The Los Angeles City Council asked Mickey Kantor, President Clinton's ex-secretary of commerce, to head a commission to assess the shape of American's second largest city. The report pulled few punches. Los Angeles, said the report, "suffers from a crisis in leadership and direction." L.A., it says, risks becoming "a city in decline."
These problems include: a public school system with a high inner-city drop-out rate, where many of those who do graduate are unable to read, write and compute at grade level; the worst traffic in the nation; nearly $30 billion in unfunded pension liabilities (more than Detroit); last in job creation among big cities since 1992 and the only one of the seven largest cities "where the number jobs has actually declined since 1990"; and according the a recent study by the liberal Brookings Institution, now last in job creation for young people in the 100 largest metropolitan areas.
How has the city council busied itself even as Occidental Petroleum of L.A. became the latest of the top 10 oil companies once headquartered in California to leave? In the last few years, city council has: voted, with one dissenting vote, to require porn actors to wear condoms; voted, 11-1, to become the largest city in America to ban the use of plastic grocery bags; unanimously agreed to treat e-cigarettes like regular ones and restrict their sale and use; and voted unanimously for a resolution supporting a state bill to allow "undocumented immigrants" to get drivers' licenses. Council even passed a resolution, 13-2, condemning "intolerable" speech on talk radio. The resolution, according to one councilman, is not anti-First Amendment. "It's exactly appropriate for this council to speak up," he said, "against the vile things we hear on the airwaves."
The next report will make recommendations. Why wait? The city should immediately hire Peter Ueberroth. This California businessman successfully put on the 1984 L.A. Olympics when experts predicted disaster. Call him consultant. Call him City Czar. He has the stature, experience and the gravitas to implement the following 10 steps: