The Humorous Concept of President Garcetti
Failing upward. That seems to be the path to political success. You can be a serial fondler, a repeated bankrupter, a fraud — and that won’t disqualify you from positions of power. So long as you’ve got a good story to tell, your failings — both personal and professional — won’t hardly matter.
Remember this in the coming months when Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, is “mentioned” by his friends in the establishment media as a potential candidate for President of the United States.
To those of us who live here, the prospect seems laughable, something out of a satirical novel. But with the help of spin doctors to finesse the narrative, the idea that an abject failure at the local level will somehow be just what our fine country needs to [insert favorite nostrum here; e.g, “move forward,” “heal,” etc.] will seem, at first blush, not entirely preposterous. The truth, of course, is not really what’s important. What’s important is that the story can be sold to credulous, easily bamboozled voters.
Nonetheless, here’s the truth: Eric Garcetti has overseen one of the worst humanitarian disasters in urban American history. Nearly 60,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles, a 75% increase over the past 6 years. Tent encampments pop up everywhere now, even on streets in pristine neighborhoods previously immune to the taint of vagrants. Two years ago voters approved an additional tax to fund a $1.2 billion bond to build affordable housing; as of this writing not a single unit has been built. Meanwhile, our Mayor flies around the nation attending “fundraisers” for his political party and his personal war chest.
Everyone agrees solving the homeless issue is complicated and difficult. The best way forward is open to discussion. What’s clear, though, is Garcetti and his dysfunctional Planning Department have contributed to the crisis by displacing low-income renters with towering luxury condos, pushing working people out of the city and into their cars and, for some, the streets.
Each day the problem grows worse. Yet the man thinks he ought to be President.
Garcetti has a habit of announcing bold solutions to obvious problems. Unfortunately for Angelenos, many of us suckers for a handsome, clean-cut fellow, executing these nice-sounding plans isn’t really his strong suit.
Take Vision Zero. The big idea is that L.A. will have zero traffic fatalities by 2025. Last week, in the interest of meeting this worthy goal, the City announced that speed limits will be lowered to 30 MPH on several major arteries. Hooray and huzzah. That’s marvelous. What’s slightly less marvelous is that since the Vision Zero initiative was announced in 2015, pedestrian fatalities have actually increased 82% under Garcetti’s watch.
This is possibly because the Mayor and his Clinton cronies — like CD4 Councilmember David Ryu — gleefully fast-track building projects anywhere and everywhere, including residential streets not designed to accommodate heavy traffic. In our Sunset Square neighborhood, for example, one outlandish project directly next to an elementary school has already been rubber-stamped, and several more are in the pipeline. These buildings will add thousands of new vehicle trips on the same streets where pedestrians walk to and from school. How this decision-making fits into the spirit of Vision Zero is hard to imagine. But don’t worry. Come campaign time Garcetti will be quick to remind a compliant press corps about his brilliant plan for public safety.
What you probably won’t be reading about is how Mayor Eric Garcetti has completely bungled the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, known as the DROP program. When presented with a scathing report outlining the inherent problems with DROP — namely that greedy City employees, mostly members of the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.’s finest), were taking advantage of loopholes and robbing local taxpayers — Garcetti did not thank the report’s author for protecting City finances. Instead, Garcetti castigated the report and explained why there really wasn’t any problem.
Well, after several front-page stories in the Times about DROP abuses, it seems there’s a giant problem.
And the man ultimately responsible? The same one who presides over massive, creeping homelessness and a corrupted Planning process? He thinks he ought to be your next President.