Editorial: Why L.A. needs a larger City Council
This piece by John Nichols is a good primer on how to run “a town that knows how to govern itself.”
In his April 15th column in the L.A. Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote: “Los Angeles will always have its flaws, some of them perhaps bigger than any other American city. But Los Angeles is also, at its best, a civic experiment of extraordinary scale in which local officials are working together to build a sustainable community, anchored by a progressive tax system and a commitment to universal pre-K.” Kristof went on to explain that, “Los Angeles has built an impressive record nationally and internationally when it comes to creating economic growth and improving public education,” and that it has been both “a laboratory and a model” for other cities to follow.
He’s exactly right that Los Angeles has “done” a lot with no one in control of L.A.’s future. That is why L.A. City Council members continue to struggle to get anything done and why the city’s budget continues to grow year after year. The problem is that voters’ frustrations have never been higher.
I’m not sure you need a primer on governing in a small city. What we have in Los Angeles, after all, is not a city but what I’ve always considered a city—and a very dysfunctional one at that. In the past two years, the city government has been forced to take money out of its own bottom line to help balance the budget and keep the schools in good shape. The problem, as Kristof shows, is that the city does not have the ability to run or govern itself.
Los Angeles is a big city, and it should be that way. What makes Los Angeles the envy of all big cities is not the size of its population, but the size of its government. In Los Angeles, the government has never been the problem. The problem was always the inability of the city, and its political leaders, to get and keep control over the public purse and its schools.
I am always disappointed by those who insist