Sat, Jan

Why It’s Not the LA it Used to Be

@THE GUSS REPORT-A friend in the health field wrote last week to advise of a gnarly encounter on the way to work: 

“Saw some guy pooping on Haskell Ave in Van Nuys, trousers to the ankles and perched perfectly off the curb dropping poop in the gutter. Another typical morning commute in Los Angeles.” 

But let’s look at the bright side, as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti might want us to: 

  1. The fecal offender graciously didn’t do it on the sidewalk. 
  1. He generously provided a much-needed distraction to commuters stuck in traffic. 
  1. He did it without using any water. What a conservationist!  

And let’s give him an LA Olympics-like 9.7 for style! 

In the same way that Garcetti said that we owe a debt of gratitude to ex-convicts for serving their time, let’s give this civic-minded stud a City Council round of applause and one of those hand-drawn calligraphy certificates of accomplishment, y’all! 

Let’s not jump to conclusions that the fecal offender is homeless or, in the latest delusional City Hall parlance, un-housed. “Besides,” Garcetti might say, “It’s organic! If Washington gives us a bazillion dollars, we can compost it on an urban farm. What matters most is cleaning up dog poop!” 

Pass the Charmin and Purell, my friends. 

So, forgive this all-too real introduction to a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Charles Kesler, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, from whose summer issue this is adapted: 

“California’s Biggest Cities Confront a ‘Defecation Crisis’ - Lawmakers ban plastic straws as a far worse kind of waste covers the streets of San Francisco and L.A.”   

It’s a quick and worthwhile read, as Kesler explores how politicians who have failed in their service to us employ semantics, guilt, and distraction to side-step blame for their failures. 

Despite Garcetti’s protestations, in LA significant blame goes to him because the homeless crisis worsened during his 18 years in office, including nearly 14 years as City Council president or Mayor.  Was this a “thing” during the tenure of his predecessors Antonio Villaraigosa, James Hahn and Richard Riordan? He has been in office since before 9/11; were we talking about any of this back then? 

You would be wrong if you think things can’t get worse in LA with this or our myriad other civic maladies like affordable housing, traffic, sanctuary matters, filthy / dangerous / ineffective public transportation, fake No Kill animal claims, road diets, typhus, rats, and corruption scandals which caused the FBI to launch multiple raids on LA government offices in separate probes in less than one year. 

So, things can, and are likely to, get a helluva lot worse in LA, SoCal and California. 

Why? For starters, in the next 2+ years, our failed elected officials with the familiar names like Wesson, Ridley-Thomas, Feuer, Galperin and Martinez are going to play musical chairs and attempt to swap jobs despite hideous, if not criminal, on-the-job performance that would have long since resulted in their firing if they worked in the private sector. And they will each likely be endorsed, if not championed, by a largely detached local political media, despite known candidates with better records (or at least less failure) and lesser known candidates with fresher ideas. 

That’s how you know LA is in trouble: when candidates with “less failure” sounds like a great option.

We have arrived at a time where the blame for these problems should be shared by the local political media who gush over a handful of people getting housed while literally hundreds more homeless – sorry, I mean the un-bathroomed, non-domiciled –  arrive by the week because LA is tolerant and accommodating of jarring, anomalous conditions. Our politicians and the media who cover them look down their noses at the rest of us who say this isn’t right, and it’s disgusting and dangerous. 

And how is this for irony? A group of protesters are finally taking their complaints to the Mayor’s doorstep with a tented protest in front of his official residence in Hancock Park. But as is always the case with these things, Garcetti will probably skedaddle – perhaps a jaunt to Vegas or Morongo with his new bestie, Pope Francis – while containing the protesters will be the LAPD’s burden. 

What these organizers might consider doing is dropping the temporary aspect of their protest and set-up permanent camps in front of each and every politician’s home, in the City as well as the County, utilizing the ACLU and courts to call to everyone’s attention the absurdity of being able to publicly poop without repercussion in Van Nuys, but not at Garcetti’s home. 

Why leave all the fun for the rest of us? Spread the joy and live a little! Watch how quickly the headlines change when the fecal factor arrives on their doorstep like the LA Times before its next round of political endorsements.


(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. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times.  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.