October 31, 2002
Better Future Tied to Secession
For decades, hard-working, committed citizens have been struggling to break the Valley free from remote politicians and uncaring bureaucrats, whose interests are focused on downtown interests with downtown influence. If we are successful, Valley independence will provide a more representative and more accountable government for all Los Angeles residents.
Declines in public safety, after-school programs, health care, education, transportation and the loss of middle-class jobs have contributed to the Valley's sinking quality of life. Valley leaders have been trying in vain to get the attention of the downtown interests for many of these local problems.
Throughout the East San Fernando Valley, there are unpaved and unlighted streets. Crime throughout Los Angeles is increasing and murders in the Valley have increased 80 percent. In the northwest Valley's Devonshire Division, as few as nine police cars patrol at night, with only 14 cars covering the peak activity periods.
Valley residents know that some areas of Los Angeles have nearly twice as many officers assigned to them per thousand residents. This inadequate deployment explains why police response times to emergency calls in the Valley are 18 percent slower than in the City of Los Angeles as a whole. Indeed, in many neighboring cities, police response times to emergency calls are nearly half those experienced in the Valley.
Roads and public safety are not the only examples of misplaced priorities and bureaucratic bloat. The Local Agency Formation Commission report proving the financial health of an independent Valley city and the remaining part of Los Angeles confirms that the city currently spends $1,350 per resident per year, about $250 more than the average amount spent by Phoenix, San Diego and other cities the size of the proposed Valley city.
That extra $250 per person a year is bureaucratic fat that could be eliminated with a modest amount of municipal belt-tightening. Such fiscal discipline would save about $350 million for the Valley city and could save $575 million for the remaining part of Los Angeles.
Numerous academic studies prove that budget bloat is merely a function of government size. Economists call it "diseconomies of scale." By reducing the size of government agencies, they become more efficient and better spend their resources to meet local needs.
This would be especially true if the new Valley city adopts a small, locally accountable borough system as part of its municipal charter. But if the downtown interests defeat Valley independence, there will be no real fiscal reform for any part of the city. They will see the defeat of Valley independence as validation of business as usual.
Until just recently, our voices have been drowned out by the din of continuing controversy and neglect of misplaced priorities. After ignoring the Valley's needs for years, the downtown power brokers have finally realized that we're serious about making real change. So, finally, they're telling us what they think we want to hear. They're making us promises, saying anything they can to keep us from leaving.
Now, the downtown interests are spreading fear and sowing doubt. Their focus is on generating fear -- telling us "the sky is falling" -- protecting their bureaucracies, maintaining their own power and preserving the status quo. But we know better. They can't make up for decades of neglect with a few months of political rhetoric. We can see through their smoke and mirrors.
We know that a new San Fernando Valley city will work financially and be more efficient and effective than the sprawling megalopolis of Los Angeles. And we know we can put in place a local government that will be more responsive and accountable to the people of the San Fernando Valley. We know that there will be better opportunities for public participation in two smaller cities.
When Los Angeles voters take the time to study the Valley independence issue, they will find solid evidence that Valley independence provides opportunities for a better future in both the Valley and the rest of Los Angeles. About 40 percent of the Valley's population is Latino, giving Latino leaders an unparalleled opportunity to represent their community, develop their skills and move up the political ladder.
For residents in the remaining parts of Los Angeles, Valley independence would allow elected officials to focus on settling the persistent turmoil and meeting the many needs of a growing population. With Valley leaders taking care of Valley problems, there will be more time, energy and resources to address the crime, transportation, economic development, environmental and quality-of-life issues that continue to plague the rest of Los Angeles.
Valley independence is all about accountability, local control, self-determination and opportunity for a better future for all Los Angeles residents and their families. Jewish voters understand these important principles.
All Los Angeles residents deserve a government that's accountable, a government that's efficient, a government that's responsive to their needs and supports a better quality of life. Valley independence is the catalyst for that overdue change.