OPEN MEETINGS -- "Facing the public is becoming more precarious by the day for our
electeds . . . and, if pollster and advisor Frank Luntz is right there is
no let-up in sight," says CityWatch LA editor Ken Draper.
Luntz has written a book (What Americans Really Want Really) based
on interviews with 6,400 people over a six month period from last
December through April of this year.
Based on what weve seen across the country and in LA over the
summer, Im not sure the results could be considered too surprising.
According to my research, he writes, 72% of Americans agree with
Howard Beale (of Network movie fame) they are really mad as hell.
He also says that 57% believe that their children will inherit a worse America.
Citizen behavior over recent months across the country and in Los Angeles would support Luntz results.
Politician shout-downs and town hall closings have been priority headlines in media for weeks.
The LA City Councils ability to keep the public in their seats and
maintain the Councils version of decorum is tested daily. And, new
decorum rules and threats of expulsion have had minimal effect.
This week a contingent of homeless people closed a council meeting down
for 20 minutes when frustration over what they perceived as being
ignored chased them to the aisles shouting public comment now. (See
video and Ron Kaye story here.)
Angry speakers paraded to the council chamber lectern during the early retirement debate.
Three thousand parents invaded a School Board meeting a few weeks ago looking for a voice in the education of their children.
One San Pedro neighborhood council leader, Doug Epperhart, is leading a
campaign to get a measure on the 2010 ballot to cut the salaries of
LAs electeds in half.
Citizen lawsuits against the city are accumulating by the dozens to get
the City to obey its own laws and to get the attention of City
officials still unfamiliar with the art of listening.
So why is everyone so angry? Why now?
It didnt just start. Years of being patronized and ignored by
politicians and a bureaucratic government system preceded this tipping
As former LA Councilman Joel Wachs said when he first proposed
neighborhood councils, the public has become cynical and disengaged.
They dont believe anyone is listening.
The people didnt just get mad yesterday but they did get mad as hell
yesterday and now theyre tired of taking in the gut city decision
after city decision.
Luntz, in his book, says there is today intense despair and loss of confidence.
He says the people in the unhappy majority are struggling to keep
their jobs as million-dollar bonuses are being awarded at companies
their tax dollars bailed out.
LA citizens out of work and city employees on the brink of losing their
jobs dont believe the pain is being shared when they look at the
salaries and staffs of LAs electeds and watch their council waste
millions of their dollars while it is trapped in a morass of indecision.
The people are tired of showing up to vent their frustrations and fears to an empty horseshoe.
Tired of offering sensible advice and asking reasonable questions and
being responded to with unanswered phone calls and email and a
contemptuous City Hall attitude.
And they're angry.
Its a new time. The people want to count for something. They want
some dignity. And they want a legitimate place at the table.
Its their government.
They want transparency. They want politicians to stop treating them
like theyre too stupid to not smell a backroom deal or see when
theyre being had by sugarcoated deals and plans that benefit the
electeds and choke the last penny out of the guy on the street.
And theyre mad as hell.