EDITOR”S NOTE: This column was written for Nina Royal’s North Valley Reporter monthly newspaper.which published it’s October edition today.
Two weeks ago at the end of activist-organized Congress of
Neighborhood Empowerment, the mayor offered his cheerleading analysis that the
decade-old movement had come of age.
“They have been instrumental for us in helping us put
together a budget,” Antonio Villaraigosa said. “They have been very
innovative and have pushed us to do more.”
Bong Hwan Kim, general manager of the minimalized
Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, added a self-congratulatory comment of
his own: “Slowly,
project by project, they are making a difference. You couldn’t say that five
years ago, when they were just getting started.”
you couldn’t, but given the scope of the city’s worsening problems and the
depths of the discontent in the community, it isn’t saying much.
best, the effectiveness of NCs on local-local issues is extremely uneven with higher
demographic neighborhoods able to mobilize better than others just as they were
through homeowner and resident groups before Charter reform created the weak
system of advisory NCs.
among those groups, like the Council District 5 Coalition, the feeling of
powerlessness runs so deep that the issue has been defined as demands for local
control over local issues.
power to the local level is critical but it is not going to happen until there
is a fundamental change in the power structure and that will only come about
ordinary residents in every neighborhood have an honest chance to elect members
of the City Council, the mayor and other elected officials.
elections in L.A. are non-existent. They are bought by the unions, developers, and
other special interests.
result is pats on the head by the mayor and other city officials while they continue
to operate in a business-as-usual mode providing welfare to the rich, allowing
the infrastructure to rot and robbing the neighborhoods to support
over-development downtown and in Hollywood.
is the first western city to rank with the Rust Belt cities like Detroit and
Cleveland with poverty rates approaching 25 percent and under-employment/jobless
rates of the same magnitude.
tried through the Saving L.A. Project and L.A. Clean Sweep to bring the city
together to seize power, I know just how hard it is.
I never lose hope.
Occupy Los Angeles camp-in and protest at City Hall provides a new opportunity for
community activists to pull together and give the “occupation”
Occupy L.A., a clone of the escalating Occupy Wall Street
protest in New York against corporate greed and the breakdown of the political
system, is at the local level a movement in search of goals and objectives.
No one knows the details of what is broken in L.A. better
than the thousands of members of NCs and other community groups that have
worked so long for real change.
Occupy L.A., like the related protests all over America, has
drawn young people to action, tapping into the raw nerve of national discontent
with the state of the economy and the quality of our leadership.
By getting involved, the activist community can make this a
movement that can change the politics of the city by helping us all to move
beyond our myopic views to the point where we can see how there’s room for the
competing values, interests and needs to be met if we pull together with mutual
Occupy L.A. could be the vehicle for a New L.A…