Anthony Asadullah Samad

*“Free the 8th District!” “Free the 8th District!” “Free the 8th District!” From what? From the tyrannical rule of its current councilman, who has spent the last two weeks trying to run from his eight year record of non-performance, misrepresented achievements, elitist behavior and hypocritical practices.

The residents of the Eight District are trying to free their minds of a councilman that tells anything, who he decides to tell  them anything and insults your intelligence in the process. It’s hard to be respected when you disrespect people in the way that Bernard Parks does. And he continues to do it with impunity.

Bernard Parks disrespects people, the political office he holds and the political processes he engages. He takes contributions from who he wants, legal or illegal, without fear of retribution. He gives jobs and contracts to whom he wishes, legal or illegal, without fear of retribution. He says what wants to say, even if it’s false (like he did when he was police chief), regardless what the facts are, and he regularly refutes the truth, despite evidence to the contrary. Bernard Parks is living, walking hypocrisy.

I watched Bernard Parks disrespect constituents this past weekend at a block club meeting where residents expressed serious concerns, only to have them summarily dismissed as “lunacy.” So that’s our word of the week, “lunacy.” Let’s look it up… according to the New Webster’s Dictionary, lunacy means “intermittent insanity or extreme foolishness.” So a lunatic is an insane person, or a fool. So, let’s see who’s insane or a fool, between the constituents of the eighth district and it’s council representative.

At this block club meeting, someone asked Parks about his double dipping salary, which at $444,000, is more than the President of the United States makes, he dismissed it as “ludicrous” that he would leave the money on the table asked the residents to raise their hands if they would leave the money on the table. The resident didn’t oblige him because of the insanity of the question. First of all, there are double dipping laws on the books for a reason. Parks is exempted from them because police and fire have different retirement pension programs different from the regular city worker. The regular city worker when they retire, if they come back with the same employer, which is the city of Los Angeles, would not get their retirement pension and their salary at the same time. Their pension would be suspended until they re-retire. In the private sector, in would be the same. No one says one can’t work after retirement, but most work for a different employer. Government workers usually go into the private sector, like all of the ex-police chiefs have done (other than Parks). Parks drawing two salaries is only legal because of the police and fire he belongs to. The late Mayor, Tom Bradley, was also an ex-cop and Mayor for 20 years after that. I would venture to say that he didn’t double dip because of the appearance of impropriety involved. Parks could take a $1 a dollar year like former L.A. Mayor, Dick Riordan or current New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg does.

It endears you to the voters when you’re willing to serve the people and share in their sacrifice. But Parks really doesn’t care about endearing himself to the voters, and he talks to you like a fool. Like you don’t understand the impropriety going on here and just how unethical this appears to even the most naïve person.  Then he further insulted the group intelligence around paying his son, $154,846. His rational on nepotism was just as foolish as his rational on double dipping. Nepotism laws are in place for the very reason for which Parks is engaged. It is understood that if people could employ their family, they would employ their family—whether they merited it or not. It defeats the democratic premise of equal opportunity meritocracy and fairness in the workplace. Again, Parks exploits a loophole in the law that allows city councilpersons to employ who they wish at their pleasure. Parks rationale to the residents was that if he wasn’t councilperson, someone else would be drawing that salary. That is true, but it stands to reason that the residents of the 8th would be getting more than what they are getting now for such an expenditure, and the likelihood that Baby Parks would be able to work anywhere in the workforce of City employ with the skill sets that he demonstrates to the constituents of the 8th District is highly unlikely. The Parks, in this regard, are perpetrating a fraud on the constituents of the 8th who expect a certain level of competency out of their council office consistent with the salaries paid. Then Parks tried to rationalize it further by suggesting that it is not uncommon for families to work for the same employer (City of Los Angeles) and used his predecessor’s wife working for the city as the example. The difference, of course, was that she worked for another department. Nepotism laws prohibit relatives working with, or for, each other as “direct reports” to prevent favoritism from coming into the supervisor/employee relationship, which Daddy Parks and Baby Parks clearly violate. Parks even had the audacity to wink at his son in the meeting after he gave this foolish rationale. The height of arrogance and a clear demonstration that his elitist mentality makes him think the law applies to everybody but him. Parks could give a damn about the “spirit” of the law and he doesn’t care how bad it looks-as long as they get paid. The people care though. They looked at him as crazy as he sounded.

For Parks to continue to represent himself as a “budget watcher” when he clearly is a budget “buster” (in more sense than one, see Urban Dictionary.com for other definitions). Yeah, Parks is a buster of the worst kind. When a resident asked him why he hasn’t returned her call FOR EIGHT YEARS and after two letters about a broken sidewalk in front of her house, Parks told her the city hasn’t repaired sidewalks for the past two years because of budget problems. When she said what about the previous six years before that, he went on some rant about how many sidewalks there are in the city of  Los Angeles….that’s when I left. Bernard Parks is the kind of person that will sell you melted ice and tell you that it was your fault that he couldn’t keep it cold and you should’ve come five minutes earlier when it was ice. We all witnessed real lunacy that day. The hypocritical rationale of a true lunatic. More and more residents are joining the “F Parks” campaign.

The F stands for “Free the 8th District,” or Farewell Parks on March 8th.

Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.