Another Election, March 3: Triumvirate set to take over Los Angeles

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By Jim Smith

Three closely allied politicians may rule Los Angeles after the March 3 elections. The three amigos are Wendy Greuel, the favorite to win the Controller’s race; Jack Weiss, the leading candidate for City Attorney, and Antonio Villaraigosa, who looks like a shoe-in for a second term as Mayor.

Is this good or bad for Venice, L.A. and the world? It’s bad. These three close friends will be able to wield enormous power in the city. Just suppose that our Councilperson, Bill Rosendahl, takes a position that the Mayor doesn’t like. He can sic the Controller on him to audit his books, or turn the City Attorney lose to investigate his public/private connections. 

Even worse, the LAPD Chief, William Bratton, is starring in commercials for the election of los tres. How peculiar that the head of the police is attempting to say who his civilian bosses will be. When did they stop enforcing laws and ordinances and start making them?

Of course, the election of the three would be very good for Villaraigosa, who has his eye on the Governor’s office in Sacramento. Not only can he put the screws to office holders, city workers and lobbyists to get behind his campaign, but with Greuel and Weiss on the job, he will be able to keep his thumb on them even in far-away Sacramento.

Not since the First Triumvirate of Gaius Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus got together to rule Rome in 60 BCE, have the spoils of a city been so available for legal looting.

What can you do about it? Go to the polls on March 3 and vote for anyone running against these three. It doesn’t matter who you vote for as long as Greuel, Weill and Villaraigosa are kept under 50 percent of the vote. That will force a runoff. If you’re already fed up with the city government, then work for Venice Cityhood. Venetians could be counted on to make sure no one, two or three people gained so much power.

For more recommendations from the Beachhead, see last month’s issue at:

• The March 3 Election – A real snoozer
 Go to: http://tinyurl.com/ccjug3

• Solar Power to the People? What’s Wrong With Measure B Go to: http://tinyurl.com/cs9rjt

BONUS: Parking restrictions to be relaxed within one block of a polling place. No need to plug the meter.

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February: The March 3 Election – A Real Snoozer

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If you ever wanted to miss voting in an election without having a guilty conscious, March 3 may be your day.

How can a civic-minded newspaper say such a thing. Well, you can call it being realistic. There is no serious opposition in most races. There is no “change guy” running to turn things around in L.A. Yes, the Mayor is running for reelection, but there is no well-known opposition, unless you count Zuma Dogg. Bill Rosendahl is running for reelection for city council. His only opponent is on the far rightwing of the political spectrum. 

If you decide to vote, here are the Beachhead recommendations:

For Mayor: Antonio Villaraigosa has blown it, big time. He campaigned four years ago with the support of nearly every progressive in town. He won election and was quickly seduced by the Dark Side. He even rode a corporate jet to Rosa Parks funeral. Rosa Parks, who started the civil rights movement by boycotting the segregated Birmingham, Alabama, buses. She walked, and Antonio flew in style. He could have been a positive role model of thousands of Latino youth. But he blew that one too. When Lincoln Place tenants asked for his help, he denounced them for not giving in to LP’s corporate owner. Don’t reward bad behavior with your vote.

For Council District 11: Bill Rosendahl has stood out in sharp contrast to the Mayor. He has gone to bat for Lincoln Place tenants, and he’s done the right thing on many other issues that affect Venice. Sadly, he has dropped the ball when it comes to helping the weakest among us, the homeless. Bill has talked a good game about finding places to park for those forced to live in RVs. He’s expressed compassion for our Venice neighbors who live on the street. But when it comes to action, we’re still waiting. He’s sided with the homeless haters who would impose a parking permit tax on all of us, in their misguided attempt to force the RVs out of Venice. Sorry Bill, we can’t endorse you and remain true to the homeless at the same time.

For City Attorney: Hooray, Rocky Delgadillo, our worst City Attorney, perhaps in history, is leaving office. He’s been picketed a number of times by angry tenants who resent his biased support of landlords. The favorite to succeed him is Jack Weiss, a city councilmember who has been a target of recall for all the right reasons. Jack Weiss would not be much of an improvement. Also running is Noel Weiss, a Venice resident who represents some of the Lincoln Place tenants. He’s not universally favored by the tenants, but he would be an improvement on Jack Weiss (no relation).

For Controller: Unfortunately, Laura Chick is termed out of office. Her audits kept the rest of the gang at city hall on their toes. Running to replace her are Wendy Greuel, a city councilmember, and Nick Patsaouras, a transportation expert. Greuel has done nothing to shout about during her term at city hall. On the other hand, Patsaouras is intelligent and seems honest. Qualities that might come in handy as Controller.

Other Offices: Angela Reddock, who ran against Bill Rosendahl four years ago on a platform including a moratorium on development, is running for the Community College Board of Trustees. She should be supported. Nancy Pearlman, a candidate for a different Community College seat is a Green who began running for this office in the ‘90s on a very low budget. After building name recognition, she finally won a few years ago. She’s done a good job, and is running for reelection.

The Propositions

Also on the ballot are five propositions (called Measures in Los Angeles). When it comes to propositions from the city of Los Angeles, it’s best just to vote no. Most of them involve some scheme for someone, or some group, to get rich at your expense. Other measures don’t do what the voters think they will. A case in point is the 2006 measure to increase monthly trash fees from $11 to $28 in order to hire 1,000 new LAPD officers. Didn’t happen. According to City Controller Laura Chick, much of the money was used to increase the LAPD budget without hiring new officers.  

One of them is highly controversial, even though it has an innocent sounding title, “Solar Energy and Job Creation Program.” See sidebar for the story (to the left).

Polls will be open at the usual locations on March 3 from 7 AM to 8 PM.

–The Beachhead Collective

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February: Solar Power to the People? – What’s Wrong With Measure B

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By Jim Smith

Most voters in the city of Los Angeles may not be even dimly aware that an election is scheduled to take place on March 3. But to many insiders battle lines have already been drawn on Measure B – Solar Power and Job Creation – that is one of five propositions on the ballot.

Opponents claim that it is a power play by the Dept. of Water and Power (DWP) and by its union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11. They say electric rates will be raised unnecessarily. One of the opponents is former Venice Neighborhood Council President Dede Audet.

Supporters of the measure say it is a straightforward attempt to dramatically increase the installation of solar power in Los Angeles. They say that electric rates will either not increase or will increase by a modest amount. Joining Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in signing the supporting argument on the ballot is Mike Newhouse, the current President of the Venice Neighborhood Council.

Supporters went so far as to sue to block the opponents ballot argument, claiming it contained false and misleading statements. However, Judge David Yaffe, who has been involved in the ongoing Lincoln Place drama, and is no friend of the tenants, threw out the suit, saying that there is little substance to the measure, anyway. Representing the opponents in court was Venice attorney, Noel Weiss.

Newhouse told the Beachhead he signed on to the measure because, “we are finally reaching a point where development of alternative energies and green jobs are backed by significant political will, and have become much more mainstream concepts.”

Aside from Newhouse, most Neighborhood Council leaders around L.A. are strongly opposed to Measure B, seeing it as an end-run around their organizations. In addition, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC), an umbrella group, is fighting the measure.

Soledad Garcia, President of the LANCC’s DWP Committee, told the Beachhead that “the City did not provide voters with the costs analysis, adequate plans, evidence of resources and enough workforce numbers to complete the plan within the time line.” She also believes that the neighborhood councils were not provided with adequate input. “Voters are being asked to pass the solar program without providing them costs until after the elections,” added Garcia. Not so, says Newhouse, “The City Council took a public vote on this matter, and voted unanimously that Measure B go on the ballot.” 

Dede Audet is also concerned that rates will increase drastically if the measure is passed. She says the City is claiming it will receive tax credits and deductions that are not available to the DWP under the solar proposal that will appear on the ballot.

In addition, it seems to this reporter that an undercurrent of anti-unionism runs through the opposition. Not all opponents are anti-union by any means. In fact, one of the activists is a prominent retired union official, Humberto Camacho (He is also President of the Pico-Union Neighborhood Council.). 

However, some of the opponents attack the measure as being union inspired, and that it will create a monopoly for the IBEW. It is true that the measure mandates that all work be done by IBEW members, which could be a good thing, since they will all receive a union apprenticeship training program, good wages and benefits. Some opponents, including Ron Kaye, former managing editor of the L.A. Daily News, see this provision as simply increasing costs which, he says, will be borne by ratepayers. Some other neighborhood council leaders seem to be disposed to opposing unions on general principles and because they view them as a rival, perhaps the chief rival, to neighborhood councils for power in the city of Los Angeles.

In fact, the opponents, mostly from neighborhood councils, are lined up against nearly the entire Los Angeles power structure. The pro and con spending on Measure B is likely to be very lopsided in favor of labor, business and city hall. The outcome will be a landslide for Measure B unless the neighborhood councils surprise most observers and show that they really do represent the “average Joe’s” of L.A. and have the ability to turn them out. The NCs have a lot riding on this election, including their own credibility.

Councilperson Bill Rosendahl has not yet taken a stand on Measure B. He told the Beachhead that he voted for placing it on the ballot, with the understanding that voters would be told how much it will cost. Rosendahl, and the public, may find out the price tag at a town hall he is sponsoring at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17 at Daniel Webster Middle School, 11330 West Graham Place. DWP representatives are expected to speak.

Opponents of Measure B act as if all the problems associated with Measure B are a fluke, and not business as usual for the city. It is hard for this reporter to envision a “clean” solar power proposition where no one is on the take, and where the residents of the city are not taken for a ride. Like most other actions taken by the city, this one will cost much more than it needs to cost, will be inefficient, and will likely result in future scandals that will keep the media busy for years to come. Yet, the question has to be asked: how else will we ever get solar power in this city?

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