Nature is the great equalizer. It usually levels the playing field between the rich and the poor, exposes our frailties. We saw it at work during the Northridge Earthquake when the poorly built buildings crumbled. We saw it again during the recent heat wave. Some places you couldn’t find water or Gatorade. But even worse, a woefully inadequate power distribution system was exposed as thousands of residents across the Valley and other parts of Los Angeles were left without electricity for days. The cause, according to officials: The city’s power distribution system was insufficient to keep up with demand. Yes, it’s been hot to an unusual degree, but we do get hot temperatures for an extended period of time here in Southern California, especially in the Valley. A world-class city such as L.A. should not find itself so exposed to such predictable things as hot weather in the summer. There has been no long-range planning at the city’s Department of Water and Power and among our elected officials over the years who oversee that department to prepare us for an extended heat wave. This is a city of extremes fires, earthquakes, heavy rain in the winter, and heat in the summer. That’s why our infrastructure and public services should be top-notch to deal with crises that do occur here. We too often are unprepared and residents and businesses pay the price. No wonder many businesses don’t want to stay here. We often can’t even get the basics right. Infrastructure is the basics and our elected officials need to understand this. They need to pay attention to it and in a long-range manner. If the DWP had prepared for the worst, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Too many of our problems are due to poor infrastructure. And it’s all preventable. Traffic is a good example. We’ve wasted too many years ignoring a steady increase in traffic on our freeways and streets. We always look for a quick fix rather than take care of the problem for the long term. When will we learn? I was talking to a high-ranking L.A. city official recently about the biggest challenges to L.A. city government. She said there’s been a lack of vision over the years. Not preparing adequately for the future is an example of this. Why in a creative place such as L.A. do we suffer from a lack of vision at the top? And why does Mother Nature always have to keep us in line? Our Bread and Butter Talk about a total lack of vision. When will some of our public officials learn that L.A. is special largely because of our entertainment industry? That’s what makes the city known all over the world and what sets it apart from any other city in the world. That’s why the recent news that local production activity in L.A. County for movies, television shows and commercials dropped by 6.8 percent during the second quarter of 2006 is frustrating. FilmLA Inc., which tracks these figures, says activity rose in other regions particularly in the areas that give tax incentives to film there. Meanwhile, the Legislature fiddles and does nothing on stalled legislation that would provide incentives to filming here. Some lawmakers feel they shouldn’t help out the entertainment industry. It’s got too many rich people. Yeah, tell that to the below-the-line technical worker in the Valley who’s just trying to make a living. These are the people that such short-sightedness hurts. Poaching of our film industry is not going to go away. And the makers of our filmed content would be stupid not to save money by going elsewhere. They’re not in the business to lose money. The only way to beat competition is to be aggressive and not be so damned arrogant to think that L.A. will always be the entertainment capital of the world. Women’s Board The Valley Economic Development Center’s Women’s Business Center has set up an advisory board to help guide it. Those appointed provide the needed outside business experience and contacts so that the center can be as effective as possible. The board members are: Wayne Adelstein of the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michele Chavez of Prudential Financial, Liz Florio of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, Yelena Gazal of Gazal Consulting Bookkeeping, Cynthia Ibarra of the VEDC, Raja Amy Marhaba of Martec Construction, Beth Orenstein of Hair Incorporations, Debra Sakacs of the Executives’ Association of the San Fernando Valley, Nancy Hoffman Vanyek of the Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce, Kathleen Sterling of Valley News Group and Jave Tripp of JNK Services. The members will help develop programs, seek out partnerships and secure speakers for the center which offers services such as one-on-one consulting, workshops and financing assistance as well as a web site that gives women a chance to learn from one another in an online forum. The Mayor I, too, like Listerine Breath Strips. But I prefer my staff to be more than five feet away from me at all times if not more. I get claustrophobic. Can’t help but comment on the L.A. Times article that went over an internal memo for Mayor Villaraigosa’s staff that deals with how to “handle” the mayor throughout his busy schedules. Seems he’s as peculiar and popular as a rock star. Memo has great stuff like his aides must remain within Villaraigosa’s line of sight at all times so he can “call you over if need be.” Three to five feet away is the suggested distance. Aides must also carry such things as a small hand sanitizer, two pens and Listerine breath strips. Such things are easy to make fun of but the memo also reveals that the mayor is organized as he goes about his day. He likes to know what’s coming. Details are important. And that’s not such a bad thing. Remember, this is L.A., and a lot of things are scripted and choreographed. Everybody is a star.