By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Don’t give me articles about the theology of a "great city." I live in the real world, and I want a city that works. Reading the L.A. Weekly for years has convinced me that what I have is a city dominated by hacks. The downtown power players have had more than enough time to address the root causes that have driven the Valley, Hollywood and the Harbor area to want out — and every effort for reasonable, moderate change has been received with adamant opposition. So don’t tell me the burden is on us to prove that secession would be better. Getting out of the current mess is the first step of a long journey.
You don’t have to agree. Just don’t deny the dignity and legitimacy of the grievances of the 200,000 residents who signed the secession petition. Engage in an honest debate on the real issues. Depict the Valley as it is now, not as it was. That way, when the issue is decided by a vote, we won’t have to spend years in further acrimony based on condescension and parochial assumptions.
—Ronald Clary Los Angeles
Your rather hyporbolic set of articles published on the secession issue appear to imply that, when Los Angeles is split, there will be a revolution. The blood of the poor will run down Sunset Boulevard, and all those cool restaurants on Sunset Plaza will vanish in a puff of smoke. The skyscrapers of downtown will topple, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth on the streets of Watts.
Wait a minute. This doesn't sound quite right.
I believe in local control, and quite honestly, so should you. Take the recent mayoral election. If there was a separate Valley, it would have been ruled by Steve Soberoff, a fellow who seemed to have really thought about how he wanted to run things. L.A. proper, in turn, would have been run by Antonio Villagrosa, who likewise has really thought about how he thinks the city should be shaped. Instead, because the poor are afraid of Soberoff and the rich are afraid of Villagrosa, we got a lumpy compromise in the shape of James Hahn — and I haven't heard the Weekly praising Hahn lately.
You try to brush off the quality-of-services question like an irritating ant. All of California was affected by Proposition 13. All of California has suffered financially to some extent. And yet the small independent cities — Glendale, Culver City, Santa Monica, Newport Beach and so on — have somehow managed to provide services at a significantly higher level than L.A. If for some reason you think L.A. should remain a massively centralized bureaucratic mess, you have an obligation to explain how that's going to help its citizens, who have historically been served so poorly. You mention a decentralization plan, but you fail to mention it was created as an attempt to fend off a split. Without at least the threat of a split, we wouldn't have prospects for improvement at all.
If you ask me, I'd like to see independent cities all over the place — a City of Woodland Hills, a City of Hollywood, a City of Sylmar, and so on. This is not so much about money as giving control back to a people capable of taking it. All the money in the world won't help if it's chewed up by a centralized bureaucracy. As we have seen, and as the Weekly has reported so many times, that's a recipe for apathy and benign neglect — problems your paper has been (quite rightly!) fighting, or trying to fight, for decades. I consider the split to be a first step toward this decentralized vision.
D.J. Waldie's assertion that "secessionism is contemptuous of poverty" is backwards. It's the L.A. city government that gives the poor the callous shaft. Los Angeles spends less than 2 percent of its budget on affordable-housing programs — one of the dead lowest levels in the county.
But somehow the city found money to subsidize the poor millionaire owners of Staples Center and the destitute movie stars that needed the new, subsidized Academy Award building. Our allegedly compassionate council blew $300 million in taxpayers' money for their palatial City Hall rehab. And now they're working on a scheme to subsidize billionaire NFL owners.
Listen, L.A. — and this means everyone: the Valley, Watts, Westchester, etc. If you truly want to help the poor, then vote for the breakup. Grab for your local control, then scratch, bite and kick to get your money back from the pockets of the powerful wealthy who want nothing more than to continue using your money for their projects. Then you can direct it to those truly in need, and to programs that actually help.
—Dale Ma Sherman Oaks
One error in Waldie's Valley secession story: Carey McWilliams' first name was misspelled.
—George L. Garrigues Los Angeles
I was amused to read in Ali Ahmed Rind’s “Letter From Pakistan” [May 31–June 6] that Pakistan has lost half its territory because of three wars with India. He is trying to mislead your readers. If he is referring to the secession of East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in January 1972, he cannot attribute that to India. The people of East Pakistan agitated for years for freedom from various internal oppressions and ultimately gained independence. India merely helped the freedom fighters. Pakistan lost its eastern wing because of its own folly; no country can pull on with two parts, a thousand miles apart.