Billionaire developer Rick Caruso’s opening aria in the mayoral soap opera borrowed heavily from the liturgy of community activists, calling City Hall a “bureaucratic nightmare” led by “political lifers” who are a “roadblock” to progress, killing jobs faster than they’re created.
He mocked the mayor and his free-loading ways, his subway as a waste of money and LAUSD that he has so much power over as an “educational gulag.”
No rival was spared, directly or indirectly, as Caruso in his Town Hall speech Thursday called for “decisive leadership … disruptive leadership … demanding leadership … strong, confident and creative leaders with vision … leaders who are bold and positive … compassionate leaders.”
“I believe all this will only come from men and women who know how City Hall works — but who haven’t been part of the problem.”
On Friday, the city’s political leaders took the stage, front and center, even star baritone Antonio himself who offered a soliloquy on his love for Asian-Pacific Islanders as he loves us all.
He then exited the stage, ignoring the rabble’s pleas for a response to the concerns about the pillaging of their city, the threat to their safety from the loss of police and fire services, the closing of their libraries.
Then, it was the Gang of 15′s turn to get to the heart of the drama, money or the lack of it.
They opened with the group chorale “Shocked and dismayed…we didn’t know, nobody told us, who closed the libraries, who got us in all this trouble …”
Bill Rosendahl offered a brief aria on the closing of a Palisades fire station, singing, “They’ll kill me if you do it even if what you’re doing doesn’t kill them … “
It was all just a setup for the brilliant soprano Janice Hahn who can’t wait to join a new entertainment company anywhere, anytime, anything to get out of San Pedro, which may be why she was so plaintive in warning, “Wilmington will blow, we all will die … please, oh please, don’t close my fire station, don’t kill me before I can get out of town … “
“No, no, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t you, I know not who,” responded lead tenor Eric Garcetti.
Then, to the delight of the entire cast if not the paying patrons, he sang, “Smiley face, my smiley face, smile and the fools will smile with you, smile, smile, smile; pretend all’s well and nothing’s wrong, they’ll believe you, you just got to believe whatever you want, and the whole world will believe it too.”
It wasn’t clear anyone was convinced except Garcetti himself as firefighters, teenagers, rich and poor, paraded around the stage whining and complaining.
“Fear not, fear not,” the Gang of 15 responded in unison, “we don’t know who broke it but we’ll fix it all, just give us the money and we’ll fix it all. Trust us, trust us … “
It was quite a show, Garcetti’s mayoral swan song unless he changes his tune and engages the reality everyone else is experiencing.
As for Caruso, this critic can say with certainty just how easy it is to see what’s wrong, to see the need for real leadership, real planning, and a real public conversation.
The hard part is writing and producing the opera that brings us all together singing the same song, the Song of Unity.
You know how it goes: “We’re all in this together, one for all and all for one. No place for greed, no time to waste…There’s only one way and that’s together.”