Boy, these two are BORING - and I'm afraid one of them is almost certain to be L.A.'s next mayor. It's a shame, really, because in real life they're both pleasant, interested people who obviously care about the future of the city. But their campaign strategies focus on doing no harm (Greuel especially), which means they're telling us way too much about past accomplishments (such as they are) and not nearly enough about what they intend to do as mayor. At last night's KNBC debate, Garcetti once again patted himself on the back about working with unions on changes to the pension system (even though the city is still faced with chronic deficits of $200 million-plus because out-of-control pension costs). Greuel, meanwhile, insisted that her experience battling unauthorized long-distance phone bills will somehow turn the city's finances around. It sounded good 20 years ago, but the payout from waste, fraud and abuse is way less than she would have you believe. Now maybe it's true that campaigns aren't where you want to go for new ideas - and maybe playing it safe is the most sensible way of securing a spot in the likely runoff. But the discourse during last night's debate was so lackluster that you have to wonder whether these folks are capable of ideas that go beyond the ones that have been thoroughly tested in focus groups. A question on the airport, for example, had them parroting all the usual nonsense about what how terrible LAX is. Never mind the fact that Ontario and Burbank are barely alive - or that LAX is more conveniently located than other facilities its size, or that a modernization program is well underway. So instead of a nuanced answer about the airport's good and bad points, Garcetti, Greuel et al just stuck to the easy jabs. Earlier this week, LAT columnist Jim Newton dutifully asked the candidates about their vision, and he got predictably lame responses: More transit, improved relations with business, greater community involvement. Zzzzzzzzzz. Surely, they can do better than this. Please tell me there are a few good ideas behind all that hot air.
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