Last week, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles’ major alternative newspaper (meaning alternative to the mainstream propaganda press, the Los Angeles Times), wrote an article handicapping the upcoming city council races. When it came to council District 8, the Weekly asked a very critical question, “Is Bernard Parks in Trouble?” (see http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/01/bernard_parks_hogan-rowles.php).
I didn’t want to be the first to ask the question in the press (although that question has been a rhetorical one circulating in the community for the past two years, since his thrashing in the supervisor’s race), but I will certainly be one of the first to answer that question. The answer is hell yeah!!! Thank you to the Weekly for that pitch right down the middle of the plate.
In what the Weekly called “a sleeper,” you only have to be part of the community to know the anticipation surrounding this race.
It might be a sleeper race for those outside of the district, but ain’t nobody sleepin’ this one in the district. Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream, and most in the community are very happy this bad dream called Councilman Bernard Parks is almost over. Like small children waiting up late for Santa, the voters of the 8th District’s eyes are wide open on this one. Parks found that out at the L.A. County Committee Democratic Party Endorsement meeting last week.
He thought folk didn’t know who his primary opponent was. He found out different. Forescee Hogan-Rowles is no stranger to the community. She ran against him in 2003. Yeah, she finished fourth out of five, because she got in the race late due to the death of her father in December 2002.
But she was the most impressive candidate in the race, so much so that she was co-endorsed by the Times, which acknowledged that she would not be able to overcome Parks’ name recognition, but was the best fit for what the district needed.
Forescee, the CEO of Community Financial Resource Center, has helped more small businesses start up in South Los Angeles than its councilman in the past eight years. She was so impressive that she caught the attention of the mayor, who appointed her as a commissioner to one of the city’s prime commissions, the DWP board. And when there were rumors that she would run against Parks four years later, Parks sent the “de facto” councilperson of the 8th District (his wife, Bobbi) to talk to Forescee, who promised she’d let him serve his eight years. Then he and the majority voted to extend city council term limits to 12 years, and now he wants to serve an additional term, to the enragement of his constituents who are sayin’, “Awww, he-eelll Naw!” That woke everybody up.
Hogan-Rowles agreed to wait eight years, not 12 years, and this election has come not a minute too soon. People may not be able to say her name, but they know who she is, as she garnered 56 percent of the county committee’s endorsement vote. The Weekly said that both candidates were claiming victory, as Parks was the only incumbent not endorsed for re-election. How can an incumbent claim victory with no endorsement from his own party? It’s nonsense, but that’s what one comes to expect out of Parks’ office.
He constantly insults his constituent’s intelligence. The Weekly got one thing wrong in its article. There was no consensus reached in the race. “No Endorsement” lost, getting 31 percent of the vote. Parks, with 14 percent, couldn’t even beat “no endorsement.” His son, “Junior,” is quoted as Park’s campaign spokesperson (who’s also Park’s chief of staff–I wonder if he’s working Parks’ campaign on city time–somebody needs to check the records), saying he understands “disagreement on the issues” but doesn’t “know where the hatred is coming from.” Really? You don’t think being a city’s highest paid employee, earning over $400,000 due to double dipping on his LAPD retirement pension, while representing a city’s poorest district with the highest unemployment and recommending layoffs and pension reductions, wouldn’t cause people to dislike you not even a little bit? And you can’t have a disagreement with Bernard Parks without him seeking revenge. Err-body knows he’s a vindictive @$#*%!!! (fill in your own blank). So this is “Instant Karma” (as John Lennon termed it) about to slap Parks right in the face.
In a period of change and progress, the residents of the 8th District have been on the outside looking in. Several parts of the city have had an extreme makeover since Parks was elected to the city council. L.A. Live, Hollywood/Highland, the Grove, Koreatown, Santa Monica Boulevard, Venice Beach, every cultural enclave around L.A., except in the 8th District, has prospered. The one cultural center in the 8th, Leimert Park, has literally died since Parks took over, despite having a business improvement district. You couldn’t imagine any place in Iraq or Afghanistan looking worst than Marlton Square. As the district most in need of economic revitalization, the 8th District should have been the biggest beneficiary of President Obama’s stimulus package. At least a priority beneficiary.
Yet, that wasn’t the case. And when you have a councilperson who can’t work with the district’s county representative, congressional representative and most of its state representatives, that’s a problem. The residents and businesspersons are tired of having their noses pressed against the windowpane of changes while the rest of the city passes them by. The Weekly article wants to make it seem like labor is the only one against Parks. Far from the truth.
There are community stakeholder meetings being held all over the district. Number one item on the agenda: “Replacing Bernard Parks.” I’ve been to seven of them, and there were several I couldn’t make. There’s a major one coming up this Sunday (January 30th) at the Galen Center, a first ever People’s Convention. Just know what’s on the agenda. You would think “the people” would want to hear from their representative. Bernard Parks requested to come. “The People” declined his request. They are ignoring him, just as Parks has ignored them and their requests for the past eight years, the latest one being the Fresh & Easy market that he’s trying to tout.
So, it’s not just labor. It’s churches. It’s neighborhood councils. Oh, hell yeah … he’s in trouble, and the community has him surrounded. He needs to come out with his hands up because not even the police (union) is coming to his rescue on this one (none of them, really). But the egomaniac that he is, he’d rather go out with his boots on because it’s always Park’s way or the highway. So, we’ll do it his way one last time, and he’ll be caught out on the highway, election day.
And in the end, I can’t say it better than the Beatles said it (in their song, “The End”), “the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Bernard Parks has made very little “love” in his district during his eight years as a cop masquerading as a councilman.
He’ll take very little “love” from his constituents with him to the polls on March 8th.
Watch what I tell ya. Call it a prediction if you want to … I didn’t ask the question … but hell yeah, I got an answer for ya. Parks is in serious trouble.
Watch how quickly 8th District constituents learn to say “Forescee” (4-S-C).
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, “Real Eyez: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.
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