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Barnyard Politics, Musical Chairs and Apathy

Chatting with the Downtown News’ Jon Regardie before his Town Hall L.A. speech last week, mayoral candidate Austin Beutner blamed the failure of City Hall on “incumbency and not the incumbent,” observing that politics had become a lifestyle, a career for them, rather than a life choice to serve the public.

“I have a different
view than most people at City Hall,” Beutner says. “They’re all
bright, well-intentioned, high-minded folks, but I think we need to do things
very differently.”

Clearly, he was being far more generous in his choice of words than he really means, given how he introduced the phrase “barnyard politics” into the vocabulary of city politics and promised to talk more during the next 14 months about the order coming from the City Hall barnyard.
My own view of our elected officials isn’t all that different than Beutner’s. 
For all that I vilify and villainize Villain-raigosa and most of the rest of them, they aren’t really bad people as much they are self-servers who are too weak to stand up to a monolithic system controlled by the millions of dollars from corporations, developers, influence peddlers and unions that put them into office and keep them there. They do bad things because they either have no convictions or lack the courage of their convictions 
The only elected officials who actually had successful careers outside of politics and city government are City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Councilman Bill Rosendahl whose cable TV position largely involved politics.  
Parks and Zine are retired cops and soon to be joined by another cop, Joe Buscaino. Englander, an auxiliary cop, Reyes, LaBonge, Garcetti, Perry, Greuel and Huizar have spent most of their adult lives in political jobs as staffers or electeds. Krekorian, Cardenas, Alarcon, Koretz and Wesson come to City Hall from the state Legislature.
Next year with as many as eight Council seats and the three citywide offices all open could be just as bad, maybe worse. Legislators or staffers intend to run for all the open Council seats and City Attorney. Zine, Greuel, Garcetti and Perry all hope to move up to higher city offices while Cardenas wants to join Janice Hahn in Congress and Alarcon hopes to return to the Legislature if he can avoid jail. .
It’s all just a game of musical chairs that offers no hope for a better future for the city — or the state or nation for that matter.
They all will promise the sun, the moon and the stars to voters to get elected yet again and, in truth, most if not all of them, could do a far better job of serving the public than they have ever done before.
But that isn’t going to happen unless the political culture of City Hall undergoes the kind of historic upheaval that occurred in 1973 with the election of Tom Bradley as mayor. 
A black liberal leading a city that for so long was run by a racist and narrow-minded elite transformed Los Angeles but the system has ossified in the 40 years since and race in what is now America’s most diverse city is no longer the issue it once was except in the pages of the LA Times where columnist Jim Newton wrote today that Herb Wesson is the first African-American to serve as Council President “so it’s tempting to see him in historic terms.”
No, it’s not, as Newton notes not even his black colleagues Parks and Perry support him. Wesson was Speaker of the Assembly long after Willie Brown became the longest serving Speaker, after Villaraigosa became the first Latino Speaker, after Cruz Bustamnate became lieutenant governor, after LA elected its first Latino mayor. He didn’t get his post because of his race or talent. He was put in his position by labor and the mayor to make sure that the Council remains as obedient as it has been for so long.
For far too long, the business and civic elite have stood on the sidelines or if they got involved in the political life of the city, settled for flattery of a commission appointment or crumbs from the table of power like tiny business tax cuts.
It’s time they paid attention and started to help reinvent our city government and our city by demonstrating respect for those less well off and helping to create a balance between the competing needs, values and interests of the city’s different communities.
We need a civic and political leadership that shares the risks and opportunities, the resources and benefits — not one that is looking for personal advantages.  

We need community activists to look beyond what they think is good for their own neighborhood or class and to join a conversation about how we rebuild LA for everyone’s benefit.
This isn’t about ideology. It’s about the quality of the lives of the people who live and work here and the future of what should be the greatest city in the world — not the first city in the West to resemble the Rust Belt with aging infrastructure and soaring poverty rates.
This election season with open primaries in June, a presidential election in November and wide-open city elections in March 2013 affords us the chance to change the conversation, to shake up the political system and to start working together for the common good.
It will take more than lip service from the politicians and apathetic indifference of the public. 
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13 Responses to Barnyard Politics, Musical Chairs and Apathy

  1. Anonymous says:

    We CAN’T promote failures of City council members to ANY higher office or a Controller who has done nothing in her job like Greuel.. The mantra should be NO MAYOR FROM INSIDE CITY HALL. I disagree that they are not bad people. They have no morals, no ethics, no class, no leadership and anyone who is decent is afraid to run because of the dirty, trashy negative nature of the elections. Buscaino is a breath of fresh air. His campaign was clean and he’s a decent, ethical guy. Now if we can only find more like him to run. Cardenas, Perry, Garcetti and the rest are the biggest losers this City has seen.

  2. MissAnthrope says:

    Unfortunately Cardenas, Perry, Garcetti, Parks, Zine and the rest of the rat pack aren’t a bunch of losers; we are!
    They figured out how to game the system and we( or the fools who keep voting for them) are the losers.
    Even if we didn’t vote for them, we still lose, because they won their elections and our candidates (if we had any in the running) lost & and we lost right along with them.

  3. MissAnthrope says:

    Unfortunately Cardenas, Perry, Garcetti, Parks, Zine and the rest of the rat pack aren’t a bunch of losers; we are!
    They figured out how to game the system and we( or the fools who keep voting for them) are the losers.
    Even if we didn’t vote for them, we still lose, because they won their elections and our candidates (if we had any in the running) lost & and we lost right along with them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is true, Lady, that we are to blame for our situation. I am not putting up with with it. I talk, talk, talk and get people discussing
    the upcoming city, atate and national elecctions.
    For some reason we leave our government to somebody else. Then we get mad because the
    pwersons you thought should be elected do not win and we are stuck with the same old, same old
    bureaucrats. How about it? Remember the old adage: The Lord helps those who help themselves.
    Lets vote for Kevin Jaames, Steve Box, Mark Reed, and pray some others enter the fray.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is true, Lady, that we are to blame for our situation. I am not putting up with with it. I talk, talk, talk and get people discussing
    the upcoming city, atate and national elecctions.
    For some reason we leave our government to somebody else. Then we get mad because the
    pwersons you thought should be elected do not win and we are stuck with the same old, same old
    bureaucrats. How about it? Remember the old adage: The Lord helps those who help themselves.
    Lets vote for Kevin Jaames, Steve Box, Mark Reed, and pray some others enter the fray.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Kaye, If you run for Mayor, I will do my best to canvas the Eastside for YOU!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh, Herbie, the shrewd, President of the Council, the people are screwed. As far as the Wall Street guy, a puppet of the rich white boys Riordan, Mr “CRA” Broad et al, should explain the difference between incumbent and incumbency. I`m curious, as he is the mouth-piece of Ace Smith, Antonio`s guru.

  8. Wayne from Encino says:

    JESUS FRIGGIN CHRIST! DO I HAVE TO RENT THE GOODYEAR BLIMP WITH A MESSAGE ON IT? WHEN WILL SOMEONE COVER THE 10 YEAR DWP INCREASE COMMING THIS FRIDAY? That’s 58% INCREASE IN 10 YEARS FOR THE MATH EXPERTS. TIMES—NOTHING. DAILY NEWS: NADA. Talk Radio: Zip. It just this kind of “press coverage” that leads to the City Mafia we have running loose.
    This is just 1/3 of the rate hikes comming too! AND IT IS THE 2ND BIGGEST—THE POWER RATE ONE IS THE KILLER COMMING SOON unless…hundreds of People start showing up to Clowncil meetings, taking a speaker card and each one spend 2 minutes endlessly BITCHING about this. Otherwise—you’ll need a 2nd mortgage JUST to pay the bill.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m so fed up with the do nothing neighborhood councils. They seem only concerned with money and waste time arguing amongst each other. The only outreach they do is amongst themselves not into their neighborhoods. They should be filling out negative impact statements on bad deals but don’t. Most of their meetings are infighting and egos. When was the last time you heard ONE of them do something good? Years ago they were better. They need to get up off their asses and start spreading the word about the corruption in City Hall and the candidates running for Mayor now!!!! We can’t leave it to our lazy, incompetent media.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Anon 6:28 AM
    You are correct. This was a ploy with rules set by the City Council to make sure nothing they did was ever discussed. It was supposed
    to lull us into complacency. They succceeded.
    We need to get rid of them pronto.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The NC’s can have a lot of power if they knew how to organize and get things done. The problem is there’s way too many egos. They could have stormed City Council when the corrupt AEG deal was being discussed. But not one person from an NC went to speak out. Everything city council is doing that is WRONG for our city there’s never any representatives from ANY NC speaking out against it. They’ve become a lazy social tea and coffee club. They kiss butt to the politicians when they invite them to a meeting. Run like little sheep to anything they are invited to like a bunch of insecure puppies. They’ve become the Joke of the City.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Di dyou ever stop to think that the NCs are dominated by the same special interest groups that dominate other parts of the city? How about the NC of Tarzana seeking to build rest homes on property zoned for agriculture? How about the developer looking to do this SITS on the Tarzana NC and is fighting with his constitutents? The problem isn’t just with downtown; it is in all our backyards.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Di dyou ever stop to think that the NCs are dominated by the same special interest groups that dominate other parts of the city? How about the NC of Tarzana seeking to build rest homes on property zoned for agriculture? How about the developer looking to do this SITS on the Tarzana NC and is fighting with his constitutents? The problem isn’t just with downtown; it is in all our backyards.

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