Doing the job our own media so totally ignores, the New York Times offers a takeout on the travesty of our leadership’s plans for costly subway and rail projects while slashing bus services to the transit dependent.even as we have the highest sales tax rates in the state heavily subsidizing the MTA.
“Though the roads in Los Angeles routinely jam with honking cars in the
morning, there is also an almost invisible commuter class — the millions
of people, most of them poor, who depend on the sprawling bus system,” the NYT’s Jennifer Medina writes.
“Local officials push public transportation as the path to an
environmentally friendly future, with plans for a subway to the sea and
miles of other rail projects in the region. But at the same time, the
financially struggling Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation
Authority is cutting back dozens of bus lines and shortening routes to
save money that they say would be better spent elsewhere…
“The fight over the city’s buses stretches back decades. In 1996,
advocacy organizations filed a civil rights lawsuit saying the
transportation authority had not done enough to keep its fares low or
prevent overcrowding. A consent decree mandated federal oversight for
the next decade and required the system to spend $1 billion to add new
lines and more buses on existing routes. But that oversight expired in
2006, and the Bus Riders Union filed a complaint that helped prompt an
investigation of the agency that is scheduled to begin this month.”
It’s worth bringing this up on American Independence Day when we celebrate the birth of our nation anchored in a notion of democracy where we share the belief that all people are created equal and have the right to live their lives in freedom while pursuing their own sense of happiness.
That’s what makes it so hard to comprehend how our city has gone so wrong for so long, how public policy has chased away good jobs and middle class families by the tens of thousands, how amid so much spectacular wealth we see so much poverty and hopelessness.
The contradictions captured in this article about public transit in Los Angeles is repeated over and over in every aspect of our lives.
We subsidize gleaming skyscrapers, luxury hotels and entertainment facilities even as our neighborhoods deteriorate and our infrastructure crumbles from old age. We have the finest health care in the world for some and tolerate intolerable conditions in our public hospitals. The same is true of education and nearly every aspect of our lives.
There are two L.A.’s: The city of the privileged elite and the city of the other four million people struggling to have a better life.
Listen to Eric Garcetti’s acceptance speech after unanimously being re-elected Friday as Council President as a prelude to his run for mayor and you tell me which city he lives in, whether his vision of a vibrant city in which democracy is flourishing matches your experience, whether, as he says, City Hall has performed an economic and political miracle over the last two years by fixing the damage caused by years of spending more money than the city took in.
Listen a while longer as Councilman Bernard Parks exposes how more than $300 million in claimed savings from a new police contract actually will cost taxpayers far more than $300 million over time as the bills for 800 hours of stored overtime per officer and sick leave come due at far higher costs.than when they were accrued.
Listen as well to how the 3-1-1 public help line has been slashed from 24-7 operation with less than a one-minute wait time to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. last year with a 2 1/2-minute wait time and now 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. hours this fiscal year with 4-minute average wait time and the expectation that more a quarter of callers — nearly 200,000 of them – will give up in exasperation after waiting 10 minutes or longer.
It’s like the way bus riders are treated. The people most in need of help get cuts in service whether it’s closing parks and libraries, bus lines or help lines because what matters in this democracy is building a downtown football stadium where only the well-to-do can afford tickets or a subway to the sea that doesn’t solve traffic congestion problems.
When 88 percent of the people know better than to bother even voting because the elections are rigged with fortunes from special interests buying favors from the politicians and honest, caring citizens don’t stand a chance, this isn’t democracy.
If Garcetti believes what he says about democracy in L.A. and what has been achieved under his leadership over the last two years, he is either delusional or a complete cynic. I’m not sure whether it matters which is true.