Apr 19, 2022, 06:28AM

Good Riddance, Los Angeles

For a decade, I've watched this city deteriorate from a nice home to an overpriced, crime-ridden, crumbling embarrassment where people die in the streets.

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I spent this Easter in a Scandinavian church in San Pedro, just outside of Los Angeles, watching a passing of the pastor torch. The Swedish pastor, here for five years, was called back home leaving a Norwegian pastor. The service was bilingual. I don’t speak either language, but my wife and daughter are Swedish and so this held a poignancy for them. Especially because we’re also leaving the hellhole that’s California.

For a decade, I watched Los Angeles deteriorate from a nice home base to an overpriced, crime-ridden, crumbling-infrastructure embarrassment where the homeless overdose from fentanyl and die on the streets. Not one elected leader has come up with a viable plan to solve any of these problems; they just throw money away.

Mayor Eric Garcetti is trying to use his abysmal record as a stepping stone to an ambassadorship. Washington is giving him a pass. Angelenos launched a recall of Councilman Mike Bonin for his failed efforts to curtail rising homelessness and crime. He resigned. Then there’s current D.A George Gascón. Because he believes criminals are victims, he lets murderers and rapists out on bail. So far, a few have raped and murdered again. Google his name and the word “recall,” automatically follows.

It's not hard to trace California’s faults back to progressive politics and the protected class of rich elitists who voted for these policies. Now that L.A. gangs are brazenly targeting rich people, following their Teslas and Mercedes G-Class cars home, people are finally having second thoughts about leniency.

I moved to the mountains of San Bernardino to escape the madness. I found plenty of nice, hard-working people who struggle to get by. Leaving the coast and moving inland was an eye-opening experience. Despite the natural beauty, California is a vast wasteland of poverty. Millions in this state are ignored. Last week I commuted to Los Angeles for a commercial shoot. At $6.15 a gallon, the back-and-forth cost me $300. I feel for the loggers, construction workers, roofers and plumbers who live inland because they can’t afford housing on the coasts. I wonder what sacrifices they’re making now just to get to work.

Real relief isn’t coming. Not from Gov. Gavin Newsom or the federal government. President Biden believes California is the state to emulate. If you want to destroy a country, it is. The people who champion this state’s politics are the same who idolize Sweden. It’s their preferred version of socialism. They’ve clearly never lived there. For the past week, extremists have rioted, burned police cars, and destroyed property across the country. Anti-Semitism is rampant in Malmö. And there’s more gang violence than in any other European country. You won’t see any of this reported in the Swedish state-sponsored media. Just like California, the leaders believe if you control the narrative, no one will notice. If people get upset, you point the blame anywhere but yourself.

Yesterday, I ran into a neighbor who moved here from Minneapolis. She’d been a staunch blue-state progressive until recently. Having watched rioters cause $500 million worth of damage to 1500 buildings in the name of justice, she no longer supports any ideology or party. She hates one-party states and plans to move somewhere purple. More people are finally realizing if you can’t hold leaders accountable at the ballot box, or if your only choice is to recall them in California, voting with your feet is the best form of self-preservation.

That’s why I’m moving to a state where gas and housing prices aren’t outrageous, where the working-class isn’t crushed, where D.A.’s don’t let murderers out on bail and where taxes don’t line the pockets of tone-deaf aristocrats while the serfs suffer. In a normal world, this wouldn’t be a wish list. But this isn’t a normal world. It’s California. And nowhere is worse than California. Not even Sweden.

  • Your frustration is understandable but blaming California's problems on progressive politics is simplistic and naive. I've lived in Los Angeles my entire life. The city's problems have escalated under both Republican & Democratic Governors. The LA Riots took place when Pete Wilson was governor (a staunch Republican). Overpriced rents are a symptom of greedy developers more than policies of Mayor Garcetti. Garcetti passed legislation to protect renters during the pandemic earning the wrath of landlords and developers. I agree with you that Los Angeles is changing for the worse. I'm grappling with these challenges as well. I believe this mirrors economic realities in our country at large more than any political agenda. I wish you luck wherever you move and hope you find some peace.

  • I wonder how a governor of any party is going to prevent a riot that's going to happen anyway. Like by preventing Rodney King from getting the crap beaten out of him by cops, or making sure the four cops got convicted? I see you didn't mention the 2020 riots under Garcetti's governance. Homelessness spiralling out of control, but it's the fault of "greedy developers." Come on, man. This is simplistic. Naive, even.

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  • Don't know about LA, but here on the east coast it's not hard to find examples of government leaders (from both parties) who made a difference (Giuliani, Rendell). Maybe they shared some moral code of what's right (public safety, believing in individuals instead of municipal unions) that transcended political parties.

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  • Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates said, "blacks might be more likely to die from chokeholds because their arteries do not open as fast as they do in 'normal people'." California Governor Pete Wilson loved Chief Gates, calling him "America's police chief." Wilson's support allowed Gates to feel bulletproof and run roughshod over neighborhoods of color in Los Angeles? Not sure what you mean by "a riot that's going to happen anyway." The LA Riots were a reaction to rampant police abuse. What you call "riots" in 2020 were nothing of the sort. I lived one block from the "protests" on Fairfax Avenue. Some stores were vandalized and cars were burned but the majority of the crowd was peaceful. The vandalism was committed by a few rowdy folks who deserve to be jailed for their actions. Regarding homelessness in Los Angeles, it's awful. When 500 square foot apartments go for $3,000 a month, it's clear housing costs are a part of the homeless equation. Not sure how to solve it, I admit. But the divide between rich and poor in LA is quickly getting worse.

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  • LAPD has been a fascistic, racist organization for many years, way before Pete Wilson. Rampant abuse had been going on for a long time. I see you're talking about a "mostly peaceful" protest. The thing is, when cars are burned, that is not called a protest. It's called a riot. Protests happen during the day, not at night, when those cars were burned.

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  • Also, the riot was sparked by the acquittal of the officers, something Pete Wilson and Daryl Gates had no control over. That acquittal is on the city of Los Angeles, not any particular political party.

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  • Daryl Gates had no control over trial verdict, but he did have control over LAPD tactics, policies and agenda that led to Rodney King beating. You can't say the trial acquittal led to the riots while ignoring the Rodney King beating. Also, sometimes when cars are burned it's not a riot. When the Lakers beat the Celtics in the 2010 Finals, the ensuing street celebration included the burning of more than a dozen cars and the vandalism of several storefronts. Nobody called this a riot because it wasn't.

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  • That celebration after the Lakers game was a riot.

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  • You're a riot.

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  • As soon as I burn a dozen cars and wreck a bunch of buildings I'll be a riot. Also, you didn't notice that there were no riots as the Rodney King video was being shown about 8 million times on TV. The riot happened after the verdict was handed down, and that verdict was beyond any politician's control. So you don't understand that the LAPD has had a sick and racist culture — it has been a force onto itself - for many decades, regardless of which party was in control, and you're from LA? Wow, amazing..Naive, even.

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