ALPERN AT LARGE - As we've done for the past several years, my son and I joined others in his Boy Scout troop, in addition to a small army of other Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Sea Scouts and other young Scouts to pay respect to those who sacrificed everything for our liberties.
We got up early on the Saturday morning of this Memorial Day Weekend to help place flags in front of each and every gravesite at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in West LA.
As always, it was tough to wake up early on that Saturday morning. As always, it was entirely worth it.
Those buried there deserve our small sacrifice, and they deserve a whole lot more from a society that is too often obsessed with the latest app, the latest TV reality show, and the latest celebrity obsession.
Unfortunately, those likely to read CityWatch are those who understand and respect volunteerism the most, and who therefore least need to hear from someone extolling the virtues of said volunteerism.
But we can still set an example for the rest of us who need to strive for civic engagement, involvement in Neighborhood Councils, and free speech in a City that promotes itself as open-minded and democratic when reality and experience dictates otherwise.
In my last CityWatch article, I pointed out the need for the City of Los Angeles to have more accessibility, inclusion, and downright following the law in order to fix the City. With a new Mayor, City Controller and City Attorney, we have the right to turn the corner and create a City that is both legally and environmentally clean.
A summary of that article is that we need more evening City Council, Council Committee and Planning meetings, we need hearings that are located appropriately in a manner that does not discriminate against those impacted by a given City policy or decision, we need Neighborhood Council inclusion in all City policy, budgetary and decision-making meetings, and--most importantly--we need to adhere to City policy and state/federal laws.
Because even the rich and powerful need to obey the law, and even the poor and unempowered need to have their rights protected...those buried in the Los Angeles National Cemetery fought and died for that.
The City and County of Los Angeles needs to pull back from its trend towards overtaking Chicago as the most corrupt region in the nation--according to a timely and relevant University of Illinois study, we're number 2 behind Chicago in corruption-related federal convictions.
Corruption and insider "pay to play" politics may be part of our history and of human nature, but it need not ever be taken for granted...even in a City of Los Angeles, with its jaded past and present history.
The recent elections had results associated with a small voter turnout consistent with widespread disgust with, and a desire to strongly reform, a City that has benefited a few at the expense of the tax-paying majority. The elections favored exhausted and beleaguered homeowners, and those who are screaming at a tone-deaf City Hall that is ignoring their pleas to retain a reasonable quality of life.
The elections favored Neighborhood Council and community activists who want IN to the sham we call "democracy" in the City of the Angels.
The elections favored those who work during the day, and must make the Hobson's Choice to getting paid versus representing their neighborhoods, and against those who are paid to do nothing but lobby, loiter and testify all day at City Council meetings and hearings for policies and projects that will enrich themselves and hurt the greater communities of Los Angeles.
The elections favored those who recognize that some truly "elegant densification" is both beneficial and necessary for the City of Los Angeles, but that monstrosities such as the Millennium and Casden projects aren't about "elegant densification," but about enriching a few developers and their paid contractors at the expense of the taxpayers and residents of our City. Compromise is good, but sometimes a project can be just too darned BIG.
The elections favored a Mayor who will be asked to make tough decisions to the public sector unions that have led, and continue to lead, this City into Bankruptcy, and a Mayor who needs to be less caught up in wine, women and song and more on what is tolerable and fair for the working families of Los Angeles.
The elections favored those that are REALLY "working people"--those who are not represented by the Unholy Alliance of paid-off and self-obsessed Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions and Developers...and placed a warning to the City Councilmembers who appear bought off by this Unholy Alliance.
The elections favored those who recognize that public sector unions need to leave their alternative universe and recognize how "working people" who exist outside the public sector have been hurting--really HURTING--and that they need to get realistic after a decade of short-sighted--if not corrupt--politicians giving away our economic future for short-term political gain.
(And no, those asking public sector unions to get real and smell the coffee aren't knee-jerk union haters, as Steve Lopez so eloquently opined in the Times.)
Note bene to the LADWP: you already GOT your raises for the next several years...don't expect more. Note bene to the other public sector unions: as the proud son of a retired City of Los Angeles worker, I still believe that you've no right to expect the next Mayor and City Council to pimp themselves out like we saw with our current and outgoing Downtown "leadership".)
The elections favored having a City Controller that really cuts through the political roadblocks to budgetary and spending reform, and rejected our current approach of having our Downtown foxes guard the henhouse.
The elections favored a City Attorney who will adhere to the law, and to moral and legal principles, rather than self-promotion and violation of promises to the voters.
The elections favored an independent Community College District Trustee over a challenger who represented self-interested labor unions over the needs of the students attending these colleges.
To conclude, there's a lot to think about on Memorial Day--we all want more, but the need to have things our way must be tempered by strong consideration of those who lie buried in the Los Angeles National Cemetery in West LA. Those resting there understood what sacrifice and selflessness really meant, and what service and consideration of others really means to us all.
The City of Los Angeles CAN be cleaned up and CAN adhere to the law--that's ALSO part of human nature. Let's hope that this Memorial Day, and the months and years to come, will allow us to listen to the calling of our inner angels--and by "us" I mean both our volunteers and our political leadership.
Let's return the favor of those who gave everything for our liberties, and let's provide a good example for the Scouts who came out early Saturday morning to honor the fallen.
Let's make the City of the Angels just that.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. He is also a physician and Board-Certified Dermatologist and an active parent in his son's first-rate Boy Scout troop. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 11 Issue 43
Pub: May 28, 2013