Author: Natalie

McKibben’s Political Argument against New LA Charter Reform

McKibben's Political Argument against New LA Charter Reform

Letters to the Editor: L.A. needs city charter reform. Nury Martinez and her colleagues show why. The Los Angeles Times published a recent editorial discussing the need for an overhaul of the LA city charter. It should have begun with a full-page ad showing the benefits of a reformed charter.

An ad to that effect would have been more effective than the editorial itself. First, it would have forced the city’s mayoral candidates to make their arguments in front of an audience they couldn’t escape. Second, it would have put the candidates on the spot.

The editorial, by Bill McKibben, was short on analysis but long on rhetoric, which is why it had to be published in the newspaper so close to election day. He is a writer who does an excellent job of making complex issues simple, which is why every month he is the first to publish a new ad in the newspaper to urge his readers to become political activists. The ad in question was one of the most brilliant he has ever written, and the editorial that accompanied it is worth reading as well. Yet, this editorial and this ad were buried in the Sunday paper instead of being given front page prominence.

McKibben should have put his point of view in the ad, forcing his political opponents to argue it. He should have included a rebuttal, and his critics should have been able to provide a counter. Instead, the editorial was a short-hand summary of his point, which was that he could get a lot of his ideas across in 30 seconds. He was able to do this because he can write fast. By giving his point the short shrift that he did, the editorial became as much as he thought that it was, a political argument against new LA charter reform.

There is an old adage that “If you see something, say something.” That means that if one thing in the City Council agenda is important or important enough, if one thing in the city is important enough, the people who are in power must comment on the progress made or the importance of the issue. Yet, it is rare to find that this adage is practiced when the issue at hand is the passage or failure of a piece of legislation.

In this case, it is even rarer to find the full weight of

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