"...governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government..."
The Declaration of Independence
More than 15 years ago I decided to get involved in my community to make it a better place. It became a hodgepodge of activities starting with the Coro Neighborhood Leaders program, training with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, starting a community economic development organization, getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce, starting the Jaycees chapter in North Hollywood and eventually winding up as that organization's State President.
Through all that time I learned a lot.
It didn't take long for me to figure out that these "great" politicians I used to admire turned out to be a bunch of slugs. If they weren't fradulent, they were incompetent. I found out that most employees of government officials or agencies charged to help our community were more concerned with self-preservation and avoid any work that might be "too hard." Many of them not only didn't live in our community, they didn't even live in our city!
I found a system horribly broken and that most didn't care. Los Angeles was such a mess that it seemed it could not be untangled. Indeed my friend Stu remarked to me "the city's best days are behind it."
However as time went on I saw little pockets of hope here and there. Neighbors who banded together to preserve what they felt their community should be. Organizations who worked hard to bring some change even if it was small. In some cases I might have completely disagreed with the objectives of these groups but I had to, even if grudgingly, admire their tenacity.
I found myself supporting a string of grass roots and sometime gadfly candidates with a naive hope that right could make might. And I was foolishly shocked when these good people often came within miles of beating the entrenched, corrupt incumbents or political machine handpicked "newcomers." I soon became a critic of most of those "alternative" candidates finding many of them were just as self-serving as the big names they seeked to knock out.
In the meantime an avuncular figure was toiling in the woods, an accidental anarchist or reluctant rabblerouser who knew something was wrong, that something had to be done, but was also realistic that revolution had to be methodical. That was former Daily News editor Ron Kaye
Over time and maybe some fumbles here and there Kaye pulled together a diverse collection of folks from around Los Angeles. Most of them were pissed. Few of them were political experts. Still they gathered consistently, working hard, meeting in community centers and the back room of a Dennys, giving their time, their money and their dreams to an effort to perhaps, finally, change Los Angeles.
The Clean Sweep Campaign
launches tomorrow at a meeting house in North Hollywood. The effort will draw all types. But Kaye and his followers including veterans of community service such as David Hernandez, Nina Royal, Jack Humphreville and others have methodically crafted a program, not around ideology or narrow issues, but behind guiding principles
that seek to fundamentally change the way Los Angeles government does business. They have developed resources, processes and plans to find, develop, train and fund solid candidates for office in Los Angeles. The effort has attracted the attention of media figures such as radio talk show host Kevin James who is putting his microphone behind the cause. Professional political consultants are donating their time. Expert fundraisers are joining to raise the cash necessary to bootstrap grassroots campaign. The effort may not be pretty. It will still be rag tag. But there's gas in the engine and the car is ready to run all the laps.
Back during the LA Riots in 1992 actor Edward James Olmos grabbed a push broom
and walked alone into the streets and just started cleaning up the mess. No pointing fingers, no waiting for anyone else, just doing what he thought he could do to help.
Los Angeles, it's time to once again grab a broom.
The Clean Sweep Movement Launch Party is this Saturday, July 17th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Mayflower Club, 11110 Victory Blvd in North Hollywood. There is a $20 donation at the door; refreshments will be served.
Labels: 2011 city council election, LA Clean Sweep Platform, Ron Kaye