a failed political culture corrupted by money from special interests.
In the face of intensifying pressure for fundamental change, they find themselves forced to back down on everything from DWP rate hikes to approval of subsidies for projects that provide no public benefit.
Across the city, concerned citizens are digging deep into the record and discovering evidence of wrongdoing and wrong-headed policies.
The public is waking up from its long sleep in apathy and indifference and finding City Hall is a nightmare of mismanagement, its property, policies and politicians up for sale to the highest bidder.
For every apologist for failure in the mainstream media like the LA Times’ Tim Rutten who sees Antonio Villaraigosa as a “visionary” who has “rediscovered” his political courage and is making “remarkable” things happen, there’s a Jon Regardie in the Downtown News mocking City Hall as “one of the
scariest places” in LA, a “Hall-o-ween” haunted house, a “horror show” complete with “ghouls, gasps, budget cuts
and skeletons in closets.”
Regardie, not Rutten, speaks to the voices of ordinary citizens who are using the blogosphere and endless chains of viral email to lift the veil of City Hall’s lies and deceits and expose the face of failure and corruption.
This is a revolution being fought with facts and figures on the Internet, not guns and bombs.
The honesty and integrity of our political institutions are being called into question from the $50,000 county officials make in illegal back door payments that compromise our judges to the LA Community College District hiring an inspector general who’s the friend on contractors she’s supposed to prevent from looting our $6 billion in construction bonds.
The system is spiraling out of control as activists show how de facto Mayor Austin Beutner’s plan to streamline the planning process is a ruse to exclude the public and allow developments, often with heavy public subsidies, that destroy the quality of our lives.
Information gathered by the community has stymied Beutner’s plans for at least 90 days and stalled time after time efforts to give a $4 million gift of public money to a questionable developer to build an unneeded office building on Vine Street in Hollywood.
Dennis Hathaway of Ban Billboard Blight has forced the city to back down on trashing three parks with buildings, picnic tables and trash cans promoting a movie.
Matt Dowd and Zuma Dogg, acting as their own lawyers, won a federal court injunction against a faulty ordinance suppressing free speech at Venice Beach.
Others are progressing with lawsuits over the failure of the city to track the cumulative impact of developments on neighborhoods and to conduct annual infrastructure reports for a decade.
Dirty deals to channel public money through phony non-profits with dubious records are tied up in court even as neighborhoods are starting to work together to fight everything from a Costco in Woodland Hills to the massive NBC-Universal project in Studio City.
City Hall is under siege from hundreds of directions in all parts of the city.
The business community has stepped out in front to challenge the phony pension reforms backed by City Council members who have lost credibility with the public employee unions who helped put them into office.
This is all just tip of an iceberg of what is going on below the surface as people get more involved in their communities.
For the first time in a long time a real conversation is taking place about what kind of city we are and how it should be run and who should run it.