A new year, a new decade, a new beginning in the city of reinvention — if only we will seize the moment.
Little more than two months from now, we will vote on seven City Council seats and 10 ballot measures and the odds are long on anything changing at all, on a single problem being solved on this troubled city, on a single new face being brought into the circle of power.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Thousands of people in every part of LA in hundreds of little cells of activism are working for change, for progress in fixing what is broken, for solutions as simple as fiscal responsibility, transparency, honesty.
It’s all about public service and public benefits — not special interests and private profits.
The trends are clear enough: Libraries closed, parks program gutted, lives jeopardized by fire ambulance service cuts, and on and on even as fees, rates and fines soar in ways that amount to nothing but hidden taxation.
The political leadership is paralyzed by ineptitude and servility to the powerful interests that have propped them up for so long.
Business and civic leaders stand on the sidelines, and talk about municipal bankruptcy as if it were a solution, the only solution.
Maybe it is, given the record of the city’s leadership.
Cowed by secret dossiers obtained by spying on the private lives of prominent people, they ignored the systematic abuses of the LAPD’s paramilitary mentality and the power of chiefs who held their jobs for life without any public accountability.
Even after the Rodney King videotaped beating exposed how prosecutors and elected officials systemically covered up police abuses against the poor and minorities, the city’s leadership lacked the political will to carry out real reforms.
In the end, they abdicated their responsibility and unconditionally surrendered authority over the LAPD to a federal judge who carried out sweeping reforms that restored the department’s credibility and have led to dramatic reductions in serious crime under Chiefs Bratton and Beck and the Police Commission led by John Mack.
It’s City Hall’s only real success story in the last decade.
The city’s political leaders have made it clear they will resist turning control over to a federal bankruptcy judge. They will keep down the road to ruin, selling valuable assets in fire sales, cutting core services, punishing select groups of city workers, squeezing more money out of the public and draping themselves in phony slogans and meaningless ballot measures.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The business and civic leadership has the power to step in now, join with community leaders and put an end to this charade before more harm is done.
The political machine, weak and failing, will collapse in the face of a united front and open the way for a new deal that respects the values and concerns of every segment of the community.
There will be pain in the short term for workers, residents and businesses but we can put this perpetual crisis behind us and move forward together.
Or we can keep on fighting with each other as the situation gets worse.
There’s hundreds of little armies of concerned citizens out there ready to fight to fight about just everything because what is going on threatens the L.A. of their dreams, the quality of their lives, their jobs and businesses, their hopes for the future.
We have reached the point of no return unless we agree to set aside our differences and surrender unconditionally to the reality we face.
We can make peace or we can make war. The choice is ours.