Commentary by Rusty Pipe:
For those of us who call Los Angeles home and have worked in and around politics, the disgraceful comments are painful, but not surprising. L.A City’s corruption is not breaking news. In fact, many have become numb to it. FBI searches seem to be commonplace. Most of our city leaders, if not corrupt, appear negligent.
Instead of placing blame and pointing fingers, we need to use our time to make change. The activists and demonstrators have done a terrific job at keeping the story in the news. Reporters continue to cover the story. But we need new leaders to step forward and help the city change.
Our city leaders cannot be trusted to make the necessary changes. They are quick to say “this is not who we are ”, yet it is. With the exception of the newest elected member, the rest of the councilmembers, and arguably the other three citywide elected officials, are complicit. Most have served in office for a decade or more. Others have been entrenched staffers. They worked closely with the three disgraced councilmembers who were heard on the tape. They also worked closely with the other three councilmembers who have recently been indicted on some type of corruption charges. For years, the councilmembers have supported one another and covered up bad actions.
Corruption is invasive and has spread throughout the city. Our Ethics Commission is made up of commissioners appointed by the very people they oversee. The awful comments are just an example of a much larger problem. This is really about politics, racism, power, greed, and ego.
This is why we must organize, convene, meet, discuss, and plan. Change is possible, if we, the people, want it. Democracy is not easy. It takes participation, time, effort, and engagement. If we all fail to give it the attention it needs, we get the type of leadership we currently have.
So, we all need to step up and work for serious, significant, systematic change. We need citywide meetings and conversations where we discuss the needs of all Angelenos. We need to discuss how to create an independent Ethics Commission along with a City Controller’s office that is not beholden to the Council. We need time to discuss what changes will work long-term. We need to change the structure of city government. We need an inspector general with independent authority. We probably need a charter reform convention.
We need change led by the people. We have an opportunity to turn a disgraceful moment into a positive movement that makes life better for everyone in the City of Angels. Let’s get going!