Shakespeare Nailed It

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.

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  1. Posted October 15, 2014 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to also mention his opposition to bike lanes on Riverside Dr. right in front of his Toluca Lake office.

  2. Posted October 16, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this piece, this is just another horrible event that is all too common on sixth and I am happy to see a bit of coverage. I too ride sixth often, and live just a bit south of this intersection down in Carthay circle. The residents of the immediate area would benefit greatly from a sane sixth street, or a saner San Vicente(the other federally funded road diet proposition), but won’t support anything they perceive might increase traffic which is why LaBonge doesn’t have to support any changes. Some sort of variation of the Stockholm syndrome is at play in the midcity. Terrorized and ensnarled by traffic more than many other regions of the city, we can’t possibly entertain the thought of changing anything.

    The midcity west community council meeting regarding sixth and San Vicente road diets was a typically laughable affair. When presented with a plan that will improve the safety of their community and will likely have very little effect on commute times, the discussion quickly turns into cyclists don’t deserve bike lanes because A.) they are scofflaws , B.) they are insane to ride a bike in LA so why should be give insane people any encouragement C) both A and B.

    The board largely failed to see that the bike lanes in these plans are merely side effects. If this was being done for cyclists, they would be putting in much more than some paint on the ground, in fact the road diets are to stop the insanity of the sixth street and San Vicente freeways. Only one member seem to understand the moral issues at play.

    We need to build a coalition of residents to fight for these improvements. The vast majority of people using these streets in their cars aren’t ever going to be pedestrians on them, or be riding their bikes on theses streets, but a huge number of local citizens will. Why should we sacrifice our safety for the notion that there is a possibility that this will increase commute times. How can we morally choose to do nothing to stem the violence on these types of streets? Why can’t we control the destiny of our own neighborhoods?

  3. James
    Posted October 17, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I imagine LaBonge is one of the entitled princess drivers who believe that 6th is their own personal speedway. I assume he only rides a bike when it provides for a photo op and his experience with transit is probably limited to having his picture taken next to a new bus. LaBonge is probably even more motivated to protect his private speedway now that Wilshire is getting bus lanes.

  4. James
    Posted October 17, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    I have an idea. What if you were to dive up the re-design of 6th and 4th into a series individual projects, each of which would require a ceremony and photo op. Every intersection, mid-block crosswalk, bulb out etc. would get it’s own ribbon and La Bonge would get to cut it. Isn’t this the sort of thing he lives for?

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Streetsblog Los Angeles » Today’s Headlines on October 16, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    […] Councilmemberss LaBonge and Cedillo as Shakespearean Villains (Flying Pigeon) […]

  2. […] Writing for Flying Pigeon, Richard Risemberg says as if anti-Fig4All City Councilmember Gil Cedillo isn’t bad enough, CD4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge manages to insert himself into bike photo ops while blocking much needed bike safety projects. […]

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