Last night at Van Nuys city hall was the lone B&F roadshow hearing for the San Fernando Valley. I dutifully hauled myself down there to participate in the public process, hoping that some semblance of rational thought had finally crept into the City's plan for addressing a historic budget crisis.
Thirty or so members of the public were there, but most of the committee itself wasn't: Paul Koretz, Jan Perry, and Bill Rosendahl didn't bother to show. I'm sure they had good reasons they couldn't make it. (It's tough being a rock star.) Greig Smith and chair Bernard Parks were there, but even they know that two of five does not constitute a quorum.
Nice way to snub the Valley, guys.
As for the hearing itself, the CAO did most of the talking and all of it was the usual garbage we've read in the papers and blogs, sounding pretty much like a certain Gary Larson cartoon:
"Mayor is in charge and on course blah blah economic downturn blah blah couldn't see it coming blah blah layoffs the only answer blah blah blah hiring more police blah blaaaaaah blah layoffs done in a considered fashion is the cure blah blah pension reform blah blah never bankruptcy blah blah . "
With his speech, the CAO proved himself to be the most shameless mouthpiece for the Mayor there is - even more so than the LA Times. One hopes the masses out there understand this when they read a quote or hear a sound byte from that office.
Noteworthy is that the CAO did not admit that the considered layoffs are simply to cut 1000 employees with less than five years on the job, regardless to impact on services.
At this point in the Budget soap opera, it is clear the Mayor has assigned himself to be the defacto General Manager of the entire city, making all major managerial decisions for every department in town. When the entire house of cards crashes - and it will - Villaraigosa will need to have himself fired. It's all his show - he's defining course of action and is controlling the execution. (good word, 'execution'.)
As advertised, the BudgetLA folks were indeed at the hearing in force with measured discussion about solutions, transparency, bankruptcy, and having a seat at the table. Since most of their commentary made sense, they were resoundingly ignored. Bernard Parks was too busy texting while most of them were speaking to absorb much of what was said, anyway.
The level of commentary aimed at the public by Parks and somewhat by the CAO was really simplistic, to the point of being patronizing. Yes, they didn't have a quorum, but what the committee did have was a room of people who had a clue about the budget situation. Rather than engaging in informed discussion which the City Attorney did say the committee sans quorum could do, the message was in essence:
'This is a complex problem, and all you little children don't have a clue what you are talking about. Let the grown-ups worry about it. Here's your milk and cookies. 'Nite 'nite.'
It probably goes without saying, but the lone B&F roadshow hearing in the San Fernando Valley was a complete waste of anyones' time if you actually care about the City. I left very seriously thinking that it is time for the Valley to cut loose the City Hall baggage and secede.
A lot of Valley people who have recently run for public office were actually in the audience last night. Wondering if Pete Sanchez, Tamar Galatzan, Mike McCue, Noel Weiss, and Zuma Dogg - a Valley guy at heart - all has the same 'secession' feeling I did.