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Pondering the Terrace


Cat, pondering the terrace

There have been sub rosa inquiries: whither and wherefore street-hassle? It does not seem to be engaged as much in the business of Los Angeles, not even the County.

No, it doesn't. I'll tell you about that. To me the city of Los Angeles is mostly a civic vacuum now. An uninteresting one, unless you are talking lifestyle, arts and culture. Politically, it's not Somalia, but it may be a checked-out Cleveland, something like that. The underclass can no longer afford it even with its vast street-food offerings and 99 cent stores, and the overlords now all have pads elsewhere up the coast, and only look at LA as a market, not a home. The Councilmembers are mini-mayors only because the Mayor is vastly diminished and has largely checked out. Nuch checked himself out with his lunacy, but so did Wendy Greuel, now surprised to find herself elected to an utterly impotent position, imagining audits matter--and Eric "sharrow" Garcetti is simply too timid to lead. Politically, the city is simply not a very interesting place.

Nor do I find LA's civic journalism making it any more interesting. Some of this is the fault of civic journalism itself, for not trying hard enough. But ads are tough to sell, and it must be very difficult for an "editor" at a fishwrap to navigate the straits between the Scylla of publicity mills and the Charybdis of potential advertisers, leaving almost no true course towards news at all. The stories that have legs currently--Bell, Grim Sleeper, value added teacher measurement (?!), &c.--are all the wrong ones. They are stories that have little or nothing at all to do with the future of the city--in fact, they don't even have anything to do with the present. The locals should be hounding the plutocrats who really make the city the way it is today--Eli Broad, Austin Beutner, the DWP, AEG--but frankly, they don't have the talent to do so, so they are going after low-hanging fruit and scapegoating the easily scapegoated: small town crooks, killers from another epoch, beleaguered teachers. Not to mention, the local civic journalism environment is about as convivial as a toxic waste site. Yes, I have thrown my share of plutonium into the mix. In outrage.

So I am looking elsewhere, mostly to Sacto, where real things appear to be happening. I can only say, watch as Jerry Brown and this legislature clean the clocks of unaware municipalities. (The fact that we have the first Governor since Wilson who actually knows how a redevelopment agency works is a minor miracle.) It's already happening in education and it will soon happen at urban renewal agencies. This, to me, is exciting, it is news, it is the future. Serial killers, 605-corridor corruption, the tweaking of the charter movement is not.