Anyone who’s been to many public meetings for the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority or Los Angeles City Council knows about John Walsh.
The true embodiment of a gadfly, it is not uncommon to see him stand before either board and hurl brow-raising insults and accusations at elected officials with such virulent furor that at times it seems as if his finger-waving, convulsive body might fall over.
Nearly every time he is met with silence as the chairperson calls on the next speaker, or moves to the next item on the agenda.
To the uninitiated, it may seem like poor John Walsh is getting the cold shoulder. But in fact, it’s been that way for years now.
And so now we turn to our own City Hall, whose storied chamber has been the stage for everything from hand-flailing outbursts, to a red-in-the-face stomping off the dais, to an issue of LA Weekly being unceremoniously ripped in half. But this is not John Walsh. This is our City Council.
While the episodes have, over the last few years, been great for GTV6 ratings, they continue to belie a certain boorish quality of Glendale politics. Yes, our City Council members are more accessible to the public than those in Los Angeles or other agencies, but with that intimacy comes with the potentials of a rocky relationship.
Herbert Molano, Richard Espiritu, Barry Allen and other City Hall gadflies haven’t changed their tune a lick over the past few years. They sing their same songs, punctuated by slightly altered refrains, week after week, and yet City Council members continue to respond as if they’ve just been slapped in an actual court of public opinion.
To this City Council, and to the variations that will come after you, allow us to let you in on something that your elected colleagues in other cities have come to realize â€” if the gadfly bite had any real poison, you’d have been dead long ago. You only irritate an otherwise harmless bump when you react as if you’ve been bit by a cobra.
And to steal an oft-used phrase, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. City Hall critics, unflattering columnists and biting letters to the editor have been around just about as long as elected officials have. It’s part of the job description.
So do yourself â€” and the other 98% of the general public who don’t care outside of interesting headlines and GTV6 YouTube clips â€” a favor and move on.
As in Los Angeles, the memory of John Walsh’s spit flying from the lectern only lasts as long it takes for the chairman to call the next item.