I tip my hat to the Business Journal as you continue to print important and educational articles such as “Why Business Lacks A Voice” (Nov. 24). As a businessman/citizen activist over the last 27 years, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of participation by the individual members of the business community.
Almost every time I have ever attended a public hearing, the attendees have been the representatives of the business organization directly involved, “the opposing neighborhood activists” who are usually retired or unemployed, and a small number of business persons such as myself. The business community has consistently abdicated its rights.
The problem can be summed up in one quote. A businesswoman said, “I didn’t see what I could do about it. I think it’s wrong, but frankly I run a business and I don’t have time to march on City Hall.”
This same businesswoman would never think of not paying her rent, electric bill, telephone bill or payroll because she knows what would happen to her business. Participating in local government on behalf of your fellow business people is an intractable cost of doing business.
We in the business community blew it really big on Charter Reform. We also continue to harm ourselves when we allow the Wilshire Subway to be diverted off Wilshire Boulevard; when we allow the MTA to blow $80 million on Santa Monica Boulevard without adding additional lanes; when we do not support a project such as the office building proposed for Century City; and when we do not concern ourselves with what is happening downtown.
We let a developer who wanted to build a first-class hotel in Westwood get beaten up by the naysayers until five years had passed and a small fortune had been wasted, and the developer went elsewhere. At least the business people in Westwood seem to have learned from the last fiasco, because they are now involving themselves in the latest proposed project.
Your statistics regarding attendance at the NewLAMP economic summit also tell it all. You contacted 65 of the top 100 fastest-growing private companies and found that only 14 had been contacted (51 were ignored) and only one was attending. Every one of those 100 companies should have had a representative at the summit.
We will survive and continue to grow as we are, but what a city this could be if we ever got our act together.
HAROLD L. KATZ
Certified Public Accountant