THE DOCTOR IS IN - Life suggests you win a few, and lose a few. Thanksgiving is as good a time as any for looking at the glass-half-full, and fight that urge to adhere to any glass-half-empty approaches.
I shan't sugar-coat this: After 20 years of fighting for mass transit, appropriate transportation/urban planning, and enhanced grassroots opportunities for citizen input, the City of the Angels has trashed virtually all of that just to please the needs or demands of a self-absorbed and empowered minority.
There is decreased, not increased, transportation opportunities for Angelenos, and citizen input has been absolutely hamstrung beyond belief by our current Downtown leadership in more ways than I could possibly count.
However, tomorrow is another day. Some of the new leadership can correct this, and if our new Mayor Karen Bass can prove her naysayers wrong then she deserves all the kudos, support, and political opportunities she can get and earn.
So let's start with my thanks during our Day of Thanks:
1) I thank the late Ken Draper who gave me this voice on CityWatch, which is a privilege I've never forgotten nor taken for granted.
Being a family man and an overworked doctor (a horrible and inexcusable shortage of medical/non-cosmetic dermatologists exists right now) cannot prevent me from writing. I will just not stop weighing in whenever I can for this wonderful entity that is CityWatch.
2) I thank Metro and all the grassroots for their work in creating a 21st-Century mass transit system.
COVID-19, and an allowance for crime and homelessness to creep up on our trains and connecting buses aside, we will see light rail connections to and through LAX and Downtown this year or next that will make a difference.
The Green/Crenshaw Line/LAX train connections, and the Downtown Light Rail Connector are real, and they are arriving shortly. Problems with Metro CAN and MUST be fixed, and Mayor-Elect Bass might be the very person to do just that.
3) I thank those true believers in Neighborhood Councils for their untold-of, innumerable, and awe-inspiring efforts to create and provide input for better and more responsible City policies.
All of the horrifying recent efforts by DONE to shatter the independence and voices of the Neighborhood Councils cannot prevent tomorrow from being a new day, and a better day, for a return to the ability of one person to make a difference in our quality of life.
4) I thank those who keep fighting in health care for our collective well-being, and particularly so during an era of a mass exodus of doctors, nurses, and other professionals from the medical profession.
A combination of bureaucratic top-down policies, a fight for financial and human resources, burdens of electronic medical records (EMR), and most of all COVID-19, has led to so many good people throwing up their hands in exhaustion and anguish...
...and they are now either doing less ("Quiet Quitting") or just leaving health care altogether (the "Great Resignation" and "Great Retirement").
But the chances of reversing all that are real. Very real. And I thank any and all for being someone who can help fix our healthcare problems in my little corner of the health care world.
5) Most of all, I thank my family. My wife and two children have put up with so much of my volunteer civic efforts, volunteer health care efforts, and volunteer writing (as I do for CityWatch) that too often has taken me away from being with them.
I absolutely prioritize my wife and two kids, and in recent years have left Neighborhood Council opportunities to spend more time with them.
However, if I've left any small mark in improving our city, county, or world, it's entirely because they let me--and supported me--in past, present, and future efforts.
A final two thanks to (first) Jim Hampton, our current editor. Jim, you've made Ken Draper proud from where he watches above in Heaven. Thanks for not letting CityWatch down, and for keeping Ken Draper's dream for volunteer/grassroots voices alive and well.
And my very last thanks to you, my readers, who I hope will not give up faith or optimism in a world that too often tries our patience and courage as we defend our families, our principles, and our belief that the future can only get better.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to his wonderful wife and two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)