Opinion: The Ballot Box Is the Best Weapon for Iconoclasts Who Want to Make Change

i-con-o-clast – noun – a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions.

The word has been with us since at least the 14th Century and originally was applied to persons who destroyed religious statues and other religious icons. The meaning of the word has been altered in more recent times to accompany the awakening of people to the possibility of cultural or political change. Revolution by a more orderly democratic process of using the ballot box to effect change is a second choice for iconoclasts. The boarded up shop windows and barricaded streets in West Hollywood attest to the actions of those who demand change immediately. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is not of much concern to today’s passionate protesters of racial injustice and police incompetence and brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement has now become an almost universal cry for all manner of social justice seekers.

Black Lives Matter’s calls for changes to policing range from the firing of individuals to the “defunding” of entire city police departments. That their fury has raged for 18 days (at this writing) speaks to the size and momentum of the movement. But, how does it impact West Hollywood? The last demographics I find show the a mere 4.3% of the city is considered Black, while the White portion is 73%. The process of exclusion is complex, but such employment areas as the movie trade, academia and arts had the barest representation of Blacks, and the area was, even before cityhood, almost exclusively White. Not much different now, but are we satisfied with our police?

During the 46 years I have lived in West Hollywood, I’ve had my share of meetings with the Sheriff’s deputies. Before cityhood, my house was burglarized twice and my car broken into once. Police response would take hours – or even a day. West Hollywood was a sort of county backwater then. After cityhood twice I was on a small panel to interview prospects for the commander of WeHo’s sheriff detachment. In more recent days, twice I waddled out to speak with a crowd of deputies answering calls on my block. As the Watch Captain I offered my assistance. Each time, I was dismissed by very young deputies who refused my card and told me they’d call me if they thought I was needed. They were not just dismissing me but knowledge of the inhabitants of the block and history of the area, information which might have had content for their investigation. To offset that, there are several older deputies still here who understand the broader scope of their jobs. For the protesters I’d ask: Just what is it you expect from the police and how do you think you’ll get it? Reform starts within and with the assistance of the public all long the way.

In WEHOville.com I have read sentiments advising, and some demanding, change in our city’s administration. Some advocate replacing the entire City Council, others single out individual members, but the singular call is for change. Just four and a half months from now there will be an opportunity to try to effect those changes as November 3, 2020, is our scheduled Election Day. I have capitalized those words because when I was a kid back in Boston, that day was a holiday. Even the pubs had to shut, and the election took place in the city with an air of excitement and expectancy. How about an Election Day holiday in WeHo?

Responses to another piece I wrote for WEHOville.com told me that when there are few complaints in a city the number of registered voters at the polls is low. Yet, if I read other responses to other articles here, I find quite a few unhappy voices. Well, here’s a chance to really make your complaints work for you: Vote.

West Hollywood has a way to go before it can say it is once again the vibrant city of nightlife, great restaurants and fun clubs. We are a resort city with no other industry than those that attract and cater to tourists. We must have some truly good plans to recover our former situation. The Chamber of Commerce cannot do it all.

City policies are the core. There are now eight candidates in the running for the two seats to open on the City Council. Of the eight, two are incumbents, leaving six offering, we hope, strong proposals to help bolster the city’s need to retain our specialized industry – and its workforce. There are just a bit more than four months to Election Day. During that time we must hear from all the candidates – at least several times for decent back and force discussions. We hope that the city TYV channel is available to assist in that. In open forums, the questions should be direct and tough and we need several forums. Black Lives Matter has come along at just the right time to bring awareness and impetus and care for how we are governed and how we maintain order. Let’s thank them – and join with their energy for change.

PS: Thoughts move forward to a staff piece in the 6/13 issue of WEHOville.com discussing the dustup between Black Lives Matter and CSW and the proposed march Sunday, June 14. This would be a wonderful opportunity for BLM to do something they have accused the White world of not doing: Inclusion. BLM and the murder of George Floyd have ignited the world’s young people to rise up and seek control over their lives and destinies. Why shouldn’t BLM strike that note in WeHo?.

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Ian Colmer
Ian Colmer
29 days ago

“Black Lives Matter has come along at just the right time…” BLM has been around since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013. They didn’t just “come along.” It’s your attention that has come along. As to BLM being exclusive, LA Pride/CSW only consulted two Black people before greenlighting their march, and then noted in their permit app their close ties to police. BLM is inherently anti-police, and they’re entitled to their political agenda. You can choose whether or not to support it.

Cool Guy 420
Cool Guy 420
1 month ago

With all due respect to the author, the past two weeks of protests have done more for police reform than the past 30 years of elections

Eric Jon Schmidt
29 days ago
Reply to  Cool Guy 420

excellent point!

Carleton Cronin
Carleton Cronin
29 days ago
Reply to  Cool Guy 420

Unfortunately, you are quite right and that underscores my belief that we must have administrators who are more than figureheads. With low voter turnout and a lack of public interest we’ll be stuck in this rut forever. The current BLM protest has been in the making for at least 400 years and it has ignited much of the developed world with its cause – and other inequities as well To be sure the effort is not in vain we need able administrators at every level of our government, properly elected. We cannot protest every social, cultural, political wrong without repairing it. To effect… Read more »

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
1 month ago

Carlton, no-one, including a neighborhood watch captain, should ever waddle out into a crowd of deputies answering a call to offer your assistance. While I am sure you were well intended, let law enforcement do their job. Best thing you could do would be to ask your neighbors and any looks-loos to stand aside. By inserting yourself into a situation the sheriff’s are working on, you’re impeding their work & just getting in the way.

Carleton Cronin
Carleton Cronin
29 days ago
Reply to  Rob Bergstein

I omitted some details when I was speaking about the deputies response across the street. I went over to them with information they had requested from another neighbor. It was not a life-threatening incident and, being summarily dismissed, I thought ‘to hell with them.’ Their arrogance and disdain for a ‘civilian’ was not warranted but such treatment is an increasing event. Police want respect – it works both ways. It is only fair to let you know that my apprenticeship in policing came on the streets of London, England, in 1951-53 with the Metropolitan Police. Better than any police academy.

Michael Grace
Michael Grace
1 month ago

Get rid of the Los Angeles County Sheriff. I grew up in Los Angeles; my father and uncles had honorary deputy badges. They were in the movie industry, and the Sheriff handed them out to VIPs, executives, actors, politicians. Nightclubbing on the strip, if the Sheriff suspected drunk driving, you would flash the badge.   White Lives Don’t Matter, like John Winkler, when it comes to West Hollywood political hacks. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed an innocent young man, John Winkler, outside an apartment building in West Hollywood after mistaking him for the assault suspect. The deputies went… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
29 days ago
Reply to  Michael Grace

Very good points. I agree that the LASDWH has made some horrible mistakes. Larry Block and I organized a vigil for John Winkler. It was a very sad day in West Hollywood’s history. However, that took place under a different Captain. I don’t like this corny old saying but it applies here: “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. I believe that rather than replacing the LASDWH we should demand reform and retraining. We need Civilian oversight in “real time”. Meaning a Civilian review board should have a represetantive who has an office at the LASDWH station. Plus the… Read more »

John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
John Daniel Harrington Tyrell
1 month ago

Sepi Shyne for Council

Eric Jon Schmidt
1 month ago

Very good article. I agree with most of it. However, one line jumps out as being questionable to me. You write: “The Chamber of Commerce cannot do it all.” You are aware that the sole purpose of the Chamber of Commerce is to promote business right? (in my opinion) They do very little-to-nothing to help cause change which would improve the public safety and quality of life of Residents. For too long the needs of the Residents have been put on the back burner while the needs of businesses and developers have become increasingly paramount. The Residents don’t have a… Read more »

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
1 month ago

Carlton, I like your P.S. Agree

Carleton Cronin
Carleton Cronin
29 days ago

Thanks for reading al the way to the end – and understanding my message.

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