(Editor’s note: The following viewpoint is reprinted by permission from Jeff Hall.)
By JEFF HALL
Founding Publisher Brentwood News
As stated in the last issue of the Brentwood News, my thoughts on what’s going on in CD11 represent my personal opinions, not any kind of official positions of the Brentwood News or Mirror Media Group. The Brentwood News remains neutral when it comes to candidates.
Normally, I wouldn’t support a recall election. I think such efforts, under normal circumstances, are a big waste of time and money. While I’m not a fan of Mike Bonin, I figured, if we want to vote him out, we can do that in 2022, less than a year away. Why go to the cost and trouble of a recall?
I even thought the same thing about the Trump impeachments: Why go to all that time and trouble when the Senate Republicans will just let Trump off the hook, anyway?
After watching the Trump impeachment proceedings, I completely changed my view. I now think the impeachment proceedings were very important. Someone had to point out the painful truth; it’s important for future generations of Americans to understand what happened during the Trump administration.
In a similar shift in thinking, I now think recalling Mike Bonin is the right and needed thing to do. Those interested in signing the recall petition have until November 10 to do it.
First, let’s review the reasoning behind the urgency of the recall effort. With an impeachment or a recall, at least three legitimate questions must be asked before taking such a drastic step:
- How much harm can Mike Bonin really do if allowed to serve out his full term?
- Has he done anything so bad that he really deserves to be given the boot?
- Even if the results of the recall aren’t guaranteed, isn’t it important to try anyway, as an act of protest against what Mike Bonin has done to our district – and to send a warning to future officeholders?
Aren’t these exactly the same questions Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Jamie Raskin, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger faced in the final days of the Trump administration when they pushed for the second impeachment of Donald Trump?
There were only a few weeks left to Donald Trump’s term. They pushed ahead, anyway.
Did Trump truly deserve the boot? That much seems clear.
But was there ever a realistic chance Republicans would turn on Trump and vote him out of office? No way.
Let’s explore the three questions, posed above, as they pertain to CD11.
Question No. 1: Can Mike Bonin do much harm if allowed to remain in office for the duration of his term?
Yes, he can.
First, let’s look at the ineptitude and reckless spending when it comes to helping the homeless. There are 66,000 homeless individuals in LA County. If the plan, championed by Mike Bonin, is to give each of these individuals a $650K unit (these units are only 300-400 square feet, mind you), the total cost of providing shelter alone will run $43 BILLION dollars. Measure HHH raised only $1.2 billion.
Prefab tiny homes that cost $15K per bed can be assembled in 90 minutes. 3D-printed houses can be built for $6K in a day. Instead, Mike Bonin and other members of the “homeless industrial complex” stubbornly cling to permanent supportive housing programs that cost $650K per unit to build – and that take years to complete. Plus we have to pay for all the mental health services, drug rehab, job training, etc. The real costs go way beyond providing housing. In many respects, housing is the easy part.
Mike Bonin thinks we shouldn’t enforce no camping rules on sidewalks, because there is no place for the homeless to go. The reason they have no place to go is because he and his cronies spent all the money on $650K housing units! Had we pursued tiny homes and other affordable forms of shelter instead of the expensive units, we could have housed all of LA’s homeless – each and every one – with the original money raised by HHH.
Because we’ve done nothing effective to deal with the homelessness crisis, the costs of policing and fire protection have gone way up; same with our emergency rooms and jails; formerly thriving businesses in Venice Beach are now boarded up. Tourism is important to LA’s economy, but our official indifference has created an LA fewer and fewer want to visit.
Mike Bonin is part of a very broken system – developers and others make contributions to Mike Bonin’s campaigns, PACs and nonprofits and in return, they get to build the expensive housing and provide the expensive services that have almost no impact on reducing homelessness.
As Bernie Sanders would say, “It’s a rigged system.”
There are non-economic costs, as well. Parents, walking their children to school, now have to walk in the middle of streets so as to avoid the sidewalk encampments. If we are confronted on the streets by an obviously mentally ill homeless person yelling obscenities, that affects our quality of life. More and more people I talk to say they are considering leaving LA, things have become so bad. Is this really what we want?
If you read Mike Bonin’s emails, you can easily get the impression he has already single-handedly solved the problem of homelessness, fighting the forces of evil who don’t buy into his “progressive agenda.” But there is nothing “progressive” about the encampments; those who oppose Bonin want to actually do something to solve the problem of homelessness. It’s Bonin who gets in the way.
It’s not just the homeless situation. Mike Bonin can be counted on to promote ideas that only he seems to understand.
The people of Venice had to live through Bonin’s wildly impractical “road diet” experiment. Bonin proposed studying the idea of putting homeless encampments in our parks and next to our beaches. Remember that big fire in the Palisades that burned over 1,000 acres? Mike’s response was to get mad at the LAFD for saying the suspected arsonist was homeless, as if that weren’t relevant, or not very nice.
Then Mike Bonin wanted to defund the police. Crime is way up in the last year.
Recently Mike Bonin accused those heading up the recall effort as being part of a Republican recall effort (even though both are lifelong Democrats who voted for Bonin in earlier elections).
Can Mike Bonin do continued harm by remaining in office? Yes, he can – and very likely will.
Question No. 2: Does Mike Bonin really deserve to be given the boot?
As the Democrats pushing for the impeachment of Trump argued, if promoting an uprising to overturn a legitimate election isn’t an impeachable offense, what is? We just reviewed a list of Bonin-inspired fiascos; I personally think the list is more than sufficient to call into question his fitness for office.
Do our elected leaders, in Trump-like fashion, have the right to do whatever they want, the people be damned? Mike Bonin doesn’t own his city council seat. We do. Mike Bonin isn’t the boss. We are. In a democracy, our leaders are supposed to represent US. So, yes, repeated and willful failure to abide by the will of your constituents is enough to merit giving someone the boot.
Question No. 3: Even if the recall effort fails, isn’t it important to try anyway, as an act of protest against what Mike Bonin has done to our district? Don’t we need to draw a line that future councilmen won’t cross?
Here is where the comparison to the Trump impeachments breaks down. The organizers of the recall effort think they really are very close to having the signatures they need to get the recall on the ballot. This isn’t easy to do, by the way; it takes more signatures to put the recall on the ballot than Bonin received in the last election.
Some I’ve talked to say they fear supporting the recall because they don’t want to get on Bonin’s bad side – even though they believe the guy truly is bad news. We often complain our politicians have no backbone; it’s time for us to show some spine.
If Mike Bonin gets recalled, it will be the LA-equivalent of “the shot heard ’round the world.”
It’s time to put an end to business as usual in City Hall. Let’s start right here in CD11. We deserve a city councilperson who makes us proud. We’ve always had that – up until Mike Bonin. By signing the recall petition, we can put future councilmen on notice that if they ignore their constituents, they do so at their own peril.
Are there viable candidates who can step up to become our next city councilman? There’s at least one, Traci Park. I’ve met her. I like her. Remember the ad campaign years ago when 7-Up proclaimed itself the “Un-Cola”? I think of Traci as the “Un-Bonin.”
More on Traci and other candidates at a future time; let’s start by simply saying, Traci has common sense and she listens. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a city councilwoman with common sense who actually listens?
It’s time we dealt in reality, and the current reality is grim. In the thirty-plus years I’ve been covering the Westside, I can’t recall a time as bad as this. I remember a CD11 we all used to love. I look forward to a day when I don’t feel compelled to write opinion pieces like this.
Can we ever get back to where we were? We can’t if we don’t try. We have to try.
For all the above reasons, I signed the recall petition. Others who want to have until November 10th. For more information, go to: RecallBonin2021.com.
Want to discuss this? I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.