L.A.'s City Controller continues to be the most disappointing candidate in the mayor's race. In desperately seeking the support of public unions, she is exhibiting zero backbone or vision - just obnoxious brown-nosing. Here she is taking shots at City Councilman Eric Garcetti during a closed-door meeting of union workers (as reported by the LAT's Dave Zahniser:)
"I want you to think about: When the decisions were made to lay off, who voted for layoffs?" Greuel told the union audience of about 200 at SEIU's headquarters west of downtown. "When the decisions were made for furloughs, who voted for them? When the decisions were made to not allow collective bargaining ... where were [the other candidates]? Now it's important again not to just talk the talk, but to walk the walk."
First off, what is she and Garcetti doing at a closed-door anything? Didn't she learn from Mitt Romney's 47 percent fiasco that voters aren't that thrilled at candidates trying to curry favor in private, especially when the audience has such a large stake in the race? (Jan Perry should be pooling her nickels for 30-second spots on the back-room shenanigans.) And that bit about layoffs - it's disingenuous bullshit. Truth is, the Council almost never lays people off. Elimination of vacant positions - yes. But it's extremely rare that an L.A. city worker doesn't have an opportunity to be transferred to another department. That's one of the dirty little secrets about how the city is run. So let's cut the sanctimonious crap about walking the walk, shall we? By contrast, Garcetti was positively statesmanlike in laying out the city's fiscal troubles - much of which are the result of out-of-control pension and health care costs. (By the way, the union didn't even bother inviting the three other candidates.) Now it's true that both candidates really need labor support in the March election. The question is at what cost - not only to the rest of their base of support, but to their integrity. This race is making me nauseous.
Frank Gilliam, dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, said Greuel and Garcetti are walking a razor's edge. They want the support and financial might of city employee groups, but need to appeal to fiscally moderate and conservative voters in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere who may be concerned about government spending, he said. "How do you establish your bona fides as a reformer on questions of pensions and benefits for represented workers and, on the other hand, come across as a friend to labor?" Gilliam asked. "The tightrope the smart candidate will walk is to say [to union members], 'We know the public is demanding some kind of reform and I will negotiate with you in a fair and reasonable way -- and the other person already has a record of harming you.' "