Thank you to Dan Mariscal for this article. Dan is a city employee and union steward. He is a frequent commenter on this blog. He always provides an excellent perspective concerning the city’s financial woes from a rank and file employee’s point of view.
As more and more talk of City finances and City budget issues have come to light, it is heart-warming to see relevant questions starting to be asked, even if the official responses aren’t really directly answering those questions, or is an obvious attempt at obfuscation. Awareness is the first step out of the darkness of apathy. And no one can dispute that apathy is indeed a problem. It’s the point of awareness when slight of hand magic from a street magician stops being entertaining; when you suddenly discover that your wristwatch is missing.
For residents in Los Angeles, it’s the point when you get the bill for car repair for damages caused by dilapidated streets. For homeowners, a tree-branch that fell on your newly built fence, your car, your house or worst-case scenario; on the homeowner. For a community, the pile of trash that was illegally dumped, that just seems to grow overnight. For residents, those streets that hardly get swept anymore, despite all those calls to 3-1-1. For pedestrians, those hazardous broken or raised sidewalks that they keep tripping and falling over. For businesses, all that graffiti, and that trash and thrown away furniture in the alley that seems to invite transients and vandalism.
But, in other smaller (and less affordable) parts of the City, there’s the bustle of the nightlife and the sparkle and glow of stories-high neon, where the business of entertainment is a focused attraction.
Then there’s City Hall. Where the seat of local government churns out decisions that affect all denizens, be they dwellers, students, workers, senior citizens, merchants or entrepreneurs. This is where the rubber meets the road, and the success or failure of a city is determined by the competence of those that vied for that office under their solemn promise to do “what’s best for the City” and to “fix” what’s wrong. Billions of dollars pass through the City Councils hands and it is there that the priorities of the City are determined, despite the publics’ two-minute opportunity to chime in on specific issues, mostly in assembly line fashion.
But, “what’s wrong” seems to have gotten worse and “what’s best for the City”, hasn’t quite been nailed down, despite all claimed efforts by City Leaders. Now with the exposure of City Hall’s favorite toy, the business tax breaks, the connection is being made between missing money and budget crisis. Could it be that the dots are finally being connected?
Business Taxes and Fines. Collections. General fund. Infrastructure. Basic Services. Repair and Maintenance of Residential & Commercial Streets and Sidewalks. More Livable Communities. Better Quality of life.
As our favorite City bloggers toil to increase awareness, educate, expose the hidden and point out the less obvious to the readers, the real prize draws ever closer; Our priorities. That elusive key that unlocks the door to real community progress and the true purpose of local government, in the eyes of it true benefactors; the communities and its residents.
So let’s issue this All Points Bulletin: Be on the lookout for our lost priorities. If found, do not call 3-1-1. Please contact your local councilperson, directly if possible, and demand that they be returned and reinstated…. immediately and forthwith!