Editorial: What L.A. needs from Mayor Karen Bass
March 28, 2013
The City of Los Angeles needs to change its leadership in order to deal with the challenges of the future, writes Michael D. Gronski.
The City of Los Angeles needs to change its leadership if it wants to find a way away from a perpetual state of crisis. In the years ahead, we’re going to learn that most of those of us who come into office as chief executives are going to fail – and fail spectacularly. So is the problem that the new generation of leaders don’t know how to lead?
No, the problem is that we don’t know how to lead. What we do know is that failure is not fatal, and that failure requires the same measures of humility, wisdom and courage that led us to the very end of the last century. What we need are better leaders in place when the new generation enters office.
We need to be serious about having leadership candidates go through a process to qualify them for the position. We need to be more selective. And we need to recognize that this is a generational project. No one in the last 40 years has produced a leader who has been good enough to lead us out of the mess that we have created in all of our neighborhoods.
A new approach is required. There has been no equivalent to Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt or Theodore Roosevelt. The only president who lived in Los Angeles was Teddy Roosevelt. The only mayor who lived in Los Angeles who knew what it was like to live and work in the city, was Abraham Cahan. He was the chief executive who kept the city from running into bankruptcy during the Great Depression.
Our new generation of leaders are going to have to deal with a problem that the last generation of leaders did not confront: How do we prevent urban decay from becoming a national crisis? How do we prevent the entire country from being paralyzed with a sense of fear and hopelessness?
If, by the time our new generation of leaders are in office, we haven’t developed a structure to deal with such an issue, we’re going to be in for a long, difficult and painful period in Los Angeles.
The sad reality facing Los Angeles is that if