Just a Thought – Loss of Privilege Feels Like Oppression

got-privilegeNow that the City Council has changed the parking on Farragut Drive to be just like the parking on the surrounding streets, the residents who made this their crusade must accept the legal shift. But the fact remains that once privilege has been conferred, the bump down to equality feels – not just like a loss of status, because it is a loss of status – but like actual oppression.

When special status, for so long enjoyed as status quo, is removed, being treated like everyone else seems degrading. The challenge that these residents have fought against so bitterly is very real to them. Emotions are not logical. But handing your perspective over to your emotions can be very problematic to to people who are looking at the same set of facts, and not feeling those emotions. Data does not alter with any amount of enthusiasm. It just is.

It often seems to me that what happens in Culver City is a smaller reflection of what happens everywhere. Because of the high emotional tone of corporate media, people are looking at the same set of facts and coming to utterly different conclusions. Those who are looking at a loss of privilege – the practically exclusive male right to hold office, the overwhelmingly white power structure in our country – are furious over this push toward equality. Large parts of the U.S. are looking at this, and there is a very large sense of outrage. A woman running for President? Unimaginable. To them, equality feels like oppression.

I think of the lists of “black firsts” that are publicized during Black History Month, and note that many racists might have to stop eating peanut butter. If they knew more history, they’d need to change their minds or go hungry.

In the state of California, we are in a different place. We have had many women in elected office for years, although still not in equal numbers. We have, in SoCal, more than a few elected officials of color. Plenty of voters in states at our latitude are looking at a person of color in the office of President, and coming up with the most absurd and insane ideas as to why he should not be there, because it is impossible for them to see someone with his complexion exercising political power. Emotion has logic held hostage.

How to communicate over this gulf?  Every opinion is based on a set of assumptions. When they are not your assumptions, they may be surprising – or even shocking. But when you take the time to listen – and it helps if you can listen long enough and deep enough so that someone feels they have been heard – you can reflect. As a discussion, not an argument.

I think that logic will prevail, if only because it’s less pliable. Imagine the world we can live in when everyone’s ideas are useful, when all effort and intelligence is valued, and no one is singled out as better than or less than because of a traditional privilege or a historic disadvantage.

Already, I have heard someone say how great it was to be able to park on Farragut Drive for just five minutes while dropping kids off for school. They had no inkling of the council ruling, the lawsuits or the high tide of emotion ebbing away.

Somewhere, there is a voter,  enjoying a peanut butter sandwich.  For all the logical reasons.

The Actors' Gang


  1. Interesting that you said “like the surrounding streets”. If you look at most streets in Culver City, including those near Farragut Dr., you will notice that they have no restriction. Look at the signs near Vets park. They are very restricted on the opposite side of the park. The same goes for some elementary school sites. Very little is standard when it comes to parking signs. Come by our street between 7:30 and 9 am to see what it takes to leave our driveway. On Tuesday (trash pick up), we have drivers put the bins on our lawn, then leave without putting them back on the street (this is not often, but does happen).

    The church wanted the parking for the commerial business. Sundays were always open. AA type groups park weekdays. They stand outside the homes to smoke and have loud coversations at 10 pm. If that is ok with you, give me your address and I will get some people to have them outside your place. The pastor told me he does not control them.

    These are only a couple of problems we experience. There is house for sale. You should buy it and move in. I am positive you will be ok with these minor problems.

  2. The writing reveals of very myopic view.

    We won. We exposed the ineptitude, incompetence and lack of ethics of the Culver City City Council.

    We exposed that, in Culver City, influence peddling trumps reason and justice. Ken Smith, a prominent member of Grace Church, has given new meaning to the phrase, “Ask and You Shall Receive.” We exposed Smith’s business, social and political relationships with former City Council member Andrew Weissman that Weissman conveniently forgot to mention. Apparently, in Culver City, bias greases the wheels of progress. That is, progress for the connected.

    We exposed that the City Council and the City Attorney consider that Weissman’s intimation of staff in violation of the Code of Ethics ain’t no big deal. In fact, it appears that the City Attorney feels that the Code of Ethics ain’t no big deal.
    We exposed that Culver City has a dark underbelly—a closed Facebook page maintained by Dan O’Brien, a prominent and active member of Grace Church—where bullies-in-training dwelled. That’s where Council member Jeffrey Cooper spewed his venom against Farragut residents. When he ignored our requests that he recuse himself, we exposed that Cooper is blind to the concept of bias. He must have studied at the Weissman School of Ethics.
    We exposed that pay-back-time prevails in Culver City. Mayor James Clarke reminded us that the City Council, instead of simply denying any Brown Act violation and saying the City Council would not violate the Brown Act in the future—a legal requirement, anyway—spent $300,00 to defend our legal actions. Culver City paid $300,000 to defend Weissman’s ego! That was a very bad business decision. Conveniently, Clarke forgot the $30,000 per year in parking citations the City will no longer write against those who violated the permit-only-parking restrictions on Farragut.
    Clarke lost it when he confused an expression of pride—“our street”—with alleged claims of ownership. He has probably seen Les Misérables one too many times.

    Pay-back also came from the distant past. We exposed that some politicians will not gracefully fade away. Former City Council member Paul Jacobs, bearing the scars of prior disputes with Farragut residents, supported revoking our permit-only parking restrictions. It must have gotten to him that he was on the losing side for many years. He still is. Rumor has it that, for years, he goes ballistic every time he hears my name. “Les Greenberg.” “Les Greenberg.” “Les Greenberg.”

    Another politico, who will not go away, was at the hearing. Weissman was literally standing in the shadows at the back of the room—making sure that the City Council members saw him, and remembered that the Godfather is still in charge here.
    On the merits, we exposed that there has never been any showing that the permit-only-parking restrictions on the 10700 block of Farragut ever impeded any activity at the Grace Church.
    Further, we exposed that the City Council will legislate by fiat and ignore the expertise of its staff. The City Council rewrote the parking law. It used to be, if a district met certain parking-intrusion criteria, the residents were entitled to permit-only-parking restrictions. Now, by fiat, one must demonstrate that, with TOW AWAY 2-hour parking restrictions in place, one can meet the criteria. That is the moral equivalent of testing whether one can run a four-minute mile, but requiring that they carry a 30-pound bowling ball during the run.

    We showed how the “parking study” was rigged. Weissman, before he and Cooper concocted their plan to suppress the parking intrusion count, wrote: “Pull off ALL restrictions on Farragut and conduct a brand new study to determine if 14 hour restrictions are necessary and appropriate.” (Emphasis added.) Then, when Weissman rolled his 30-pound bowling ball idea, the City Engineer informed Weissman, “This will NOT test whether the original restrictions that are being removed were warranted in the first place based on the City’s criteria.” (Emphasis added.) The Traffic Engineer added, “It would NOT be a fair study.” (Emphasis added.)
    One of Clarke’s most inane statements exposed that he and the others may need to visit an audiologist. Clarke heard no criticism of the KOA “parking study.” He heard nothing about the Weissman-Cooper scheme to suppress the parking count. He did not hear that KOA “parking study” included parking spaces that have never had permit-only parking restrictions and, thus, skewed the numbers. He did not hear about the 59 cars that parked on the periphery of Farragut in unrestricted areas—obviously avoiding the TOW AWAY 2-hour restrictions. He did not read the eight page counter-report that we provided to him. Perhaps, he should, also, visit a reading specialist.

    We exposed that Thomas Small is not a progressive, but just another good ole-boy in sheep’s clothing. We learned that Göran Eriksson should go back to his old campaign promise to make the trains run on time, instead of tackling more intellectual-ethical issues. Our condolences to Meghan Sahli-Welles who serves with this crew of lessers (sic).

    What more have we learned? We get the kind of government we vote into office. We need a new generation of competent and ethical City Council candidates who did not participate in the good ole-boy network. We need candidates who believe in improving the quality of life in Culver City as opposed to development at any costs. We need those who place residents’ interests first, and do not worship at the altar of the Chamber of Commerce.

    We need to terminate the services of the City Attorney. It appears that the taxpayers are paying over $300,000 per year for someone who tells the City Council whatever it wants to hear. We need a stand-up attorney, not a namby-pamby.

    We won, but, unfortunately, Culver City has lost. The facade of Mayberry is gone forever. In the immortal words of Barry Scheck, “zay gezunt.”

  3. (I hit send before intending to, had only left a partial comment due to device problems, and hope the two can be combined and this sentence omitted.)

    I came back for a second read and I now see that this is still not an understanding of what the residents of Farragut Drive are experiencing. It’s natural to defend oneself and attempt to regain something that has long been a part of life. When the Farragut Drive residents attempted to do that, for weeks they were jeered, maligned, accused of things they did not do, and no effort was made on a very busy semi-public forum to understand their point of view. It’s been explained over and over again why this block was given the protection it was, and it just falls on deaf ears. It’s never been explained how the very few parking places this will gain is going to benefit the church, which already had full access on Sundays.

    It’s not that change was thrust upon them that is the biggest problem here; rather the rallying cries and barrage of demeaning comments and ongoing lack of understanding that is so wrong. I’m disappointed to realize this piece is not the attempt at bridging that I hoped and thought it was.

    This doesn’t compare to white privilege not wanting to see women and blacks in positions of authority and power. As I read this essay now, I feel it seems to suggest a comparison that is a rather unfair connection to be making.

    I thank you for providing a forum in which all have the opportunity to respond.

  4. The issue on Farragut permit only parking was whether the residents’ assertions about the impact of non-resident parking could be supported by facts confirmed by a study. The Council-ordered-study proved that non-resident parking did not reach the necessary threshold to support the permit-only parking restriction. That determination renders moot the assertions about the improper relationships between members of the church and the council; alleged violations of the Brown Act (violations the Courts have ruled did not happen) or ethical violations by Council members (unproven and ridiculous in this context); legal assertions the Farragut residents had a vested interest in the permit only parking restrictions or the council had no right to review the parking restrictions (the Appellate Court found these legal arguments meritless). This was and is a legislative authority issue. The emotions surrounding this issue, in my opinion, have no place in this process. They had the potential to be effective only when there was no parking study. Once that study was issued, the emotional arguments were no longer meaningful because it became clear that the premises used to support those arguments did not exist.

  5. Culver City is an ethics desert!

    The taking of Farragut Drive decades long permit-only parking signs is more about the unethical way it was done than the act itself. By the way, for the record, we on Farragut, who were here and very much involved in the whole process, can attest that we earned our permit-only parking. In 1982, we had the forethought to predict the future need of intrusion protection. The notion that we felt privileged is absurd and nonsense. There are 16 other districts in Culver City that are similarly protected. In other cities in LA County, e.g., Beverly Hills, Santa Monica,I would estimate that at least a quarter of their streets are permit-only parking. The only difference is their City Councils are more interested in respecting the quality of life of their residents than the profits of the businesses that intrude on the residential streets. In the past, any CC residential street could apply for permit-only parking, like we did, and if they met the criteria, they would be granted. That was the way it was done. Who knows now! Why were our well earned permit-only parking signs taken away? It was because a greedy member of Grace Church (Ken Smith) colluded and conspired with a corrupt council member (Andy Weissman) to do so. As time went on, the collusion spread to other council members and even senior staff. I am not just whistling Dixie here. We have proof from emails that we obtained from official city records through Public Records Act requests (the equivalent of federal Freedom of Information Act requests). Emails never lie. Just ask Hiliary. We also obtained screen shots from a closed secret society Facebook page (Dan O’Brien’s). No one on Farragut Drive was allowed to participate or respond to the vulgar hate speech directed against Farragut and its residents that infested that page for weeks. The writers did not know Farragut or its residents. A few were Grace members and/or officers.

    Our PRA’s not only revealed the emails, they revealed that Culver City has a Code of Ethics that was buried for 20 years. It was written in 1996 with a provision to establish an Ethics Advisory Committee. A PRA response listed the members, but they have never heard of an Ethics Advisory Committee. Culver City is an ethical desert. Is it any wonder that Farragut residents were lumbered with a “Parking Study” that was infected by lying, cheating, colluding, conspiring and rigging? Do we live in the City of Culver City or the City of Bell? This ethics issue is not going away.

  6. If things are so bad Paulette, I’m sure you can get “top dollar” for your house, should you decide to sell, even with the new deplorable parking situation that now exists.

    Using the name “Hillary” in the same sentence as the word “ethics” is laughable.

    All of the issues you talk about have been settled in court in favor of the City of Culver City. Unfortunately it has cost the city over $ 300,000 to defend these lawsuits. I feel that this money could have been spent on a lot worthwhile things, instead of being wasted on questionable lawsuits.

    I’m not sure you should be talking about Dan O’Brien’s “secret” society, (not) when you should be more concerned about Nadine Province’s so called “Love Living in Culver City” page. Nadine has a sharp tongue, and loves to make up unflattering names for those she disagrees with. Many of her so called facts are not facts at all, and she chooses to dismiss the tire slashing incident that occurred on Farragut Dr., even though a copy of the police report was supplied to her.

    The study, which should have been done years ago, when the residents first requested to have the no parking hours extended from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM, would have shown the extended hours were not needed nor justified. Had that been the case, none of this would have happened.

    The council voted 4 to 1 to adopt the findings of the study, so that is that.

    Have a nice day,

    Ken Smith

  7. As a resident of a street with permit parking, I am concerned what this whole process means. Can a business in any area call into question the schedule set for our street and demand a study? None of us know when we will be in a similar situation as the Farragut residents, so, maybe we should be more cautious in how we analyze this.

    I do have to say that characterizing this as similar to racism or sexism is really a stretch, in my opinion. After reading the countless attacks against the residents, the silence of so many, and the lack of consideration for the legal precedent that this set that could impact so many residents in this community, I can only express disappointment in my fellow residents.

    In the end, the only way I can characterize this never ending attack is as ‘sore winning’. Enough already!

  8. Dear Ms. Province,
    Just to clarify – My editorial is exactly what it purports to be – an opinion piece. The title “Just a Thought” is specific to this column because it is just a thought. Culver City Crossroads takes great care to be journalistically correct, and that which is reportage is presented as reportage. This is an opinion piece that sought to expand the perspective on loss of privilege, and has instead been responded to only by those keeping focus on a single issue. As a writer, I count this as a failure; the readers seem to have missed the point. Either I did not make the point clearly, or the audience did not grasp it. As Beckett said, “Fail again – fail better.”

  9. Ms. Martin-Straw — the image “Got Privilege?” is provocative — and however you cloak it, it’s still a dig at the Farragut residents.The residential permit parking wasn’t a “privilege” — was right, as 75% of the block petitioned for (as official sanctioned) and were given residential permit parking. I doubt the residents of Commonwealth feel it’s a privilege to be able to park in front of their homes or have their guests do so. If Mehaul O’Leary has a lawyer buddy (say, Andrew Weissman, for example) write a letter about lifting the restrictions because it impacts his, Ramen Yamadaya, etc businesses, will you write an editorial calling the Commonwealth residential rights a “privilege?” Will the city council conduct a $35K study on it? Will they do so for all the other residential permit parking streets? I think not. (btw, Your “opinion” may carry more weight because some have the perception your blog is an actual news site. I’m just saying’)

  10. Wow, that’s quite a response Nadine. Congratulations on your ability to write the longest piece of trash I’ve ever seen on any online paper or Facebook page. I really could care less what you think or say about me because, as has been said many times, consider the source.

    Have a nice day!

    Ken Smith

  11. Ok, friends this thread is now closed. Please go and remind yourself that you are civilized adults and proceed to behave like them.

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