The other night I dropped in on Galpin Ford, not to buy one of the big trucks or SUVs on the floor but to spend some time with Valley Vote, the defeated but unbeaten bunch of Angelenos who scared the pants off of city hall with their 2002 secession campaign.
Yes, they are still around. They meet every month on the second floor of Galpin Motors Inc., owned by Bert Boeckman, the godfather of Valley politics. They discuss city issues with an intensity and intelligence the city council should copy, always guided by their anti government populist views, loyal to the gospel of rebellion as preached by Ron Kaye, the take-no-crap editor of the Daily News.
Kaye takes issues that are rendered into mush by city hall politicians and splashes them across page one in headlines that anyone can understand. Kaye should have been at Galpin Ford. His approach was needed that night.
I was there with David Hernandez, who is suing to stop implementation of Proposition R, the measure that gave city council members another term and made lobby control laws harder to enforce. He talked about the suit and I discussed how the City Ethics Commission is going to implement the measure,
The most interesting speaker was Lisa Sarno, the interim general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which rides herd on LA’s neighborhood councils. She has a relentlessly cheerful style and uses phrases like “skill set.” In other words, the language of city hall.
Since I’m schooled in the language, I could translate. She wants to bring order to the messy world of neighborhood councils.
Her predecessor, Greg Nelson was once chief aide to former City Councilman Joel Wachs, a driving force behind creation of the councils. Nelson’s attitude toward the rowdy grassroots groups was “let 1,000 flowers bloom.” Sarno, who doesn’t seem to approve of the Nelson regime, would let the flowers bloom as long as they are tied to stakes and trellises and lined up neatly in rows.
That’s not the Valley Vote way. Secession bloomed in the Valley because of people resented city hall control of city government. More than four years after the secession election, the resentment is still alive.