Friday, June 04, 2010


By Diana L. Chapman

Living in the city of the angels reminds me of an old joke: A man sits on his rooftop as flood waters treacherously surround his home.

Three separate times, rescuers come by and offer to save him.

“God will save me,” he responds to all three attempts. When the man died and arrived in heaven, he asked God: “What happened? How come you didn’t save me?”

“I tried three times,” God replied.

As a Los Angeles resident, I feel like we – the residents -- are the man sitting on the rooftop -- ignoring all the warning signs that we are in dire trouble. The time to split up this monstrosity of a city is now. Not yesterday. This is for everybody’s benefit not just the nubs like the Harbor Area and the valley that seem sewn on like last minute attachments for one thing – money.

Even for those who want to remain, it must make sense to let areas go that want to secede. We are all getting less and less services as time goes on and a lackluster bureaucracy with excellent skills at out waiting and perhaps outwitting the City Council. How many more warning signs and slaps in the faces do we need before we wake up?

Let’s face it: Los Angeles is way too big for its britches – four million residents and the second largest city in the United States. In this case, I really believe for all of us in terms of size – less is more. Then add in this:

We have former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan claiming the city is doomed and may go bankrupt. No matter what you think of Riordan, I don’t doubt his theory.

We have a Department of Water and Power (let’s nickname them Drunk With Power) with so much authority – more it seems than the City Council – that someone needs to unplug their power grid so they’re not in so much control.

We have a council now saying they can no longer fix the city sidewalks and as a unit -- spent a lot of time boycotting Arizona for its latest immigration stance – when in fact, there’s much to do about a lot of things right here at home.

Yes, we’ve tried in the past and secession has failed. Times are different now that Los Angeles seems as though it’s falling apart at the seams -- and then some. The city’s budget crises is a nightmarish, sticky mess -- meaning more resources and city services will be heavily cut. Forget seeing your trees get trimmed anytime soon! Your local park may be closed. And forget day care at some of those facilities.

The City Council has less clout, it seems, than ever especially over the DWP who seemed to call the shots on its recent 4.5 tax increase on residents and businesses – one that was done in darkest recession since the depression. The council realized how detrimental it is to allow the mayor (in this case Antonio Villaraigosa) and the DWP to decide this matter – and is now trying to change the City Charter so council members can get a handle on what the department does.

Good idea, but…

I can’t help asking: why wasn’t this done before? It’s never good to lay so much power in the hands of an agency and the mayor.

Earlier this winter, Antonio wanted to raise utility taxes even higher – ignoring that many of his residents are out of jobs and many adult children and their families are moving back in with their parents just to make it through this crises.

Antonio’s drive for the taxes for a greener environment lacks common sense at this time. Do we really want to feed one mouth and take it out of another?

I know thousands of us see it, but our mayor appears blinded byhis own ambitions.

“It will never happen,” my husband argues of any secession. “The rest of Los Angeles won’t let anyone go.”

I believe now – the time has come where many Angelenos will be ready to break up the city since it’s so down-trodden with woes from financial issues to giant sink holes – to overly powered departments – who often have more clout than the City Council itself.

They are waking up. And are, like many of us, sick of it.

Therefore, I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again – it’s time to let a section of the city secede. Letting go of the valley or the Harbor-region, the remaining “Angelenos” as the mayor calls us might just see new and improved city services – a focus that’s culled down and a city in which we can at least see our trees trimmed, our streets paved – and a bureaucracy that not only answers to the council (which it appears do only sometimes), but its residents.

I know others have much faith in our Neighborhood Councils as the answer to our woes. But it’s been nearly a decade and there are still ridiculous things going on like having trouble getting park benches into parks (how difficult can this be?) and parking meters that work.

I can’t understand why this major metropolis can’t handle the smallest things without much debate and fiasco, numerous meetings and bureaucratic stall tactics just to get a bench placed at a park.

For all of us living in L.A., the time is now to make our own destiny and carve out a new future for Angelenos – one that actually works.

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