Tue, Jan

‘Input’ Is NOT the Same as ‘Respect’

ALPERN AT LARGE--Whether it's taxpayer sentiment, parental sentiment, or City/State laws, the tyranny of the minority is just that--tyranny--if the voters and stakeholders are "heard" and then ignored.  To paraphrase Orwell, we're all created equal, but some are more equal than others.  

That's true for current City planning/transportation efforts, and that's true for current LAUSD school schedules.

While there are certain instances where "majority rule" cannot be achieved, and certain instances where determining what the "majority" really is may prove impossible, we are a society that was founded on majority rule.

Yet it's doubtful that the majority of voters who passed Measure M wanted the draconian road diets that are supposed to help bicyclists (the Great Streets project on Venice Blvd. has seen a sharp uptick in bicycle/pedestrian accidents), when the vast majority of commuters (motorists) have been sent to "commuter purgatory" because they're forced to add 15-20 minutes each way, and each day, through major or residential streets.

It's equally doubtful that the majority of parents and households who wanted a LAUSD summer vacation that didn't start in mid-August, and who made it clear that they wanted a summer vacation of at least 10 weeks, were OK with the LAUSD Board approving their request...and then suddenly backtracking to a lousy and sweltering mid-August school year start yet again (and, coincidentally)  after a statewide school funding vote was passed by the voters).

So now we're allowed to have "input" for the Great Streets Project on Venice, and we're supposed to "wait until the data comes in" despite the daily nightmares for commuters and Mar Vista residents on neighboring, now-clogged residential streets...when it's pretty obvious that the City powers-that-be will arm-twist the LADOT, Police and Fire Departments into "concluding" that everything is "just fine".

 So now we're allowed to "vote" on whether or not the LAUSD school year will begin in mid-August, and/or whether we'll have flexibility as to when the year begins/ends, or whether we'll have a lopsided week off for November/Thanksgiving and three weeks off for Winter Break, and the like...when it's pretty obvious that the LAUSD Board will do whatever it so wishes.

Because there are priorities at play here, and some of us are clearly more "equal than others".

Most of us don't consider terraces and enlarged sidewalks as "open spaces" as much as we do parks...but at least we'll be able to state the obvious...before we're ignored.

Most of us don't consider 7-8 story projects to fit in well with 1-2 story neighborhoods...but at least we'll be able to state the obvious...before we're ignored.

Most of us don't consider homes and condos costing $600,000 or more to be "affordable"...but at least we'll be able to state the obvious...before we're ignored.

Most of us want our taxes to be spent well, and with more transparency...and will gladly state the obvious to that effect...before we're ignored.

So it's just a matter of time when "input" will be recognized as "ventilation", and the blood, sweat, and tears of Neighborhood Councils and other volunteers will be recognized as "ignored" because they weren't doing the "right" type of volunteering, and working for the "right" type of causes. 

Because in THIS City, and for THIS school district, we're all created equal.

But some of us really ARE more equal than others. 


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member 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 was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired 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. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)