- Written by Joseph Mailander
07 Sep 2012
MAILANDER ON POLITICS - The bad news is that the top civic leadership in Los Angeles is so disinterested in Los Angeles that they all went to Charlotte this week.
And the good news is that the top civic leadership in Los Angeles is so disinterested in Los Angeles that they all went to Charlotte this week.
There was our Mayor, applying stupid anti-democracy tricks on the unsuspecting national Democrats.
It was a bad enough blow to local democracy that the LA Times completely bought into him in 2009, at the deliberate exclusion of all other opponents.
You would think he might have been humbled by the close call he experienced while shutting the democratic process down as best he could, in order to squeak by vastly outfunded and outpublicized noncelebrity candidates like Walter Moore, Phil Jennerjahn, David Hernandez and Zuma Dogg.
But no—over the past three years, Villaraigosa hadn't learned a thing about grass-roots democracy, it turns out.
When a convention floor fight broke out over whether or not to include the words "God" and "Jerusalem" in some—any—part of the Democratic Party platform, Villaraigosa took the matter to a voice vote—and ruled that two-thirds of the voice was behind inclusion, despite profound acoustic evidence to the contrary.
In the words of David Atkins: "Roberts Rules of Order gives the power of determining the outcome of a voice vote to the Chair. If the Chair cheats the outcome, the only recourse is an 'Objection to the Ruling of the Chair'...The problem here, of course, is that such an objection is only possible if the Chair recognizes the objector from the floor before moving to other business ... And that, in turn, gives the Chair of a scripted convention near-dictatorial power to overrule the will of majority."
While it's no surprise to locals that the Mayor allowed himself to be used as a willful tool of the Democratic National Committee in stomping a “small-d” democratic grassroots movement yet again—he’s now done it not only in opposing mayoral candidates but also to Occupy LA too—it was indeed a surprise to see former City Council President and mayoral hopeful Eric Garcetti posting photos on Facebook dedicated to demonstrating to our remote burg how important he is nationally.
Early in the week (after organizing a sidewalk-examination junket that will cost the city $10 million over three years, when neighborhood councils or the DWP meter readers might have done it in a few weeks for free), Garcetti touted himself at the big dance as “Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee.”
But then the Rules had their Villaraigosa meltdown moment, and suddenly Garcetti was touting himself as “Chair of Democratic Municipal Officials.”
I have to confess I don’t know precisely what these committees do—and we never heard from Garcetti what they do either—but these convention blasts from the man who would be Mayor were not meant to inform. No they were meant to say: “I’m here, I’m titled, I'm important, and never mind what I’m doing on your nickel.”
Then there was the obliging, fawning bow to local scribes. “Good to see so many L.A. reporters here in Charlotte -- this election is key for LA as we work to turn around our economy,” Garcetti wrote to Facebook fans on Tuesday as the Convention opened. Which indeed seems the whole point of our locals breaking bread in Charlotte rather than fixing potholes on Cahuenga: to get in front of as many fawning publicists as possible.
But what were those reporters doing as the Convention unfolded?
Democrats across the country were astonished to see that the Thursday edition of the Los Angeles Times failed to run an above-the-fold story about Bill Clinton’s speech to the Convention.
They were similarly flabbergasted to observe Times editorial “writer” Jon Healey tweeting junk like “@SandraFluke wants president to be Denouncer in Chief. More than a full-time job” and “This portion of #DNC2012 brought to you by Margaret Atwood.”
Only mad dogs and libertarians could pick up the ditsy contempt signals Healey and the Zell-scrambled news page have expressed for Democrats in half-baked twaddle like this. It’s not a wonder real unemployment in the city exceeds the typical number of citizens who vote.
That our former paper of record has squandered its superior, legacy-based local political access on condescension and snarky tripe—snarky tripe pitched to frequencies only canines can hear—is especially sad, given the real opportunities for candor afforded by our local Democrats in Charlotte.
And certainly, as the locals hit the campaign trail, and ditch the city through November, we can count on more crazy sidewalk escapades, escalating incidents of police brutality while nobody's watching, and dangerous potholes to linger at least through these next sixty days.
But what right do we have to complain about a thing? After all, only 17% of us vote these doorstops in—typically on the recommendation of the local flunkey newspaper, which mostly looks the other way when making its recommendations. This scarcely sounds like democracy at work--as usual.
Maybe the city even runs a little better when they're gone--it's hard to say.
(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He is also the author of New World Triptych and The Plasma of Terror. Mailander blogs at www.josephmailander.com.)
Vol 10 Issue 72
Pub: Sept 7, 2012