By now, the big story the Los Angeles Times “broke” about the excessively high salaries in tiny Bell, CA has been the outrage heard ’round the world, and the fallout has begun, complete with resignations, recriminations, investigations and more. Politicians of all stripes are seeking to make a name for themselves going after these goofuses. While it’s righteous and harmonious that these looters get some punishment, let’s not all pat the LA Times on the back for it’s alleged “investigative reporting.
Why? Simple – this is not a new story in Bell, or any of the little towns outside of Los Angeles, many of which have faced similar corruption scandals in the past. In fact, I wrote about these corrupt little burgs seven years ago when neighboring communities were mired in similar scandals (and yes, at the time Bell was paying people bazillions of dollars in “perks” while city services starved).
In my old blog post from an old blog long since dead, I detailed why: many of these towns have a disenfranchised electorate that either can’t vote, or simply don’t, no one covers these towns and their myriad of contracts and payments and whatnots so there’s no transparency to said local governments, and frankly the LA Times has “reported” on this on occasion, but doesn’t really care either. A huff and puff editorial in 2003 rings hollow when you consider that Bell’s shenanigans were going on -and the Times did nothing in the ensuing years to keep the heat on local governments like it claimed was a good idea.
So while everyone at the LA Times is high fiving each other and reveling in the attention just remember – this is nothing new, this has been happening for ages, and will continue to happen until something changes. It’d be nice to think the Times would be the innovator in finding a way to connect these residents with their local government and inform them so they’d stop voting for these idiots, but between Sam Zell and the overall cluelessness of the newspaper “industry,” I’m not holding out for any miracles.
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