On Local Government: A fond farewell

Retiring Easy Reader columnist Bob Pinzler riding in the 2001 Hermosa Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade with  Kurt Schmalz, who succeeded Pinzler that year as Redondo’s District 4 Councilman. Photo

Sixteen years ago, after I finished my second term on the Redondo Beach City Council, one of my friends asked me what was the most frustrating part of the job. I told him that it was the general lack of knowledge about the impact city government has on one’s everyday life. On top of that was how little involvement people had in selecting who would be in charge.

I decided I was going to try to do something about it through writing…giving an insider’s view on the workings of government. Thus, the column’s title. But, more importantly, I wanted to explain why it was essential that the public know about those workings…and do something about it.

At the time this began, blogging hadn’t reached the popularity it has today. (I know. I tried.) Local newspapers were still the primary means of influencing the residents of a city. Of those in our community, Easy Reader always presented the kind of “edge” to their journalism that convinced me that this was the outlet I would aim for.

Since I wasn’t asking to be compensated for this effort, their decision to give it a try was made a lot easier. After all, if it didn’t work, then, as they say, “no harm, no foul.”

Sixteen years later, the concept still has a definite place. But, after all this time, I’ve pretty much had my say.

During this period, how community members can interact has changed dramatically. Whether it is through general social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, or more narrowly focused apps like Nextdoor, people are communicating with each other much more…and bypassing the filter of the newspaper editor determining which letters go into that week’s edition.

There is good and bad to this, as there is in a lot of areas political speech. Passion sometimes surpasses logic. Anger sometimes fogs the mind. It also sometimes skews the truth.

Our cities have seen a lot of grassroots passion recently, such as oil in Hermosa and mixed-use housing and beachfront malls in Redondo. How the opponents of these projects have organized and demanded change are, in part, the result of deciding to get “civically involved.” Whether this involvement in local government translates into running for office, joining a commission, supporting candidates, following the deliberations of City Councils, or building neighborhood groups will be the true test of their commitment to producing civic change.

Over the past 16 years, I have tried to deliver a context for people to understand how cities work and how they interact with the myriad of overlapping jurisdictions that can, very much under the radar, have a high degree of impact on our quality of life. But, after all this time, you kind of know what I think. Others are perfectly capable of giving you their views of that sometimes wacky world of local government.

I’m not going away. I assume that, on occasion, something will get under my skin and I will be driven back to the fray, temporarily.

But, for right now, that’s it. I thank you for your attention and your kind and unkind words. Both indicated that you were, at least, reading and that you cared.


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