Hard as it may be to believe, there is a logical theory to the way L.A. city government is organized that is supposed to provide honesty and efficiency and balance the competing interests in a complex society.
The theory is the mayor provides vision, leadership and oversight to the
entire city government. The City Council makes policy and reviews the
actions of the various departments which each have their own independent
citizen oversight in the form of commissions. Top bureaucrats are held
accountable by their commissions and the elected officials while the
work force is insulated from political interference by civil service
Clearly, it isn’t working the way it was designed what with extensive evidence of waste, mismanagement, malingering, bribery and stealing not to mention politicians granting favors to friends and contributors from fixing parking tickets to tax breaks and subsidies worth millions.
The entire system has become politicized. Top managers are brow-beaten into submission by the politicians and their staffs. Commissioners are little more than shills for the politicians. Work place discipline has broken.
The result is corruption has become so rampant that the FBI is investigating and a federal grand jury is handing down indictments.
Every dark cloud has a bright spot and City Hall’s is the Police Commission which under the leadership of its president, civil rights leader John Mack, has brought independent oversight and leadership that has done more to restore the LAPD’s credibility than the mayor’s hiring 800 cops and putting them in civilian jobs.
On Tuesday, the commission took a series of actions that are worthy of note, starting with rejecting a recommendation from the department’s top brass to require that toy guns and BB sold in the city be pink or another color so cops wouldn’t mistake them for real guns.
Wouldn’t thugs, the commissioners asked, just paint their guns pink to get the drop on the cops? Duh, the brass didn’t think of that, case closed.
Then, there was the issue of cops of what do about cops who get caught drunk driving or committing other violations. Current practice is to let them off on “conditional own recognizance” for first offenses with a warning they will be suspended or face other discipline if it happens again.
The commissioners suggested it might be a better idea to actually intervene and determine if the officer has an alcohol or other problems and provide help and support so it doesn’t lead to more trouble. Duh, case closed.
The big news was the commission voted unanimously, all five of them — Mack, Alan Skobin, Richard Drooyan, Robert Saltzman and Debra Wong Yang — to kill the red light cameras that so infuriate motorists.
This is no small matter since the firm that provides the red light camera services, American Traffic Solutions, has shown it has real clout with the City Council in no small part due to paying $150,000 in the last two years to the lobbying firm, Sage Advisors, which also peddles its influence on behalf of AEG and IBEW Local 11 to name a few of its clients.
The Council, in supporting the program, ordered the LAPD to renew the contract for the red light cameras.
Nonsense, said the Police Commission, there’s no evidence the cameras improve traffic safety and the $400 fine for getting caught isn’t even enforceable in court so it amounts to a voluntary — and unfair — citation system.