City Controller Wendy Greuel is endorsing LAPD officer Joe Buscaino in the Jan. 17 City Council runoff in the 15th district. In the press release tonight, she says, "I respect Joe as a police officer, a community leader, and as a future Councilmember and I believe he is the best choice to represent the neighborhoods of San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway and Watts." In mid-December, City Council President-to-be Herb Wesson and former Controller Laura Chick endorsed Buscaino.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board endorsed Buscaino last week, despite sounding unimpressed. (The paper rejected both Buscaino and opponent Warren Furutani in the primary.) "He is not entirely prepared to take this office; in fact, he has a long way to go," the Times' opinion side says now of Buscaino after interviewing him and examining his positions.
It was exasperating, although admittedly a little funny, to hear Buscaino's response when asked what he thinks of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. You either love him or you hate him, the candidate answered. OK, fine: Do you love him or do you hate him? "I'm, like, right in the middle!" Buscaino said.
But compared to Furutani, the state assemblyman from Harbor Gateway, they'll take him: "He [Buscaino] is young, earnest and smart. He listens. He can learn." Editorial writer Robert Greene did an analysis of campaign contributions in the race and found that most of Buscaino's have come from inside the district, while less than three percent of Furutani's have. That's not counting almost $150,000 spent on Buscaino's behalf (cough independently) by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that needs votes on the City Council for raises, policy disputes with the chief and mayor, and other political benefits.
If elected, Buscaino would be the fourth of the 15 council members with LAPD ties. Bernard Parks, of course, is the former chief of police and no ally of the union. Councilman Dennis Zine is a former patrol officer and ex-board member of the union. Councilman Mitch Englander serves as a reserve officer.
Should Furutani be elected, he would be the sixth council member to formerly serve in the state Legislature. That brings its own issues to the race, Greene notes in a separate piece.
By the way, Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in the Jan. 17 runoff.