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Steve Lunetta: Dept. of Dumb Ideas

Posted: June 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.

It happened when my son and I went to L.A. City Hall to take care of a parking ticket. My oldest boy has a hard time remembering that cars parked illegally in the city of Los Angeles get a small piece of paper that represents a fine.

If this fine is not paid, it results in much larger fines, as he discovered much to his chagrin.

So we wandered the halls looking for room 457C, the Department of Delinquent Parking Ticket Payment for Big Dummies.

Our search took us downstairs into the basement of the old building and down a dusty hallway.

Then we found it.

Not room 457C but something much more intriguing. The sign above the door read "Department of Dumb Ideas."

I reached for the doorknob, turned to my son and said, "Wait here for just a minute. I definitely need to talk to these guys!"

I entered the office and was greeted by an older gentleman with a scraggly beard and a "Vote for Carter" T-shirt.

Think Duck Dynasty meets the late ‘70s.

He was seated on a stool behind the counter so I told him that I was from Santa Clarita and then asked him to explain the function of his department.

"Why, that is a great question, son. Our job is to create dumb ideas and send them upstairs so that the mayor and other elected officials can make them into laws and policy for the city," he responded.

"That makes no sense," I countered. "Why would Los Angeles have a department dedicated to making dumb ideas?"

"Every city has one, son. Look at the city of Santa Clarita, where you are from. Your Dumb Idea Department works overtime.

"What about the backwards parking spots in Newhall?

That was a lulu.

What about the gigantic bike lanes that caught everyone by surprise?

We are still laughing about that one."

He stammered on.

"Let’s not forget elevating trees to sentient-being status and giving them constitutional rights. Nearly caused a riot on that one."

"Did you think all of those dumb ideas came from the City Council or Planning Department? Nope. That was the Dumb Idea Department."

"The city of Los Angeles, however, makes Santa Clarita look like amateurs," he pontificated. "We came up with the idea of electing a mayor who failed the bar exam 27 times.

"It was us who pitted two pro-union candidates in the recent mayoral election, thereby assuring union graft and corruption will continue into the future."

I was astounded.

"You mean that this department is responsible for the big mess in L.A.?"

"You betcha!" he said with unmasked glee in his voice. "Look at what we did with the DWP employees. We convinced the City Council to agree to a 15 percent pay increase for DWP staff from 2008 to 2012. This was in the heart of the Great Scandal-Ridden Obama Recession."

He rambled on.

"The average Angeleno saw their household income drop from $48,882 in 2008 to $46,148 in 2012. But we got a series of pay increases and convinced City Hall to increase rates!

"The DWP average pay went from $88,299 to $101,237 over that same period" (L.A. Times, 5/7/13).

I was appalled.

"That’s disgusting. But we have one bit of solace. Even though the DWP employee union spent $1.45 million on DWP-owned Wendy Greuel, she still lost."

"Yeah, that was too bad." He looked genuinely disappointed. "Not all of our dumb ideas pan out. But we know that this city has a penchant for making bad choices.

"Look at the last mayor. Look at the crumbling infrastructure. Look at the system of entitlements that prevents any real investment in improvements. Look at the union special interests that strangle local politics. Our dumb ideas will continue to find fertile ground."

With his final comment, I shook his hand and beat a hasty retreat from the office.

I began to think about my own beloved city of Santa Clarita.

I know that our town will never approach the insanity of Los Angeles.

As we walked down the hallway, my son asked if I knew anything about the new traffic circle in Newhall.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I realized that the Santa Clarita City Department of Dumb Ideas was alive and well.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and loves hearing about dumb ideas from local government. Please forward your stories to


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