If after looking at the city's looming, $400 million deficit, its difficulties in hiring cops, and its five-year (losing) battle with mushrooming marijuana dispensaries, you thought the Los Angeles City Council was useless, we would kindly ask you to take a second look.

Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district has been so overrun with pot shops that some activists have taken to calling him Tom “La Bong,” is a true artist, and he's giving his aesthetic gift — photography — to his constituents in the form of a 2010 wall calendar, one that he notes was “not printed or mailed at taxpayer expense.” Whoa. Were we wrong. After lambasting the council for sitting on its hands on the budget, pot shops, and other looming matters while earning a higher salary than what's slated for the governor of California, we really feel bad. Here's a councilman who cares.

“The city of Los Angeles may be facing considerable budgetary problems,” LaBonge, who represents the 4th District, writes in an introduction to his calendar, “but we still switched on the first solar-powered park lights at North Hollywood Park, broke ground on the first green-roofed fire house, Station 82 in Hollywood, installed a new track and field that John Marshall High School has needed for 70 years, and helped secure a $6 million CRA grant that is one of the last pieces of the fund-raising puzzle for the Wilshire YMCA.”

Right. Forget about the 18 marijuana dispensaries that have cropped up in Miracle Mile, part of LaBonge's district. Forget about the looming city layoffs. Forget the fact that some neighborhoods go without their usual fire companies on an odd day because the city can't afford to staff them. What L.A. really needs is solar-powered park lights — and a pretty calendar — to save the day.

“I feel privileged to share with you fourteen moments from the past year when I stopped and said, 'Wow, this is spectacular,'” LaBonge writes.

We feel the same way each time we look at the Los Angeles City Council.

LA Weekly