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Dear City Council... Love, Zuma Dogg

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Guest Day Editor Zuma Dogg will be joining LAist with a few posts throughout the day. Read his introductory interview here and check out his site as well as Mayor Sam where he contributes. He also wrote an article in the current edition of the LA Weekly


Dear Los Angeles City Council,

We all know legislation, administration and meetings take up a good amount of your time, whether ZD shows up that day, or not.

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And I’ve spent the past year and three months focusing on the fraud, waste and abuse at the item by item, issue by issue agenda level.

However, there is much more to being an elected official than your "yes" or "no" vote on an agenda item.

I know you recently spent two days at a retreat, allowing you the opportunity to roll up your sleeves, loosen your ties and discuss your district’s needs and goals for the next year.

I think it would be exciting if Council took the equal amount of time and spent two meetings, televised live across the city, to address the citizens of Los Angeles and use the opportunity to directly address their constituents with a "State of the District".

Use the opportunity to let people know about new services being provided to them by the City, what services are on the way and what problems you are aware of that you will be addressing.


And I'd like to remind everyone watching, that as gas prices increase, and traffic congestion increases, look for occasions where the bus makes more sense. Maybe you drive part of the way, and jump on the bus the rest of the way. If you are going to the beach on the weekend, try taking the bus for the first time. When you factor in the price of gas, parking and the stress of driving, sometimes the bus makes more sense, even if you drive a Rolls Royce or Mercedes Benz.

Parents: School is starting again, before you know it and you may have heard the mayor will be working more closely with the new LAUSD school board and new superintendent David Brewer.

It's going to be a long, uphill battle. The school system didn't break overnight, and it can't be fixed overnight. However, we can get started, right away. And we have gotten started.

The school board is going to do more to make sure the students who need the most special attention will be getting that added attention. More resources will be spent making sure teachers are best prepared to do their job through additional training and re-educating. Children who need more attention learning English will receive the attention. And information is being gathered and measures are being put in place that will allow the school district to better evaluate future results that will lead to higher teacher and system accountability.

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But the school administration isn't the only part of the system that needs fixing. Parents need to do more to better prepare their children to allow the schools to do their job of education.

Too much time is spent each day on discipline and basic skills and behavior problems that result from parental neglect.

Parents can help fix the school system without leaving home.

Simply accept and added level of responsibility and become active participants in their children's lives. You can judge what a young kid says, and how they behave by the standards imposed on them by the parents. It's tough to say "no" to your kids, when other parents say, "Yes", or don't say anything at all, because the kids are left un-attended.

Too many parents think it is the schools and teachers job to instill dignity, respect and discipline into their kids. BUT IT IS NOT. That is the parents' job. The schools job is to educate kids. Help fix LAUSD by fixing your kids, so the school can do its job. (Teach them how to read, write, add, etc.) Asking your kid, "How was school today? Did you do your homework?", is not taking responsibility for your child's education.

I know it's tough to be a parent to your kid, these days. The high cost of housing, taxes and gas makes it hard to make ends meet, and both parents (if there are even both parents at home) have to work long hours, and travel through long traffic-jammed commutes, for not enough pay, at the end of the day.

And at the end of that day, It's much easier to say, "yes", than argue a long protracted battle over how late a kid can stay out, or how many hours they can use myspace, youtube, ipod, xbox, or even regular old TV. And it doesn't help when other parents refuse to do a thing to help instill discipline, morals or standards in their kids.
But you must rise to the challenge and be the leaders and role models in your kids' lives. Parents don't rely on the City to be your kids' babysitters after school. Rely on each other. Spend more time talking to each other about after school activities. Do more for each other. Talk about what your kids are and are not allowed to say and do. Try and convince other parents to go along with the higher standard, so all the kids that play together lift each other up, instead of drag each other down.

So that's ONE thing the community can do to fix the schools (besides reducing classroom size, paying teachers more so we can recruit new ones, after school programs, safer streets and other things that are out of your control):

Take on more responsibility to do the job you asked for when you had a kid. Be a mentor -- to your own kids. You cannot leave the job of raising your kids and teaching them responsibility and values needed to keep them in school, graduating and productive members of society we need them to be to a school system. That's not THEIR job, it's YOURS. Take on the challenge. It will be almost as enriching and rewarding of an experience as myspace or YouTube.

By city council taking a retreat, it allowed me to reflect on what I would have said at the retreat.

I think Councilmembers are missing out on a real opportunity to take the power of those City TV 35 cameras and use it for more than dog and pony show photo opportunities and campaign grandstanding. Councilmembers are sounding and looking like Top 40 deejays, during the grunge rock era. A little corny and no ones buying it.
So from here on out, in order to try and provide you with the example of the type of leadership talk that is needed to transform our community and help bring it out of the crisis; every time ZD steps to the mic, for general public comment (and whenever possible during agenda items, he hopes to use the opportunity to try and out Tony Robbins, Tony Robbins. In other words, try and use the two minutes to run a citywide hypnotherapy session that replaces old, un-empowering beliefs that preventing people from making the positive contributions we need as a community and replace them with the new, empowering beliefs. And once the viewers have been reframed to allow their subconscious mind to congruently communicate with their conscious mind, you eliminate the mixed signal you send to yourself and others. Then add a little emotion down the neuro-superhighway and you create the passion that drives you and triggers you into taking action.

And I challenge my media cast mates, all fifteen members of City Council and Mayor Villaraigosa to join me in the challenge.

Thank You,

Zuma Dogg

Photo by Mr. LIttlehand via Flickr