Early morning tie-up exposes L.A.'s bureaucratic incompetence
The city, and other entities, have many entrenched problems that have nothing to do with budget shortfalls.
It was a traffic jam; we know them all too well. But the doozy in Sherman Oaks last Monday, on the first day of school after a three-week holiday break, was particularly annoying to Alexandra Pettus.
She was trying to get her son to Millikan Middle School, but every alternate route she tried was totally jammed.
"I kept saying to my son, 'You're going to have to get out and walk, 'cuz you'll get there quicker.'"
Eventually her son did just that, and when Pettus got home, she called the school to ask what was up.
Pettus didn't object to the work being done, but she had a question. Couldn't they have completed the Hesby Street and Ventura Canyon Avenue jobs during the school's long winter break, rather than at the exact moment 2,200 kids were arriving for class?
"Really?" asked Pettus. "This is how our city planning does it? They must be brain dead."
Sure, it's a small matter. But this kind of thing affects the quality of life, and it was an avoidable inconvenience.
"It was chaos," said Larry Link, Millikan assistant principal, who rerouted buses on Monday morning in an attempt to get them around the worst of the gridlock.
The principal, John Plevack, told me he had no advance warning. He got to school at 6:45 a.m. sharp and saw a notice posted to the front door.
Pettus, meanwhile, grew more frustrated by the minute on Monday. She called the L.A. City Hall information line at 311, heard Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's recorded voice, followed by a series of beeps and signals, and then: "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try your call again." She called back only to hear that 311 was "unavailable at this time."
So Pettus went to the website of her councilman, Paul Krekorian, and clicked on a link to the Department of Public Works.
"Sorry," was the response, "this page is no longer valid."
She got more of the same after several efforts, then dialed another phone number and heard: "You have reached a nonworking number." Pettus and her husband, Charlton, emailed a complaint to Krekorian's office.
"The fundamental issue" isn't the construction or "absurd timing," Charlton Pettus said, "but the complete lack of any accountability in local politics."
[ONLY THE BEGINNING OF ARTICLE...keep read more comedy of the tragedy, HERE.]