City Journal Summer 2014

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William Voegeli
How the Road to Bell Was Paved « Back to Story

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council-Manager form of government is best for small and medium size cities. Unfortunately, public emotions is steering some cities toward a Mayor-Council government. Full time Mayors and Council members will demand more money for themselves.
council-Manager form of government is best for small and medium size cities. Unfortunately, public emotions is steering some cities toward a Mayor-Council government. Full time Mayors and Council members will demand more money for themselves.
council-Manager form of government is best for small and medium size cities. Unfortunately, public emotions is steering some cities toward a Mayor-Council government. Full time Mayors and Council members will demand more money for themselves.
Clearly, a uninformed public are fragile to the Rizzo type thieves but living in the S.F. Bay Area, CA-theft by Kleptocrats is rampant. Under the Color of Law-people are robbed daily by city-cons who extort citizens for unlawful fees on "Zoning Permits". Instead of issuing simple "Building Permits" under the CA Health and Safety Laws. Misapplied Heritage Trees laws, Design Review, F.A.R's under Subdivision Rules are used as myths by and on properties already "Zoned".
You talk too much, dude.

Another very eloquent, intelligent and detailed Titanic deck-chair shuffling.

Although this article makes some excellent technical (could't resist) points, and it is true that each new era of reform sets down roots for the next era of corruption--hence replacing the often corrupt on-the-take part-time part-year amateur citizen state legislators with year-round professionals, which in turn later becomes abused, leading to the next new exciting reform: term limits and maybe a return to part-time part-year amateur citizen state legislators!--many Third Word nations have adopted Western governmental institutions, checks and balances, and so forth, that have, of course, remained as democratic bulwarks in name only.

And with all due respect to comparing the corrupt city machines of the non-English but still European mass immigration era to today's variety (nice try though), what has been whispered by many is simply true:

You cannot maintain a First World civilization with a Third World population.

If this delicate topic is mentioned at all, it always must be carefully couched in terms of such immigrants tragically 'falling victim to,' or 'being easy prey to,' and so forth. Well, undoubtedly.

But it is only when you see Western civilization as superior in some cosmic sense (I prefer it, but then I'm a Westerner) that we must fear that it need be 'racist' to accept that people who have no hundreds of years of Western traditions (Magna Carta and all that), values, desires, behaviors and slowly building institutions, and sometimes intrepid and brave demands for freedoms will simply NOT become Westerners because Westerners expect them to.

Why should they? To please our ruling elites' Utopian mass-immigration fantasies? Of course not. And I believe, pretty beribboned hopes and dreams aside, most of us already know and feel this deep-down inside.
- - - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job, Crime and Eco Sanity.
This article captures a very important point. I recall during the AIDS scare during the 1980's when dentists began dressing like astronauts, the French woman in charge of controlling the epidemic in France said, to the effect, remember: dentists have sex too.
The Progressive Reformers such as Hiram Johnson, Robert LaFollette, and Earl Warren believed that political parties corrupted good men and therefore had to be weakened. Thus we got local nonpartisan elections, open primary elections, and ballot propositions. Their mistake was to believe that people cannot corrupt themselves regardless of the rules of the game.
Bell is only the egregious beginning of the story. Many of the cities and school districts of Los Angeles County have become bankrupt, corrupt cesspools which should be dissolved and the leaders sent to jail.
Stephen J. Kimbrough December 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM
I just finished reading the comments on the Article. the gentleman who was interested in how to influence City Hall can find excellent guides in the "Institute of Local Government" partically supported by the League of California Cities. The Cities in California that are politcally healthy have invloved citizens, elected officials who stay in near constant contact with their Community and City Managers who lead City Staff toward development good communication with our Citizen stockholders of the municipal corporation.
Stephen J. Kimbrough December 16, 2010 at 6:50 PM
This article questions our professionalism; I would question the Author, but I have visited with other City Managers who also wonder if we are not stumbling as the Author describes when we advocate CalPERS Retirement plans that provide 2.7%@55 and city paid 457 Plans plus supplemental PARS and "Golden Handshakes" through the City purchase of "Air Time" for executive staff and City paid retiree heath premiums.
When we seek $250,000 salaries and also accept City assistance with grants of home down payments or interest free loans, are we no longer effective watchdogs, and have we actually stepped up to the "public troughs". Would the old City Managers who started in the Profession in the 1950's and who really built our Profession in California be ashamed of our blatant self interest?
Yes I know, I am a small town Manager in a less expensive economy and I can be accused of envy. No, I dreamed of the chance to be a small town manager and chose to accept the compensation package that goes along with it.
Voegeli misses the main point of Bell--the residents were used to this type of corruption back home in Mexico and Central America. Some of the swindling pols were also immigrants who'd seen bribery in action back in their villages. Latino immigrants who don't know about actual democracy and American history are easy prey.
Having professionals run things allows legislators to make government so complicated that only professionals can understand it.
Yes, the City of Bell is a fine example of small town insiders taking advantage of their unwary citizens. Notwithstanding, this small town incident is small potatoes compared to the lifetime benefits, self elected by our congress, given to themselves just as Napoleon crowned himself emperor. Just look their lifetime pensions and health benefits, while most of the rest of the nation worries about a job, social security, medicare and losing a home. The Congress, like the City of Bell's City manager was sitting high on the hog, the only difference is that the media chooses the look at the small potatoes and not the big fish. Why?
After City salaries look closely at the compensation for he unaudited social service 'non-profit' agencies. Cronyism and nepotism prevail and all the public dime. As examples see: Mercy Housing and Colorado Coalition for he Homeless.
As always, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."
What an excellent article at once informative, theoretical and practical. I would add to the thought process two notions. First, as Americans adjust to a lower standard of living resulting from a globalized labor force, they may actually develop more leisure time and therefore more time to be involved in a geographical community and second, if schools reintroduced "civics," "social studies" or "citizenship" into their curriculum we might actually arrive at the etherial "informed electorate" so critical to a democratic society.
I am so glad my town eliminated the town manager position. It likely one of the few towns that have managed to get rid of a sitting town manager.

Against fairly well known large opposition to creating it, the former town council hired the first (and last) town manager a few years ago.

Never the less in the next election, the whole town council was turned out. The town manager saw the writing on the wall and found a new job so the town council didn't have to fire the guy.

Meanwhile in the next town over, an out of control town manager is going to be hard to take down. My little brother may be the one to do it. Had this guy been professional, I doubt my brother would have done anything. But he wasn't, which was the point of HAVING a town manager.

Its a bad idea that never came, and needs to end.
R. Richard Schweitzer December 09, 2010 at 11:18 PM
See: The Theory of Public Choice.

Public Choice study has developed for over 40 years now.
William Voegeli has written a powerful essay.

I confess: although I regard myself as well informed, I pay zero attention to the politics of my neighborhood.

National affairs are entertaining, thanks to great journalists like George Will. But Will and his tribe never write about the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where I live.

Mr.V. should write a how-to book on getting involved in local affairs. That might become a bestseller. I'd love to get up like that guy in the photo, and demand an account from those geniuses who rule over me.