VECTOR CONTROL: ROLLING ON A RIVER, TOWARD EVER-TOUGHER TIMESBy Steve Lowery
Friday, July 2 Turns out the Bush years weren’t only tough on one-off frozen yogurt shops and multinational financial institutions. No, cities are getting into the act—and by act, I mean going out of business. The City of Maywood woke up today to find it no longer has its own police department or any semblance of local control, as virtually all of the city’s daily operations have been turned over to neighboring Bell. The first step in that city’s designs on Southeast domination is witnessed by its motto: “Today Maywood, Tomorrow the Jiffy Lube on Alondra.” Maywood couldn’t pay its bills or get insurance so they turn everything over to Bell, a city best known for having 55 Academy Award statuettes ripped off from a city loading dock, the greatest theft of Oscars since “Titanic” swiped 11 in 1998. Maywood is by no means alone. Long Beach is looking to tax medicinal marijuana to raise some cash—presumably to buy pot—and Bellflower’s city council unanimously voted to place a five-year, two-percent utility tax on the ballot. Now, a city imposing a new tax to raise some money is nothing new. But those new taxes are usually to do something extra, perhaps make improvements to schools, streets or business districts. Bellflower is just looking to raise some dough for operating expenses. That’s like having a garage sale to raise enough capital to fill up your car’s tank.
Saturday, July 3 Some people view the Los Angeles River as a kind an oxymoron—you know, like “Compassionate Conservative.” But it really does exist, starting at the Arroyo Calabasas and ending at San Pedro Bay, and now, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, its entire 51 miles is considered navigable. This is significant because it assures that the river will be protected by the Clean Water Act. So I know I should be happy. But I can’t help but feel a little melancholy for all of those courageous mariners who went before, failing to complete the trip down the river, its banks littered with their brave yet ill-considered shopping cart vessels.
Sunday, July 4 On this, the day when we celebrate a group of white, male landowners getting together to fight for the rights of all people—as long as they were white, male and owned land—to be free of taxation without representation, it’s worth noting that there is a movement afoot—yes, confound you, AFOOT!—to limit the amount of times the Long Beach city council meets. Right now, it’s four Tuesdays a month, but there are some who say money could be saved by having the council meet just twice a month. This is a bad idea for so many reasons, starting with the fact that transparency has always been an issue in a city where a lot of the real decisions are made during midnight votes or under the auspices of the city’s shadow government. Plus, it’d be just another example of this city of half a million treating itself like it was, well, Maywood.
Monday, July 5 Off.
Tuesday, July 6 The Long Beach City Council takes a step toward putting a marijuana tax measure on the ballot. Officials are looking to raise about $19 million. They aren’t sure how much the 15-percent tax will actually bring in, though they’re pretty sure they can offset any shortfall with the sale of their brother’s drum kit which he totally said they could have … HE DID! … YOU LIE!
Wednesday, July 7 In the aforementioned tough economic times, it’s going to be important for cities to find as many ways to niche market. And so it’s nice to see Lynwood sharpening its brand as it becomes the unquestioned incarceration capital of tragically spoiled rich girls. First it was Paris Hilton who did her 12-minute stint in the city’s Century Regional Detention Facility, now, Lindsey Lohan is scheduled to break rocks—presumably to smoke them—in late July.
Thursday, July 8 Sure our cities are going out of biz and one out of every 10 folks are out of work, but one bright side of the economic apocalypse is the effect it has had on lame-ass music tours. So far, the likes of the Eagles, Jonas Brothers and Christina Aguilera, to mention a few but very, very lame, have either partially or totally cut their tours. And today, the people who run “American Idol”—the same people who developed the explodable puppy—announce they are cutting two weeks worth of performance dates, bowing to pressure both economic and humanitarian. I don’t say it much, but thank you George W. Bush.