MY TURN-There was an amazing reaction to my article "Felipe Fuentes: the Long farewell." It’s always gratifying to know that people read what you have to say, even if they don’t agree with your point-of-view.
What was surprising, though, was that in all the comments on Facebook and on this site, exactly zero support was shown for Councilmember Fuentes (District 7.) Not one comment came in justifying or praising his work, and I heard from multiple people from each of the neighborhoods in his District. Frankly, I was almost hoping for some disagreement to balance out the conversation!
Many comments were in the same vein, expressing the hope that people would now take local elections very seriously and play an active part in selecting future candidates to run for CD7. Several people said they looked forward to fresh winds blowing in the Northeast Valley.
Several readers called out the entire LA City Council for sticking together and always supporting each other in opposition to their stakeholders. Some even accused certain councilmembers of criminal actions, citing the relevant penal code infractions.
Contrary to many of the comments I received, I do not believe all of our City Council elected representatives are crooks, but they do have their own agendas and that plays into their actions. What I find objectionable, however, is the tendency they have to close their eyes to malfeasance on the part of their colleagues. When CM Fuentes evicted long-standing tenants from the Sunland Tujunga City Hall, Council President Herb Wesson said he could not get involved -- a little disingenuous since, not too long ago, he did not take kindly to CM Bernard Parks, using the power of his office to diminish Parks’ influence.
Maybe it’s the nature of the system in which each Councilmember seems to be the "Mayor" of his or her own district. When I read the City Council agenda's and reports, some of the items are enough to make your eyes glaze over. A link on the Council website allows you to check if and when your representative shows up for Council meetings. I understand that most of the real work is done in the various committees and unless it involves budget matters or something really controversial, staff does most of the investigation. It’s similar to what goes on in both our State and Federal government day-to-day operations.
One important question initiated by this entire drama is, “What is it that actually makes a ‘good’ councilmember?” Some people imbue their representatives with special powers and are excited to have a picture taken with them, to be recognized or be called by first name. After a while, these elected officials begin believing their own press.
Elected officials get used to being placed on a pedestal; they forget why they were elected in the first place. Almost all of our city councilmembers have been accused of kowtowing to one benefactor or another – influential people and businesses involved in everything from real estate developments to neon signs to technological updates. This is all part of City business.
And for each issue there will always be those who believe decisions were made as a result of campaign contributions … or even the lack of campaign contributions. In the end, you can't please every constituent, but you do have an obligation to consider every point-of-view.
There are many unanswered questions related to the current state of affairs in Council District 7. One compliment I received from a community leader was that he thought I had managed to tie the problems of CD7 to the awakening of people in the Northeast Valley – to folks who now realize that they truly have a stake in who governs them.
Maybe this will cause some in other Districts in Los Angeles to look at their own councilmembers with more scrutiny…to analyze what he or she is actually doing for the District other than continually passing out certificates of appreciation and posting pictures on Facebook and their respective websites extolling their presence at certain events.
If you have a great councilmember in your district, let me know. And if you have someone who is not accessible, whose agenda differs from the majority of stakeholders in the district – someone who doesn’t wholeheartedly support the community -- then, let me know that too!
As always, comments are welcome!
(Denyse Selesnick is a CityWatch columnist. She is a former publisher/journalist/international event organizer. Denyse can be reached at: [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
Vol 14 Issue 7
Pub: Jan 22, 2016