Even by L.A. standards, turnout was pathetic. Just 16 percent of registered voters cast ballots, one of the lowest showings ever recorded in Los Angeles. Guess all those mailers and TV ads didn't do the trick. Same with the 40-odd debates (aka The Sleeping Channel, which is coming soon to your local cable company). Actually, I feel kind of sorry for the folks running for mayor - they all meant well, and goodness knows, they've worked hard. But they're not exactly natural born leaders. Hell, let's just say it: This was the dullest, most unimaginative group of candidates I can ever recall following. They focused on platitudes instead of solutions. They burrowed into topics that Angelenos don't understand or care about. Structural deficits? Pension reform? The gross receipts tax? I follow this stuff all the time, and even I was bored by the patter. We should be honest with ourselves: The people of L.A. are a highly diverse, largely self-involved bunch and in the final analysis they have only three common interests:
Now, there's nothing these candidates can do about the Lakers or the weather, but why on earth didn't they spend more time on our number one woe, traffic? No big policy proposals, no out-of-the- box ideas - just the same babble about a future subway in the year 2086 and isn't it nice that so many people are using their bikes? A long-shot like Jan Perry could have used traffic as a dominant campaign theme. She could have asked a simple question: Why can't attention be paid to congestion NOW, not as part of the outgoing mayor's pandering vision, a vision that will never be realized? Why has the city collectively given up on easing the burden on commuters? Why has City Hall foolishly aligned itself with a small minority of bike riders, even to the point of taking lanes away from harried motorists? Whatever the takeaway, the dialogue would have been a lot more substantive and relevant than diving into the wacky worlds of departmental performance standards and pension investment returns. Not that those topics aren't important - at some point, when the city has no more money to pay its cops and firefighters, stuff like that might actually begin to sink in. But for the moment, like it or not, it's really all about traffic, the Lakers, and the weather.