LAT profile I: In her piece on labor boss (and Hahn airport commissioner) Miguel Contreras, Matea Gold goes quickly to the Godfather card: "With his wireless glasses, slightly cherubic face and rapid-fire speech, Contreras bears little resemblance to Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone." Later in the piece, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who admits talking to Contreras daily, describes how to humble him: "I start humming the theme song to 'The Godfather.'"
The piece is both about Contreras's influence in local politics ("I can't think of anyone more powerful than Miguel," says Anschutz Entertaiment chief Tim Leiweke) and his awkward spot in the runoff for mayor. As Gold puts it, "Contreras' future heft may rest on his ability to get his members to campaign against one of their own." That is, because of deals Contreras has made, labor groups have to go all out trying to reelect the underdog Hahn. Villaraigosa would probably be just as good or better on many labor issues—and the members seem to want him. A sidebar examines the supposedly independent Voter Information Project that Contreras also heads. It's a device that lets companies get around federal law that bars them from contributing to unions (and that pays the Speaker about $35,000 a year in consulting fees.) Writes Gold:
Since Kaiser Permanente's then-Chief Executive David M. Lawrence was honored at a 1999 dinner, the health management organization has donated more than $335,000 to VIP. In 2003, VIP gave an award to August A. Busch IV, president of Anheuser Busch Inc.—which in turn gave the organization a six-figure donation....
"Who's going to say no?" asked Kent Wong, director of the UCLA's Center for Labor Research and Education.
LAT Profile II: In place of the now-defunct Inside Politics column, the Times looks at John Shallman, who ran Bob Hertzberg's campaign. Good piece, interesting guy, but why now instead of when Hertzberg was running? I'll guess it was a leftover. Nice little tidbit on how Villaraigosa jumping in the race forced Hertzberg to don new stripes and run more conservative: '"They had a very dangerous strategy, which was telling people that a lifelong Democrat was essentially a Republican candidate,' [Hahn strategist Bill] Carrick said." Fooled some of the blogs.
Campaign three dots: Time magazine says to expect a John Kerry endorsement for Villaraigosa...No Orlov column on the Daily News website, but that doesn't always mean it's not in the Monday paper [But this time it does. Rick "has the day off."]...Joe Scott posted a blog item today on endorsement scenarios. It's under his take on the Schiavo situation.