Here in Los Angeles, the life of a City Council member is pretty cushy. Our Council members are the highest paid in the nation 0- they make around $150,000 a year. That's a good living for a public official. By comparison, New York's City Council members make $90,000 a year.
The City Controller, City Attorney (for whom I used to work), and Mayor in L.A. all get over $150k -- L.A.'s government is doing pretty well.
But apparently, that high pay is not enough -- the electeds also get free cars. And guess what, even that's not enough -- taxpayers also pay for their repairs. You think that's enough? It's not. They can use staffers to drive them. The trifecta! Free cars, free repairs, free drivers.
Do you think that you should pay for a City official to drive an SUV? Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but it's hard enough for me to pay the bills for my car, and when it needs to be repaired, I am practically sick when I realize how much it's going to cost me. And I have to pay for my Councilman's car, too, if heaven forbid, he should get into an accident? Are you kidding me?
And the fact that they have to have someone drive them -- I'm sorry, did we elect a bunch of Lindsay Lohans? These people are incapable of getting behind the wheel? They need someone else to drive them at my expense?
I don't know when it happened, but the Los Angeles government has become Fletch and the taxpayers have become the Underhills.
You think the City of Angels is alone in this?
In New York, the leader of the state Senate, Joseph Bruno, has state troopers drive him to helicopters that fly him from the state capitol of Albany, to, say, Manhattan, so that he can attend fundraisers. That's right -- instead of patrolling the streets, the troopers are the errand boys for Senator Bruno. And you, the taxpayer/sucker, pay for the Senator's helicopter usage.
I'd like this perk the most, even more than the car and driver. In this summer of flight delays, there are things I'd rather do than sit at the terminal, and wait for a flight attendant to tell me my flight is five hours delayed. Stuck in the airport with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Little did I know, there may be a better way of traveling.
I can travel using the Bruno Method. With Senator Bruno as my inspiration, I'd walk up to a cop, tap him on the shoulder, and say, "You know what? Rather than wait for this delayed flight, how about you drive me over to that chopper and fly me to Maui? Thanks. And bill the taxpayers of New York."
Wouldn't that be nice? It works for Senator Bruno, and Senator Bruno works for us. If he does it, why can't we?
Now, you may ask, what's wrong with our elected officials getting a nice perk? Why shouldn't they travel for free, have drivers, zip off in helicopters?
Here's why I have such a problem with the transportation giveaway. There are noble elected officials out there, and I've worked with a few of them.
But too often, the people we elect forget that they work for us. Generally speaking, they are surrounded by sycophants who tell them how great their hair is, how brilliant their ideas are, how they shit 24-karat gold.
And with that constant sucking-up comes a sense of privilege. Our elected officials are no longer of the people, they are above the people. They believe that, because we put them into office, their great sacrifice -- the fact that they are not in the private sector and making even more money -- means that they are entitled.
This sense of privilege leads to corruption, and the lying and stealing by politicians that we read about every day when we pick up the newspaper or go on the Internet.
And it's time to say enough is enough.
You know what, Senator Bruno, if time does not allow you to go to the airport, wait on line, and get on a flight like the rest of us. Maybe then you will realize how screwed up our transportation system is, how outdated our air traffic control system is, how messed up our airlines are when it comes to dealing with their customers.
You know what, Councilman -- buy a car, just like everyone else, get it fixed on your own dime, and drive it yourself. Maybe then you'll realize that auto repair shops often rip people off, that insurance costs can be crippling, that driving in Los Angeles means dealing with constant gridlock because our transportation system is broken.
Or maybe you're too busy to consider this because you're talking on your Blackberry, planning a trip to Mexico, and getting new cars for your key staffers -- I guess I forgot to mention; we pay for all of that, too.