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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Although We Aren't Paying Attention to Ye!

HoldenAt the very first council session after having been embarrassed on a national scale (and two more stories today in the LA Times and Daily Breeze), the LA City Council has decided to continue its practice of "multi-tasking", or as the general public likes to call it, rudeness and inattentiveness.

When will the Council Members get it? We understand you have been prepped by many of us staffers and we give you the benefit of the doubt that you can read, write, listen and chew bubblegum all at the same time, but the bottom line on this whole topic is about one thing:
For those individuals who make it a point to truck all the way into downtown from the far flung corners of the city, the least you can do is pay attention to them, show them just an ounce of respect, and heck, maybe you should even get there on time so they don't all have to wait around for you.

It really isn't that difficult, is it?


Anonymous Anonymous said:

Thank you Chief Parker. I was stunned at the remarks Bitter Bernie made in the LA Times. The public has to wait sometimes as long as 2 hours and then these losers decide to walk out of chambers, talk on phone, etc.etc. WE PAY THEIR DAMN SALARIES. They are an embarrassement to this city. They act like school children, immature, disrespectful, and inconsiderate. They sure want people to pay attention when they waste our tax dollars on time spent giving stupid presentations. The council meeting yesterday was only 35 mins. when they started making announcements. What a great way to start 2005!

January 05, 2005 9:26 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree. The councilmembers came off too defensive in their remarks in the Times about why they don't pay attention. When someone is coming to you with a real problem pay attention. Now when someone comes before the council at the end of session talking about alien abductions (i am exaggerating) then maybe that council staffer or cell phone comes in handy. I know my mind leaves when people start talking nonsense to the council. We don't need this council to continue to embarrass the City of Los Angeles.

January 05, 2005 9:31 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The video tape that was aired on most news stations was shameful. It's one thing when LA Times and local newspapers print the story. Its another when it's all over tv showing people like idiot Weiss not paying attention. Where is the leadership in council? Why doesn't Alex do something and strike that damn gavel of his a couple of times. I don't think they respect him because they also never are in chambers on time. He has to repeatedly call for them to come to their seats. These are the leaders of our city folks. This is what we ended up with. Then they have the nerve to say they can "multi-task."

January 05, 2005 9:51 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Makes you long for the days of Big John. He could call his broker on one phone, Margaret on the other, call the Sgt. at Arms to kick Nate Holden's ass AND debate with Leonard Shapiro all at the same time!

Alex is probably playing his Game Boy while people speak. No wonder he's clueless.

January 05, 2005 10:28 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The only thing to stop this kind of behavior is sanctioning them with fines. If they're late more than 10 minutes then they pay a $100 fine. If more than 5 members are talking at one time during testimony then then there can be an automatic appeal to their decision.

The fact is that human beings are biologically incapable of comprehending (as opposed to hearing) more than 1 conversation at a time - that's a scientific fact!

January 05, 2005 10:30 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey that's a great way to get additional funding for more police officers. At the rate the council members aren't listening by the end of the year if you fine them every meeting we can add a couple of cops.

January 05, 2005 10:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I cannot believe idiot Parks said this to the media...Parks raised a philosophical question: "How do they know when you are listening?" He said, explaining that it would be difficult "to survive" on the City Council without being able to talk with colleagues and staff members. Is he out of his mind? There's plenty of time to do that after the meetings. They meet only 3 times a week and they can't give the public attention for that short time?

January 05, 2005 11:12 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree with what everybody says. However, we elect these morons. In the March election, how many of these people have a challenger? There is something really wrong in LA.

January 05, 2005 11:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The public should start taking video cameras to chambers to get them acting like idiots on tape. These are suppose to be grown adults.

January 05, 2005 11:54 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

City Council spent so much time this morning discussing the tragedy overseas and how LA can help. We have less police officers then the other major cities throughout the US, a homeless problem just down the street from city hall, a huge gang probblem and these idiot morons have never given as much time or thought into helping their own damn city. I'm glad they are the laughing group throughout the nation with that video tape. I'm getting e-mails from my friends in NY and Florida who saw the tape.

January 05, 2005 2:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Recall the bums. Every one of them. But we know Villaraigosa is going first

January 05, 2005 9:01 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The honorable City Councilmembers of Los Angeles are above your petty complaints. I, for one, am thankful for their hard work and commitment to the people of our fair city. The day when every councilmember shows up to chambers on time and devotes their full attention to every public commentor will, quite simply, never come. So why are you wasting your time?

January 06, 2005 7:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I work for a councilmember, and this really befuddles me. Since when was the council attentive? Was anyone really surprised that the council doesn't listen?

Think about it this way. Most people who come and wait hours to talk think that their issue is the most important issue in the world--they're taking their WHOLE day (and probably a long drive) to come talk about it. It's emotional. But to the council? It's just another issue. They have to deal with issues like the issue Joe Public comes and talks about EVERY DAY. Is it surprising that they don't treat it like the most important thing in the world? They trust that their staff and city staff have analyzed the issue and have taken public sentiment into account. And the VAST majority of the time, they're right.

ALSO, by the time most issues come to the council, they've been through a council committee where the members (who attended--and non-attendance at committee IS a problem)) HAVE thoroughly and carefully listened. So it's a matter of the councilmembers trusting not only staff, but also their colleagues on Public Safety, Budget and Finance, PLUM, etc.

So don't be surprised by the "perception gap" on the council in terms of the importance of these issues and how much they pay attention. If you really want to get to problems with the council, don't attack their "inattentiveness," which is unsurprising and frankly dumb and won't change a damned thing, but look at how (poorly) the council works together as a citywide legislative body and is unable to fashion a vision for LA. Because they're the ones who are in charge, and whoever the Mayowhit, bless his heart, can't do much about it.

January 06, 2005 8:10 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To the previous blogger, you're right about the Council never really being attentive to the public. But that tendency has worsened in recent years, especially now with cell phones and computers.

Despite how important or unimportant the issue is to the councilmembers, the fact remains that they were elected and are paid to listen by the very people who come to speak. You cannot simply dismiss this fact.

Part of the problem with getting things done is exactly what you stated: "They trust that their staff and city staff have analyzed the issue and have taken public sentiment into account." I think we all know that many issues are considered not on the basis of public sentiment but political gain - perhaps points with unions or other special interests whose positions may be at odds with that of the public, e.g. LAX. City staff, and I have great respect for them, are too often bogged down adhering to bureaucratic red tape rather than finding solutions to problems. They can tell you why you CAN'T do something rather than how you CAN do something, e.g. LADOT. I'm sure many field reps will attest to this.

And let's not pretend that attentiveness and attendance are qualities exemplified during committee hearings.

Finally, if the councilmembers' minds are already made up going into the council meeting because they're so informed, why not just get to the vote instead of putting the public through a dog and pony show?

January 06, 2005 9:34 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You gotta be kiddding? These are the same city council members who wasted our tax dollars discussing lap dancing, silly string, and other stupid issues that are a waste of time. WE pay their salaries and its insulting for the previous blogger to make light of public comment. Yes, I know the same weirdos show up every week to speak. However, many times people take time off work to go and be heard. It is THEIR DUTY TO LISTEN. If this wasn't a big issue then why has the media jumped all over it? The last couple of articles in the print media on THIS CITY COUNCIL have been embarrassing. You would think they would get a clue.

January 06, 2005 9:54 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To the ARROGANT COUNCIL STAFFER LET ME SET YOU STRAIGHT. Community members have the right and deserve to be heard no matter what your lame ass councilmembers think. All they have to do is show up 3 times a week and they can't even do that on time. When the false alarm issue came up before council Neighborhood Councils sure packed the room and their lame asses sure did listen. Why? Because they know there is power when people speak. We are sick and tired of their arrogance, disrespect and I'm hearing community members are going to sue their butts again if they behave rudely to them. We are their constituents...intersting that other council don't behave in this manner.

January 06, 2005 10:11 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Dear Council Staff member, your comments show exactly what is wrong with this city council. I'm flabbergasted by your attitude. I imagine your boss would be too if he or she ever finds out that you're going around telling people that the city council members are too important to care about "dumb" constituents and their stupid "concerns."

January 06, 2005 12:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I was at a council meeting when a little old senior citizen went to podium to speak at public comment. He was really sickly and those losers didn't pay any attention to what he was saying. I wonder if they would do the same if that was one of their family members? To the Council Staffer: if you represent a councilmember with your same attitude God help us. Your basically saying what the public has to say doesn't matter to the council since they've gone through the motions. You're an idiot just like they are. I agree with the posters that council needs a reality check and are extremely arrogant.

January 06, 2005 1:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

R.E.C.A.L.L. the bums..because it's the only way they will take notice.

January 06, 2005 5:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

And fire that staffer.

January 06, 2005 5:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

As someone who appreciates nuance, all of you folks who lump all councilmembers together are pretty dumb, inattentive, or have never been to the city council. I am not naming ANY names, but some councilmembers consistently listen to public comment (let's say 80% of the time), some listen every so often (maybe 40% of the time) and some NEVER listen. It IS impossible to listen all the time, but anything less than 60% is well, like in school, a failing grade. But pay close attention before you rant.

January 06, 2005 6:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What's scary is that council staffer is working in city hall with that attitude. Would love to know who they work for. I can guess probably Tony cause he has that attitude for his whole district. Doesn't matter what we think,he wanted to run for Mayor, used us and now he's off. One problem....we're going to stop him soon enough.

January 06, 2005 6:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

from the "arrogant staffer":

Friends, I think you really misunderstand my point. Nowhere did I say that constituents are dumb, nor that councilmembers shouldn't listen to constituents. Listening to constituents and answering constituent concerns is of course at the heart of council operations.

What I DID say was that it was dumb to focus on the council's inattentiveness when there are much more substantive things to be worrying about in terms of city operations. Now, you might say, "well, what the constituents care about IS substantive, and if the council doesn't pay attention, that's a goddamned substantive concern!" And you'd be sort of right. Sort of.

Let me make an analogy. Don't you remember being in school and goofing off a little and not really paying attention because you knew the material already? And when the teacher said, "hey there Judy/ Sam/ Diane/ Billy, you really should be paying attention," you kinda blew off the teacher. Why? Because you knew that what mattered was the test and how well you did on the test. Well, what I'm saying is, it'd be much more productive to focus on how the council is doing on the test rather than paying attention in class. It might be tough--because the teacher/constituents only really see the kid/council in action during class/council session, and aren't able to see the kid/council do all their homework outside of session.

What I'm trying to illustrate is that gap in perception. I'm simply suggesting that it might be more profitable, in terms of civic activism, to focus on the council's actions rather than their perceived rudeness.

And one more thing--this "I pay your salary" stuff. The implication of "I pay your salary" is "you have to listen to me and do what I say." Councilmembers (and council staff) are not paid to do what their constituents say, per se. They are representatives, not delegates, and sometimes have to do things for the greater good of their district or the City in which case their constituents get the short end of the stick.

I agree with you all, in theory, that the council should always listen to the constituents who visit chambers. But here's the thing. Let's say the council listens attentively, and then votes exactly the same way they would have before. Are people going to say, "oh well, at least they listened"? NO! They'll say "those goddamned bastards didn't listen to us! And we pay their salary! ARRGGGH!!!!!" What good does it do?! What I care about is making this city BETTER! That's why I work for the city! And I'm suggesting that we look more at policy than perceptions and attitudes, because THOSE are what's going to make this city a great place.

January 06, 2005 8:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'm with you on that council staffer. And to the previous blogger who believes you are a staffer of Councilmember Villaraigosa I say there are 15 council offices with over half a dozen staff members each at City Hall. Stop with the Antonio bashing. Get a life or give me hard facts.

January 06, 2005 8:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To the arrogant staffer

Now I understand. You're more arrogant than everyone previously thought. The idea you would dismiss people's complaints because you apparently know the inner workings better than they do is the ultimate insult. And if you working for a councilmember you don't know that perception is a critical element in politics, you're hopeless.

There's a reason for public comment. And it's more than theoretical. It's to allow the public's input to be weighed into the decision-making. When councilmembers ignore those comments, they're basically excluding the public from the process. And based on my review of this discussion, no one said that "I pay your salary" = "Do what I say." The term implies I have a right to be listened to because you are a direct beneficiary of my hard earned tax dollars.

January 06, 2005 10:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I think he's a very junior staffer.

January 07, 2005 1:34 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To Arrogant Staffer: You are an embarrassement to which ever councilmember you work for. How dare you dismiss the public's input into the process. Let's face it this city council hasn't done a damn thing to help with public safety, schools, transportation or other major issues but wasted our tax dollars screwing around on city time. Accept the fact that they behave like immature school children as you made the analogy. I was brought up to be respectful while others are talking. Council members are Not in school but grown adults who behave like children. They have been an embarrassement to this city and the nation with that video tape. Interesting we don't see other council members from other cities on tv gabbing on cells, ignoring the public etc. during meetings. Why? Because they behave accordingly like mature adults and leaders of their cities. Sadly it doesn't seem we have any in our chambers.

January 07, 2005 9:05 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree that the staffer (he or she) is a "wanna-be". More than likely, the rep they work for has probably done the least for the city and is one of the more blatant offenders to the public.

January 07, 2005 9:56 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Today council sure got snippy about the listening issue. Cardenas came out and said that they have screens in front of them to see what people are saying, speakers in the back and maybe it seems they're not listsening but they don't have to look straight in the eyes of the person talking. Idiot Weiss' comments was even dumber. He had the nerve to say not everything needs to be heard. Some things are more important than others. I wonder how each and everyone of them would feel if when they were speaking NO ONE was paying attention. Again, they only have to be there 3 times a week and if they think its a burden to pay attention like mature adults to the public then get the hell out.

January 07, 2005 11:12 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Where is NATE HOLDEN when we need him most ? ! ?
He was the smartest. He listened to the public and didn't listen to the other councilmembers. Now that was SMART !!!

January 08, 2005 12:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey, don't talk about Jack Weiss like that. Remember, he WAS a former prosecutor !!!!!
By the way Mayor Sam, has anyone checked with the US Attorney's office to figure out just how many criminals he put away in his stay there ? How many criminal trials he actually tried as a prosecutor ? Check it out.......it may be interesting.

January 08, 2005 12:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey, speaking of council members.................. there is a RUMOR that Single Councilman Dennis Zine, became ENGAGED on Christmas eve to the lovely VICTORIA. Let's please, please, please.............................let us know more about when, why, where this drastic matter came to fruition !!! When is the wedding date, where are they getting married, who is this mystery woman that tamed this LION ????!!!! ????

January 08, 2005 12:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Gotta love the LA Times for another article in Saturday's paper slamming council. To think a judge had to order their lame asses to listen. The lawyer who brought the lawsuit is now asking for WEISS' cell phone records to see who he was talking to on phone instead of paying attention. More astonishing is there could be a class action suit if these clowns don't shape up. And to think they were wearing Hawaiian Shirts when this all went down. Yes, that's how we want our leaders of LA to be portrayed throughout the nation. I'm glad it was Weiss being singled out. Prosecutor or not he's an idiot. Who would ever know about his education the way he speaks in chambers. Go back to law school Jack.

January 09, 2005 12:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey, Arrogant Staffer:

Listen, we all know that the council members don't actually care, because their votes are probably already bought and paid for by whoever is going to make money off today's vote. But they are supposedly our representatives, and we're not asking that much of them to listen to public comment once or twice a week. They could at least PRETEND they give a crap.

January 10, 2005 10:47 AM  

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