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Rage Against... 

Bruce Willis, Maxine Waters and Living Wagers, plus a new religion for Teddy “The Gay Hypocrite” Haggard

Wednesday, Nov 8 2006
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NOW THAT PHIL ANGELIDES has finally been shoved off the bus, it’s time to jump-start the 2010 gubernatorial race, starring L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. We sure hope Mayor V. isn’t banking on a quick turnaround of L.A.’s abysmal public schools in the campaign cycle to propel him to the governor’s office. Even given the mayor’s spectacular spin machine, he can’t fabricate low dropout rates or fire all of the lousy, union-protected teachers in three or four years. Instead, if he’s looking for a quick fix on a major problem, he should focus on nailing down money for the Red Line to the Sea. Now that voters approved Proposition 1B, freeing up billions for public transit projects in Southern California, the mayor should make sure the top priority is extending the city’s most-used subway down the Wilshire corridor. And speaking of turnarounds, let’s consider calling the spur to Santa Monica the Waxman Line, after one of the subway’s leading foes, Congressman Henry Waxman. Though Waxman will never be a champion of the subway, he partially redeemed himself this year when he got his colleagues to rescind his ill-conceived 1985 ban on federal dollars going to the project. At the time, he blamed his opposition on methane-explosion worries. But we all know it was just a cover story. The real reason: His wealthy Westside constituents didn’t want “those people” riding trains into their neighborhoods. And maybe we should give Waxman a choice: Would he prefer having the Subway to the Sea named in his honor, or, perhaps more appropriately, a program in urban race relations at that bastion of progressivism — Occidental College?

Ignore Calls for Room Service

It’s hard to watch the unraveling of the post–Watts riots dream — King/Drew Medical Center — and not want to throw someone in jail. The hospital, but a shell of its former self, with fewer than 100 beds and only the most basic departments, can’t come close to meeting the needs of the Willowbrook community it’s supposed to serve. For starters, how can you run a hospital without a strong obstetrics unit? Whom should we sentence first? Supervisor Yvonne Burke, in whose district the hospital falls — and keeps falling? Or Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whose public-service record reads like an ongoing indictment? But face it, we can’t incarcerate the derelict politicians who dropped the ball on King/Drew over the past decade any more than we can order John Kerry to strap on a soldier uniform and head to Baghdad. Instead, we could guilt-trip the failed King/Drew pols into spending weekends in one of the many vacant wings at the newly named Martin Luther King Jr.–Harbor Hospital. It could be one giant closed-door meeting, the kind they like best. Too bad we can’t check to make sure that Dr. King still wants his name on the ailing hospital, now under the management of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and on life support through at least March, when the feds will decide on its funding.

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Light Up the Switchboard

How much more can Angelenos possibly be asked to sacrifice for Hollywood? We’ve already turned into hyper image-conscious, shallow anti-intellectuals who prefer watching a mindless sophomoric movie like Borat to curling up in a comfortable chair with a dog-eared copy of Hamlet. And now Hollywood is exacting the ultimate price — they’re forcing yet another traffic jam upon us. They’re closing down one of the busiest routes to LAX over the next couple of weekends for the filming of Bruce Willis’ latest Die Hard installment. Portions of the 105 freeway and Imperial Highway will even be off-limits at various times through the weekend before Thanksgiving. If you’re stuck in traffic, here’s your choice: Be one of those typical, laid-back Angelenos who seem to get off on the ultimate un-Zen-like experience of crawling traffic, and do a yoga stretch on your dashboard. Or turn into a raging lunatic and, on your cell phone, call Caltrans’ public relations department at (213) 897-3656, and honk your horn into the phone. We tried to get the name of the person who signed the filming permit, but Caltrans flak Judy Gish wouldn’t cough it up: “There is no one person who is responsible for this.” So now the question becomes, How many Caltrans officials does it take to screw an entire city?

Booking a Room for George Orwell

If there’s anything more annoying than the cheap-ass LAX hotels that pay their workers paltry sums, it’s the sanctimonious leaders of the so-called living-wage campaign. Can’t these virtuous and selfless people come up with a more accurate term for a job that pays $22,000 a year? That master obscurer of truth — the federal government — calls it a “poverty wage,” the bare amount a small family needs to eke by. It ain’t no living wage; more accurately, the campaign at LAX should be called the “not a living wage” campaign or, even better, the “dying wage” campaign. Of course, it’s not like we weren’t warned; in 1946, George Orwell wrote: “Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful .?.?.”

Point-Blank Range

. A conversion is long overdue for that venomous, antigay preacher man, Teddy Haggard, who was fired from his high-and-mighty post in the National Association of Evangelicals. His sin: carrying on for three years with a gay prostitute. Dude, you need to shed your hypocritical ways and get the right religion. Send in your application to the Diocese of Los Angeles, to the attention of Cardinal Mahony. In your cover letter, make sure you point out where in your goddamn catechism it says anything about having to pay for diddling privileges.

. If County Supervisor Zev “Derailed Legacy” Yaroslavsky insists on standing on the sidelines and watching the mayor do the heavy lifting on the Subway to the Sea, that’s cool. Maybe we’ll join forces with the L.A. County Chicano Employees Association, which has asked the Justice Department to redraw the boundaries of county supervisorial districts so that two of the five seats would serve Latino-dominated districts. Supervisor Derailed Legacy would see his Westside 3rd District mangled and moved to the San Gabriel Valley. Are you aboard yet, Zev? Be a leader and ask voters to rescind your stifling Measure A, approved in 1998, barring county sales-tax money from going to subway projects. It could be good for the San Gabriel Valley too.

Send gripes, insults — and job offers — to BigAl@lasniper.com.

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