LA 2020 Commission Recommends Fixing City--with More Commissions

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles 2020 Commission suggested some recommendations to fix the city it had previously described as declining into irrelevance. The commission itself is staffed by members of the hard left including: commission co-chair Austin Beutner was former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s jobs czar; his fellow co-chair Mickey Kantor, President Bill Clinton’s secretary of commerce; union chief Brian D’Arcy; former recalled California governor Gray Davis; and former Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

The commission pointed out that Los Angeles has a jobs crisis, an economic decrescendo, a traffic nightmare, a poverty problem, an educational collapse. It neglected, however, to disown any of the policy measures that created these problems. Instead, the commission essentially recommended more of the same--or, on the rare occasions it did recognize a problem with leftist government, it recommended a “commission” to study the issue.

Measures recommended by the commission included creating “a truly independent oversight and rate-setting body” for the corrupt Department of Water and Power, which has historically raised and lowered rates at the behest of the unions and their political allies. Instead of working to privatize the process, however, the commission recommended that a utility rate commission be established--a commission of experts. Because top-down governance has worked so well with energy and water in California in the past.

Consolidation, however, is the name of the game for the commission. They want to combine the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, despite the fact that they are some of the most successful central pieces of the Southern California economy, in order to boost tax revenue; create a regional tourism authority to allow the government to consolidate tourism efforts among Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica; subsidies to particular businesses approved by the government; and bring in more environmental regulators.

Many of the suggested measures were merely for pretty, including:

  • a “truth in budgeting” ordinance designed to create understanding of “longer-term consequences of policies and legislation,” even though the commission never stated how such projections would be checked;
  • being “honest about the cost of future promises” by using accounting best practices, although pensions would not be tied to the cost of future promises;
  • establishing a “Commission for Retirement Security” to talk about pensions, not to do anything about them;
  • updating “Community Plans to enhance neighborhood input and establish a thoughtful growth strategy.”

How any of these measures will solve LA’s education problems, its job losses, its economic disintegration, and its traffic mess is beyond the scope of the report. But it does say a lot of pretty words. And in Tinseltown, that’s apparently all that matters.

Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.


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