Opinion: Politics, Ice Cream and the Milkman’s Horse

milkman's horse, carleton cronin
It’s easy to get endorsements from other politicians. That gesture is motivated by a desire to acknowledge others in the club, show the secret handshake and keep from making waves in the pool. Pols are always warily watching each other. Gaining the endorsements from constituents is another story. West Hollywood West Residents Association has a decided interest in letting residents in its venue make up their own minds with a diverse group of candidates, most new to the process, and held a ”meet and greet – ice cream social” for that purpose on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon.

Carleton Cronin

Status quo was certainly under review as nine candidates for the two City Council seats up for contention on March 7 made their pitch. We were reminded by several of them that “development” is not always change for the better. A decidedly younger crop of contenders all clearly made that point. And, the parable of the Milkman’s Horse came to mind as the speakers came forward to make their campaign statements.

The winds of change were wafting through the trees surrounding those gathered in the West Hollywood West yard as the assembled candidates brought forth their views of the present and their desires for the future of our little city. In past electioneering, there had been a certain degree of disdain for the status quo and this time it was prominently displayed as the candidates addressed the crowd. Politics can be a very nasty business, and bruised feelings often can become festering ulcers if not treated by the salve of time. This year, the voices were clear, determined and firm with a tinge of contempt for the old order for its welcoming of “easy development.” The concern over “development” was nearly universal but time did not allow for more than a couple of paragraphs from each individual related to the subject. (For much more discussion of that and other issues, refer to Wehoville.com’s series Citizens Agenda, weeks one through seven . That is the only forum that allows the candidates to express in some detail their plans to address development, transportation, traffic, parking, etc.)

Looking back to the very beginning of West Hollywood, the ideas of “an urban village” and a “walking city” were the most commonly expressed and accepted by the early planners and administrators. What has happened since then is not just simple progress or change. It became determined early on that the city needed a good commercial base that would pay taxes and fees, which in turn would ease the burdens of the residents – many of whom were to be the recipients of the many social services our very liberal administration would provide. However, new strong voices are calling for a pause and a rethink of our General Plan and the policies now in place, which seem to favor developers over residents. New ideas are being expressed and the old order is challenged. The parable of the Milkman’s Horse follows:

The Milkman’s Horse is a simple tale that helps to explain why change is so often difficult to accept. In other days, milk was delivered to residences by a wagon, drawn by a horse, usually a very patient horse. When the animal was two years old he became the dray horse on a regular city delivery route and was able to master the scheduled stops so well that the milkman never had to urge him forward or to ask him to stop. The horse learned every stop. He was a faithful and consistent partner. But the inevitable came one day when both he and the milkman were retired and a new form of delivery, the Divco van, brought milk and other dairy goods to the customers. Retirement for the horse was difficult, even in the lush meadows of the nearby countryside. He longed for his old routine and one day he ran away to the city and appeared at the first stop on his old milk route. For the rest of the day he dutifully continued in the former routine. As sunset became imminent, he made his way back to the meadow but the very next day he was back at his old starting place. It was all he knew how to do, and it was all he had in his life. Till the end of his very long life, he could be found each day in the familiar spot, waiting to move to the next stop on the old milk route, unheeding of the changes around him.

Making way for new ideas and new voices on the City Council cannot be easy. Knowing when to gracefully step aside and spend time in the sun after a job well done is not a practice known to politicians. This election could very well be the start of a new West Hollywood, more in tune with the day.


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Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

@David Reid: Your statements about Steve Marin appear inaccurate since being rejected by the voters for a variety of sound reasons leading to his council exit. With the opportunity to continue as a positive active voice, Mr. Martin chose to display his anger through focused negativity which only eroded the spirit of those in the community. His regular smug and often vitriolic appearances became cringeworthy. Cynthia Blatt, despite her years as an intrenched element at HUD used no visible skill “negotiating ” a comptomise in the 825 King’s Road project. What Ms. Blatt was successful at was whipping up fear… Read more »

Oy Vey
Guest
Oy Vey

Mr. Cronin’s alegorical tale was beautifully and elegantly written. While I thought it an articulate tale applicable to our incumbents, I wonder if it is not more an apt tale of WeHo’s voters. Change is hard, and the old status quo is tired, bitter and entrenched in same ‘ol same ‘ol. We need change – but from adults capable of administering a $100 million enterprise that has become a bloated administrative monster, run by a top executive team making between $285,000 – $400,000 a year PLUS benefits. The issue isn’t development itself – but a City staff concerned about retirement… Read more »

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

If any of the challengers can tell us how to raise interest rates they will have the solution to development. Blaming Heilman or Duran for property owners wanting to maximize the value of their property is not very fair. Today’s projects took a long pause during the financial crisis.. only to spring up during the low interest rate environment that followed. But, Trumps policies, deficits, elimination of Dodd Frank, is sure to put developments on hold. Im wondering how many of the people who are against development are for Trump. Your going to get exactly what you asked for in… Read more »

David Reid
Guest

Steve Martin is coming back, willing to serve again on the council as he did at the turn of the century. He would be such a godsend to justice. He knows the city and the way its operation has evolved since cityhood. He would be a strong voice of the community. Cynthia Blatt has experience as a neighborhood activist on Kings Road. She showed skill in negotiating a compromise between builder and neighbors where the city had failed. Nate Clark has run an impressive campaign. Hopefully all will stay involved in their city. I hope their numbers, eight newbies vs… Read more »

J.V.
Guest
J.V.

Carla – how are the new would-be councilmen supposed to become (in your words” “ready and fit” if they don’t get the job? So many make the lame claim that someone who isn’t in the job already isn’t ready or fit. That’s completely wrong. Before this city is lost forever to the over-development Heilman and Duran have unleashed on us, the WeHo electorate has got to remove them from the City Council. ANYONE would be better. And even if they do what those two have done, at least they will be no worse. Heilman doesn’t even bother to conceal his… Read more »

Carla
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Carla

Mr Cronin’s allegorical opinion is spot on. The Milkeman’s Horse story is so much like Hopson’s Choice. Either choose the horse most fit (close to the door and most able to carry the ridder, or choose none at all). I understand his statement. The incumbents may be flawed, but despite any flaws they are most able to carry out the people’s wishes. They are most fit to do the job. By contrast, the challengers are neither ready nor fit. Let the challengers with their inexperience, baggage and inability wait their turn in line. Let the horses most fit finish their… Read more »

Pat Dixon
Guest
Pat Dixon

what a beautiful parable. It made me tear up as I recognize this in so many of my friends, and myself, as we kind of try to age out gracefully from our usual tasks. thank you.

fine7760
Guest

One might say change on the city council is a good idea but then when one looks at it’s newest members said good idea looks pretty dismal. One such member can not even mention President Trumps name and even advocated he being banned from our city. Her appointee to the Planning Commission is comical. That person’s constant need to make odd facial expressions while debating the issues is pure unprofessional. The other new member has caused city council meetings to last well beyond midnight due to her inability to manage such meetings plus her insane questions concerning each issue that… Read more »