One of the hallmarks of repressive and failing regimes the world over is their refusal to allow differing points of view to be heard.Los Angeles City Hall is no exception.
Of all its crimes, of all the reasons for its failures, the greatest is
not its fiscal irresponsibility or managerial incompetence, the union
control of the DWP, the lack of smart planning or the CRA gifts to
developers who trash our neighborhoods.
Not even the sloth, stupidity and sleaziness of some of our elected officials can explain City Hall’s spectacular inadequacies.
What’s really at the heart of what is wrong is the iron curtain they have imposed on public information and public debate.
employ legions of political operatives and P.R. spinners to construct
fictitious narratives for public consumption, stories that have little
or nothing to do with the reality of what is going on behind the scenes.
pour millions into shadowy non-profits that are little more than
organizing tools for the preservation of themselves, nothing more than
an old-fashioned patronage system.
They treat concerned citizens
with such little respect that only gadflies show up to most City Council
meetings, meetings that are scripted to obscure the truth, not enlighten the public.
A case in point is how they have thwarted the efforts of two-time Emmy award winning producer Leslie Dutton to get her Full Disclosure Network’s four-part series on the jailing of attorney Richard I. Fine aired on the city’s channels.
These are investigative reports that call into question the integrity of the local judiciary over its taking of huge under-the-table payments from the county and how the jailed Fine for 18 months for daring to raise questions about the practice.
Dutton has until midnight New Year’s Eve to get the shows broadcast to be eligible for another Emmy award and had a commitment from Councilman Bill Rosendahl to help her get them on the air.
Rosendahl spent a big chunk of his adult lift as a cable TV executive,
hosting a public affairs show and supporting public access television.
But as one of the 15 people on the City Council, he has proven himself to be a poor advocate for what he
claims to hold dear to his heart, powerless to overcome his colleagues resistance to any resembling a healthy public debate on important issues
Four years ago, the city pulled the plug on Dutton hour-long show on
Saturdays for what Councilman Bernard Parks, who had sponsored her
efforts for three years. said was “contentious content,” according to Rick Orlov’s 2006 story in the Daily News. Here are links to the Full Disclosure Network’s own reports on what occurred one, two, three.)
long after Dutton was banned, the state legislature,in the kind of
deceitful back room deal sweetened by lavish amounts of campaign cash,
freed cable operators from the burden of maintaining studios and
channels for public access video productions.
in the name of creating competition for cable TV customers by ending the
system of local franchising, supposedly to allow giant telecom
companies like AT&T to compete against monopolistic cable operators
like Time Warner.
Of course, they knew full well that the cost
of laying fiber optic cable was prohibitive in markets saturated by
satellite TV providers and cable service.
Supposedly, 20 percent
of the tax revenue from cable companies — roughly $5 million a year
from Time Warner in Los Angeles — was to be used by local communities
to continue to provide resources in support of public access TV.
communities — mostly those smaller towns that are well run –
supported the public’s right to use TV to express themselves and inform
other others. Not in L.A.
City Hall in L.A. maintains a blackout
on public discussions informed by diverse points of view so the money
for public access TV has been confiscated and used for whatever purposes
our leaders find more beneficial to the teetering political careers.
is no way we can solve any of the issues that affect the quality of our
lives unless we make City Hall totally transparent and create the
structures for full and open public debate.
Leslie Dutton is
doing something. She’s formed the non-profit Public Television Industry
Corp. with a Board of Advisors that includes Stanley Sheinbaum, Ed
Asner, Xavier Hermosillo and me to seek funding to make possible an open
public access TV network — not the propaganda on city channels.
What are you doing to demand transparency in all things governmental?