@THE GUSS REPORT-The familiar young woman with a young child strapped to her chest wandered around the LA subway car going from passenger to passenger soliciting donations with a sign indicating she has two children and no job.
Some riders drop loose change or the occasional dollar into the large leather shoulder bag she extends, while others who do not donate sometimes get a middle finger or other rude gesture from her. This has more than once resulted in a confrontation by a concerned rider, with the small child in the middle of it.
It is unclear whether the children seen in the woman’s care actually belong to her, as she is believed by some to be a nanny from one of the surrounding areas.
But one thing is for sure, LA City Councilmember Nury Martinez – who spends enormous amounts of time trying to brand herself in the media as a champion of exploited women and children – has ignored these dangerous situations when repeatedly brought to her attention by this column, including whole families exploiting children, presumably their own, at train stations, freeway exit ramps and elsewhere, even though one parent could care for their young while the other goes out looking for employment, donations or other form of support.
Her colleague, Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, who chairs LA City Council’s Public Safety Committee, walked dismissively past the same photos last week, which were also ignored by the lawmakers’ staffs.
This is hardly the only danger or nuisance on LA’s subway system, which Martinez herself described as filthy, dangerous and unsuitable for her to ride with her own kid.
In this click-thru, you will see:
- A rider doing chin-ups on the moving train’s bars, resulting in people sitting behind him clearing out;
- Two musicians blocking a doorway as they loudly play and sing above the train’s screeching echo;
- A vendor blocking another doorway to sell candy before people enter and exit the cars;
- A panhandler jangling a filthy donation cup in riders’ faces;
- A homeless person moving from his sleeping perch on a subway station platform to sleeping across two seats on the train;
- Two MTA employees looking away before exiting the train without calling for assistance;
- LAPD subway detail with scanners near exits, rather than on trains;
- Another rude gesture from the exploitative mom who didn’t get a donation;
- Councilmember Nury Martinez sitting in the Council President’s seat last year.
Most of the photos are from a single subway car taken last week, resulting in a ride rich in chaos.
Of course, Martinez, Rodriguez and all of our local electeds have taxpayer paid, gassed and insured cars, while LA’s poor and working class often have no other transportation option, as Mayor Garcetti and others make driving more onerous by the hour. And those annoying scooters littering and endangering our sidewalks, when they aren’t laying in the gutter, is their latest attempt at the juvenilization of LA rather than confronting and fixing our legitimate problems and bonafide dangers.
So where is the LAPD? Generally, the only place you see them in the subway system is on the upper platform of stations with scanners in their hands doing what is apparently most important to the MTA, namely making sure that the riders’ TAP cards reflect that their fares were paid.
Not safety. Not presence. Just money. This is the literal experience of today’s LA subway system.
I asked one of the officers why, with all the chaos on the trains, there aren’t uniformed or undercover officers riding them and protecting people. “There isn’t enough money for that,” he told me.
A few days later, I saw one of the aforementioned musicians playing solo, and asked why they don’t play on the subway platform, and he amiably said, before wishing me a beautiful day, that police will eventually stop them from setting up shop in a single location, but it’s not worth their bother if the misconduct takes place on a train, i.e. kicking the can down the tracks to the next station, as it were.
Others believe that it’s Mayor Garcetti’s and the LAPD’s way of not having to count genuinely violent crime, child endangerment and nuisance incidents that take place on the subway, since a moving train doesn’t have an address for a crime report. LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubinstein says that crime stats cannot be buried because a radio call would be generated and documented. But in a subway system that still lacks consistent cellular and WIFI access, with MTA employees who don’t intervene with their radios and no known police presence, one can’t call for help, like last week when it was reported that a homeless man sexually assaulted a woman a week earlier in a covert area of a Red Line station.
Why that rape wasn’t reported in the media until a week after it happened is anyone’s guess. Care to explain that, Councilmembers Martinez, Rodriguez and Council President Wesson? What say you, Mayor Garcetti? Does this narrative hurt your ascendency to the next level?
Martinez in particular, it seems, is more focused on her likely next step up to LA City Council presidency, whenever its current occupant, the embattled Wesson, is termed-out, elected elsewhere or is otherwise forced out of office.
The blame for this most recent sexual assault, and the next one, or the next robbery, murder or other subway nuisance, rests directly on all of their shoulders. They are to blame. And the officials get away with it because they almost never get voted out of office. And the blame for that is on us.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. Join his mailing list or offer verifiable tips and story ideas at TheGussReport@gmail.com. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.