REMARKS BY AUSTIN BEUTNER AT TOWN HALL LOS ANGELES
“LOS ANGELES BACK TO WORK” JANUARY 19, 2012
I'm not sure if anyone in this audience caught the Golden Globes recently, but I noted with interest a silent film called “The Artist” was a winner.
Certainly encouraging for me as I'm never the loudest one in the room.
It also struck a chord with me because in Los Angeles we hear so much about the problems we face yet there is so little action – nothing seems to get done.
We hear about failing schools, broken streets and sidewalks, budget deficits and the lack of jobs.
It’s time we start hearing about solutions.
It’s time our government starts solving problems.
And it’s time we recognize our potential as a great city of the 21st century. We have everything we need right here. We are the most diverse big city in our country, with institutions of higher learning second to none. We are the only city in America that owns a port, an airport and a utility. We are the window to Asia and Latin America.
With strong leadership we can and we will find a way for every Angeleno to realize the promise of a good education, a good quality of life with safe neighborhoods and decent transportation, and good-paying work to support a family.
Before Henry Ford made cars affordable a century ago – if you asked government what we needed, they would have told you a faster horse. Los Angeles city government needs to stop trying to sell us on the promise of faster horses. It’s time to do things very differently.
We are in the fifth year of a recession, with unemployment around 13%. Add in those who have given up hope and are no longer looking for a job, and almost 1 in 5 Angelenos are out of work.
I grew up in Michigan and remember family trips to Detroit – a city of almost 2 million – where schools were good, city services worked and people had good-paying jobs. Today, Detroit’s a shell of itself, barely 700,000 people. The story is simple – the jobs went away, the tax base disappeared and people left.
Make no mistake, there are many challenges facing our city – education, public safety and transportation – among others. But, the top priority of our next mayor must be getting Los Angeles back to work.
A good-paying job is a source of pride, allowing an individual to provide for one’s family – helping kids get a good start in life. Jobs also provide the tax base to support the services government has to provide.
I spent 30 years in business and only 15 months inside City Hall, but I was there long enough to know we must change the way city government does business. We need to bring transparency and accountability to City Hall.
The politics of empty talk, forgotten promises, and impractical ideas have to become a thing of the past. It’s going to take new leadership with the ability to see a problem, find a solution, and most importantly get the job done. Any discussion of how we realize all that Los Angeles has to offer is not simple, and cannot be captured in a sound bite. The opportunities are many.
I want to focus today on six ideas that can make a difference.
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