I attended the recent Westside meeting at Windward School in Mar Vista at which then Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, incoming City Councilman, Mike Bonin, and others invited citizens to come forward with specific proposals to make life in LA better.
We all gathered in small working groups, wrote our ideas on yellow Post-It notes and stuck them beneath the right organizational headings (â€œthe economy,â€ â€œinfrastructure,â€ â€œservices,â€ etc.) on the wall.
The stickies would be transcribed and analyzed later. Now that these guys are in office, they’ll have plenty to tackle if the sheer number of yellow Post-Its is any indication.
The effort felt sincere, not just something to make us feel good. People were energized to be part of the process.
It feels as if it’s less about ego and photo ops these days â€“ and more about actually getting things done.
Mike Bonin is off to a quick start, introducing one bill to stop issuing parking tickets where there’s a meter broken (hooray!) and another to prod the LA Fire Department to use modern technology (iPads, GPS, etc.) that would enable them to get to the scene of a fire (or medical emergency) much faster.
Many of us might have assumed LAFD was already doing all this, but it sounds as if the department is still somewhat stuck in the eighties. Here’s to progress!
Inspired by all this, I sent in an idea to the Mayor’s transitional website called â€œThe LA Jobs Machine.â€
What if every community (in our case, Brentwood), hosted a quarterly Saturday afternoon gathering where local entrepreneurs, local bank branch managers, members of the community council, the city councilman, prospective investors and interested citizens could listen to pitches from entrepreneurs for new businesses they wanted to start?
The event could be run like an episode of â€œShark Tank,â€ only much friendlier. There would be no obligation for anyone to finance anything â€“ and no city money would be required â€“ but this type of networking could lead to possibly getting some startups funded.
For every startup we hear about that gets funded, there are probably 100 that don’t. Maybe The LA Jobs Machine can get a few more off the ground. Small companies create jobs.
Not every idea would have to be for the next Facebook or Twitter; maybe a startup team would have an idea for a much-needed neighborhood service, and with $10,000, the group could be up and running within a month or two.
LA has around 100 distinct neighborhoods. If each one facilitated five new startups a year, that’s 500 new small businesses a year. Not all these companies will survive, but I estimate The LA Jobs Machine could create 30,000 jobs over ten years. There’s little to lose and maybe much to be gained.
What’s your idea? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A great friend of mine, Herb Chase, always had tons of ideas. Even at age 90, it was hard to keep up with him. He passed away in recent days. I’m going to miss him.
You might miss him, too. For many years, he has written the â€œEye on Brentwoodâ€ column. His column often had some bite to it and we occasionally got complaints from readers. But at least we learned people were paying attention.
We started the Brentwood News in 1991. He was representing a printing company, Valley Printers, which has been printing the Brentwood News for decades now. Earlier in his career, Herb ran a newspaper called the Santa Monica Independent-Journal. I believe he got his start working for a big newspaper in Philadelphia.
Herb was an old-fashioned newspaper guy. Something will be missed when the old-timers go. It’s hard to imagine Facebook or Twitter really replacing a good-old-fashioned newspaper.