Saturday, March 1, 2014

What You Need to Know About the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Elections

Joseph Mailander and his Publisher
Joseph Mailander posted this on our Facebook page. We are publishing it here for wider distribution.

You are having elections in Sunland-Tujunga in a week. You are urged to vote even if you don't feel a mastery of the issues.

Most of us who have contributed to shaping the spirit of this particular patch of scorched Facebook earth feel that the community has not benefited by its present set of civic community officers, who have been nearly the same for a decade. And most of us feel that your community's decline over the past decade has been far more acute than LA's in general.

Though there are many troubles with LA that have amplified over the past decade, there have also been many cultural and some economic consolations elsewhere that your own community has not experienced. In nearly all other bedroom communities in LA, for instance, real estate values have more than doubled in the past decade. There is more money around for the rest of LA than there was in 2004, and lots of residential communities but especially commercial strips have been able to gussy up and fix themselves. In the rest of LA we have seen a stabilizing number of homeless and dwindling numbers of at risk youth. In the rest of LA we have seen much rehabilitation of park land and adding to its acreage.

This hasn't happened in Sunland-Tujunga, however, none of it. Instead, you've lost a source of civic pride, the Watermelon Festival. You've become more of a homeless magnet. You were deliberately annexed into a Latino-majority district in which you persistently receive the very short end of the stick with regards to civic largesse. You've looked on powerlessly at your top own commercial strip as it has become more and more blighted even as the edge cities down the road have drawn even more business away from you.

I've been looking into Sunland-Tujunga as an outsider but intensely over the past three years. I've looked at nearly every single City contract involving Sunland-Tujunga and looked at the operations of the Chamber of Commerce too. I know they've both done utterly miserable jobs making your community better. Worse, when posed the simplest of questions, your present leadership at the Chamber and the NC have instead attacked, sometimes blindly and often viciously. (And regarding "outside" observers, Americans were far more charitable and hospitable to Tocqueville I must say).

There is much to fix in Sunland-Tujunga but your civic leadership is instead most interested in lending a hand to the rest of the City, even while denouncing normal political opposition in your own community with a vehemence we just don't see elsewhere.

The past six months especially have seen the community slowly waking up to the fact that your own civic leadership has not held City Hall in nearly enough contempt for what it has done to your community. I don't know if that's because they lack esteem or that they simply are too gullible, not savvy enough to know when a politician is glad-handling them. Certainly the fact that you have had four Councilmembers in five years has only created less opportunity for the City to feel that it needs to bother fixing your community at all.

The most important thing is that you all need to vote next Saturday. It's not my job to tell you who to vote for, but it's your job to learn as much as you can about what your Neighborhood Council has and has not done for your community. As you can see merely by clicking around on this and other message boards, your community obviously needs considerable fixing. You don't have lots of other professional and paraprofessional organizations around to turn to as alternatives. You need to vote and to tell your friends to.

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