It’s easy to get endorsements from other politicians. That gesture is motivated by a desire to acknowledge others in the club, show the secret handshake and keep from making waves in the pool. Pols are always warily watching each other. Gaining the endorsements from constituents is another story. West Hollywood West Residents Association has a decided interest in letting residents in its venue make up their own minds with a diverse group of candidates, most new to the process, and held a ”meet and greet – ice cream social” for that purpose on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon.
Status quo was certainly under review as nine candidates for the two City Council seats up for contention on March 7 made their pitch. We were reminded by several of them that “development” is not always change for the better. A decidedly younger crop of contenders all clearly made that point. And, the parable of the Milkman’s Horse came to mind as the speakers came forward to make their campaign statements.
The winds of change were wafting through the trees surrounding those gathered in the West Hollywood West yard as the assembled candidates brought forth their views of the present and their desires for the future of our little city. In past electioneering, there had been a certain degree of disdain for the status quo and this time it was prominently displayed as the candidates addressed the crowd. Politics can be a very nasty business, and bruised feelings often can become festering ulcers if not treated by the salve of time. This year, the voices were clear, determined and firm with a tinge of contempt for the old order for its welcoming of “easy development.” The concern over “development” was nearly universal but time did not allow for more than a couple of paragraphs from each individual related to the subject. (For much more discussion of that and other issues, refer to Wehoville.com’s series Citizens Agenda, weeks one through seven . That is the only forum that allows the candidates to express in some detail their plans to address development, transportation, traffic, parking, etc.)
Looking back to the very beginning of West Hollywood, the ideas of “an urban village” and a “walking city” were the most commonly expressed and accepted by the early planners and administrators. What has happened since then is not just simple progress or change. It became determined early on that the city needed a good commercial base that would pay taxes and fees, which in turn would ease the burdens of the residents – many of whom were to be the recipients of the many social services our very liberal administration would provide. However, new strong voices are calling for a pause and a rethink of our General Plan and the policies now in place, which seem to favor developers over residents. New ideas are being expressed and the old order is challenged. The parable of the Milkman’s Horse follows:
The Milkman’s Horse is a simple tale that helps to explain why change is so often difficult to accept. In other days, milk was delivered to residences by a wagon, drawn by a horse, usually a very patient horse. When the animal was two years old he became the dray horse on a regular city delivery route and was able to master the scheduled stops so well that the milkman never had to urge him forward or to ask him to stop. The horse learned every stop. He was a faithful and consistent partner. But the inevitable came one day when both he and the milkman were retired and a new form of delivery, the Divco van, brought milk and other dairy goods to the customers. Retirement for the horse was difficult, even in the lush meadows of the nearby countryside. He longed for his old routine and one day he ran away to the city and appeared at the first stop on his old milk route. For the rest of the day he dutifully continued in the former routine. As sunset became imminent, he made his way back to the meadow but the very next day he was back at his old starting place. It was all he knew how to do, and it was all he had in his life. Till the end of his very long life, he could be found each day in the familiar spot, waiting to move to the next stop on the old milk route, unheeding of the changes around him.
Making way for new ideas and new voices on the City Council cannot be easy. Knowing when to gracefully step aside and spend time in the sun after a job well done is not a practice known to politicians. This election could very well be the start of a new West Hollywood, more in tune with the day.