Let’s start by mentioning a few of the wonderful things that the Los Angeles Business Council and its fabulous President, Mary Leslie, are doing: They are corralling the city’s public and private heads of agencies and businesses into a forum where they can engage in conversation. This corral has taken place at the Getty Museum for the past 3 years under the moniker of the Los Angeles Business Council’s Sustainability Summit.
On August 10th, Leslie is hosting a similar event specifically for our film industry. The LABC is shepherding our City’s prominent, if not still #1, industry – the film studios – and getting them all together to talk about the business of sustainability: Sustainability and the Entertainment Community.
I’m all for conversation. When we sit down and talk with each other, a wealth of information can get shared if all parties engage and are engaged. Personally I’m convinced that it was through these types of pow-wows that the notion of “creating fire” was spread among humankind.
But talk, as they say, is cheap, and unless it’s backed by action, giving business and industry leaders yet another forum upon which to pontificate and sing their own praises only furthers the spin – not the “change.” So far, the summits are being used for both purposes: dialogue for spin and dialogue for change.
There couldn’t be a better President for the Los Angeles Business Council than Mary Leslie. By her own account, she is “obsessed with the business of sustainability. It’s a better business practice; it’s not philanthropic,” she says. Her pedigree spans from Clinton’s West Coast Finance Director in ’91, to Riordan’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development during the Northridge earthquake era (i.e. the influx of $11B in Federal Aid funds into L.A.), to her present day position of liaison between L.A.’s public and private sectors. And let’s not forget her ties to D.C. that now span a generation and reach to the highest echelons.
Recently I was afforded the opportunity to have a sit-down conversation with Ms. Leslie, who was fresh off a family cruise vacation in Alaska. Reinforced during this meeting, was, once again, the value of person-to-person discourse.
In her own words, Leslie wrote in the LABC special supplement to the Los Angeles Business Journal about the Getty Summit Corral: “…the event also made clear the need for the public and private sectors to collaborate in achieving solutions.”
So now the real, overarching, question is, Are we going to go about this public-private collaboration as “business as usual”? Or are we going to open up the closely-guarded, lobbyist dominated pipeline to something else like, best practices, open bids and a transparent, city-wide procurement mechanism here in Los Angeles?