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My Daily News Column: The mighty fall in Los Angeles’ civic theater of the absurd

It was a moment of truth. History was being made right before our eyes when the public face of the Los Angeles civic establishment was dressed down by a pipsqueak like City Council President Herb Wesson.

Richard Riordan, the popular former mayor who 40 years ago had helped bring down the city’s arch-conservative oligarchy and clear the way for Tom Bradley to win election to his first of five terms, stood at the lectern before the City Council pleading for sanity, for fiscal responsibility.

It was the day last month when they were voting to seek higher sales taxes to stave off the day of reckoning for their reckless spending and failure to face the city’s economic reality.

Genuine reforms to reduce the cost of city pensions – not a regressive tax that punishes the working poor and chases away business – are what’s needed, Riordan said.

Don’t risk bankruptcy, don’t destroy the city, he pleaded, fix it.

Little man that he is, Wesson couldn’t keep from gloating condescendingly that the person who for so long was the epitome of wealth and influence was now just a vulnerable old man who had made a terrible miscalculation in trying to put a pension reform measure on the May ballot.

“Why didn’t you fix it when you were mayor?” Wesson sneered.

When Riordan tried to respond, Wesson cut off his microphone and scoffed triumphantly, “No, there’s no back and forth. I get the last word.”

After several seconds, headded with a smug grin, “This is our house.”

What Eric Garcetti as council president had laughingly called “a temple of democracy” was now “our house.” There was not even the pretense of a City Hall committed to serving the public, but a privatized enterprise engaged in self-service for the benefit of career politicians and the special interests who buy them, public be damned.

Ten days after his appearance before the council, Riordan waved the white flag of surrender and abandoned his ballot measure. To be sure, it was at best only a partial solution to the city’s fiscal woes. The campaign for it was ill-conceived, without outreach to the business community or a public conversation to drum up support, and without the commitment of adequate funds to get a quarter of a million signatures in a short time period.


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10 Responses to My Daily News Column: The mighty fall in Los Angeles’ civic theater of the absurd

  1. teddy says:

    Does anyone know if these “elected officials” at every level pay taxes?

    It seems to me that we are not getting our income, sales, property,
    auto fees and fines worth of value in how the city is run. Is it all going
    to pay high costs of pensions, income increases, etc, etc, e etc.??

    I would like to know – wouldn’t you?

  2. Do you trust Herb Wesson enough to vote to increase the sales tax to a mind boggling 9.5%?

  3. teddy says:

    I do not trust Wesson or any of the characters who have managed to steal our
    city from all the rest of us 4,000,000 people….. Don’t know them, do not want to know them and believe that they should be kicked out of office. Where are the keys? I will go down there myself and lock the doors.

  4. First, lets all watch the video clip above! You’ll see this woman reporter that is worth the clip, but get this: STEVE NASH, the overpaid Laker’s injured crybaby guard is suing to PREVENT HIS 3 KIDS FROM BEING BROUGHT TO LIVE IN L.A. BY HIS EX-WIFE LATINA!!!! See, Nash knows L.A. SUCKS and is fighting to stop his kids from being ruined by living in L.A.
    Second, in the mail today I got a piece of mail—it said it was for a HEARING on the L.A. Board of Supervisors for STORMWATER RUNOFF? WTF?
    Then you open it (it looks like junk mail) and IT’S REALLY A PARCEL TAX BALLOT!!! Seems the crooks on the Board want $60 bucks a year FOREVER to help reduce stormwater runoff? They claim they did a study and determined the percentage of my LAND PARCEL that doesn’t absorb stormwater.
    Over 50% of the L.A. COUNTY land and property owners have to return this little “Protest letter” by January 2013 or IT GOES ON THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT!!! They don’t call it a tax (because it would require a 2/3 vote.) Nope—its a FEE thus to get away with 50% of the vote.
    Did you see yours in the mail? IF YOU DID, OPEN IT, SIGN THE PROTEST AND MAIL THAT DAMN THING (CERTIFIED MAIL PLEASE) to the address listed on the mailer. Tell a friend.

  5. insider says:

    Sure Herby is a punk, but Riordan is a buffoon. Can he show any accomplishment during his 8yrs in office, other than sleeping on his couch after these exhhausting looooooooong lunches , while having serious meetings with City managers? Of course LA Slimes would never write about it.

    • outsider says:

      I’m no Riordan fan. I disagreed with him on most everything. But any objective analysis would give him some degree of credit for (i) Charter Reform, (ii) creation of the Neighborhood Councils system, and (iii) rehabilitation of the LAPD post LA riots and post Daryl Gates (feuding with Willie Williams and then replacing him with Bernard Parks). In addition, his efforts to improve / reform the LA Unified School District, while outside his charter as mayor, were certainly visible and laudable (even if we debate the effectiveness of the most visible of those programs, the LEARN initiative)… I suppose it’s predictable that trollers like “insider,” hiding out in the anonymous back alley of blog comment boards (where disrespect is the coin of the realm), would get off on belittling him… It’s a whole other thing, though, for the Council President to resort to the same kind of belittling behavior from the center seat of the council chamber… For better or worse, Dick Riordan’s legacy is well-defined — no matter what Herb Wesson does or says… Wesson’s own legacy is still being written, and his belittling treatment of Riordan here defines exactly who he is and how he will be remembered.

    • anonymous says:

      punk to gang member to gangster to mobster…
      to councilmember Herby…my-oh-my…evolution…

  6. Ventura Capitalist says:

    The Spring Street criminals show nothing but contempt for us.
    The feeling is mutual.

  7. Rita-of-Sunland says:

    Wesson’s actions were nothing short of disgraceful. First of all, he failed to address Mayor Riordan as “Mr. Mayor” or “Mayor Riordan.” Once a person becomes mayor (like becoming a governor, congressman, senator or a president) that person always retains that title when being addressed. Note that blue and purple “Superfly” polyester pimp suit Wesson sported that day– as well as the Jericurl do. Once a low-life, always a low-life. And did you all notice that thin-haired bitch sitting to Mayor Riordan’s right? she’s that idiot on the Harbor Commission who wouldn’t speak w/ reporter David Goldstein when it was discovered that the city of Los Angeles owned not one but TWO yachts exclusively reserved for corrupt L.A. politicians. (“Corrupt L.A. politicians?” Hmmmm…guess I’m being redundant there.)

  8. Wayne the Independent-Liberal says watch your mail for the property tax notice says:

    HA HA HA—”Thin haired bitch sitting to Mayor Riordan’s right…” Yes, she controls the La Mer and the Angeline II SHIPS that are used for our local corrupt crooks to use for hookers, pimps, and payoff artists to live the high life on the high seas…
    At the end of This Wednesday’s Clown meeting (public comment at the end) I gave a 2 minute rebuttal to Herb Wesson’s “This is Our House” statement to Riordan. King Herb I. got off his throne and left Poor LaBonge to chair the end of the meeting. I urged the 1% of Angelino CAMPAIGN CASH DONORS to end their buying of our local elections and free Los Angeles to have an actual free and fair election process.

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