In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the title character, on being appraised of his uncle’s treachery, moans that “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” And so it is, even in the brightly-lighted chambers of our city council, where the media-savvy minions of power put on their smiling faces to assure us that they have only our good in mind—even when that is manifestly untrue.
Sometimes that manifestation is all too bleak, as in the photo above, from Sixth and Burnside, in Tom LaBonge’s CD4. Here in NELA, we are accustomed to blood on the streets resulting from councilmember Gil Cedillo’s steadfast obstruction of a road diet for North Figueroa. He bizarrely claims that “safety concerns” are holding him back from approving what the Federal Highway Administration calls a “proven safety countermeasure,” and so residents keep dying as heartless cut-through drivers keep on speeding. Figueroa should lighten the hearts of the community, not stop them. It doesn’t have to be this way, but, thanks to Gil Cedillo, North Fig remains a deathtrap.
Over in Council District 4, it’s possibly worse. Tom LaBonge intrudes his bulky self into every bike-related photo op anywhere in or near his district, often wearing his signature red sweater to catch the eye (and the cameras). But he has stopped the Fourth Street Neighborhood Greenway, is trying hard to stop the Lankershim Boulevard road diet, and stands stubbornly against a community-friendly Glendale/Hyperion bridge rebuild.
And now, Sixth Street in the Miracle Mile, a narrow four-lane that impatient scofflaws use as a fast alternative to Wilshire one block away, sometimes hitting speeds of 60 and 70 miles per hour. There are many, many crashes here; I walk or pedal along this street nearly every day, and piles of car parts, clusters of rescue trucks, and even traffic lights tumbled into the roadway by careering Beemers are commonplace. And, unfortunately, deaths and injuries. I live just off Sixth, and came upon the scene in the photo above two days ago.
The woman lying by the car is considered “lucky.” A cop I asked reported that the paramedics thought she would live. But if that’s “lucky” in LaBonge Land, I don’t want to know what “unlucky” gets you, besides an ambulance ride with no need for lights and siren.
Sixth Street was slated to receive a road diet, but—yes, you guessed right!—Tom LaBonge chose to “defer” it. His rationale? Road work on Wilshire might send more traffic onto Sixth. But his presumptions have led him into error: road diets, while they restrain top speeds, often smooth out traffic flow and result in quicker, if calmer, A to B transits of a street.
So our faux-benevolent council members are just imposing their arrogant ignorance on the public they claim to serve.
Shakespeare nailed it again in Macbeth, where he calls life “a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.”
Which describes life—and death—in Cedillo’s and LaBonge’s districts very, very well.