SERVICE REPORT CARD--Got a gripe about street maintenance or trash pickup?  Graffiti or storm drains? Want to express your admiration for our local fire or police services?  Animal services or libraries? Had a particularly good or bad experience with another local city service this year?

The City of Los Angeles Budget Advocates have created a comprehensive survey for Angelenos across the city to weigh in on a wide variety of city services, which will help them with budget planning for the coming year.  The survey gives you a chance to let the city know what’s working for you and what isn’t.  Please take a few minutes to fill it out and add your voice to the planning process.  The deadline for responses is January 15. Everyone is invited to contribute.

 

 

  

Take the Survey in English  

Take the Survey in Español

 

(Elizabeth Fuller is the co-owner/publisher of the Larchmont Buzz.

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 104

Pub: Dec 25, 2015


CAL WATCHDOG-Public employees at California cities and counties took home more than $36 billion in compensation last year, according to new payroll data released by the state’s chief fiscal officer. 

State Controller Betty T. Yee disclosed the 2014 payroll data from 54 counties and 468 cities, which included information on more than 600,000 employees. The disclosure is part of the controller’s latest update to the “Government Compensation in California” website. 

The open government online portal allows users to map compensation levels throughout the state, assemble charts, evaluate payroll trends and export data for in-depth statistical analysis. 

Vernon: Smallest City, Biggest Pay 

The state controller’s public employee payroll website has become a powerful tool for journalists and citizen watchdogs to identify wasteful spending and corruption in local government. 

Among the municipalities with questionable payroll data from 2014: the city of Vernon. Although it is the least populous city in California, with just 123 residents, Vernon has double number of employees. And those employees earn $103,601 per year in salary — the highest average salary in the state. Vernon employees also take home, on average, another $32,462 per year in health and retirement benefits. 

Vernon’s top salary is followed by the city of Hayward with $94,041 average salary, and Palm Desert at $89,582 in average salary. The state controller’s office notes that the average wages for city governments overall fell by 3 percent to $59,614. 

In 2014, the average salary for county employees increased by approximately 3 percent to $60,993. At the county level, the nearly 19,000 employees at Santa Clara County received the highest average wage, earning $78,486 per year in wages and $27,655 in retirement and health benefits.

Nine Local Governments Fail to Disclose Data

The controller’s office classified six cities as non-compliant entities for having “filed a compensation report that was incomplete, was in a format different than the one requested by the Controller’s Office, or was submitted after the reporting deadline.” San Francisco, the largest non-compliant entity joined the cities of Bell, Compton, Covina, Dana Point and Santa Ana on the list of non-compliant entities.

The counties of Modoc, Monterey and Riverside were the three counties, or 5.3 percent, that failed to file.

The city and county of Los Angeles remain the largest local government agencies. Los Angeles County employs 103,338 people with a cumulative wage of $7.2 billion in annual salary and $2.76 billion in health and retirement benefits. The city of Los Angeles paid out $4.5 billion in wages and $703 million in health and retirement benefits.

Yee’s latest disclosure builds on the work of her predecessor. In 2010, following the high-profile corruption case at the city of Bell, then-Controller John Chiang didn’t wait around for local governments to clean up their act. He ordered cities, counties and special districts, under Government Code sections 12463 and 53892, to share salary and other wage information with his office. Initially, some local governments balked, then dragged their feet in disclosing the payroll data.

To access State Controller Betty Yee’s payroll database, go to publicpay.ca.gov

Top 10 Highest County Employees in California

1. Faculty Physician-Contract: $1,360,744
Kern County

2. Faculty Physician-Contract: $1,295,929
Kern County

3. Orthopedic Surgeon-Contract: $1,092,651
Kern County

4. Chairman, Department of Surgery: $851,665
Kern County

5. Medical Director II: $775,999
Los Angeles County

6. Physician – VMC: $760,461
Santa Clara County

7. Chief Physician III Surgery-Neurological: $728,489
Los Angeles County

8. Physician: $727,864
San Joaquin County

9. Physician – VMC: $684,365
Santa Clara County

10. Physician – VMC: $658,745
Santa Clara County

Top 10 Highest City Employees in California

1. Police Sergeant: $592,652
City of Burbank

2. Fire Chief: $487,871
City of Richmond

3. Chief of Police: $487,644
City of El Monte

4. City Manager: $470,249
City of Lincoln

5. City Manager: $419,840
City of West Covina

6. City Attorney: $412,211
City of Escondido

7. Power Engineering Manager: $403,271
City of Los Angeles

8. Assistant City Manager: $396,548
City of Oxnard

9. City Manager: $395,501
City of Escondido

10. Police Officer (PERS): $393,573
City of Oakland

(John Hrabe is an investigative journalist, freelance writer and communications strategist with a decade of experience managing media outreach for local, state and federal political campaigns, public relations clients, and new media start-ups. This piece was posted first at CalWatchDog.comEdited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 104

Pub: Dec 25, 2015

CORRUPTION WATCH--I fear that today's shocking revelation in the Los Angeles Times about Mitchell Englander flying down to Arizona with a staff member for a Taser fundraiser, concurrent to the company seeking a major body worn video contract with our city, may be the tip of an iceberg. First of all it's not okay. 

Regardless of the contorted logic and twisted thinking that the downtown lobbyists and their pack of lawyers will put forward, it is still not okay.  

As for the council members who will come out to defend or may feel sympathy for Mr. Englander (photo), claiming that the disclosure requirements were too confusing, we ought to demand, as some of us have, that the Ethics ordinance be rewritten, immediately   

And without any disrespect intended for Common Cause or Clean Money or other groups trying to bring accountability, while indirectly seeking political support from the very group they help regulate, we should be sure to include in any discussion, a reasonable number of outraged residents with a modicum of street smarts, to help explain what quid pro quo means so that your average eighth grader could grasp the concept.

But make no mistake, Mitchell Englander is the man of the hour and he should receive the strongest possible sanction. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, whom the council member crassly honored as the CD12 Pioneer woman in April, ought to remove any endorsement from Englander's campaign website as should the City Attorney Mike Feuer, and both should team up to provide the public with an overview of what they are doing to help enforce state bid rigging laws … or, admit that they’re not really paying attention.  

One excellent way to avoid bid rigging is to avoid bidding and competition altogether. Unfortunately, that is in direct conflict with the public's best interest. We need to make that clear.   All too often, good journalists are left with bad campaign finance laws scribbled down by the Englanders, Knabes et al. and the public must endure a chorus of "it's perfectly legal" on the opinion pages.  

Enough is enough. 

Council member Englander should put all of that Taser money he received and put it into a special city ethics fund. 

Taser should also be fined, and, in exchange for the right to participate in fair and open bidding, the company should be required to provide 15 state of the art body worn video cameras, to be worn by ALL 15 members of the City Council during the several months it will take to have a fair and reasonable RFP.  As Englander himself put it in September 2013, just after teeing Taser up for a near-exclusive trial, it's a "great opportunity to set the record straight, to give us extra eyes and ears" where we obviously need them. 

The Lobbyists, including Arnie Berghoff, mentioned in the Times article, who shares an office and presumably bunk-desks with the regularly highest grossing lobbyist firm, Uncle Harvey dba (Englander Knabe & Allen), ought to explain just how deep the relationship between Taser and the council member really is, and make a substantial voluntary deposit into the aforementioned special city fund.  

Politicians trying to score political points by being anti-cop is truly unsavory. What's far worse is politicians like Mitchell Englander, who pretend to have the cops best interests, while doing real damage to the brand.  By selling out Main Street to Wall Street … and Taser … Englander has violated something most good cops hold near and dear and work hard to deliver every single day: FAIR and HONEST protection and service to Los Angeles citizens.

 

(Eric Preven is a Studio City based writer-producer and public advocate for better transparency in local government.  He was a candidate in the 2015 election for Los Angeles City Council, 2nd District.)

-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 103

Pub: Dec 22, 2015

DEVELOPMENT POLITICS-Politics is local but Los Angelenos are sick and tired of seeing local interests steamrolled by downtown powerbrokers willing to do whatever it takes to achieve City Hall cooperation.  

One such controversy has stoked deep-seated resentment in Coldwater Canyon where residents who would very much like to be settling in for a cozy El Niño are instead bracing themselves for a battle against a new private parking garage, athletic field and pedestrian bridge over a major public thoroughfare in Studio City.  

Speaking about Harvard-Westlake School’s request to have the three-story 750-car lot and bridge over Coldwater Canyon Boulevard, school Vice President John Amato said, “Our kids have to perform in front of audiences so we have to have parking for visitors, and we want to have all our parking in one location.” 

In LA city politics, the closest thing to absolute power is the ability of a city councilmember to make or break a land-use project in his or her district. Two days after telling his constituents who live in the area 24-hours a day that the school's bridge over Coldwater was a "challenging issue for the community," District 2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian received (most on the same day) donations from eighteen Harvard-WestlakeTrustees, with all but two giving the maximum $700 contribution and none disclosing their relationship to the school on the donation form.   

This activity resulted in a $20,950 windfall for Mr. Krekorian's campaign committee from the school's trustees alone. All but a few of those contributions were made on November 3, 2014 and though we saw references to "homemaker," "investor" and "stamp collector," not one of the contributors identified his or her role as a school trustee. This tops the virtually simultaneous contributions made to Mr. Krekorian by the same trustees and administrators on February 18, 2011, also with not a single trustee identifying his or her connection to the school.  

There is no more effective way for a 501c3 non-profit to lose its tax-exempt status than by contributing to a political campaign, so writing a check from Harvard-Westlake School is something only a fool would entertain. But having that many trustees make donations on a single day violates the spirit, and possibly the letter of the federal law that prohibits 501c3s from engaging in political activity. 

Incredibly, Mr. Krekorian did not return any of those contributions. On the contrary, he used them to obtain public matching funds from the City, so that each Harvard-Westlake contribution was in effect supplemented by $500 of taxpayer funds. In other words, literally the very same people who are having their quality of life at their homes intruded upon by the school's plan were made to match the Harvard-Westlake influence-peddling donations. 

Article II of the City of Los Angeles Code of Ethics states that persons in public service "shall not give occasion for distrust of their impartiality or of their devotion to the city's best interests."  How could Mr. Krekorian affirmatively state that he is impartial while taking so much money from a highly interested part y...  or in this case, parties?  

The answer, shamefully, is the public was never supposed to connect the dots and figure it out. 

Obviously taking large donations and submitting them to the matching fund compromises impartiality. But it does more than that. It also erodes basic trust and the public's faith in our politicians. The Ethics Commission, the very office which approved the dispensing of the public matching money should take responsibility to rectify the unacceptable status quo. A good start would be to close the loophole that allows for this type of stealth donation. Trustees with business before the city should be required to disclose that relationship. If the hard ban on political activity for 501c3s makes that impossible, the loophole will be effectively closed. Next item... 

Councilmember Krekorian should do now what he should have done a year ago -- return the eighteen contributions he received from Harvard-Westlake Trustees. Of equal importance, he should return all of the matching funds he obtained through use of the Harvard-Westlake money. Harvard-Westlake ought to amend its 990 tax filings appropriately, checking the correct (and honest) box that indicates that they have indeed been engaged in lobbying -- nearly a million dollars in lobbying for what has become...a bridge too far.  

The smart people, and there are many at Harvard-Westlake, ought to realize that a parking structure on the campus side of the public roadway would be just fine. Any digging in the hillside in question will merely be digging a hole for the school's reputation. 

 

(Eric Preven is a Studio City based writer-producer and public advocate for better transparency in local government.  He was a candidate in the 2015 election for Los Angeles City Council, 2nd District.)

-cw                

  

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 101

Pub: Dec 15, 2015

EASTSIDER-Over the holidays is a great time for politicians to announce things that would normally get greater scrutiny during the year. After all, everyone is making family get together plans, traveling, and/or hiding from year end duties. In that context, along comes a Report from the City Controller with the spiffy name “Disposition of City’s Surplus or Obsolete Items and Equipment” and I lick my chops because I just know that there’s going to be some real gems buried within. 

The Controller’s audit report does not disappoint. The headlines in it say that the City isn’t monitoring its fleet vehicle system, and is spending more money than many of the vehicles are worth in maintenance. For cars there is a photo of a Civic Hybrid that cost $24,000 (new) but they have spent $44,000 to maintain and repair it. On the big iron Street Sweeper side, there’s a photo of one that cost $232,000 to buy -- but another $360,000 to maintain. 

Buried in the document, however, is a story that really interests me: back in 2011, Tony V’s City was broke due to the Mayor and the Council’s incompetent fiscal policies. They were desperate to make the budget look balanced. So, through a series of cuts, early retirements, and shifting employees to DWP and the like, they cooked the books enough to get a bond measure through and stay “solvent.” 

One of the brilliant ideas the Council had was to disband the General Services Department’s Salvage Section -- the folks who monitored the disposCWal of the City’s surplus and/or obsolete items. So guess what happened? Not much, and that’s the essential finding of how and why the City has no real system and has lost a bunch of money. Gee. 

The audit misses a fundamental understanding of how and why LA City’s bureaucracy operates the way it does, and the implications therein. At the top of the food chain are the elected officials, who, by current definition, make political decisions regarding oversight of the City. They do not make business decisions, unless you count getting developers, billboard companies, and the like to make campaign contributions to their coffers. 

I point this out to explain the impact of the City Council’s actions as they axed or crippled, year after year, every request by City Departments for vehicle replacement – and abandoned all oversight. 

So when these half-baked mandates trickle down to the troops, there is one lesson that almost every vested City employee has learned well:  as long as you “go along to get along” and don’t make waves, you will have a fine future and a pension with the City of Los Angeles. On the other hand, if you make waves, take risks, or (god forbid) make the elected officials look bad, your life will be very unpleasant indeed. 

Consequently, no one said anything

Looking at the guts of the audit, there are two fundamental lessons to be learned. First, over 80% of the money we are talking about comes from cars -- vehicle fleet maintenance, which represents 83% of all auction income, to be exact.  

Second, outside of vehicles, no one department or agency has responsibility or understanding of exactly what, if any, policy the City has regarding the sale or disposal of obsolete property. Thus it is hard to quantify the rest of the items discussed in the audit; they aren’t even tracked internally, or if they are, it’s by happenstance. 

For example, electronic equipment has its own website (CitiMAX) which almost no one uses. Most of the stuff that gets donated through it (surprise) is because of City Council requests, and even then, the amount of paperwork involving formal Council action is not cost effective. 

I am personally aware of this and remember well when the Glassell Park NC tried to get the City to cough up a computer for our use. No deal. And when the NC used its own funds to buy one, we had to comply with all the CitiMAX requirements of inventory, serial numbers and other information and justification. And now we know all this data went nowhere. So, well done, DONE, BONC and Council offices – thanks a lot. 

If there is a single takeaway moment in the report, for me it is the following: the auditor complained that, as they tried to obtain data, they were reduced to looking at individual employees’ Excel spreadsheets that didn’t even have a common template. Clearly, the Mayor’s “World Class City” is an emperor without clothes. 

The final report has a six point series of recommendations that require action by the Council and City Departments, although there is no reason to believe those points will survive the City Council budget process. For a copy of the full report, click here

For those of you with a mathematical bent, Pareto’s Principle is alive and well – 80% of the dollars comes from about 20% of the stuff. In line with this concept, I propose a variation on this idea -- two simple recommendations that would fix 80% of the problems identified in the audit: 

1) Reconstitute the Salvage Unit, staff it with competent people, give them citywide authority and responsibility. 

2) Hire a couple of “freelance” thirty-somethings or their equivalent (that is, no regular full-time employment), pay them enough to cover wages and benefits, then have them develop a simple, web based, data management system for centralizing everything that needs to be kept track of. Then make everybody use it. 

This would be simple and quick with a provable return on investment model. I suggest this be done immediately because, given their mind set, City Council is likely to come up with some stupid major IT project that they would then bid out to the usual “big name/bad result” corporate consultants…who contribute to their campaigns. 

Stay tuned...

 

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 104

Pub: Dec 25, 2015

EDUCATION POLITICS-In looking at LAUSD's latest defamatory attack on nationally acclaimed teacher Rafe Esquith, (photo) one can only surmise that those running the District are starting to run scared. Esquith's billion dollar lawsuit brought by lawyer Mark Geragos has too great a probability of bankrupting the District if it’s allowed to be tried in the forum of a neutral court. 

The LAUSD smear machine (aka "LAUSD investigative team") has been given their marching orders: do not find the truth, but rather, get the goods on Esquith --even if they have to fabricate or distort the facts. 

After years of war against teachers and other certificated and classified employees (whose only crime was to question district policy or make too much money,) LAUSD has an amoral group of administrators and outside contractors in place, seeking to supplement their income or position, even if they have to lie, fabricate, or distort evidence to do so. 

By examining the recent indictment of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for first degree murder of Laquan McDonald, we are reminded of how deceptive public entity cultures like this work. 

After a 13-month cover up, we saw what happens when an organization is allowed to investigate itself. In this case, it came to a pre-ordained conclusion of innocence because that was the only explanation acceptable to those whose loyalty to the organization took precedence over commitment to truth and the rule of law. 

This same self-dealing culture has existed for generations at the LAUSD, to the preclusion of good pragmatic public education. No administrator could ever have gotten to a position of power unless he or she showed a willingness to fabricate lies and subordinate truth to support LAUSD’s party line. 

LAUSD has put out for public consumption the fact that "the district's investigative team, which includes former LA Police Department detectives, [has] launched an investigation." They do not emphasize the "former" status of these LA Police Department detectives, who are either retired from LAPD or moonlighting for LAUSD as a second job to supplement their income. LAUSD seeks to cultivate the appearance that this is an LA Police investigation, when nothing could be further from the truth. 

The corporate-owned press continues to selectively report only the "facts" as LAUSD presents them, instead of asking questions like…has any LAUSD investigator ever found a teacher they were investigating innocent? Or, how many of these "LA Police Department detectives" have found evidence of LAUSD administrative wrongdoing among personnel who are still working for the District? 

A more fundamental question is, why are local, state, and federal agencies ceding control of their investigatory function to LAUSD -- which is a self-interested party to Esquith’s $1 billion civil lawsuit alleging criminal conspiracy and other charges against the LAUSD administration? 

The hallmark of all LAUSD investigations is that they investigate themselves, deviating from any notion of legal objectivity. And what they do investigate never seems to go anywhere, like in the case of the iPad scandal under former Superintendent John Deasy or the sexual harassment investigation against current and habitually retiring Superintendent Ramon Cortines. 

In my own case, when I filed a whistleblower complaint against my principal Janet Seary and her superior, Jan Davis, for graduating students with low elementary school math and reading ability, the LAUSD's Office of Inspector General allowed Seary and Davis to investigate themselves. Not surprisingly, they found they had done nothing wrong. The fact they were given this case, in which they had a clear conflict of interest, was never addressed by the District or any other authority. Now, the Esquith class action lawsuit is finally bringing these actions into the light. 

But my favorite illustration of LAUSD's one-sided railroading of teachers, along with anyone else questioning LAUSD's often illegal behavior, was given by my then Vice Principal Rene Martinez. Asked under oath why he included in my evidence file only the ten negative letters from my students (that were obtained through a rather intimidating process) and none of the five positive letters, he said, "They did not go to the charges against you," showing how one-sided the LAUSD's investigatory process remains. 

It is very telling to look at the LAUSD’s modus operandus as it goes after "enemies":  neither Mr. Martinez nor Mr. Johnson from the LAUSD Office of Inspector General had any idea what “exculpatory evidence” meant. True to LAUSD culture, Mr. Martinez has been made principal of his own school and he should continue to do well as long as he remains unfettered by the truth – or as long as Esquith is not successful in finally bringing accountability to LAUSD. 

Let’s consider the recently released incriminating evidence alleging that Mr. Esquith engaged in improper sexual activity with his students. Before getting into the purposefully prurient nature of these charges, it is worth asking: 

  1. Why were all charges against Esquith not brought immediately? 
  1. Is it a mere coincidence that the more Esquith stood up for himself against LAUSD, the more egregious the heretofore unmentioned subsequent charges were? 
  1. What was the relationship between Mr. Esquith and the student bringing the charges? Were they good students or bad with a score to settle? 
  1. Why bring these "new" charges against Esquith now, instead of allowing the class action trial    process of discovery and testimony under oath to determine in a neutral forum who is telling the truth? 
  1. Under what circumstances was the testimony of prior students against Esquith made? Were these circumstance neutral, as required by the standards set up in the McMartin Preschool case, where falsely accused teachers and administrators were vilified by false charges for close to 10 years before it was revealed that the students were manipulated into making their testimony? 
  1. How is it that Esquith’s alleged improper sexual behavior going back to the 1970s is only now seeing the light of day, now that LAUSD is faced with a billion dollar class action suit? 

Any teacher can tell you is that there are several things that might allow Mr. Esquith's comments to be viewed as acceptable, given the subjective reality that all teachers face. First, students transitioning from childhood into young adulthood like to flirt. It is important and completely normal for students to flirt with their teachers and others, still knowing that they are safe. I cannot think of any conscientious teacher I know who has not been flirted with or who would ever take advantage of a young person's vulnerability. 

A second issue that every teacher I know encounters with both male and female students is that many students have a poor self-image, making them feel incapable of even trying to do the assigned work. In trying to help a student overcome a poor self-image, it is entirely possible that an excellent and empathetic teacher like Esquith might tell a 14-year old student that she was, "beautiful, elegant, dazzling, sexy, and gorgeous," especially if this could help her accomplish something she believed she couldn’t do. In this context, what Esquith is alleged to have said is more than justified. 

For 30 years, Rafe Esquith taught in a lower socio-economic neighborhood, even though he could have done better financially, had he taken one of many offers to go elsewhere. But he chose not to. Rather, he chose to set up a foundation ensuring that students of modest financial means could have access to education programs. He wanted to help them go on with their education after graduation, encouraging them to work hard and master the rigorous traditional public education he was trying to give them. 

But in quoting an email out of context, where Esquith refers to himself as "your favorite ATM," the district is seeking to imply some false negative motive on the part of Esquith, when sainthood is a more reasonable conclusion. 

There is an insane irony to the fact that the Los Angeles Unified School District, which should be dedicated to the highest traditions of open intellectual pursuit, remains a closed and insular bastion of cult-like behavior -- a place where those who question it are targeted for removal and destruction. As constituted, LAUSD’s leadership only seems concerned with mindlessly defending its failed public education policy along with its obscenely extravagant financial privilege against anyone like Rafe Esquith who is foolish enough to intelligently question them.

 

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

  

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 101

Pub: Dec 15, 2015

MOM’S POV--News junkie that I am, I was awakened by a 6 am push feed notification from the Washington Post. LAUSD schools would be closed due to a threat received by a school board member. As of Tuesday afternoon, the threat appears to have been some sort of hoax, per Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) who serves on the House Intelligence committee. 

My daughter atten ds high school in Las Virgenes Unified School District, which chose not to close schools. I was notified by a robocall and at least two emails that our schools in LVUSD would remain open. 

New York Police officials stated a similar threat had been made on New York City schools but the threat was deemed not credible. “We cannot allow ourselves t raise levels of fear,” New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said. New York mayor Bill de Blasio commented that the threat appeared to be “so generic and so outlandish” that the New York officials were not taking it seriously. 

Rep. Brad Sherman shared that the author of the email claimed to have “32 jihadist friends” ready to attack with bombs and rifles. He claimed to be a devout Muslim who had attended an LA high school where he had been bullied. Sherman had been given a copy of the email by a school board member. 

When I was first aware of the alleged threat, like most parents, I questioned whether to send my daughter to school. Most of her soccer classmates were staying home. I made the decision to send her to school and to be available by text. 

By early afternoon, the threat had been deemed a hoax but the experience did raise some issues for me. How do we handle these potential threats? Do we allow these threats to paralyze our society, which is, aside from violence, the true aim of terrorists? How do we explain this to our kids? 

We are pretty fortunate to be living in a country where terrorist threats are not part of our typical day. In plenty of countries around the world such as Israel people face the possibility of terrorism or war on a daily basis. However even in our own country, in cities like Chicago, homicide is at an all-time high. 

Certainly, we live in unsure times when terrorists cells and even rogue disengaged gunmen attack in places where we have always felt safe, in schools, religious institutions, theaters, which is exactly what terrorists want. 

For parents, setting your children free as they grow up has always been one of the biggest challenges, that first time we allow our kids to go to the mall with friends or to drive by themselves, even when we send our toddlers to preschool or kindergarten for the first time. Setting all of this in the milieu of potential terrorist threats, whether domestic or ISIS, escalates our anxieties and worries to a new level. 

I think of all the parents in other countries or cities who face the threat of violence as part of life, the real terror in not knowing if your child will arrive home safely at the end of the day. It’s so easy to point fingers at everyone we perceive as a threat. We have candidates like Donald Trump riling supporters with his plan to exclude all Muslims from entering the U.S.

Most of us have seen the images of refugees risking their lives so they and their families can live in peace, far from the daily threats of violence or with basic human rights. I hope we can remember that fear we felt Tuesday morning, unsure of our children’s safety and we can think of those parents for whom threats might not have turned out to be a hoax.

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles-based writer and CityWatch contributor.)

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 101

Pub: Dec 15, 2015

More Articles ...