Ron Kaye, the former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News, looked happy. It had been only two months or so since he left the San Fernando Valley newspaper, and now he stood on the steps of City Hall in downtown and was surrounded by environmentalists, homeowner association members, and a whole bunch of other community activists. It was Bastille Day, and they wanted to take back Los Angeles.

“The political institution of LA is corrupt,” Kaye told a sizable crowd yesterday afternoon. “We've got to take them down and be the boss.”

The crowd, which was mostly white and middle-aged, clapped, cheered, and egged Kaye on to say some more. It was the first public rally for the former editor's brainchild called The Saving LA Project, and it showed, at the very least, that a groundswell of frustrated citizens were now willing to speak up, organize, and hit the streets. The politicians will be watching Kaye's follow through.

Ron Kaye, former editor of the Los Angeles Daily News, speaks at the Bastille Day rally for The Saving LA Project in downtown.

There was no visible police presence at the rally, but LA City Controller Laura Chick and Councilman Dennis Zine showed up to say a few words…which was somewhat remarkable, especially for Zine, since the protesters were clearly agitated with anyone associated with City Hall.

“They find endless, ceaseless ways to divide us,” said KABC talk show host Doug McIntyre, referring to Los Angeles' politicians.

Talk show host Doug McIntyre addresses the crowd at the South Lawn of City Hall.

Zine, surrounded by anti-City Hall placards, stood through all of the comments with a custom-made shield for tongue-in-cheek protection and spoke to the crowd. “This city is the heart and soul of my life,” said the councilman, who represents the third district, “and I'm very concerned about what's happening to it.”

LA City Councilman Dennis Zine speaks at the rally yesterday afternoon.

LA City Controller Laura Chick, who wasn't scheduled to speak, also took the microphone, where she talked about her recent report on the city's preparations for major catastrophes. “Audit after audit I found the same thing,” she said. “And this is criminal. We don't have plans for an emergency.”

Controller Laura Chick discusses her newest audit on city-preparedness for major emergencies.

In the end, the “coalition of citizens,” as Kaye describes it, wanted one thing: change in the way City Hall does business. “Our wishes need to be considered and a part of the dialogue,” Kaye said. Representatives of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose picture was plastered on many of the placards, stood several yards away in the shade keeping tabs on everything. At the rally, there were hopeful whispers that the former editor would run for mayor next year.

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LA Weekly