I moderated a town hall of the five leading mayoral candidates on Sunday presented by neighborhood councils and residents associations in the Wilshire corridor. The forum was held at John Burroughs Middle School in Hancock Park and webcast by the school. One of the questions I asked was whether the candidates would utilize Getty House (which is nearby in Windsor Square) if elected mayor. Kevin James used the opening to accuse Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of turning the official residence into a "party house." From David Zahniser in the LA Times:
James said he has heard from neighbors that the Tudor residence in Windsor Square has been used too frequently for parties, bringing crowds, noise and valet parking to the neighborhood. “That is not what the Getty House will be with me as mayor,” he told the audience.
Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders did not offer a response. In recent years, Getty House has been used by the mayor for internal staff meetings and social gatherings, allowing him to welcome visiting dignitaries and celebrate various events, including the Grammy Awards and the yearly gay pride festival.
Neighbors of Getty House also have complained about the city’s decision in 2011 to allow a security fence to be installed on the property.
There was a Grammy party there this weekend, neighbors said. The other candidates give their response in the story.
Wendy Greuel's call for major expansions of the police and fire departments, along with her pledge to abolish the city's business tax, "set her apart in a different way: Her agenda would cost Los Angeles far more than anything proposed by her opponents," says an LA Times story by Michael Finnegan and James Rainey headlined Greuel's budget plan draws ridicule. Jim Newton's Monday column in the Times suggests it was a tactical mistake, saying that the proposal "startled even Greuel's supporters, many of whom privately regard her promise as unsustainable even under rosy economic conditions." Greuel's call, Newton argues, "had all the earmarks of pandering" and gives momentum to mayoral rivals Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez.
From the Finnegan/Rainey news analysis:
The cost of Greuel's plans has drawn attacks from rivals who ridicule them as unrealistic. Independent analysts have also cast doubt on Greuel's numbers, as well as those of one of her rivals, City Councilman Eric Garcetti. He too supports eliminating the business tax. Neither candidate has a plan to offset the more than $400 million in revenue that would be lost, other than a hoped-for rise in tax receipts as new businesses move to Los Angeles.
"When you put all of these things together, instead of a $200-million problem, you could have a $1-billion problem," said Keith Comrie, a retired city administrative officer who oversaw Los Angeles finances for 19 years.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who as a council member years ago chaired the city's budget committee and pondered a run for mayor this year, said Greuel's plan to expand the police force to 12,000 officers was "totally impossible without eviscerating other city services, including other emergency services" — especially with the tax elimination.
"At some point, reasonable voters will ask, 'Is this serious or is this just political rhetoric?' and I think people will figure it out for themselves," he told The Times. "It's not doable. It's not real. It's an arithmetic problem, to quote Bill Clinton, and the arithmetic does not add up."
The Times reporters say that Greuel is at risk of tarnishing her preferred image as a "tough fiscal watchdog" by calling for both higher spending and lower taxes. "There's a risk that if she goes too far, she could blow that credibility," said David O. Sears, a political science professor at UCLA.
Greuel told the Times, in writing, that her plan "is based on increased revenue projections, and I am confident that with efficiencies in government that I plan to implement, pension reform, and job growth, the plan will be balanced, and we will have opportunities to expand public safety."
By the way, another expert poo-pooed the idea that eliminating the gross receipts tax on businesses will suddenly make Los Angeles so business friendly that revenue flows into the city coffers. "Candidly, it's a preposterous idea from top to bottom," said Christopher Thornberg, founder of the Beacon Economics research firm and a former economist at UCLA Anderson Forecast, in the LAT. "I've never been a big fan of the business tax, but I recognize it's not the business killer that we pretend it is."
Appearing Saturday at Crenshaw High School, four of the top candidates for mayor called for an investigation of the allegations of LAPD racism made by fugitive rogue cop Christopher Dorner. From the LA Times:
“Any allegations of racism and discrimination ought to be investigated within the LAPD, no matter where they come from,” candidate Kevin James, an entertainment lawyer, told an audience that filled the school library....
City Councilman Eric Garcetti said trouble with racism among officers had diminished in recent years. “That doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect department or that things can’t get worse,” he said. He promised to ensure “an internal investigation on this,” but did not define its scope. As for Dorner’s alleged killings, Garcetti concluded, “We have to make sure that justice is served there too.”
City Councilwoman Jan Perry urged the crowd not to lose focus on the risk that Dorner poses “to all of us, regardless of our race or ethnicity.”
“Yes, there should be a review and a public analysis of what happened in this particular case,” said Perry, the only African American candidate on stage at the forum. “Because it may be what you call a teachable moment about changing your protocols in dealing with individuals who may have manifestations of stress…or mental health issues that were never properly or adequately addressed. And then they pop out 10 or 15 years later in a manner like this.”
A fourth candidate, Emanuel Pleitez, a former technology company executive, recalled growing up on the Eastside, saying police had stopped him and his friends for no reason when he was growing up. “I know a lot of people that grew up with a deep hatred for LAPD,” he said.
Here's Gene Maddaus' report at the LA Weekly.
Garcetti was interviewed by Ted Chen on NBC4's "Today In LA Weekend."
- The Los Angeles Times endorsed Ron Galperin for city controller, saying he (and contender Cary Brazeman) put forth more compelling cases for their election than Councilman Dennis Zine.
Ron Galperin has worked with the city and county governments to improve collections and eliminate loopholes. Cary Brazeman has been a high-profile critic of city managers, mounting pressure campaigns against several flawed city initiatives. Brazeman offers the more far-reaching agenda, but Galperin's training and experience make him the candidate more likely to turn his recommendations into real improvements in city government. For that reason, The Times endorses Galperin.
- The city ethics commission lifted the spending cap on the mayoral race because of so-called independent expenditures. A report filed Friday by the Los Angeles Police Protective League showed the union has spent $305,000 on TV advertising for Greuel. Spending limits for candidates seeking matching funds were also lifted in the City Council races in districts 1, 9 and 13.
- Outside groups are mounting campaigns to influence the outcome of three races for school board LAT/Howard Blume
- Mayoral candidates making budget statements, but nothing adds up LAT/Steve Lopez
- LA mayoral candidates find themselves subjected to debates LAT/James Rainey
- Garcetti and Greuel mute rivalry to rebut challengers LAT/Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston
- LA mayoral candidates pressed on city's $1-billion budget deficit LAT/Reston
- Uphill L.A. mayoral campaign for Emanuel Pleitez DN/Rick Orlov
- Radio's Kevin James sells himself as a City Hall outsider in Los Angeles mayoral race DN/Dakota Smith
- Independent expenditures top $1M in March Los Angeles election DN/Orlov
- Friday mixer: The sales tax and the mayor’s race KCRW
- Urban Scrawl on the Mayor's Race Downtown News