It looked like an obvious news story to me; dozens of people complaining about spending hours in line to register for ‘Just 4 Kids’ camp through the Culver City Parks and Recreation Department. I went to the meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission, expecting a crowd of speakers waiting to address the issue.
But there was no one there.
Just the commissioners, available to discuss the problem, and the representative from staff, offering what they hoped would be a solution for the coming weekend’s registration crowd.
Then, Lila showed up. She graciously addressed the commission, and had on hand eight pages of specific complaints and suggestions, lifted with permission from a Facebook group, where people had been complaining. She had taken it on herself to come and represent them.
It touches on a number of issues, but the most important one to me is the disconnect.
There were so many people on this Facebook group that we so very unhappy, and yet only one of them could be bothered to come and address the very authority that could offer a solution to the problem.
It may be why I feel so called upon to do what I do. In the years that I have been reporting on local government, I am often astonished at how disconnected our people – our residents, our citizens- feel from the city. This isn’t the far legal reaches of Sacramento or even the vast labyrinth of Los Angeles – this is the corner of Culver and Duquesne. Look at a map; you are here.
Our city government (some of whom you just voted into office) has continually reinvented itself to be more accessible, more transparent and more available to the people. There are apps – a new website – email blasts – regular meetings of every commission you can think of – and yet none of this means anything when the room is empty.
The factor that feeds the disconnect is that it’s just so much easier to complain than it is to seek a solution. The great thing about finding a supportive group online is also the terrible thing that turns it into an echo chamber of like minded people having just the same experience that you are having. And in general, no one willing to exit the chamber and seek a solution.
Having a Lila is good, but just one Lila is a pretty thin filament to burn. If and when that burns through, you are once again disconnected.
Feel free to complain.
It won’t change anything, but you will probably find someone to sympathize.