City of Angels goes to hell

Or so says Joel Kotkin in the summer issue of City Journal. Joel and I usually disagree on the extent of L.A.'s economic slide, but in this piece he correctly points to the way in which the city has been effectively taken over by a group of special interests who lack guts, imagination, and leadership.

Perhaps worst of all is the perception, both here and elsewhere, that Los Angeles no longer matters as much as it once did. "I've traveled the world, and there was once a great mystique about L.A., but it's gone," says Robert Hertzberg, a former mayoral candidate and onetime speaker of the California State Assembly. "And I look at the leadership, and it's gone. No one much cares."


The machine that controls Los Angeles these days consists of an alliance between labor and the political leadership of the Latino community, the area's largest ethnic population. Once virtually powerless in the region, Latinos elected to office now control many of the smaller municipalities along the industrial belt that stretches from downtown to the county line. But since they serve at the whim of labor interests, they seldom speak up for the area's many small businesses and homeowners. It's a familiar story: because Democrats are almost assured of victory in L.A.'s general elections, candidates must win only the low-turnout, union-dominated party primaries. John Pérez, a longtime union political operative and now speaker of the California State Assembly, won the Democratic nomination in 2008 with fewer than 5,000 votes and then easily crushed the GOP candidate. Pérez's predecessor as speaker was Fabian Núñez--another L.A. labor official. No wonder the Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters calls the labor movement "the closest thing to an omnipotent political machine anywhere in the state."

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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