(Editor’s note: The following Viewpoint is in response to Cindy Simon’s Viewpoint, “Please Fix Our Beautiful City,” that ran on March 8 in Circling the News.)
By ADAM WOLMAN
Special to Circling the News
Before dismissing progressives or the fringes of the far left, consider this: I’m a full-blown progressive. (Throw the bastards out? Wait no, those are my bastards, and I like 90% of what they stand for.)
Yet, I agree with Cindy Simon that policies in L.A. (and CA, and the USA) should refocus on quality of life — for everyone, not only the homeless/unhoused — in part through enforcement of rules intended to keep our communities safe and clean.
Our political leaders need to do a hell of a lot more, immediately, to make this possible.
This does call for politicians “who have a different mindset with a focus on quality-of-life issues.” But officeholders who for the most part reflect their constituents’ values needn’t be swept out of office for us to reorient their mindset.
We can instead insist that our representatives recognize an emergency and attack it with services and solutions that don’t trade one problem (e.g., people living on the street) for another (e.g., people living on the beach). Well intentioned though that notion may have been.
Wanting our cities to be safe and beautiful is a noble goal shared by all, left, right, or center. Wanting to protect our property values is less noble, but not something to feel guilty about.
And so, Ms. Simon should not be made to feel guilty for not wanting neighborhoods to devolve and decay. Being made to feel privileged (progressive notion alert) is another thing…. I mean, I don’t at all want the author to feel guilty about it, but some of us are indeed more privileged than others. That’s just a fact. Let’s recognize that and cut the less-privileged some slack. Lend them a hand, both charitably and through the levers of society and government, when their lives are much rougher than the average Palisadian’s.
Case in point, the notion that in New York, the police were “everywhere but in a good way […] some media and progressives push the narrative that police presence means immediately someone’s rights are challenged.”
Yet again, even as a lefty, my immediate feeling is the same as Ms. Simon’s. I too almost always feel a sense of relief when I see a police officer. Whew, I’m safe! But think about it: Isn’t feeling safe around cops a privilege I and others have because we happen to be white, since racism-tinged systemic injustice is incontrovertibly known to be directed at people of color?
Aren’t there a thousand other advantages some of us have because of the random luck of how we look, how our brains and bodies function or don’t, who parented us?
No need for guilt. Better to feel empathy and do what we can to correct injustices so that greater privileges (and more pointedly, rights) can be extended to all Americans, not a limited, lucky subset. Just as we need to do what we can to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness … and the lives of those who don’t wish to come across fellow citizens in public spaces pitching tents, menacing passers-by, or simply suffering.
So yes, sign me up for the citizen uprising. But let’s not rise up by writing off our electeds or political opponents. Rather, let’s find common-sense common ground, unite, and together, finally get the job done.
(Editor’s note: Wolman is a former executive at Disney/ABC, MTV, and HBO Digital who’s now a creative consultant. He’s lived in the Palisades for 25 years, where he and his wife, comedy writer/producer Eileen Heisler, shepherded twin boys from Pali Elementary through Pali High. Adam is VP, Communications for the Pacific Palisades Dem Club; Co-Chair of Human Rights Watch L.A.’s Film Club, serving also on the org’s Executive and Advocacy Committees; and Chair of the Programs Committee and Assoc. Dir. of the Features Writing Program for the arts-centered nonprofit Harvardwood. He does voiceovers and enjoys singing with the large Angel City Chorale and a small a cappella group known plagiaristically as the Yardbirds. He notes that this viewpoint is his and not on behalf of any group.)