"Let's Go to the Replay!"
We told you recently about the bizarre politics of South Gate, a suburb of Los Angeles, where in what may be the ultimate example of pork barrel politics, the city raffled off a house. It was an effort to curry favor with voters on the part of the mayor, city treasurer and two council members who were facing a recall election. (People were also offered free garbage pickup, rent subsidies and, in a separate raffle, a free TV.)
Didn't work. The officials were booted from office, but they didn't go quietly. At her final city council meeting, the mayor slugged a rival council member with what the Los Angeles Times described as "an overhead right." The standing-room only crowd in the council chambers erupted in boos and chants of "Arrest the mayor! Arrest the mayor!" (Nearby police officers cited the mayor for misdemeanor battery.)
One person noticed that some in the crowd had video cameras. He started yelling, "Let's go to the replay!" Even in a city as accustomed to political antics as South Gate, the punch in the council chambers shocked observers. Said one off-duty cop, "Unbelievable. Did you see that? She just popped him." "It's crazy," agreed the city's finance director. "Just when you thought you'd seen it all."
Footnote: Once the recalled city officials were gone, South Gate's council meetings went from fistfight to love fest. A mayor of a neighboring city sent the new council members bouquets of flowers, and speaker after speaker praised the city's "new democracy." "This is our first meeting of a free and honest South Gate," one state legislator said. "I've got to tell you, I feel good." Posted 2/15/2003
Postscript: We wish we could tell you that, once the bad elected officials were gone, South Gate's problems left with them. They haven't, and the city remains in deep financial trouble.
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