I teach yoga when I’m not writing journalism. For years I have taught Hatha Yoga at the YMCA, and I close the class with the traditional “Namaste.” It does not translate directly, but the way I explain it to my students is “The divinity in me greets the divinity in you.” It’s a common greeting in India, and like ‘Shalom’ or ‘Aloha’ it is used both arriving and departing. When I’m writing about politics, I try to remember that the people involved have good intentions, that they believe they are doing the right thing.
The City Council meeting on Monday April 30, 2018 was surprising to me in ways that it should not have been. I’ve been covering politics here for a decade. But to have both of the new council members reveal themselves to be devoid of ethics was appalling.
Not only did Council member Daniel Lee admit with a proud smile on his face that he made a statement because it was ‘just politics,’ both Mayor Thomas Small and Council member Alex Fisch shared an interesting auditory challenge – that breathy, back-of-the-throat voice that occurs when you are saying something even you don’t believe. There’s a lack of eye contact, an odd up and down syntax. It’s the sound of justification.
If you are making a decision that you feel you need to justify, it’s pretty clear you are making a bad choice.
So, on his first evening on the dais, Lee flipped his position on supporting a particular policy because “politics,” breaking the land speed record for insulting the folks who voted for him, and letting the city know that he will be doing whatever – no accountability- whenever he feels like it.
I’ve seen a number of local political figures go through many kinds of ethical challenges, but this was different. This was not a challenge, this was just no ethics. First evening in the chair, and he’s hoisting a middle finger flag at the people who voted for him. Astonishing. I can’t imagine anyone but Daniel Lee trusting Daniel Lee from here on out.
For those of us who have been following the saga on a long term basis, the plot twist here is the revenge of Gary Silbiger. In his last year on the council, when it was expected he would be given the mayoralty, he was not. The sitting council members opted to give the ceremonial title to someone else.
I had just begun covering the council – I was then the freshly minted editor at the Culver City News. I did not understand why it was such a big deal, to not be given this totally symbolic title. By the time I was running my own masthead, I was truly happy to see his term end. So noted –culvercitycrossroads.com/2010/04/26/just-a-thought-and-dont-let-the-door-hit-you/
These council members have decided to play this game over the mayoral succession – again, a ceremonial title, there is no money or legal authority involved – satisfying their mentor’s need for revenge by overturning a policy that that the council passed unanimously just last year.
Because – politics.
So, when the first evening of a new council can get this crazy over something as trivial as who is running the meetings and wearing a title, I can’t wait to see what happens when there is real property, or funding, or someone’s job at stake. As a chess move, it’s a very weak opening. This council has business to conduct that will be affecting the city’s long term future, and knowing that ethics is not in the picture is deeply discouraging.
I am about to get credentialed in a different style of yoga – kundalini yoga – and the greeting is different from ‘namaste.’ What we say in Kundalini is ‘Sat Nam.’ It means ‘I am with the truth.’