first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPhotos: At LA County Jail, Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrates Christmas Mass with inmatesBut then there are all those people who have legitimate complaints and legitimate concerns and don’t have the big bucks to buy private access to their public servants the way lobbyists, developers, billionaires and others with influence do. The injustice escalated dramatically Tuesday when Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg arrived. An elderly woman was frantically making her plea to the council when Council President Eric Garcetti abruptly cut her off and turned the podium over to Goldberg, with the 60-second rule suspended. Seen by many as a key figure in ruining the schools and the city during her public service as a school board member and a former councilwoman, Goldberg had absolutely nothing to say about city business. She was there to deliver a diatribe about the need to weaken the state’s “three strikes, you’re out” law so career criminals don’t have to spend their lives in prison. Offering odious proof that the public is nothing but an obstruction at City Hall, Garcetti justified giving Goldberg the time of five citizens by saying it’s just a courtesy to “a fellow elected official.” In other words, elected officials merit courtesy and a soapbox to say whatever they want; ordinary people get discourtesy and can’t even say what they believe about city issues. Nor was it the last indignity served up during that meeting. More than 75 people came to protest the trash fee increase proposed to pay for hiring new cops although few, if any, cops are actually being hired. TUESDAY was a typical day for the Los Angeles City Council. The first meeting of the week was, as usual, jammed with important issues that needed discussion and action: A proposed trash fee increase to raise LAPD funding, a $1 billion low-income housing bond, a hearing on the power blackouts across the city. Tuesday was a typical day for the council in another respect, too. It was another day that the group of elected officials showed its contempt for the public by making it just about impossible for citizens to be heard. The disrespect started early in the meeting, during the public hearing. Under the council’s new rules, ordinary people – taxpayers, residents, workers, business people – get only one minute apiece to exercise their right to free speech. That’s only 60 seconds – the length of a TV ad. The council did this because, as the nation’s highest paid city officials, its members are too important to waste their time listening to the incessant chatter of the masses. It’s true that some of the regular speakers are confused, and perhaps mentally impaired; others are irritating and weird gadflies. Many of these people waited 31/2 hours to be heard, and when it came time to claim their minute to speak, Council President pro tem Wendy Greuel, a do-gooder like Garcetti, granted them a collective 15 minutes – or 12 seconds each – to make their case. Showing some sense of shame, she later added five more minutes, having made the point: We don’t have time for you little people. How can the council pretend to be running a democracy when it doesn’t even pretend to listen to the people? This is precisely why the body exists, not for attending schmooze events or glad-handing big contributors. Council members were elected to hold public meetings to discuss and debate municipal policy and to – and this is the big one – represent the people. It’s hard to do that effectively when you’re too busy trying to keep them quiet.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more