Kicking public servants in the can is a fail

February 24, 2014

Boy, if rhetoric could hoist a can, one publication in town could place a 25-ouncer on the moon.

In a recent op-ed written by the publication’s publisher/editor/staff writer, the West Hollywood City Council was accused of an “egregious… refusal to act” on issues of his concern due to a “stalemate.”

I don’t get how one can conflate a stalemate and a refusal to act – one is a desire to act without adequate support for a plan, the other a dig-the-heels-in NO! – but there you have it.

LA Gay Pride in West Hollywood got much flak this year for an uninspired event. The council chose not to throw $150,000 at it; instead they will look to community-based input.

If, on the other hand, you wish to muddy the waters to conceal your incessant attacks on the city, you might use such Orwellian language.

In two issues last week we saw this come to the fore.

The first issue at issue – this week, was a report to the city council on Christopher Street West, WeHo’s LA Pride. Presented after months of work, CSW reported little in the way of substantial suggestions for improving an event that has seen better times. They simply had too few resources to make some changes suggested.

Calling the city’s non-profit responsible for putting on Gay Pride “the Queen of Denial,” he castigated CSW for saying, “that everyone is happy with the way things are. That’s despite calls at community meetings for improvements in everything from CSW’s choice of parade celebrities to the events and booths at its weekend festival…” you get the idea.

Faced with the necessity of funding a search for improvements to the city’s marquis event, Council members John D’Amico and John Duran proposed an event costing $150,000 to give the festival a new twist, create attraction.

Spending money on what seemed to three council members more a matter of community-input was a can too far for the council. The opted for another study that would bring the city’s marketing and visitors bureau in to try to fill up hotel rooms – the real economic engine of the city.

It sounds to me as though the city understands that it has a feeble institution in need of reinvigorating but is not yet in agreement on how to fix it.

Another issue that moves to slowly for the opiner in question is traffic flow.

The other issue was a traffic issue. Given the fact that West Hollywood is part of the east/west traffic corridor narrowed above us by the Hollywood Hills, traffic flow often bottle necks to a near halt.

A proposal to hire or add extra Sheriff’s deputies to act as traffic control officers, keeping intersections open and traffic flowing, for a three month test, got tabled. Three of the council members remained unconvinced that such a study had the correct parameters or would provide the “fix.”

long-time council member John Heilman thought the proposal to hasten traffic flow stood at odds with another goal – increased pedestrian safety.

John Heilman and Abbe Land thought it counterintuitive to speed traffic while the city is boosting pedestrian safety measures. The cost, $141,000, also seemed prohibitive for a study that might not provide the sought after answers.

That item, too, was set aside for further action at a subcommittee level.

This is where this publisher gets on his high horse, asserting that West Hollywood’s city council’s international aspirations would kick these issues and his pet issue –  campaign finance reform – “so far down the road that it’s unlikely anything will happen before the 2015 City Council election.”

That seems to be about right. If, as observers say, as many as 15-20 people are seeking as many as four open seats (with an outside chance at five), the council could look entirely different in a little more than one year.

Shouldn’t we await the input of the next generation of leaders to offer creative ways to hold elections?

The constant needling he gives the council over campaign finance even comes off as phony, as the city he holds up as an exemplar of campaign finance, San Francisco, is a Charter city under the state code. West Hollywood is a General Law city.

Therefore, San Francisco may write laws about campaigns that we cannot. They have a wider latitude to write laws. To suggest that this city has not dealt with the issue, is also disingenuous. For years the issue has been discussed and legislated on.

There’s an old saw in journalism, that we journos are to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

I don’t see where it says to afflict for affliction’s sake.