L.A. badly needs major reforms FIVE years ago, residents of the San Fernando Valley staged a valiant effort to shake up the system of institutionalized political corruption in the city of Los Angeles. Five years later, it’s time for another shake-up. Back then, Valley residents waged a campaign for independence. Despite being outmatched and massively outspent, they managed to achieve a symbolic victory by passing secession in the Valley, even though it failed citywide. The inequities persist: The Valley still has worse police response times, fewer cops and a bigger surge in gang violence than the rest of L.A. – despite paying a lion’s share of the city’s taxes. The Valley has been conspicuously left out of Villaraigosa’s school-reform efforts. And downtown developers continue to get massive subsidies and handouts, while the Valley and much of the rest of L.A. get little or no help in their efforts to revive community life. But worse than the inequities is City Hall’s outright contempt for L.A. neighborhoods. Los Angeles’ city leadership exists not for the benefit of Angelenos, but for the unions, the developers and the other special interests that call the shots. To cite just a few of the most recent, most egregious abuses of City Hall: City leaders approved an enormous, nearly $300 million pay hike for bureaucrats at a time when revenues are falling flat and may even decline, and the city can least afford it. They have sponsored hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for downtown projects, and support building a half-billion dollar, overpriced police headquarters. Having squandered the treasury, they admit they failed to invest in basic infrastructure, and warn of service cuts, while offering nothing to make L.A. a better city. And in their zeal to rake in more of the public’s money, they have declared a phony emergency to pass a phone-tax hike disguised as a tax cut. They are also pushing for water and power hikes, even as they siphon millions away from L.A.’s public utility to City Hall. By every measure, this city government is failing, in the most basic ways, to serve the people who pay dearly for it. It is locked in a pattern of self-service, and seemingly immune to public pressure. Five years after secession, some kind of radical shake-up is needed, yet again. Maybe it’s a borough system. Maybe it’s true charter reform. Maybe it’s empowering and funding L.A.’s neighborhood councils. Maybe it’s a comprehensive attempt to organize neighborhoods and residents. Maybe it’s even another secession campaign. We don’t pretend to have an answer. But Los Angeles is badly broken. Its poverty of politics is extreme. And it’s going to take something radical to change it.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre And while few today have the interest or the appetite to fight the secession battle again, it’s clear that something drastic needs to be done to make City Hall responsive to the people of L.A. in general, and to the Valley in particular. Now, as then, Los Angeles suffers from a poverty of politics. The Valley secession movement did, briefly, succeed in forcing some changes in City Hall, just as the City Charter reform movement had done five years earlier. L.A. leaders were forced to realize that they had to pay heed to the public and the Valley – at least a little. Antonio Villaraigosa won his race for mayor on a reform platform by winning over Valley voters who were fed up with then-incumbent Jim Hahn. Hahn’s actions had undermined charter reform, and his contempt for the Valley came through in his desperate campaign against secession. But since then, the situation has deteriorated, yet again.