Another election is over, the earth has stopped trembling, and the dinosaurs are licking their wounds as they contemplate their new territories. But while they glare at each other, the furry little fellows scurrying around their feet keep multiplying. Climate change is in the air, and the weather doesn’t look too good for cold-blooded types. The dinosaurs don’t pay it any mind. But at the end of the day, it is the end of their day. Ignorance is bliss, they say—but they forget to point out that it’s bliss for only a very short while.
Most disappointing to me in this local election was Sheila Kuehl’s victory in the race for County Supervisor in the Third District. Kuehl, a former television actor who most notably played the ditzy surfer girl Zelda in the ancient Dobie Gillis series is not a bad person, and there was not all that much substantive difference between her and Bobby Shriver, her opponent. She’s more inclined to support unions, Shriver’s more inclined to support business and development. Unions are a good thing—our country was never so prosperous as in the Fifties, when unions achieved their greatest strength (and when Kuehl herself was coming of age)—but Big Labor has always necessarily been a response to Big Business, and so defined by it. Shriver—who boasted a number of endorsements from labor himself, from the ILWU and the Ironworkers among others—was also involved in healthy development, and showed himself unwilling to sacrifice environmental and community health for mindless growth. In particular, “he fought against a six-lane toll road that would have decimated San Onofre State Beach and Trestles surf break. He won and protected one of our most pristine coastlines. He helped create two state parks near downtown Los Angeles,” and helped clean up the Santa Monica Bay.
Kuehl has doen a great deal of work on social justice issues, enough so that you’d think there had been little to choose between the two, both being, overall, forward-looking persons.
Except that Kuehl is a transportation reactionary.
In answer to a survey that I helped write as a member of an LACBC committee, Kuehl emphasized not once, but twice, that she would support a bikeway only “so long as it doesn’t reduce the total number of lanes available to cars.” In other words: no road diets, no matter that they often increase a street’s motor vehicle capacity and reduce the number and severity of crashes. In a world where driving is helping drive us towards extinction, Kuehl will refuse to consider anything that might restrain unfettered motor vehicle use and make alternatives to the car and its inherent wastefulness more attractive.
Well, she won’t be in office forever. Like NELA’s notorious obfuscator Gil Cedillo, she ran for local office only because she was termed out of Sacramento. Apparently, when the their natural ecosystem goes sour on them, the dinosaurs head south. Maybe she’s educable, and if so, we ought to try to help her evolve. But I fear the windshield perspective may be genetically locked into the modern Mesozoic mindset. We’d probably better find us a handy mammal to run for the Third District office four years from now, when Kuehl defends her seat.