The voter revolt that is going on in Los Angeles’ 8th Council District turned serious last week, when several political and community heavyweights came out against incumbent councilman, Bernie “Daddy Bear” Parks.
This happened in the face of Parks’ councilmate, Jan Perry, trying to minimize the revolt as a single local labor leader “throwing a tantrum” and trying to teach Parks a lesson. She also said that “most will acknowledge” that his opposition wasn’t a viable candidate. I don’t know who she’s talking to, but it ain’t the community.
It’s interesting how power changes people. I remember when they said Perry wasn’t a viable candidate, and the “powers that be” were trying to keep community folk away from her. In fact, Forescee Hogan-Rowles is more viable now with 20 years economic development experience than Perry was when she ran (she was a council office staffer).
They also said Barack Obama wasn’t a viable candidate. (Remember when Hillary and Magic Johnson were saying “he couldn’t win”)? They said Kamala Harris wasn’t a viable candidate and couldn’t win. Well, guess what happened? Moreover, guess what’s about to happen. Parks and Perry can dismiss this movement, if they want to. Change is in the air.
The thing about Hogan-Rowles is that she has the same thing Perry had at the time she ran–an optimism about changing the future quality of life in her district, and an adamant rejection of the status quo politics that made her the people’s choice. I also remember Perry was an upset winner, largely because of community support and pulling in organizers who could throw a tantrum or two.
There was no better “tantrum thrower” than the late Juanita Tate from Concerned Citizens (God rest her soul). Tate would cuss everybody in the campaign out at least once a week, including the candidate. Yes siree, those were the days when Perry was with the people. She’s now a status-quo, big-business politician, positioning herself for a future leap and trying to save her drowning boatmate.
You would think Perry would know a tantrum when she saw one, and Brian D’arcy wasn’t it. We’re about to show you a tantrum and a little bit more. Voter revolt is an act of mass dissatisfaction–voter dissatisfaction, combined with constituent dissatisfaction, combined with stake holder dissatisfaction. However, people tend to trivialize things, when they lose touch.
The Parks campaign wants to make this revolt about labor, but his refusal to stop double-dipping, overpaying his son on the city payroll, and both their refusals to partake of the sacrifice of pay cuts and furloughs like other city employee only lit the fuse of this revolt. Parks wants to say people are circulating “misinformation” about him, and I must admit that I did circulate one piece of misinformation for which I’m truly sorry.
Last week, I said Baby Parks made $128,746. I’ve since confirmed that he makes $154,846, $26,000 more, which is three-fourths of what the average wage earner in the 8th District makes. So I wanted to correct the record, but back to my point…
Parks does seem to engage in the very same “pay to play” campaign contribution politics that he accused former Mayor James Hahn of playing. He did take illegal MTA contributions, while sitting on the MTA Board. He did take rave contributions while sitting on the Coliseum Commission, when the community clearly didn’t want rave parties at the arena. He does take credit for projects he had little or nothing to do with. He brags about the $100 million government development that the community didn’t want, and he still blames others for commercial developments he can’t do, like Marlton Square, which has been undeveloped his entire tenure in office.
Conversely, the worst thing to happen to our community was the closing of King Hospital, which also happened on a predecessor’s watch, but was restructured, refunded and reopened in one year. The most common complaint about Parks is that his council office is not responsive. People are tired of the excuses and his narcissistic, autocratic mentality that nobody knows anything, and he knows everything … but does nothing or next to nothing.
One local union “throwing a tantrum” would not get six others and the county federation of labor to come in on a race they didn’t think they could win. Unions are more concerned about winning than about proving a point or teaching somebody a lesson. I guess the county Democratic Committee threw a tantrum, too, when 56 percent of the delegates voted for Forescee and only 14 percent for Parks. I guess all six neighborhood councils are throwing tantrums, too. Maybe because Parks gutted their budgets.
I guess almost all the elected officials whose districts touch a piece of the 8th, who rarely endorse against incumbents, are throwing tantrums, too? Or maybe they just want someone they can work with. Some might even say the Black press is throwing a tantrum … at least Betty Pleasant and myself. But we throw tantrums about everything, so we’re used to the pushback. We write about what the community is feeling and rarely are our topics the same for three consecutive weeks. We pride ourselves on knowing what others don’t.
I guess even retired Congresswoman Watson threw a tantrum, huh? Or maybe she co-endorsed Forescee after finding out she was in Parks campaign literature without her permission. So, now she’s endorsing both. That’s sort of a revolt, when a popular community leader does that. Usually, if they are conflicted they just stay out of it.
And all you have to do to find out the level of disdain for the current representation is get on the phone at Forescee’s campaign office for an hour, make 60 calls and look at the 51 responses that say “anybody but Parks.” You then know there is a revolt in effect. Several people have stopped me in the past week, seeing my Forescee button, asking how do they meet Forescee. They want to get to know her. The campaign has “Meet Forescee” on Monday nights at 7 p.m. at the campaign headquarters (5442 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles) I guess these people are about to throw tantrums, too. Call it what you want ….
The voters of the 8th District are tired after eight years. And they all are throwing tantrums.
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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