The time to heal and move-on is now. A better day and new leadership is best for LA & Venice!
By Nick Antonicello
The decision Wednesday afternoon by Councilman Mike Bonin to drop his bid for reelection was the right decision for all concerned.
It ends a recall effort that exposed just how unpopular he had become, and the districtwide angst he created by refusing to listen or acknowledge anyone or anything when it came to the core issues of rampant homelessness, rising crime and a sense that right was now wrong and wrong was now somehow right.
Bonin’s refusal to bend, to seek consensus or even address the concerns of the tens of thousands of CD-11 residents became intolerable and dysfunctional.
For his steadfast decision to ignore the voters of the district in favor of the criminally transient, the drug addicted and the gang affiliated became too much to overcome and there was simply nothing left in his pool of second chances that could allow him to survive reelection to a third and final term.
For Bonin’s action has led to his impending “lame duck” status as a council member with few friends and almost no political allies.
In Nixon-like fashion, he became even more isolated from the political fumbles and failures he made to find himself in this predicament that became impossible.
His insistence that he is the smartest person in the room and his endless lectures on how he was right and the rest of us not only wrong, but somehow evil and racist was rhetoric that had become not only unbelievable, but coarse and agitating.
For the handwriting was on the wall, he had lost any ability to lead and lost any credible attempt to solve a problem he made worse and that was the proliferation of homeless encampments here in Venice that were destroying the very fabric of CD-11 and so many other neighborhoods that were impacted by policies and proposals that lacked logic or any serious support in those communities that felt robbed of their quality-of-life and the notion they were in control of their own future.
Having lived here for nearly 30 years, the issue of homelessness never became the epidemic within a pandemic we have today.
We knew the local Venice homeless long before Bonin assumed office.
There was empathy and not the hostility we have today when so many on the street are part of a crime wave even admitted by those living on the street seeking a way out.
I attended a ZOOM meeting of the Venice Homeless Committee last night and had a compelling guest who was a veteran and homeless that described her plight on the streets as being like in prison with all the day to day dangers of such incarceration. She spoke passionately of the dangers of women living on the streets and how a large segment of the homeless were held hostage by a distinct criminal element that in many ways controlled the drugs as well as the living conditions no matter how third-world they had become.
The inmates were now in control and Bonin wanted to make it worse by handcuffing the public safety component that tried to make it better.
Bonin was politically demonizing cops and instead of looking within to consider what he was doing just didn’t work, he doubled down om such an ineffective course of action that made him all the detached and distant from those he was elected to serve.
And while these conditions worsened, Bonin time and time again tried to eliminate any public safety component to their plight despite the fact homelessness itself was at the core of many of the crimes being committed each and every day.
How does one openly fight with the LA County Sheriff and oppose his proposals to cleanup a tourist destination like Venice or endorse the wholesale gutting of the LAPD and endorsing the concept of defunding public safety to the tune of $150,000,000?
The truth is it doesn’t work and never will.
For the tragedy of this turn of events is that Mike Bonin has no one to blame but himself.
The highest paid council member in the United States, an elected official who earns more than Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Nany Pelosi and every state governor and member of Congress, Bonin lost touch with political reality as he was immune from the pandemic as thousands lost jobs and hundreds saw their businesses crumble only to see Bonin economically insulated from COVID-19.
He lost touch with the neighborhoods he pretended to serve.
He simply became ineffective and out-of-touch.
It was time for Mike to go and he knew it.
For no one ever questioned his intellect or qualifications, but they did question his point-of-view and judgement.
And he became oblivious from the very people he no longer engaged because Mike knew best.
But he didn’t.
So Mike should be thanked for stepping aside, for avoiding a continued recall challenge and a protracted primary battle that at this moment has a half-dozen candidates with certainly more to jump-in a race with no incumbent to challenge.
The time to move-on is now.
Leadership that listens and learns and changes with the times.
For that is what we need right now and this chapter in LA & Venice politics and governance can finally come to a close.
And that’s a good thing for all concerned.
Nick Antonicello is an editorial page contributor and will be following the 11thCouncil District contest and how the candidates and campaigns effect Venice. A longtime Venetian and member of several committees of the Venice Neighborhood Council, he can reached at (310) 621-3775 or via e-mail at email@example.com