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Chandelier Stores Open - Why Not Porn, Booze, Nicotine and Dog Groomers?

@THE GUSS REPORT-How’s that for a provocative question? Ventura Boulevard is the world's longest avenue of contiguous businesses, stretching from Universal City to the front stoop of Calabasas.

Many would bet a buck or two that it is probably home to more chandelier and lighting stores than anywhere else in the world if you include those within a block of its thousands of addresses. 

What, pray tell, is essential about a chandelier and when was the last time anyone bought one? 

The answer is I don’t know, but I can tell you this: many are open for business. And unless our local government officials can explain why they fall under the category of “essential,” then the rest of LA should be open for business, as well. 

As in, right now. 

I emailed LA City Councilmember David Ryu about those openings in his District, where so many are located. Neither he nor his staff responded, perhaps because my eventual question would have been this: why is this neighborhood chandelier store open, while the smoke and vaping shop, porn store, dive bar and dog groomer surrounding it are not only closed but face criminal charges from in-house bully, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, if they dare to do the same? 

Besides, there is a far greater demand for nicotine, booze, porn, and clean dogs than there is for chandeliers. . . 

Perhaps that’s it. Our local government officials, from Governor Gavin Newsom and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez want to allow businesses with hardly any foot traffic or demand to open while those with huge demand cannot. It’s about control, rather than leadership. 

If anyone should be able to explain the reasoning, it’s Ryu. He chairs LA City Council’s longest-named, least prestigious committee, the Health, Education, Neighborhoods, Parks, Arts and River Committee, largely a hodgepodge of disconnected subjects also overseen by the brain trust of Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Curren Price

Whether that’s a real Algonquin Round Table or just a Round Table Pizza, the city’s “Health” issues are dumped there and this committee doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing in terms of which businesses can open, which cannot and letting the public know why. 

We know that there are inherent dangers right now in mass gathering places like schools, stadiums, barber shops and, on a smaller scale, sit-down restaurants. But there are scores of businesses whose workplace conditions or foot traffic can be wisely and cautiously managed and which should be allowed to open for business, today, if only our politicians trusted us to act wisely. We “get” the risks involved. 

LA hasn’t had outstanding government leadership since Richard Riordan was Mayor. In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, Riordan, a man of immense business talent, got things done as proven by the stunningly fast restoration of a collapsed portion of the 10 Freeway because he incentivized the outcome: the sooner the freeway was back open, the bigger the contractors’ bonuses. 

At every step, LA understood Riordan’s plans because they were explained and updated. While it is flawed to compare a finite challenge like a collapsed freeway to an infinite one like a pandemic, leadership and transparent communication is what LA and California lack in 2020.This despite our having the ultimate incentive to live and shop safely and cautiously because many of us will get sick and die if we do not. 

Whenever we do emerge from the Coronavirus shutdown, which will probably be far later than much of the rest of the country, our officials will play it as a success: We can now reopen all businesses because our restrictions worked. What they will never talk about is all the preventable professional and personal bankruptcies, homelessness, hunger, and incalculable suffering caused by their failure to plan, explain, and execute. 

And this is who we elected to represent us. 

It is the same reason why our public pension systems are on the verge of perpetual collapse, now more than ever: incompetence, corruption and, to borrow the line, failure to communicate. It is also why the federal government shouldn’t spend a dime on saving them. 

Maybe someday we will stop electing the same corrupt, nepotistic people to jobs with salaries and perks that they have zero chance of getting in the private sector. If chandelier stores are open today, then bring on the porn, booze, nicotine, and dog grooming. 

Or explain to us why not.

 

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.