The whole issue of the poor representation for the poorest council district in Los Angeles was never more in evidence than when you look at the disparities between the quality of life of the people and their city council representation–in particular the pay inequity between Bernard Parks, his son (Junior), and the people who live in the 8th District.
Before I lay it out for you, I must tell you that the Parks family is not happy with the “love” they’ve received from my column. I saw them recently, and they all came rolling up on me, whining about the last column I wrote. It was like a fairy tale–Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Except it was the three Parks, and I was Rastalocks.
First came Baby Parks, telling me how my column was chickensh*t. Obviously, Baby Parks wants to be on his daddy’s stage, wants to be part of the show. He just became part of the show.
Then there was Momma Parks, who rolled up talking about I lied on her. She claimed she never met or ever talked to Forescee and challenged me to write that in my column. Well, there it is, Momma Parks.
(I fact-checked the information, and Forescee said she’s met you and talked to you a few times. So, whoop, there it is! Who do you think I’m going to believe?)
Then there was old, gruff Daddy Parks, claiming: “It’s gonna be like it was before,” meaning the outcome of the election. The problem with the civil rights generation is they tend to get stuck in a time warp. Shhh … don’t wake him up. Let’s wake him up March 9th and tell him what happened the night before. So, I’m jus sayin’, I got nothing but “love” for them Parkses, until election day, or what we are calling good riddance to Bernard Parks Day. Now, back to the lecture at hand…
Over the next four years, the city of Los Angeles stands to pay Bernard Parks–senior and junior–$2.4 million to continue misrepresenting the residents of the 8th District. Let me help you understand why that’s a problem.
According to an economic report released last October (“Los Angeles City Council Districts: 2010 Economic Report”), the average annual wage of a person living in the 8th District is $38,808.
Councilman Parks makes $178,000 and change as councilman, and while he collects a retirement pension from the city of $265,000. So Daddy Parks bites taxpayers for $444,000 a year, or $37,000 a month, which is almost as much as his average constituent makes a year.
Parks Jr. is his father’s chief of staff. Now, the city has laws against hiring direct relatives, and by everyone’s accounts, Parks is breaking the law. He’s also his father’s campaign spokesperson, a very blurred line because staffers are not allowed to work on campaigns during city time. He takes (and makes) press calls during the day about his father’s re-election campaign. So when does he work for the city? In the middle of the night? Another violation of the law.
But now, thanks to City Controller Wendy Gruel’s transparency initiative, all city worker’s salaries are online. Daddy Parks has three persons on staff who make more than $109,000. The highest staff salary is $154,846. The middle salary is $128,746. Stands to reason that nobody in the office makes more than the chief of staff, but let’s go with the middle salary (just to show I’m not trying to be chickensh*t). That means the city would pay Junior $514,984 over the next four years, if his dad is re-elected. For what? Most people can’t tell what he does now, beside bump into his dad’s back every time he stops. And who else in the city would hire Baby Parks for similar pay in any other department? You know that answer.
When you throw in Baby Parks, the city taxpayers would be paying the Parkses $2,290,984 for the next four years, or $47,728 a month to do what for the residents of the 8th District? Nearly nothing. If I’m gonna pay someone $2.3 million for the next four years, I wanna know what I’m getting. The constituents of the 8th District know what they’re getting, based on eight years of knowing what they’ve got. And it ain’t worth nearly $50,000 a month to get more of the same.
That’s why this election is so important. Them boys over there are just collecting checks, and the district is suffering.
The Parks campaign insists on calling people “puppets,” because they support or have the support of working people.
Parks is the puppet for big business, liquor stores (his biggest donor) and apartment owners (should I throw in the Republicans too, or would that be considered chickensh*t?). They bend him over every which way they can and the residents of the 8th get nothing in return except representation working against their interest.
Oh yeah, and they get a Christmas tree lighting … and I can’t forget the proclamations. The 8th District has the best proclamation-giver on the Council. He gives ’em to everybody, like business cards. Even people who don’t want ’em. Hell, I got five Parks proclamations, and we don’t even like each other. There’s one at the bottom of my daughter’s cat’s kitty litter box right now. Sorry … yet I digress. The point is the residents of the 8th get little for $50,000 a month. But they deserve much more. They’ve been getting nothing for so long, the Parkses (who really do think they own South L.A.) can tell them, “Re-elect me. I’ma give you some more of nothing.” And that’s supposed to be all right. I call the Parks’ re-election effort, a multimillion dollar heist. The targeted victims: The residents of the 8th and the City of Los Angeles. Question is, do they get away with it?
The 8th District has more city-employed workers than any other district in the city. With the highest unemployment rate in the city, the 8th District needs representation that can empathize with city workers concerning furloughs, pay cuts and the layoffs–not exploit them. This whole notion that Bernie Parks is the city budget’s only watchdog is bullsh*t–especially when he’s not watching the budget in his own office, and double-dipping all the while.
How do you take seriously someone who wants to cut everybody’s pension but his own? That’s right … you don’t. Not when both Parkses have refused to take pay cuts to share in their constituents’ pain.
Instead, you ask yourself the question: “Am I getting $50,000 a month value out of the leadership (the) Parkses provide in this district?” That’s an easy one to answer. It will be another $2.3 million if he gets another four years, and if the next four are anything like the last eight, the ones who’s quality of life will change is the Parkses. Daddy Parks … Momma Parks … and even Baby Parks will come up on the city taxpayers’ dime. No … that’s not all right.
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.
Last week, several mistakes were inadvertently introduced into the Between the Lines column written by Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad. Although the errors were confined to Dr. Samad’s byline and the first line of his column, we understand any concern they may have caused our readers. These were technological problems that would take much too much space to explain. Let us simply say that we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused. –The Editors
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