AND THE WINNER IS… NOBODY
By Doug McIntyre
The Academy Awards are on tonight. I won’t be watching. This isn’t a protest against Liberal Hollywood or wokeness or anything else. I’m simply not interested because I only saw two movies this year, and more importantly, I’m not nominated, so what’s in it for me?
On June 7th, the second largest City in America, which is Los Angeles for those of you scoring at home, will hold a primary to choose candidates for a host of offices including Mayor. Again, what’s in it for me?
With the Academy Award ratings plunging along with voter participation in local elections, both of these Los Angeles institutions face a similar challenge: how to stay relevant to a public that no longer cares?
A few years ago, the movie people expanded the “Best Picture” category from 5 to 10 films, hoping pictures people actually see might win a trophy. But Academy voters continue to nominate small films almost nobody goes to while ignoring box office giants like “Spiderman: No Way Home” or Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie, “No Time to Die.” It’s not that the small indie films nominated aren’t good, the problem is the Academy is desperate to hang on to the network TV money they get from ABC.
Just as L.A. City Hall is desperate to hang on to the developer and special interest money they get.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, if the Academy Awards go the way of the Golden Globes, SAT tests, or cursive writing, the world will continue to spin on its axis. The stakes are considerably higher when it comes to who runs Los Angeles.
20-percent of the L.A. City Council has been convicted of felonies, or awaits trial on same. (Herb Wesson, Council President when pay-to-play became the court of first resort in Los Angeles) is back as an unelected member because his successor, Mark Ridley Thomas, is awaiting his turn in the docket. Meanwhile, Congresswoman (and mayoral hopeful) Karen Bass was the recipient of a free $90,000 Doctorate from the same USC Dean busted with Ridley-Thomas. Multiple DWP guilty pleas likely dooms L.A. City Attorney Mike Feurer’s hope of succeeding Garcetti, who, for the third time in a month, has had his nomination as Ambassador to India put on hold because yet another Senator is unsure of what he did or didn’t see going on under his own nose while mayor.
Four of the five leading candidates for Mayor of L.A. have been in power for years while every issue the say they will solve worsened. Yes, they have experience. But what has that experience been like for us?
Homelessness? It’s everywhere, despite literally a billion in Measure H and HHH tax dollars. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, gridlock has roared back, the only thing roaring on our freeways. Affordable housing is non-existent while DWP rates continue to skyrocket. Our streets and sidewalks look like the Russian Army has come through L.A., while trash, graffiti and crime have spiked despite entire categories of crime being taken off the books. Small and medium-sized businesses are routinely tied in knots by bureaucracies designed to punish the productive while homeowners are treated like ATM machines or villains by demagogic politicians who want to see single family homes go the way of dollar-a -gallon gas so their politically connected developer friends can cram in more condos and apartment buildings.
Meanwhile, the one candidate who hasn’t been in office while Rome burns IS a developer.
Rick Caruso-- the billionaire real estate powerbroker behind The Grove, The Commons in Calabasas, the Americana in Glendale and many other mega-projects-- hopes voters will see him as Dick Riordan redux rather than a 213/818/310 Donald Trump. Weeks before throwing his hat in the ring, he switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. I know we have a short attention span, but that short?
With the new boss just like the old boss, it’s understandable so many voters are turned off. This is not just a Los Angeles problem. Only 23-percent of registered voters in New York bothered to cast a ballot in last year’s mayor race. The turn out for elections in Orange and Riverside Counties is equally depressing. When Eric Garcetti was re-elected Mayor in 2017, only 20-percent bothered to vote. Say what you will about Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but people cared. Both candidates set records for Republican and Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, local candidates remain as unknown to the public as the cast of “Squid Game” is to Steven Spielberg.
Last week, a televised debate featured the top five candidates for mayor. They kicked around the usual L.A. issues, with Caruso raising the topic of public corruption. Good for him. As important as all the other issues might be, integrity in office is the most fundamental. Trust between the elected and the electors is at an all-time low. Skepticism has given way to cynicism, and cynicism to indifference. While it’s fun to see who wears what or wins what during the Academy Awards ceremony, it’s critically important we have honest people running our cities, states, towns, counties and country.
With Ukrainian President Zelinsky literally putting his life on the line for his people, it’s not asking a lot that the next mayor of Los Angeles have clean hands-- or to hold the people we elect accountable.
What’s in it for me? Same as you. Everything.
Doug McIntyres column appears Sundays. He can be reached at: [email protected].