Politics

Inka dinka don't?

Los Angeles City Clerk Frank Martinez, a recent Hahn appointee, had election workers use blue ink to color in ballot "bubbles" that were only partly filled, the Daily News reports Saturday. The purpose, he says, was to make sure they were counted properly by the new InkaVote system. Not sure what the revelation suggests, but the practice raised eyebrows. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said it was "questionable." Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies said "It's unprecedented. You don't tamper with the ballots." The county's election chief, Registrar-Recorder Connie McCormack, is quoted but seems to only question Martinez' decision to hand-examine every ballot. Parke Skelton, campaign adviser for Antonio Villaraigosa, said Bob Hertzberg should ask to inspect every ballot just to make sure everything was kosher. Hertzberg, who finished about 5,800 votes behind Mayor Jim Hahn, took a wait-and-see position:

"My concern is that every vote is counted," Hertzberg said. "If there was a problem in how they were counted, we should know about it. It's bad enough the count was so slow. There is nothing more important than the integrity of the system. I just want to make sure everything was done properly."

Also in the campaign:

• Burke dumps Hahn: Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke switched her endorsement from Bernard Parks to Villaraigosa. It's an important African American endorsement for Villaraigosa, who also picked up former Speaker Herb Wesson and some ministers. More symbolically, Burke is abandoning her long support of the Hahns, going back to father Kenny. "I supported Jimmy in all his elections and his sister, Janice, in hers," Burke said. "But I came to believe it is time for someone who is more energetic, with bigger ideas, to serve as mayor....[Villaraigosa's] election will be as historic today as Tom Bradley's was when he was elected." Political consultant Kerman Maddox agrees it's big, as Villaraigosa seeks to build bridges to the black community: "Yvonne Burke represents more African Americans than any other elected official in Southern California, and she is held in high esteem." Times, Daily News.

• Schwarzenegger ponders: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been leaning toward Hertzberg, says deep in the Times story on Burke that he is taking a fresh look at the two-man race: He'll consider "which one do I feel has the best chance of straightening out the mess that Los Angeles is in. And then I will decide after that, do I want to get involved in it at all or not get involved with it."

• Business watching: Next week's L.A. Business Journal has a front-page story on Hahn's early advantage among business leaders, including Eli Broad. But attorney Lisa Specht, who left Hahn's camp last year to endorse Hertzberg, says the business community may not stick with the mayor: "Youíve got an incumbent who received just 24 percent of the vote. A lot of people may conclude that he just canít win with that kind of percentage and will hedge their bets with contributions to both candidates."

• Mark Lacter: The editor of the Business Journal says in a front-page commentary that L.A. voters didn't rush to the polls in part because the city is doing pretty well. That and the candidates don't really have any grand solutions to what does ail Los Angeles: "Not that you need me to state the obvious, but donít expect either of these guys to create mass transit networks and hire thousands of cops and attract dozens of Fortune 500 headquarters. There will be efforts at incremental improvements that are deemed doable Ė pothole patrols, a few more conventions, maybe even an NFL team." As for Hertzberg, he says:

The strange thing about this campaign is that while all the challengers talked about having the vision to carry out the big stuff, there was barely any mention of precisely how they would get it done. The sound bite era has reached the point where campaign lackeys donít even bother handing out position papers. Who would read them, first off, but more to the point, who would believe them?

Bob Hertzberg was the self-proclaimed candidate of BIG IDEAS, and in the end it might have been his undoing because, well, BIG IDEAS tend to make people EXTREMELY NERVOUS. Or havenít you ever had a new boss who sweeps in with crazy plans that you and your co-workers just know will blow up?

• As San Pedro goes: Hahn's San Pedro area turned out in lower numbers than the citywide average, the Daily Breeze says. Those who voted, though, gave Hahn the margin he needed to get in the runoff.

• The Economist weighs in: Gives Villaraigosa the early lead. Story is premium content.


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