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Political Doubletalk: The Perfect Is Not the Enemy of the Good, At the End of the Day Comes Just Another Day

The lazy policymaking decisions made by our political leaders are matched only by their lazy use of language, clichés without meaning intended to soothe the minds of the unwary without actually saying anything.

“At the end of the day … “

That’s one of their favorites as if we a-re too dumb to realize that the only thing that happens at the end of the day is that a new day begins, a new dawn when the mistakes and unfinished work of the day before can be corrected and completed. It’s a way of shutting off debate, not opening up the conversation to further discussion

“The perfect should not be the enemy of the good … “

Of course not, it should be the inspiration for the better than just what we’re settling for because it’s easier than achieving the truly good, the great. It’s nothing but an excuse for not trying harder to make things better, a way of creating a false sense of urgency so we don’t take another day, another week, another month to consider how to improve what is on the table.

A local political figure recently asked me, earnestly I believe, what I would do to make government more transparent and stimulate civic engagement and participation.

I’ve given those questions a lot of thought for a long, long time since shedding light on the darkness that government prefers like things that grow under rocks and doing everything I can do with headlines and stories to excite the passive populace.

Start by looking at the staff reports, motions and ordinance proposals in the City Council agenda, any City Council, and it will be quickly obvious that they are intended to support the result sought by staff and/or the pols – not to provide all the information and competing points of views.

Government doesn’t want controversy, doesn’t want the public calling and writing their offices, and doesn’t want dozens of people lined up to give them a piece of their mind. Officials want closure on what they already decided on outside of the view of the public as if they were a private business can make its decisions behind closed doors and take its chances on the results of its action being discovered later when they more often than not have the advantages of power and position to prevail even if caught doing wrong.

The politicians love having the gadflies represent the voices of the people. They can cut them off, insult them, pull the plug on them, and count on the fact that they are gadflies who inevitably will get carried away with themselves.

So if government wants public participation, the public has to have ready access to all the facts, all the arguments, all the implications short- and long-term to policies and actions and except in rare emergencies to have ample time to examine the record, to converse with each other, to create a dialogue that would lead to consensus, compromise, acceptance.

The Internet makes democracy in a much grander sense than we have known possible. Yet, it is only haltingly used, carefully controlled for the benefit of those in office – not the public at large.

A major move is under way to squelch even the gadflies from talking at meetings, with tight time limits and elimination in Los Angeles of remote access to public comment. Even public access television has been killed in LA and elsewhere, turning out public channels into the nothing but propaganda resources in support of those in power.

The decline of newspapers, television and radio news creates the need, the moral imperative for government officials, to utilize the technology now available to inform the public about just about everything on a daily basis – and not in the self-serving way it is being done now.

If you want public engagement, public participation, you have to tear down the wall of secrecy the same way the Berlin Wall was torn down.

Officials are not going to do that. It has to be done because you the people want to take back your government.

It needs to start with those already active in community: Business groups, neighborhood groups, service clubs, volunteers, school activists – nothing will happen unless you start a new conversation, an inclusive conversation, and organize yourselves into a unified force demanding change, demanding transparency and honesty, balance of interests, values and needs.

If you want power, you have to take it. It is there for the taking but there is no evidence even those who are participating really want a share of the power.

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15 Responses to Political Doubletalk: The Perfect Is Not the Enemy of the Good, At the End of the Day Comes Just Another Day

  1. Noel Weiss says:

    A local political figure recently asked me, earnestly I believe, what I would do to make government more transparent and stimulate civic engagement and participation.

    Here’s Three Easy Answers Ron:

    1. Stand up and insist that the Council Rules be enforced in favor of the public and against the Council. . . Rule 27 says that being ‘present’ means being within the four corners of the council chamber. . . What happens now? Members go in and out at will. . . . They do not check out. . . At times, this causes the loss of a quorum. Meanwhile, they leave their buttons on ‘yes’, so looking at the cold written record, it shows they were there, when they were not. . . . If the Council doesn’t like the rule, change the rule. . . But so long as the rule is there, follow-it. . .

    2.. Listen respectfully to the public when the public speaks;

    3. Listen to each other. . . . The Councilpeople are rude. . . they are arrogant. . . They should be required to sit in their seats and listen when they are being spoken to (I can’t believe I’m saying this. . . These people are just little kids with power. . . . )

    4. Every Friday, the entire council needs to sit still for 15 minutes to listen to one councilperson speak on the issues of the day which the Councilman feels are relevant to his or her district and the City. . . Kind of the Council version of a ‘state of my council district’ speech. . . Just the image of each of them sitting and listening would restore some confidence;

    5. Stop making deals behind the scenes (and probably violating the Brown Act in the process). . . How about some real debates on some really important issues. . That would require thought, preparation, and execution. These people are coasting when they need to soar. . . . Anything controversial is buried in committee so as to save the council the trouble of really having to debate it; or opponents the seeming embarrassment of having to oppose something wanted by a colleague; and

    6. Cease the application of this rule which has the each Councilman rolling over and approving any land use entitlement wanted by the Councilman of the district in return for being allowed the same privilege. . . . The Council should not be co-conspirators to unlawful acts. . . This ‘rule of reciprocity’ has no checks and balances. . . What it does is serve the political interests of the councilmembers, aided by the City Attorney who (improperly) provides cover to the Councilperson. . .

    This is wasteful; it undermines the social contract, and people’s faith in government.

    A strong City Attorney (for real; not the phony Trutanich version) and a strong Controller working together for the people can make a tremendous difference in forcing these councilpeople to do the jobs for which they receive very high compensation and benefits.

    Noel Weiss

    • anonymous says:

      Oh, Mr. Weiss,
      you are too gentle, too kind…and excuse me…naive…
      rules…HA! the Brown Act…HA! ethical conduct…HA!
      they are not “just little kids with power”…
      you fail to grasp what you are dealing with…
      you are either a “team-player” or “dead-meat”…
      they will destroy you, anyone, if you get in their way…
      understand?

      • Noel Weiss says:

        If I go. . . . (or when I go from your standpoint) I go down fighting. . . . .

        So far, I’ve had my share of ‘wins’. . . . Including my partnership with Ron in our successful effort to bury Measure B. . . . in 2009.

        We beat the Mayor, the ‘little kids with power’ on the Council, and D’Arcy (by the way, there were other unions on our side who D’Arcy had screwed. . .That gave us about $50K in like-kind contributions. . . They Mayor had $800K. . . . We won. . . . With emphasis on ‘we’. . . because no one can do this alone. . . Nor should he or she.

        Noel Weiss

  2. Wayne from Corruptopia says NOEL WEISS IS RIGHT says:

    DAMN GOOD POST GOOD-WEISS (not to be confused with Jack-Ass Weiss, the alter-ego of Carmen “Da’ Clown” Dumbtanich.)!!!!!
    Each of Noel’s points I’ve personally seen this Clowncil do time and time again. The Clowncil IS ON EXTENDED HOLIDAY and has been for several weeks WHILE THE CITY IS GOING DOWN TO BANKRUPCY STATUS!!!! In fact, the 15 PIGS took down the Van Nuys Civic Center link to their meetings and won’t be comming to the Valley for any more Clown meetings!
    AEG, Ron Burkle, Tim Lie-Weekly, Magic Johnson, Rick Caruso, and Eli Broad have all that $$$$ and they are the TRUE CITY COUNCILMEN! The morons you see in the Clown-Chamber are just PUPPETs.
    Wait for the City’s Chapter 9 BANKRUPTCY—you’ll see the Cast of Characters starting with AEG as the CREDITORS COMMITTEE!!!
    In Washington, D.C. their just as rotten. Michelle BACHMAN who tried to run FOR PRESIDENT AS A REPUBLICRAT. Do you know what she tried to do a few months ago this year? SHE APPLIED FOR A SWISS PASSPORT AND CITIZENSHIP FOR HERSELF, HER HUSBAND AND KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe this? A sitting CONGRESSWOMAN APPLYING FOR FOREIGN CITIZENSHIP SO SHE CAN FLEE THIS COUNTRY IF AND WHEN SHE NEEDS TO—AND SHE’S IN THE DAMN CONGRESS!!! (She later said it was “a mistake” and “didn’t mean to to do it.) This is what KIND OF TRASH we have running the show! 200 years ago, this would of been AN ACT OF TREASON! Today, it’s just “a mistake” and “oops, I apologize.”
    Mitt Romney has MILLIONS STASHED AWAY OVERSEAS and you bet he knows he what he’s doing! That’s one reason I’ll vote for the guy—he’s SUPER SMART and he knows how to manage things. The CLOWN we have in Obama is like making Garcetti President, it would be EXACTLY LIKE AN ERIC GARCETTI PRESIDENCY!
    In Woodland Hills, right off Topanga and Mullholland Highway there’s a lawn sign on a home you can’t miss it—ROMNEY 2012! Even in a Sea of Liberals there is a sign of INTELLIGENT LIFE and thus a shred of hope for this battered Nation and City.

  3. MissAnthrope says:

    Ah, you got ahold of Doug McIntyre’s “Political Speak to English” dictionary, an important volume that should be in everyone’s personal library.

  4. Teddy says:

    Good advice:

    “The decline of newspapers, television and radio news creates the need, the moral imperative for government officials, to utilize the technology now available to inform the public about just about everything on a daily basis – and not in the self-serving way it is being done now.

    If you want public engagement, public participation, you have to tear down the wall of secrecy the same way the Berlin Wall was torn down.

    Officials are not going to do that. It has to be done because you the people want to take back your government.

    It needs to start with those already active in community: Business groups, neighborhood groups, service clubs, volunteers, school activists – nothing will happen unless you start a new conversation, an inclusive conversation, and organize yourselves into a unified force demanding change, demanding transparency and honesty, balance of interests, values and needs.”

    We need to get interested, get educated and
    get with it. Some of us are, like yo, Ron. Thank you.
    We need everybody – or suffer the consequences.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Weiss for your comment and Ron who daily exposes the corruption in City Hall. What good is exposure if there is no follow-up i.e.on part of the judiciary and the voters. Has any LA politician been charged/convicted of corruption? Has any serving LA politician not been re-elected? Trutanich is not an example. He was an anomaly who forgot his roots & paid the price. The fact that Gruel, Garcetti, Perry and Zine are running for higher office only highlights the sad state of affairs and the arrogance of these corrupted and in the contempt they hold LA voters. Why else would they seek these offices. Because they know LA voters will elect them to whatever they want. We even have our useless Mayor elevated to national prominence for no other reason than his race. Well, that’s one less vote Obama is getting for this unpardonable sin.

  6. kk says:

    I read this and think about all the noise about the bullet train. Does anybody really question the need for a high speed train between SF and LA. It is amajor pain to fly LA to SF and driving it with all the trucks on the 5 can be pretty frightening. 40% of the imports for the US comes into the port of LA and the great majority crosses through our state on its way out. What do we as citiznes get for the noise and polution and the tearing up and ugliifcation of our neighborhoods as commerce runs through the state. Money is cheap and it ain’t going to get any better as time goes on

    But why aren’t we demanding that the bullet train go up the 5? California already owns the land; disruption to agriculture and neighbohoods and cities would be at a bare minimum. No complicated EIR litigation to speak of.

    And, if we have to use union labor, there has to be clause that doesn’t allow costs to spiral out of control. If we have to pay “living wages”, we demand ficsally responsible verifiable results. We also want to be indemified from the litigations costs of members of unions behaving badly, such as sexual harassment or abuse of process. Those costs must be borne by the union the employee belongs to as one is required to be a union member to work on these jobs. Just some random Wednesday afternoon thoughts…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    The bullet train is not needed, period. There is not enough traffic to justify it. It is a boondoggle today lobbied by Parsons Brinckerhoff-an engineering firm-responsible for the red line mess in LA-and a tax payer rip-off forever. Brown was celebrating today at the Union Station, even as he expects to vote against our pocketbook to give him more money. Not going to happen. If there is money for the train to nowhere, then there is enough for schools and other agencies he wants to raid. The reality is that we need to cut everywhere and that is not happening. The rich will follow our presidential nominee Romney in seeking tax shelters elsewhere. If it is ok for him, it would be foolish for everyone else to fund a state with the worst credit rating in the country in the past 11 years.

    • kk says:

      Have you driven the 5 freeway from LA TO SF or the reverse? If you had, you would see that that freeway is clogged with truck after truck after truck taking goods to and from the 2nd and 4th largest consumer and commercial centers in the United States. There has to be a way to move more people, goods and services back and forth between both cities WITHOUT compromising our way of life.

      I agree with you on the train to nowhere. It doesn’t make sense to run it frrom Fresno to Modesto. It needs to go up the 5 freeway. The same freeway that the semis are wrecking without paying for its repair and maintenance. Much like the rest of the freeways in LA and SF.

      For those who think that Southern California is an island, you just lay yourself open to be exploited by commerce while doing nothing to stand up for quality of life in this area. The real people fighting against bullet trains and why they talk about people rather than goods is because of the threat it poses to the livlihoods of independent truckers, who make less and less as they are on the road more and more.. Do you want your community to stay hostage to that horse and buggy way of moving goods? Don’t you want better and easier access to the products and services coming from Silicon Valley? Believe me, it is pain to take planes between the cities and I am tired of having my community of PDR run over by people who want to expand LAX regardless of the cost to the nearby communities.

      frankly, whether you call it a bullet train or anything else, there has to be a real conversation about movement between Northern and Southern California. Just saying something isn’t needed is simply wrong.

      • anonymous says:

        “…my community of PDR run over by people…”?
        Playa del Rey?…coastal NIMBY…

        • KK says:

          Snark and name calling doesn’t qualify as discussion. And if that is your level of discourse, at least have the cojones not to hide behind anonymous.

      • anonymous says:

        goodness…not in my back yard is deemed to be
        “snark and name calling”…how insensitive…
        quick…call in the censors…

        • kk says:

          By god, you are right. NIMBY is such a neutral term. Some of my best friends are NIMBYs. You, of course, still offer no light, no discourse and, of course, no name. The only censorship called for here is from self.

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