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Caretakers of a Greater Dream for LA

If we haven’t
already reached the point of no return, we will with approval today of the skyscraper
billboard passing as the new Wilshire Grand luxury hotel and the soon to be
approved mega-billboard passing as an NFL stadium/Convention Center.

The
twinkling of lights of LA down below that gave the city its night-time charm
will soon enough be a blazing LED light show of advertising images pulsing new
messages every six to eight seconds, consuming the electricity that could power
thousands of homes, making a mockery of slogans like “greenest city in America.”

The glow
from downtown and then Hollywood
and eventually the Westside will pollute the sky for miles around.

LA will
finally have fulfilled the dark side of its promise, an anything goes playground
for the rich and powerful sporting themselves in pockets of spectacular luxury
surrounded by vast canyons of poverty.

They talk
about jobs, jobs, jobs but they really mean buy, buy, buy as if the era of
hyper-consumerism and hyper-commercialism was not on its last legs.

This is a
nation that has been losing good-paying middle class jobs far faster than they
are being created for decades, a nation that has seen its share of the global
car manufacturing market fall from 65 percent to 15 percent, its car capital
fall in population to what it was 100 years ago, its unionized work force fall
from 33 percent to 13 percent with much of that in an unaffordable public
sector.

The
American Century is over. Even our military might that consumes so much of our
wealth cannot triumph over Al Qaeda and the Taliban any better than it did the
Viet Cong 40 years ago.

We are
clinging with all our strength to a runaway culture, obsessed by the
shenanigans of celebrity creeps and sickos. . Even as we resist all change in
the way we live and work, we jump aboard iPads and G4 cell phones as if nothing
has changed.

Nowhere is
the madness of America
more evident than in LA.

We are
seeing a feeding frenzy at the public trough by developers, contractors, unions
nowhere what harm they do to the quality of the lives of millions and their
hopes for a better future.

It is
unstoppable.

We have
raised our voices in anger. We have begged for crumbs. The machine of our
political and civic culture has no more mercy than it has solutions to the
problems we collectively face.

We have
voted with our feet in far greater numbers that we have voted in ballot boxes.
The middle class has been fleeing for 30 years as white flight became everyone’s
flight – the ultimate exit strategy for disenchanted people.

For the
rest of use who have remained and fought against the tide, there is a dilemma.

Our efforts
to stop the destruction politically and legally have come to little or nothing.
The machine adapts and corrupts every hard-won reform.

Failure is
nothing but a learning experience for me. I’m from Cleveland and I know a lot about losing, a
lot more than I know about winning.

I have
failed at just about everything I ever did in life and my few seem like
miracles, inexplicable. Maybe that’s why I never stopped chasing my dreams.

For the
last 30 years, I have bombed City Hall with every word at my disposal. I used
what journalistic skills and platforms I had to expose abuses of the LAPD and
the corruption of City Hall.

For the
past three years, I’ve posted 1,403 articles, nearly one a day. I started the
Saving LA Project to protest against the tripling of trash fees on the promise
it would all go to the police -a promise broken from day one — and started the
citizen journalism project called OurLA.org. and the political action committee
LA Clean Sweep.

There
always was only one goal – to bring people from all over the city, from every
walk of life together, so they could bring to life the city of their dreams.

These
efforts all have failed. But so what? Life is like that. You struggle and fail
and you get up and struggle some more for the things you believe in.

And then
you wake up one day and inexplicably everything has change, maybe not the way
you envisioned it would be but for the better.

It’s all
just a matter of timing. The tide of history will force us all to change,
sooner or later, and come to terms with the new reality of living within our
means in a more modest, sustainable world that is less materialistic, yet gives
us all a greater chance at happiness.

What do we
do next?

Frankly, I
don’t know. I’m open to all suggestions about how we regroup and carry on the
effort to be the caretakers of a truly great LA that fulfills the hopes and
dreams of its people.

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13 Responses to Caretakers of a Greater Dream for LA

  1. Sandy Sand says:

    And what of the people who will be living in the glare of those monstrous billboards?
    Will they awaken when it’s too late and the light-blight is keeping them awake all night, furthering their angst, crankiness and accelerating their road-rage because they can’t, won’t or didn’t take it out on City Hall through the ballot box?
    Always too little too late by the dumbed-down L.A. masses.
    And what of poor Dr. Ed Krupp at the Griffith Observatory; his stars, his universe will be light-blighted out for ever.
    Perhaps the only way to get through to the people who won’t and haven’t listened to all of Ron’s dire warnings that are now becoming reality is to go Twitter-manic on them by sending them all 140 character abbreviated messages — the only language that seems to be understood today???
    Or maybe a hard-hitting humorous U-Tube video that will go viral???
    Or live streaming video — all the rage, such as birds sitting on their nests that are so popular there isn’t enough band width for all of them and they threaten to crash the Web within two years if some magical electronic wizardry isn’t done soon???
    Maybe all of the above or maybe we who care about the third-worlding of Los Angeles are just poor dumb schmucks tilting at windmills like Don Coyote and we either better learn to live with it; join in with the land developers and profit from the corruption and robbing the little people; or move!
    If we all moved, then who would they have to push around and gouge for more money?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes Ron, the “do-good” Liberals, like yourself, meant well but were doomed to failure. The smiley, sproat-eating, “alternative” candidates didn’t have a chance. It’s primarily because your only true position was being the better “alternative”. But, most didn’t believe you!!!
    Where to go from here? Well, you first must honestly believe, in your heart, that you are the minority. Those that are with you must honestly believe that you are the minority. And, you must honestly believe that you are living among a majority of third-world mentality and neighbors.
    You build a community, a borrough, a neighborhood, that maintains the values of middle class America. You clearly define what that honestly is. You protest like the civil rights leaders of the 60′s would protest in order to obtain that neighborhood environment.

  3. Scott Zwartz says:

    We voted for Gov Brown believing that he would bring about at least some of the change that Ron Kaye envisioned. What did Gov Brown do? In the municipal elections, he backed Tom LaBonge who is a foe to every single reform, who has let $1.5 BILLION in tax dollars disappear into the CRA, who downsized Hollywood’s new FS 82 by 75%, who opposes the Garfield Community Park, who wanted to commercialize Griffith Park with alcohol and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, who wants to increase the density of central Hollywood far more than its present 22,000 per sq. mile, who supported the CRA-CIM Group frauds at Hollywood-Western and the CRA cesspool at 1601 N Vine, who supported bringing Kelo eminent domain to the entire city, who supported taking $1 Billion a year away from schools and giving it to real estate speculators, who perpetrated a worldwide fraud about the Hollywood Sign being in danger in order to con people into donating money to buy Cahuenga Peak and teaching nearby school children that Bait ‘n Switch is a fine business approach.
    So after supporting all these horrible things and ignoring the two candidates, Box and O’Grady, who promised change, the Gov has adopted the GOP national game plan to increase taxes on the middle class while continuing gifts of tax payer money to billionaires. Has anyone heard Gov Brown complain about LA’s giving $52 Million so that billionaire Eli Broad can have his own parking garage net to his art museum?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is Chinatown. Forget it and move on.

  5. Jim O'Sullivan says:

    All revolutions seem to spring unexpectedly onto the scene while in reality they were decades in the making. We humans have the ability to struggle and survive as conditions around us deteriorate to miserable levels. I realize that miserable is a relative term but we plod along trying to overcome until the reality of just how futile that struggle has become injects itself into our daily lives. At that point resistance starts to build. Over time more and more people realize that acceptance of the status quo is no longer viable and they begin to pay attention to what is going on and why. They look for answers and finding none with the establishment they begin to embrace the messages and structures set up by those early resisters. Eventually something happens that focuses the public and a revolution “unexpectedly” occurs. Will it succeed or be the beginning of ongoing turmoil no one knows but once a desire for a new direction enters the public consciousness change is unstoppable.
    Those early to the battle like Ron will make mistakes we all will, but the dye is cast and we will continue to learn from and communicate with each other until change is at hand.

  6. Rick Abrams says:

    Jim is right. There seems to be some secret critical mass before the public reacts. In Tunisia, it was the poor vendor who burned himself to death before the critical mass exploded.
    From one end of this nation to the other, we see politicians giving billions upon TRILLIONS of dollars to corrupt goniffs, and all the GOP presidential wannabees can do is scream that Obama is a Kenyian.
    The worst part is that any sane person would respond to such lunacy. Ignorance and bigotry and their best friend, KnowNothingism, have become badges of honor.
    Is Ron depressed or is he really mad as Hell at the fools who voluntarily vote for corruption. The Oaks voted 47.5% for LaBonge after he downsized their new fire station by 75%. At least Beachwood Canyon dropped down to 20% for LaBonge, but even 20% for LaBonge who downsizes the fire station while giving $52 Million for a billionaire art collector to have his own parking garage makes one wonder about the sanity of that 20%.
    It appears that in LA, we have fools, damn fools and Voters.

  7. Anonymous says:

    OMG this group of council morons is the worse this city has seen. I challenge everyone on Twitter to put out how corrupt and bad they really are. I can say MY COUNCILMAN VOTED NO. Rosendahl was the only one who showed guts and courage going against the idiots. I just read Perry, LaBonge, Reyes and Cardenas are all on a committee for the NFL plans. WTF!!! these are the biggest lame brains on council. These are the most uneducated group that exists. Can they really all be as dumb as they look? The media makes fun of their incompetence, NC’s make fun of them, behind closed doors they all make fun of each other and yet where are the FEDS, Controller Chiang and the rest of the Angelenos to get these clowns out. Where is the revolt of Los Angeles???

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is the reason most of us are discouraged and feel it is futile to make any positive changes in LA. From LA Times on the Wilshire Hotel:
    “The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to throw its support behind an elaborate package of new flashing signs, illuminated graphics and moving text for two planned downtown skyscrapers, ignoring critics who warned that such brightly lighted images would degrade the look of the city.
    Councilman Bill Rosendahl cast the lone vote against the plan.
    Minutes after the initial vote, the City Council reconsidered the sign district. During that second vote, Rosendahl agreed to stay out of the room, making the decision unanimous and avoiding the need for a vote next week.
    “They didn’t need to wait another week. It was a done deal,” he said.
    The council created a new one-block sign district for the planned 45-story reconstruction of the Wilshire Grand Hotel and accompanying 65-story office tower.
    The sign district will allow various kinds of digital signs on the first 10 floors of the two towers. The tops of the two skyscrapers will offer digital signs advertising the buildings’ owner and major tenants. And on dozens of stories in between, LED lights would display noncommercial images such as flowers and vines that would fade in and out.
    Councilman Ed Reyes praised the “architectural lighting” scheme, saying the graphics on the upper floors should not be confused with other brightly lighted billboards. “It is art. And I believe it adds more culture” to Los Angeles, he said.
    Added Councilman Dennis Zine: “I am amazed at how anyone could be opposed to this.”
    In casting the lone opposing vote, Rosendahl said the city should have found a way to share in the financial proceeds of the new digital advertising on the two buildings. “We don’t have a dime of revenue out of those, and those folks who put up those billboards are making money hand over fist,” he said.
    The council already agreed last week to give developer Korean Air and its subsidiary, Hanjin International Corp., a tax break of up to $79 million for the two towers over the next 25 years. On Tuesday, council members also agreed to allow the developers to purchase “floor area” permits from the city’s Convention Center, which will allow the proposed office tower to be taller than the zoning allows.
    An array of union leaders packed the council chamber to speak in favor of the project. Maria Elena Durazo, the head of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, an organization that has worked to elect several of the council’s members, said the proposal would create roughly 7,300 construction jobs and include safeguards for hotel employees who would be displaced while the existing 16-story hotel is demolished and a new hotel is built”.
    This idiot Durazo can’t seem to understand the difference between jobs and digital signs. What do the latter have to do with hotel jobs. This idiot controls the city to the detriment of the rest of us.

  9. Kristin S. says:

    Ron, count me crazy with you.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Recall reading that Durazo is the widow of a labor leader who was found dead in bed with a prostitute? Correct me if I’m wrong.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the very labor leader who found his wife Durazo such a mind-numbing bore, he had to go to a whore in South Los Angeles. And when he had a heart attack in the sleazy whore’s place, Antonio Villaraigosa and other labor creeps went on RED ALERT to try to cover up precisely how Miguel Contreras died in the arms of a prostitute instead of with his loveless wife. Yes, THAT Durazo testified in favor of making our City a giant ugly billboard. Mark my words, there will later be a request to change the “art” portion into giant advertising. Wait and see.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Pure genius. They do not use the usual meaningless claims of state-of-the-art and world-class-city, no, they use ART! If graffiti can be marketed as culturally expressive art then this advertising will be the highest cultural expression in LA.
    high art indeed!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to offend your sensibilities, you sensitive types but this is the hard truth & it hurts — you were too passive, too disinterested in civic affairs, too *busy* to vote and you let this city to be ruled by crooks, thugs & such. Villar, clowncilmembers, all being propped by the likes of Durazo & other community organizers. And yup her union honcho hubby did kick the bucket in a whorehouse doing union organizing with a teenage prostitute. But hey, they named a school after him & president visited it –
    http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2009/03/why_did_obama_choose.php
    It’s very cute that Durazo cares so much for jobs in construction and hotels, how about manufacturing or airspace, both of which abandoned LA? Wait, you need a valid SSN for these, so Villar/Durazo/etc dont care (illegals,err – sorry undocumented travelers, dont work there).

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