Memo to Eric Garcetti: Want to be a good mayor of Los Angeles? Look East, young man, to New York’s can-do mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
You know him: the Biggest Apple in the Big Apple. In his time in office, he’s taken on the small (big) problem of fat, unhealthful New Yorkers, leading the charge against smoking, and trans fats, and salt, and big sugary soft drinks.
And he’s taken on the NRA and the big problem of gun violence, pushing for stricter gun control measures.
He’s even stuck his nose where it didn’t belong, giving millions to try to influence the recent school board elections in Los Angeles.
So now he’s tackling the biggest problem yet: climate change. Bloomberg on Tuesday unveiled a $20-billion plan to save New Yorkers from themselves and an increasingly hostile Mother Nature. As my colleague Matt Pearce reported:
The sweeping proposal, which could impact the city for years after the mayor's departure from office in January, calls for a series of new floodwalls, levees, surge barriers and even construction of a new "Seaport City" to protect the East River shoreline.
"This plan is incredibly ambitious -- and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 200 days -- but we refused to pass the responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration," Bloomberg said in prepared remarks. "This is urgent work, and it must begin now."
These, of course, are shocking words to those of us in Los Angeles, stuck as we are in a city with such timid political leaders that the outgoing mayor earned kudos for promising to plant 1 million trees. (He didn’t, of course. But he did date some good-looking women.)
Yes, New York plans to spend billions to gird for rising seas, more rain and nasty storms brought on by global warming. Meanwhile, Los Angeles will probably spend years more trying to move a runway a few hundred feet at a crummy airport that has no public rail or subway link. Oh yeah, and we’re getting a wider 405 Freeway someday. And some more miles of subway and light-rail lines (depending on how tired the rich folks in Beverly Hills get of fighting their section).
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But we still have the Hollywood sign. (Thank you, Hef.) Hey, here's an idea on climate change: Let's do lunch!
Now, some people may think Bloomberg a fool, preparing for something that’s years in the future in a city that has pressing problems right now.
But I don’t. I like big-picture politicians. I think most Americans do. We’re dreamers. We settled the West. We built the dams, and the interstates, and the spacecraft that took us to the moon.
Plus climate change is real, and if Superstorm Sandy taught us anything, it’s that New York is woefully vulnerable to big storms. (What, you didn't see what happened to New York in "The Day After Tomorrow"? And as I recall, L.A. didn't fare too well in that flick either.) So it’s refreshing to hear a politician say what needs to be said, and try to do what needs to be done.
But what about us Angelenos? How about it, Mr. Garcetti: Got any big ideas?
After all, John F. Kennedy didn’t say, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of sending a man to Spago via the carpool lane on the 405 Freeway and returning to his Westside home by midnight."