Few places on Earth needs to worry more about the impact of global warming than Los Angeles. If we lose this climate, we won’t have a lot left.
The big banks and big stores have all left town or closed down along with the big defense contractors that provided the middle class jobs that drove the consumer economy.
Now, we rank in a class with Detroit and Cleveland for poverty and unemployment, the first big city in the Great West to look like the Rust Belt cities of the Midwest.
Our pipes leak. Our power system dirty and obsolete. Our roads potholed and congested, our trees untrimmed, our libraries closed on Sundays and Mondays, our parks trying to stay open by selling advertising space on everything from the facades of buildings to trash cans, as Dennis Hatthway at Ban Billboard Blight reported.
We are at a tipping point and it has nothing to do with climate change.
The choice of whether we tip over or right our ship will not be ours unless we step up our efforts to challenge destructive policies and to demand accountability..
The forces that have created and profited from the vision of L.A. as Manhattan West are desperate to the point that they are willing to subsidize any deal with public money without regard to public benefits.
The vision that drives the city’s policies should be clear enough now:
Sell the city for any price they can get from developers, Chinese green
energy companies, investment bankers and tycoons and profiteers of any
story — no matter how much it costs in subsidies and giveaways of the
That’s insane. How can
you make money giving away tax dollars without getting a significant
piece of the profits if and when they come.
Chagrined that City Hall critics would raise the issue of criminal charges against Councilman Richard Alarcon in public comment, Paul Koretz comes to his defense by suggesting cutting citizens right to speak directly to their elected officials from two minutes to one minute.
Frustrated at their own failure to streamline planning processes rationally, City Hall tries to cut the public out entirely only to face an organized campaign from Cary Brazeman and LA Neighbors United that forces a 90-day delay — time that gives residents the opportunity to mount a citywide campaign to protect their neighborhoods from over-development.
At every turn from the DWP to City Hall’s overspending, more people are coming to understand just how high the stakes are high and becoming involved.
The business community is starting to see the long-term consequences of the runaway costs of the city’s payroll and benefits and starting to question whether the crumbs thrown them from the table of power are worth the price.
Even the unions are seeing the numbers for worsening deficits year after year — deficits that can only be made up by the loss of more jobs and the loss of income through more furloughs.
City Hall is spiraling out of control, chasing the financial numbers downhill and looking to fill the March 2011 ballot with a long list of tepid measures to cloak their failure in the cloth of reform and save themselves from the wrath of the people.
There will be a collision of forces on election day that could turn L.A. around and start moving the city forward again.
The city’s leaders know this doesn’t work for anyone but themselves and their political friends.
But they have no other idea about what to do, lack the courage to do what needs to be done if they do know, or just plain don’t care or don’t understand what is going on as is the case with most of the City Council.
This is the tipping point and it’s going to take a revolution to force a debate on how we rebuild our neighborhoods, create a healthy business climate and job opportunities and restore the promise of greatness that is the destiny of L.A.
Hundreds of people have joined the LA Clean Sweep campaign to bring people together from all parts of the city to help them get elected. It’s going to take thousands to really make a difference, to raise the money, staff the phone banks and walk the precincts to get them elected.
There’s nothing but bad news coming out of City Hall. This is the moment when real change is possible.
But LA Clean Sweep can’t do it unless others on the sidelines or fighting in isolation the battles that are important to them, join the movement and take leadership roles.
That’s the goal and the opportunity. It is going to take all of us.