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Re: Los Angeles City Council

Sanjeev:  I have pointed out several times
that in my posts by government is meant not only the National
(central) government but the State and the local governments.  I have
also maintained that without professionalizing State governments and
giving them the responsibility and legal authority, that should be
theirs, no meaningful democracy is possible.  Needless to say that you
cannot have good local (city, county, district) governments without
first strengthening the state governments.  The secret of America and
other in the west is that they have installed good governments right
to the district level.  By good government I mean people in charge
understand their responsibilities and have the wherewithal and
authority to do their jobs.  Local governments were always strong in
the United States.  Their professionalization (which began as late as
the sixties in some cases) is the single most factor for improving the
quality of life for all citizens.  The services which a citizen needs
most: Law enforcement, municipal courts, sewer and garbage disposal,
clean water and electric supply and primary education, and
transportation are all vested in the local governments through their
respective state governments.

Services mentioned above are what make a difference in the life of a
citizen.  The failure of government in India and other "developing"
countries is precisely that. State and local governments have not been
able to develop.  The result is there is NO ONE to provide essential
services to the people.  That is precisely the difference between
success and failure.

In previous posts, I also pointed out that most immigrants to this
country stay on not because they necessarily become rich but because
they have access to services mentioned above.  Electric supply is
still an ongoing problem in India and so is water, schools and law
enforcement.  Isn't that what people care for?  Should not the
government be working to achieve those goals? And obviosuly the
central government cannot (and should not) provide those essential
services.  The irony is that most immigrants who have been in this
country do not understand the importance of local governments in their
daily lives!

The city or local council members have not been traditionally paid
much in United States. Although that trend is now changing.  Recently,
the Fairfax county here in Virginia (which happens to be the "richest"
county in US), for example, raised their Board Members (equivalent to
a city council member) from $45,000 to $60,000.  Which is still less
than a mid-level managers salary in Fairfax county itself and far less
than the annual $130,000 salary of the county's chief administrator.

However, it is wrong to assume that high salary alone leads to good
government. (a reasonable salary is a must, however)  There are other
factors. I have already underlined professionalism-- which means the
local government has a merit system, where people with the right
qualifications are hired and simply allowed to do their jobs. 
POLITICIZATION which is the number one problem in India at all levels
has been under control since the professionalization of State and
local governments began in the sixties.

Lastly, what do you wish to achieve by asking people to recount their
experiences of meeting politicians in this country?  Please clarify.
Or is that going to be another Sanjeev Sabhlok tangent?

Kush Khatri   

---Sanjeev Sabhlok <sabhlok@almaak.usc.edu> wrote:
> Folks, I thought I'd share a little interesting info: 
> Los Angeles City is divided into 15 districts. Each district is
headed by
> an elected Council Man, and a Mayor sits on top of everything.
> Just met one of the City Councilmen while he was at the USC's track:

[----- material snipped to avoid repetition ------------------- Moderator]
> If anyone has any personal experiences to share about meeting a US
> politician (or one from Singapore, or anywhere outside India),
please do
> share with us. 
> SS

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