Mayor’s corner: News & notes from the mayor

Greetings Downey! I first want to start off by encouraging you all to take the time to make sure you are prepared for when a larger earthquake may take place. I’m sure you all felt the magnitude of last Friday’s earthquake and it serves as a reminder for all of us that we need to do everything we can now to be best prepared for when a big earthquake hits our region.

First aid kits, plenty of water, flashlights, batteries, emergency evacuation plans, are just some of the essentials you will need to be better prepared. Our City website has a full page dedicated to emergency preparedness, which you may visit at: downeyca.org/gov/emergency.  Please check it out when you can. You can also participate in our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) handled by our Fire Department personnel. The CERT program educates residents about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills.  Find this information and more on our City website.

On another note, we received some very exciting news regarding Wilderness Park. The City has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the California Department of Parks & Recreation for the restoration of the two ponds located at Wilderness Park. We are very excited for this project to take place and as many of you have seen, the Wilderness Park ponds have been in need of a good clean-up. With this new grant we will be able to install a new lake aeration system to provide better water circulation for our Wilderness ponds.

More exciting news to share is that we now have free Wi-Fi access at both City Hall and the Library. Those visiting these two facilities will now have the convenience of accessing the internet via their personal cell phones, iPads, or laptops, by simply logging into the TWC WiFi network. I have been a big supporter for enhancing our City’s use of technology and this is just another step towards meeting this goal. Downey is moving forward with a high-tech approach and we will be implementing other technology advances in the future.

The Firestone Blvd. Improvement Project continues to move along and we thank you for your patience during this construction period. Another project that is set to begin is the replacement of the Firestone Boulevard Bridge. In fact, we had a joint groundbreaking event with the City of Norwalk this week to mark the official start of the reconstruction of the bridge. This project will impact traffic in the area and we encourage you to use alternate routes while work is being performed on the bridge.

Specifically, the project will involve the replacement of the existing Firestone Blvd. Bridge at the San Gabriel River with a new bridge that will meet current standards and includes wider sidewalks, center medians and shoulders. The same number of travel lanes (six) will be provided on the new bridge

I encourage you to join me this Saturday, April 5, for the 2nd Annual 5K for TLC. All proceeds from this event help benefit Downey Unified School District’s TLC Family Resource Center, which provides much needed assistance to some of our local students and their families.  To register, please visit our website at downeyca.org.

The State of the City event is also just around the corner. It will take place on April 17 at the Rio Hondo Event Center and I encourage you to come out and join me. I will be speaking about our City’s financial state, new development projects, upcoming City events and programs, among many other things. This is an opportunity for me to provide an update on City news and share items that impact our community. Please contact the Downey Chamber of Commerce for tickets at (562) 923-2191.

I am still taking nominations for my Mayor’s Healthy Heart Award.  This award recognizes those individuals and organizations that are committed to improving the lives of others in our City.  Those who make differences in others’ lives by improving their emotional, mental and physical health.  Please contact the Council office at (562) 904-7274 or visit our website for an application.

I am always available to hear your thoughts and comments. You can reach me by email at fvasquez@downeyca.org or by calling our City Council office at (562) 904-7274.

Sincerely,

Mayor Fernando Vasquez

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Crime Report

Thursday, March 20 At 11:30 a.m., officers responded to a burglary in progress at a home in the 11900 block of Susan Avenue after a neighbor observed two males entering the backyard. Officers discovered the home had been broken into, but the suspects were gone. A vehicle was found abandoned and parked nearby. Inside the car were items stolen from a home in the 12700 block of Orizaba Avenue. Detectives are investigating.

 

Downey Police Officers Michael Powell and Mark Caswell were honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for their proactive efforts in getting drunk drivers off Downey streets. Officer Caswell arrested 65 suspected drunk drivers last year and Officer Powell arrested 51. Both were honored at the annual Law Enforcement Recognition & DUI Training Ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

 

Saturday, March 22

At 10:00 p.m., a drunk driver struck an unoccupied parked car in the area of Gurley & Cole, which caused the drunk driver’s vehicle to overturn. The driver and his 6-year-old son, who was a passenger in the back seat, both sustained minor injuries. The suspect was arrested for drunk driving and child endangerment. The Department of Child and Family Services took the 6-year-old boy into protective custody.

 

Sunday, March 23

At 10:00 a.m., a man was robbed at gunpoint after withdrawing money from an ATM machine at the Bank of America located at 9330 Firestone. The victim had just returned to his car when the suspect approached him with a gun and demanded his money. The suspect ran away from the area. Detectives are investigating.

 

At 7:00 p.m., officers arrested a 51-year-old female for being intoxicated in public in the 12400 block of Clark Avenue. During the arrest, the suspect bit one of the arresting officers on her arm, causing minor injury. The suspect was booked for being drunk in public and for assault on a police officer.

 

Tuesday, March 25

At 1:45 a.m., the Downey Police Department received several 911 calls of “shots heard” in the area of the 11600 block of Bellflower Blvd. When officers arrived they found 36-year-old Wayne Cooper in the vehicle suffering from gun shot wounds. Cooper was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Through investigative means and with the assistance of Officers from the California Highway Patrol, 2 suspects were arrested and a weapon (believed to be the murder weapon) was recovered. The 2 suspects were interviewed and subsequently booked for murder. Charges are pending.

Information provided by Downey Police Department.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Tchaikovsky to open symphony concert

DOWNEY – In 1812, when Napoleon withdrew from Moscow after the disastrous Russian Campaign, Peter Tchaikovsky composed music to commemorate the great Russian victory, and he pulled out all the stops to express his country’s relief and joy. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is now a tumultuous staple on the concert stage, though it does take courage to offer its thunderous climax as the opening work on a program.

That, however, is exactly what we have at the top of tomorrow’s night’s Symphony concert in the Downey Theatre. Music Director Sharon Lavery included the 1812 on a list of possible selections for the Baton Auction winner to conduct, and winner Priscilla Winslow enthusiastically chose this blockbuster. Pris rocks!

Well, you better have some pretty exciting stuff to follow, and that’s what makes up the remainder of the evening.

There’s music from six soccer-crazed nations to usher in World Cup season. Soloist Chris Bartz plays Villa Lobos’ Fantasia for Soprano Saxophone, which you don’t hear every day. The live auction for next year’s Baton Winner takes place onstage, during which you may see Symphony board members in a new and rowdy light. And an exhilarating lobby exhibit of art works commemorates Earth Day.

Wrap it up with a complimentary champagne-punch-and-cookies reception in the patio for everyone – orchestra members, audience, artists, theater crew – and it’s a fitting way to complete the orchestra’s 56th consecutive season.

Downey Symphony concert is Saturday, April 5, at 8 p.m. Art exhibit begins at 7 p.m., Sharon Lavery’s pre-concert discussion at 7:15. Tickets are available online at downeytheater.org, or by calling the theater box office, (562) 861-8211, and in person before concert time.

The Downey Civic Center Theatre is at 8435 Firestone Blvd., and parking is free.

You can visit us at downeysymphony.org. We’re a friendly bunch!

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Riding the buddy seat

Lois Tannehill was the typical wife and mother who raised a family, kept house, and sang in the Bellflower Choir. But when her husband bought a motorcycle, she was ready for adventures on the road. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns In 1979 my husband Frank bought an 850 Yamaha Motorcycle to drive to work.  He was 54 years of age and figured he could economize on gasoline. The first thing he bought for it was a faring, or windshield, and crash bars. It had a buddy seat.

The first time I rode with him we had an incident as we were getting on the 710 Freeway going north at the Imperial entrance. Frank felt the incident would frighten me and I wouldn’t want to ride with him again.

A car was coming up behind us fast just as we were entering the freeway. My husband saw the car and he increased his speed so it just bumped our bike. We stopped and so did the two young men in the car, asking us if we were alright.

Frank said, “We’re OK, but the motorcycle will not start.” The young men said they would go for help and left. Soon Frank got the bike started, and there didn’t appear to be any damage.

We had gotten the license number of their car, and as we drove we spotted a Highway Patrol officer. We stopped him to explain what happened, and he was able to find out their address. The car was in the driveway when we drove by the house, and we don’t believe they went for help as they said they would. This just made me mad, and it didn’t stop me from riding with Frank.

We took many rides on that motorcycle. We bought luggage, a radio cassette player, and a receiver mounted in our helmets. The control was on the dash so we could communicate with each other without shouting.

On some of our long trips we might have a disagreement. So Frank, being in control of the communication system, would turn it off and we would ride in silence.  Sometimes when we didn’t talk for a while, I would doze off. Frank knew when that happened because my helmet would hit his helmet.

We would ride about one hundred miles before stopping to stretch our legs and maybe have coffee or something to eat. If it was a hot day like one hundred degrees, we would remove our helmets because the heat was too intense.

Our first longer trip was to Orangevale near Sacramento to visit our dear friends the Crosby’s, who moved there from their home in South Gate. They didn’t believe we came that far on our motorcycle. They thought we hauled it with our station wagon, which we probably left around the corner.

We took a three thousand mile trip up the coast to Washington, then across to Montana through Idaho, and then back through Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. Arizona is where we got into one hundred degree weather at eight o’clock in the morning.

On a motorcycle a person can see more things than riding in a car. You can smell more smells, some pleasant and some not so pleasant.

We were fair weather riders. If it started to rain, we would pull into a restaurant or somewhere to get out of the rain. When the wind blew hard we would have to increase our speed or we would get bounced from one lane to the other.

I really miss those times. When my husband passed away, I would inquire of friends I knew who had motorcycles if I could get a ride. Most did not have an extra helmet because their wives did not care to ride. I should have kept my helmet.

Frank was a safe driver, although when he drove very fast I wanted him to slow down. After all, we only had two tires instead of four as on the car.

My husband introduced me to so many wonderful experiences. We had a wonderful eight years with the motorcycle before we had to stop riding it.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Downey residents charged in attack on Marines

DOWNEY – Two Downey residents were arrested this week in connection with an early-morning fight outside a Huntington Beach bar in which three Marines were stabbed. Authorities said the incident began at 1:45 a.m. Sunday when a woman wearing an Angels baseball jersey began an argument with two Dodgers fans.

Three Marines attempted to break up the altercation but were attacked and stabbed, authorities said. One Marine was stabbed in the face with a broken beer bottle.

Downey residents Manuel Alexis Alvarez, 23, and Jessica Perez, 22, were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Also arrested were Victoria Robledo, 20, and Eric Alexander Gomez Chavez, 27, of Norwalk;  and Paul Santino Forno, 22, and Daniel Magadan, 24, of Whittier.

Officials did not release information on the condition of the Marines.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call Huntington Beach Police at (714) 375-5066

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Comedy fundraiser

DOWNEY – The World Famous Comedy Store in Hollywood is hosting a fundraiser May 18 to benefit TJ’s Dream Team, a foundation established in memory of Warren High School graduate TJ Peacock. TJ  died of a brain tumor in 2007. He was 18.

TJ’S Dream Team was established to honor TJ and to raise funds for brain cancer research.

Tickets to the comedy show are $25 if purchased before May 4.

Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com/event/612049

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

The accordion, the attorney, and my passion

DOWNEY – As a kid, a salesman knocked on our door one day and after a few hours successfully talked my father into purchasing an expensive accordion and accompanying music lessons for me. My father, who loves music and regretted not having the opportunity to obtain a musical education himself, thought it was good for me to learn to play a musical instrument. Thus, he paid little attention to the high price and paid even less attention to the contractual fine print. As expected, we couldn’t afford to make the payments, which grew out of control once the hidden finance fees, accrued interest, and penalties kicked in.

My mother earned minimum wage at a factory in Boyle Heights and my father struggled to find steady employment. Our small family income, my mother insisted to my father, was better spent on basic necessities than on “Norteño” music lessons. My mother, ever persistent, convinced my father to surrender his dream of a musically talented son.

However, the salesman was nowhere to be found. My mother ultimately sought help from a non-profit law firm, Public Counsel. An attorney there helped us negotiate with the finance company, but that soon failed. The attorney refused to give up. Instead, she prepared court filings, appeared before a judge, and successfully argued her case.

She was able to rescind the contract and free us of the financial chains that had tied us down for so long.

Twenty plus years later, I have become an attorney myself, and I sometimes think about looking for that attorney who helped us so long ago. I quickly silence those thoughts and instead choose to envision her not as an individual but as an idea; the idea that instead of paying her back, I pay it forward; thus, if I help someone now, he or she will owe me nothing, but will instead be expected to help others in the future. I even envision an attorney many years from now speaking of his childhood and a curly-haired attorney from Downey who once took the time to help out his family in a time of need.

I have also sought other attorneys to do the same. Last year, I helped organize a legal fair that brought over 80 attorneys to Bell Gardens to provide free legal advice to families with legal questions in many different areas of law. We helped over 600 individuals.

This year, I hope to increase the number of people we help. I am currently helping organize three legal fairs with different organizations that I hope will bring dozens of attorneys to the cities of Bell Gardens, Compton, and the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Recently, I explained these plans to my father. He admitted to me that he admires my passion for the law. Before I could boast, however, he quickly humbled me by adding: “even if you do lack an ounce of musical talent.”

Ricardo Perez is an attorney and Downey resident.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

The Beatles

Dear Editor: My recent letter was not intended to attack libraries or accuse the Beatles of advertently promulgating drug use or murdering teachers.

Like many other bands, someone offered the Beatles substances which would “lift” them above their physical/mental exhaustion, so that they could keep working. Unfortunately, it seems, the substances may have affected their judgment centers causing them to write some songs which married messages extolling mind-altering chemicals.

This brings to mind the Trojan horse, and even certain fruits whose pits carry toxic chemicals: on the outside, the Trojan horse and the fruits are harmless, but on their insides, they are harmful. All that glitters is not gold.

My point is to know all about what we enjoy, and be on guard.

Tony Tinajero

Downey

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Overgrown grass

Dear Editor: The post office on Imperial Highway has not mowed its grass for more than two months.

It looks like a post office in Detroit. It looks awful.

Mike Sandoval

Downey

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Sheriff’s department

Dear Editor: I was surprised that only two letters were written in response to the open letter from Downey police officers.

Do Downey residents care if the city disbands the police department and contract out to the county for police services? Currently, the Sheriff’s Department has a contract with the cities of Pico Rivera, Norwalk and Paramount, all of which surround our lovely city of Downey. Do Downey residents really want the sheriff’s to patrol our streets? (Keep this question in mind as you read the rest of this letter.)

Let me tell you of an incident that happened in Compton. (Compton disbanded their police force several years ago and have contracted police services with the county since then.) A couple of years ago, a Compton city councilwoman had called the Sheriff’s Department on a disturbance call requesting the sheriff’s to respond. She was told that “no deputy was available to respond” due to the deputies assisting a neighboring city which is also patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department.

I don’t know about the rest of the residents of Downey, but I do not want to be told that.

So I ask the question again: do Downey residents really want the Sheriff’s Department to patrol our streets?

Arnold Lopez

Downey

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Razorbacks sign-ups Saturday

DOWNEY – The Downey Razorbacks will hold their first open registration of the 2014 season this Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Furman Park. The league offers tackle football, flag football and cheerleading to boys and girls ages 5-14.

Registration includes trophy, league picture package, yearbook, and game socks. Payment plans are available and all equipment is provided on loan.

Raffle tickets are available to offset the cost of registration. No child is turned away due to cost.

Practices start July 28 at Rio San Gabriel Park.

For questions, or information on coaching opportunities, call Louis Morales at (310) 350-0220 or go to downeyrazorbacks.com.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Bus trip to Nethercutt Collection

DOWNEY – A bus trip to the Nethercutt Collection is planned for Friday, May 2, with proceeds benefiting the Downey Symphony Guild. The Nethercutt Collection includes restored antique automobiles, musical instruments, trains and the Merle Norman Studio.

A bus will department from Apollo Park at 10 a.m. The group will visit Veterans Memorial Park in Sylmar for a picnic lunch (provided) before a two-hour guided tour of the Nethercutt Collection at 1:30 p.m.

Cost is $20. Checks should be made out to Downey Symphony Guild and mailed to Marie Eckstrom, 9700 Garnish Dr., Downey CA 90240.

For questions or information, call (562) 861-8507.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

“Nearly Naked”

“Nearly Naked,” a photography exhibit by Rita Labib, opens this weekend at Stay Gallery in downtown Downey.  

“Nearly Naked” is described as “a representation of the impact on our society’s perception of beauty from the multi-million dollar entertainment and advertisement industry.” Labib will be exhibiting photographs and sculptures that challenge these norms.

 

The exhibit opens Friday at 7 p.m. Val the Vandal will provide music. “Nearly Naked” runs through April 23.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Street Faire returns May 3

DOWNEY – The 21st annual Downey Street Faire, featuring food trucks, a car show and dozens of craft booths, will be held Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vendor spaces are still available. For information, call Mia Vasquez at (562) 923-2191.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

‘Next to Normal’ opening in Long Beach

LONG BEACH – California Repertory Company concludes its 2013-2014 season with the Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning musical “Next to Normal,” running April 18 through May 10 at the Royal Theater aboard the Queen Mary. With music by Tom Kitt, and book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, this groundbreaking contemporary musical is “an emotional powerhouse that centers on a family’s ability to cope with crisis and their attempts to preserve their love for one another.”

“Next to Normal” is an unflinching look at the life of Diana Goodman, a wife and mother who struggles with intense emotional anguish and the effects ¬it has on her family.  As Diana’s condition deteriorates, her husband and children are forced to confront the stark reality that perhaps their expectation of a “normal” family life is misguided.

With provocative lyrics and a thrilling rock score, this intense, emotional, and poetic musical aims right for the heart with its story of a family coming to terms with their past and their journey as they seek hope for their future.

Seasoned Cal Rep director Joanne Gordon leads a cast of graduate and undergraduate actors from Cal State Long Beach, featuring current MFA actor Karole Foreman in the lead role of Diana and well known alum Jeff Paul as her husband, Dan.  Gordon brings an experienced hand to the many themes of the show, including the oft-misrepresented problems associated with mental health.

Gordon notes, we survive, “By not accepting norms, but finding a parallel course – a next to normal or an alternative to normal.”

However, for Gordon the depth of “Next to Normal” extends well beyond the issues of mental health and family struggle. “We all can identify with family plays that are based on family pain, but it is the dynamic of love that is so powerful.”

In spite of this family’s struggles, she believes it is their desire to “Need love, give love, give love in the wrong places, and to be broken by love” that truly drives the show. Watching the Goodman family search for answers of how to love, deal with their loss, and find a light in the darkness will make for an evening that will inspire and move audiences of all ages.

Cal Rep performances are in the Royal Theater aboard the Queen Mary. “Next to Normal” runs Tuesday through Saturday, April 18 – May 10 at 8 p.m. There will be a preview performance April 17 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for students, military, and seniors (55 and older). Parking at the Queen Mary is $8 for patrons of Cal Rep performances, and $6 for CSULB students and patrons who have dinner aboard the ship.

For tickets and information, call (562) 985-5526 or visit calrep.org.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Soroptimist plans casino night

DOWNEY – “Viva la Fiesta” is the theme of a casino night fundraiser Friday, May 2, at the Rio Hondo Event Center benefiting Soroptimist International of Downey. The event includes margaritas, a fiesta buffet, silent auction, entertainment and $200 complimentary gaming script. Admission is $40.

Dinner and drinks start at 6:30 p.m. with casino games at 7:30.

For tickets, donations or sponsorship information, call Mia Vasquez at (949) 295-2910 or Bonnie Barler at (562) 879-9222.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Networking at Carino’s

DOWNEY – The Downey Chamber of Commerce is hosting a “Let’s Do Lunch” event April 30 at Carino’s Italian restaurant. Check-in starts at 11:30 a.m.

Cost is $15 if RSVP’d before April 25 or $20 at the door.

To RSVP, call (562) 923-2191 or email mia@downeychamber.com.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Free mulch for gardeners

DOWNEY – CalMet Services, the city’s waste hauler, will be giving away mulch Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to noon outside City Hall. Residents may receive up to 32 gallons of free mulch, but must bring their own containers.

Distribution will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue until the supply of mulch is exhausted or noon, whichever comes first.

Drivers should enter the drive-thru event via Civic Center Drive.

For questions, call CalMet at (562) 259-1239, ext. 7.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Time to fix government

In 1965, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, brought legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid to the floor of the U.S. House. That was my first year in Congress, and I remember vividly the moment when Mills came to the Democratic caucus to explain his plans. Many of us had been swept into office in the 1964 Democratic wave that accompanied Lyndon Johnson’s election, and we had an overwhelming majority in Congress. We could pass any bill we wanted. But Mills argued forcefully that we shouldn’t. It was crucial, he said, that we get bipartisan support for the measure: passing the law was one thing, but what really counted was its implementation. With bipartisan support, the odds were much higher that the highly controversial measure could be rolled out effectively.

So despite the grumbling of some members of the caucus, Mills made significant accommodations to find common ground with Republicans, and eventually 70 of them — half their caucus — joined us to pass the bill.

Mills was playing a very smart game. What he understood was that in the end, Americans’ lives would be affected not by what happened in Congress, but by what the federal government did with the law it was handed.

There are times these days when a story like that, about someone in Washington caring about the government’s effectiveness, feels as quaint as a tale about knights and dragons. Plenty of good, competent people serve both in Congress and within the ranks of the executive branch, but after years of abject failure — from the response to Hurricane Katrina to the initial rollout of the Affordable Care Act to the cost overruns, delays, and mismanagement that too often characterize federal programs — it’s hard to argue that the government is filled with people who know how to make it a model of efficiency and effectiveness.

Some are too busy just trying to carry out policy. Others think government’s too big; they’re not interested in improving it, just in cutting it. Some use government to help their friends and allies. And some in Congress will be darned if they’ll let a drive for efficiency close a military base or federal office complex in their district.

I’m reminded, though, of a famous quote by Alexander Hamilton: “A government ill-executed, whatever may be the theory, in practice is poor government.” Our government has become so big, complex, and riddled with competing agendas that its performance — its ability to execute faithfully the law — is terribly compromised. As NYU Professor Paul Light points out, there are too many decision-makers, too many bases to touch, too many layers of management, too many managers in each layer, and too little accountability.

These are crucial matters to fix. Not only do Americans want to see better performance from their government, but federal executives — including the President — cannot achieve their policy objectives unless those under them are competent and high-performing. We have to rethink and transform how government does its business — not just on a one-shot basis, but constantly.

Light has probably thought harder about these issues than anyone else inside or outside government, and there are a number of recommendations he and others make:

— We have to cut the number of political appointees. In the federal government alone, they number roughly 3,000, and often don’t win their positions by merit.

— We have to reduce the layers of management, and reduce the sheer number of people employed by government.

— Outsourcing has gotten out of hand. In theory, private-sector contractors save taxpayers money. In reality, Light’s research shows, they can cost us twice as much.

— Current civil service rules make it almost impossible to hire, promote, and fire based on merit. That has to change.

Government today is highly pressured and deals with tough, complicated problems. It needs to be able to recruit and retain first-rate talent; you don’t want a second-rate lawyer negotiating a nuclear arms treaty.

Unless we deal with these problems, failure is baked into the system. The American people have to demand that the President and the Congress not just enact legislation, but also implement and manage government programs effectively and efficiently.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51

Online charter school hosting info session

DOWNEY – Capistrano Connections Academy, a tuition-free virtual public school, will hold a free information session Thursday, April 10, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center. Visitors can meet a Connections Academy teacher, explore the school’s program and curriculum, and learn about the enrollment process.

Capistrano Connections Academy is chartered through the Capistrano Unified School District and is available to students in grades K-12 who reside in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

For questions, call (800) 382-6010 or go online to connectionsacademy.com.

 

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Published: April 3, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 51