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Report Says L.A. Is A 'City In Decline'

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The 2020 Commission gave a scathing report in December on the grim outlook for L.A.'s future, basically saying our city was going in the gutter and were "barely treading water while the rest of the world is moving forward." It definitely harshed our buzz and the civic group gave Angelenos 13 recommendations this week on how we could fix our woes.

The civic group was convened by City Council President Herb Wesson and chaired by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. The first 19-page report called "A Time For Truth," highlighted a laundry list of problems with our city, including our poverty rate, high unemployment, public school drop-out rates, lack of tourism, traffic and inability to get big projects completed.

“We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a city in decline," according to the report.

However, the 2020 Commission's "A Time For Action" 28-page report (which can be read in full here) released on Wednesday offered what they called "concrete measures" on how to increase "accountability and transparency, fiscal stability and job creation."

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Some of their suggestions included combining the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which have been competing against each other. Also, they suggested increasing the minimum wage, creating an Office of Transparency and Accountability and Regional Tourism Authority, and form a group to have independent oversight over DWP.

L.A. Weekly's Gene Maddeus pointed out that DWP's union head, Brian D'Arcy, is on the 2020 Commission. And that adds to a conflict of interest with the recommendation. Maddeus writes:

The report's flaws begin with the diagnosis. Quick, what do you think is the big problem at DWP? Out of control salaries? Rates that go up 5 percent a year? The union is too powerful? Not according to the L.A. 2020 Commission. No, the commission believes that the big problem at DWP is "political interference" from the mayor and the City Council, who lack the "experience and expertise" to make decisions for the utility.

What a coincidence—that's also Brian D'Arcy's big complaint! He hates politicians meddling in his domain. According to D'Arcy, the big problem at DWP is that D'Arcy isn't powerful enough. That's also the conclusion of this report.

The L.A. Times called the measures "modest" and that they ranged from "from the innovative to the common-sense to the misguided." They noted that the 2020 Commission didn't have any concrete suggestions on how to deal with getting business owners to open up shop in L.A. or expand within the city. People in the entertainment industry were upset that the commission didn't even cover the topic of the decline of Hollywood jobs and how to deal with that problem. The Times wrote:
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It turns out that it's a lot easier to declare "a crisis in leadership" than to build the consensus needed to recommend major, comprehensive reforms that will, by necessity, alienate one constituency or another.

Paul Krekorian, a Democratic member of the City Council, told the New York Times that the report was “an opportunity for a collection of people to share all of the things that aggravate them most, rather than a thoughtful consideration of the status quo of the city right now."