Early on in Clancy Sigal‘s scintillating counterpunch.org deconstruction of the March 5 Los Angeles city election, he references Raymond Chandler‘s detective Philip Marlowe. As the piece rolls on, it’s easy to imagine a modernized screen version of that character voicing passages like this:
In Chicago, my home town, we all knew how to get something done: you sold your vote to a precinct captain who passed it along to an alderman and so on up a trail of corruption to the mayor’s office. In the process we got robbed blind but also shared a civic sense that in a perverse way we counted for something.
Not so in dull, low-voter-turnout LA, the 87-year-old Sigal bemoans, a region encircled by 29 townships “you’ve never heard of” and watched over by a termed-out mayor with “great teeth and fine skin.” It’s also a place anchored for centuries now to the larger and more pervasive forces of homeowner associations, real estate development, water politics, immigration and service unions.