Few voting bodies are as creepily hive-minded as the Los Angeles City Council.
In 2011, under the leadership of former City Council President Eric Garcetti (now running for mayor), the group of 15 local politicians, who also happen to be the highest-paid councilmembers in the country, voted unanimously 97.5 percent of the time.
That's a small improvement on the first seven months of 2009, when their unanimous record was an impossible 99.993 percent. But the interest in maintaining an unshakeable smiley face as the L.A. City Hall stamp of approval…
… is obviously alive and well.
Things get a little more complicated in Sacramento, where state politicians are often more concerned with pleasing their party than painting the California state Legislature as some kind of big happy family. (Pretty sure that dream flew out the window at the outset, considering SoCal conservatives were trying to secede from the crazy libs up North. And still are, come to think of it.)
Because the Legislature is — and probably always will be — majority Democrat, a “Yes” vote can mean different things for the Democratic or Republican politician behind it. In a pretty fascinating new look at the political independence of various state assemblymembers representing the Los Angeles area in 2011, the Burbank Blog goes with the following methodology:
We used “No” votes as an indicator of how much a legislator was willing to buck party leadership, on the theory that most bills do not even make it to the floor of the respective houses unless party leadership wants them there.
Since Democrats are in power, Republicans who cast the fewest “No” votes can be considered the least obstructionist, the most moderate, or the most cooperative.
Similarly, Democrats who cast a lot of “No” votes could be seen as the most free-thinking, or the most independent.
So who was crowned the Burbank Blog's biggest sheep of the year?
None other than Assemblyman Mike Davis, who represents District 48 — a long rectangular chunk of unincorporated Westmont and the area of L.A. city that surrounds USC. Because, uh, the interests of extremely low-income South L.A. County were apparently aligned with 99.99 percent of the bills on the Assembly floor last year.
From the Burbank Blog, with linkage/emphasis added:
Mike Davis, who is running for Los Angeles City Council (of course, right?!?) came in the lowest, voting no on just 0.012% of the bills before him. This number was lower than Inglewood's Steve Bradford, who came in at 0.03%. With numbers like that, were thinking Davis will do great on the Los Angeles City Council.
Our thoughts exactly. Given Davis' resume, he has a huge chance of taking over for Councilwoman Jan Perry in District 9 — an almost identical swatch of urban land as Davis' current district, only on the opposite side of the 110 freeway.
Though Perry has stood her ground against the mayor and fellow councilmembers on some key issues, in the end she's proven herself just another typical City Council ally for the moneyed developers of Los Angeles, as opposed to an advocate for the consituents of South L.A.
And Davis' track record as a free thinker in state government all but ensures that Perry's 2013 departure will be a seamless one, if the assemblyman is indeed handed the baton.
Come on city family, let's get that smiley face back to full 99.993 percent luster! The people might begin to suspect that the legislative infrastructure of L.A. City Hall is starting to look a little like the lawn out back.