Last Friday was the season finale of the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. The program is now on hiatus until late September.
We love Bill Maher. He is very funny, and he is never afraid to call it as he sees it.
But on some subjects, Bill is clueless – and he showed off one of those subjects throughout the past season of his show. Several times during the season, he complained to national and state elected officials about how bad the roads are in his neighborhood, and said that they should do something about it. (According to his own description, Bill lives in a big house on the top of a hill in Bel Air. Not an environmentally-friendly place to live – but we will save that discussion for another post.)
The roads that Bill drives on between Bel Air and CBS Television City, where his show tapes (and which is on Beverly Boulevard, right next to our Melrose Village neighborhood) are indeed in poor shape. So he has been hectoring federal and state officials for months to fix them.
Bill, Bill, Bill. These are local roads. That means that they need to be fixed by your local government – in this case, the City of Los Angeles. And despite what some people in Bel Air may think, they live in a neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles – not in an independent city, republic, or duchy.
These may sound like technical distinctions. They are not. The failure of people to hold their local governments accountable – or to even understand what city they live in – is a big part of the reason these people do not get decent services. The only way you can hold government accountable is if you know what your government actually does.
On a broader level, Bill’s comments also reflect the unwillingness of many educated and affluent people in California to pay the slightest attention to what is happening in their own communities. (The Economist recently referred to this as “the secession of the successful.”) It’s so much sexier to talk about political debates in Washington DC, isn’t it? It’s so much more fun to hobnob with national political figures, or to debate the state of the state. Local politics is boring, right?
Maybe, except then you get bad roads. Because you were too bored to pay attention to the fiscal crisis in the City of Los Angeles, which is in its worst financial shape since the Great Depression of the 1930s – and which was not a well-run city even before the crisis. You were too bored to insist that your city government actually do its job. Like paving local roads. You were probably too bored to even vote in your local elections, right? (The last citywide election in Los Angeles had a voter turnout of less than 12%.)
Bill, we love you, but get a clue. Until people like you start paying attention to your local government – and demanding that it perform at least adequately – your roads are only going to get worse and worse.
But the Melrose Village Blog will give you a hand. Bill, the best person to contact about the roads in your neighborhood is the office of your Los Angeles City Council member, Paul Koretz. We know Paul, and he is a good guy. We can’t guarantee that he will get your street paved – but at least you will be talking to the right people for a change. You can see contact information for Paul’s office here.
We hope you get your street paved, Bill. In the meantime, consider this: If you lived in our neighborhood, you could walk to work.