Most people outside of LA County don’t realize what kind of political structure we have here. Los Angeles the city of course is the largest city, so large that some outsiders don’t realize that their letter to Uncle Bob in Van Nuys or Granada Hills or their crazy friend Mr. Schï¿½dlemann in Venice is actually being sent to someone living in Los Angeles.
There are a few other cities within Los Angeles County that have substantial populations (Torrance, Redondo/Hermosa/Manhattan Beaches, Long Beach, etc.) The South Bay communities are all nice places to live, and have great beaches and are generally rather quiet, and affluent, or at least doing OK.
But also found spread across the county are countless little burgs, such as Carson, Hawaiian Gardens, South Gate, Lynwood, Bell Gardens, El Monte, Buena Park, and more that most people aren’t aware of. They’re usually not very well off, and the people living there often do not make a lot of money. Some do fine , but most are ignored by the media, as are their elected officials.
Just about all of these oddly sized little towns were formed through incorporation campaigns to keep these residents (and potentially more) out of the grasp of the public-owned Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Most of these smaller towns became bedroom communities for middle and working class people, and for the most part were quiet towns without a lot going on except regular folks raising families and working hard.
Things have changed, to say the least. Nowadays if you want to find the most corrupt, most despicable, and most flagrant abuses of power, as well as the total disenfranchisement (that’s a word, yes?) ï¿½of taxpaying residents and citizens, you need look no farther than some of these little towns.
Carson had its mayor on the run for months on tax evasion charges, only recently having been extradited from the Philippines. South Gate, one of the poorest and lousiest places to live in LA County, was a dictatorship under the thumb of Albert Robles and his machine which looted the city treasury.
The mountain of material unearthed by what little LA Times reporting was done is just the tip of the iceberg as far as I’m concerned. Meanwhile the people who can least afford it pay for the personal enrichment of a pack of weasels who were finally ousted earlier this year.
Lynwood is in the throes of a recall campaign all its own. The town, with a per-capita income of only $9500 per year, has councilmembers who are making in excess of $100,000 per year off the city.
The leaders say they “earn every penny.” As far as I’m concerned the only way you earn $100,000 a year as a councilmember in a place like Lynwood is to either a) be a corrupt liar or b) legitimately earn the money for not only recruiting businesses to locate to Lynwood but also have a guaranteed job for every able-bodied and able-minded individual in Lynwood. Guess which route the councilmembers took?
Are we righteously indignant yet? No? Oh well then read the (kind of) fiery righteous editorial from the Los Angeles Times, in its role of Guardian of the Public Interest and Good People Who Know What’s Best. They made the usual press call about how evil politics is and how we need a good watchdog to guard against this kind of corruption both here in River City and in Sacramento and Washington.
Here’s where we get unplugged, gang. Watch, and learn why the above mentioned editorial is bogus at best and disingenuous at worst (or perhaps those are the same thing?)….
These little corrupt burgs are corrupt for a variety of reasons, some based on the fact that you’ve had a tremendous demographic shift in these towns towards large populations of people who can’t vote, as well as the fact that the jobs that used to fuel the economies of these areas have been exported elsewhere, leaving nothing in its place. Combine that with the fact that it does not take a lot of votes to get elected in most of these places means that you have a localized version of our 130+ candidate governor’s race – but with very tangible, and very bad results.
What is galling about the Times editorial though is that it makes the pompous assumption that the press has been doing its job in these cases, and that some how the press is the Pure and Righteous Voice of Reason in the “sin” that is politics. Bullshit. There’s no other way to say it.
Fact is that over the years the little newspapers that covered these issues have been wiped out by corporate media such as the LA Times, Clear Channel, and other corporate chain owned print and broadcast media. They either were put out of business or have been homogenized into nothing more than ad-laden rags which make money off classifieds and
Fact also is that it’s not “profitable” on a corporate scale to cover anything but scandal or Bennifer Jlo Affleck or what the parent network is peddling in prime time. ï¿½That’s why you see so many “local” broadcasts featuring what’s being said or done on “Friends”, “Survivor,” or whatever prime time product the networks is promoting. Fact is, the media does not cover these issues, does not want to, and does not care to.
Fact also also also is that candidates for office spend money to talk about their plans for running for office because no one covers debates or forums where they might be challenged , or have bullshit called on their various claims or statements.
No one even covers Sacramento, our state capital(!) on a regular basis anymore – in particular broadcast media outlets – so it’s almost insane to expect them to cover anything local to home other than car chases or celebrity restaurant sightings.
NONE of the broadcast outlets in ANY major media markets even maintain a Sacramento bureau anymore – “too costly” – except when there’s a “budget crisis.” They NEVER cover WHY we got there or give any historical perspective on the situation, just the latest soundbite or simplistic reasoning courtesy of a cadre of partisan pundits who are reliable in their ability to get the “talking points of the day” out to a press who lives off “excitement” rather than “fair and balanced reporting.” (Oh wait Murdoch copyrighted that, didn’t he? Perhaps he and the RIAA will sue me this month…)
Where am I going with this?
Point is this: The press needs to get off its collective arse, and stop trying to rewrite old stories with new names. They need to get out there and INVESTIGATE what the heck is up with our political system. Do the work. Spend the money. Do their jobvs to find out the truth, not simply validate a pre-determined notion of what is “true.” Acknowledge their own bias and work around it, instead of denying it. And not just the potential “Woodward-esque” pieces but the so-called “boring” subjects (which aren’t “boring” at all.)
Subjects like the attempts to privatize your water supply. Yes you heard me , PRIVATIZE the water you need to live. The “wet dream” so to speak of right wing ideologues, but trust me, you do NOT want to live in a society where water is up for bid on the open market.
Check out the excellent reporting by Savannah Blackwell at the Bay Guardian to read more. (Yes, I often have issues with the Guardian’s coverage of San Francisco politics and their backing of certain politicians but when they do investigative journalism on public power and water privatization, they do it good.)
I digress. To summarize: the press can be as indignant as it wants to be about corruption in politics. But it cannot ignore its own complicity that has allowed our system at all levels to make people sick.
From the national level where the New York Times allowed a complete liar like Jason Blair to advance up the ladder, to the local deal-making corruption and blatant LIES at places like the Heart Corporation, to the wink, nod, and ignorance of the Los Angeles Times, there’s plenty of blame to go around. It’s time to shape up, kids, and do your jobs. You have the technology, the time and the money to get it right. Now do it.
To paraphrase a great line in “No Man’s Land” – to do nothing is taking sides.
And with Mikey Powell and the FCC voting to consolidate media power even more than it is, does it take a genius to figure out what side that is?
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com
- California Life
- California Politics
- Campaign Tactics & Analysis
- Debunking Politicos Pundits + Spin
- Democratic Party Chatter
- Gov. Doofinator's Follies
- Instant Runoff Voting FAIL
- Links of Interest
- Los Angeles Politics
- Political Direct Mail Archive – 2006
- Political Direct Mail Archive – 2007
- Political Direct Mail Archive – 2008
- Politics of Political Reform
- Pop Culture & Society
- San Francisco Politics
- Website News