Bernie & Mark & Carmen Warschaw

On Saturday, candidates Bernard Parks and Mark Ridley-Thomas squared off over what makes them different in the race to succeed Yvonne Burke on the county Board of Supervisors. Here's the standard Times coverage, but LAO columnist Bill Boyarsky watched the debate through a broader lens. From his piece:

Two events in the 2nd Supervisorial District pointed up some of the immense difficulties facing politics and government in Los Angeles County, and the possibilities of overcoming them.

The district, where Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks and State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas are competing to replace retiring Supervisor Yvonne Burke, reaches from upper middle class, predominantly white stretches of West Los Angeles across Los Angeles County to the struggling Latino and African American working class neighborhoods, such as Watts Willowbrook. The candidates, both African American, are competing for an electorate that is strongly black

One of these events occurred roughly in the middle of the district. It was at the University of Southern California, where one of the indomitable forces in California political life, Carmen Warschaw, announced her gift of $3 million to endow the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw chair in practical politics. A search is now on for a professor to fill the chair.

The other occurred a day later, at a smaller school, Beethoven elementary, several miles west of USC in the West Los Angeles neighborhood of Mar Vista. At Beethoven, Ridley-Thomas and Parks debated over the kind of practical political problems that the new Warschaw professor will try to teach students to solve.

Carmen and her late husband, Lou, helped shape the California Democratic party and the careers of many of its leaders. They were teenage sweethearts, attended USC together and immersed themselves in politics as volunteers, donors and in leadership positions. Carmen has played politics tough and hard. She is unforgiving to enemies, generous to friends and has always tried to fill political offices with the women and men she thought would do the best job....

There are a lot of issues in this campaign but the most important is how to reopen the badly needed public hospital in Watts Willowbrook, once known as King Drew, then King Harbor and now closed after the poorly trained and incompetent staff failed to pass federal inspections. A huge area, home of L.A. County’s poorest, has been left without a hospital.

Neither Parks nor Ridley Thomas offered satisfactory solutions.

Also: In a Sunday profile, the Times' John Mitchell calls Parks the favorite "based on name recognition alone," but adds "he's also known as a loner, someone who is aloof and rigid, a man who doesn't easily forget a slight." And the Times also reported that labor is putting $4 million behind Ridley-Thomas.

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