Election Analysis: Los Angeles Municipal Election 5/21/13

userpic=voteFor the last few weeks, my phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from home remodeling outfits, solar electricity salescritters, offers to reduce my loan rate, null calls, … and pollsters. The pollsters all want to know how I’m going to vote in the upcoming municipal Los Angeles election, and I tell them all the same thing: I start each election fresh, and make up my mind after I’ve received the sample ballot and after I’ve done an analysis of the candidates and their positions. Well this week I received my sample ballot, so it is now time to do the analysis.

Los Angeles Mayor: Greuel vs. Garcetti

This is the big race: electing someone to replace Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been a so-so mayor for Los Angeles (his only real positive legacy is in the area of transportation). After an interesting primary election, the field has been narrowed down to two candidates: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. Both candidates are very similar, and truth be told, Los Angeles will have a good leader no matter which of the two wins. This is a good position to be in.

Garcetti is the current council member for District 13 in the Hollywood area. Greuel is a former council member, and current Los Angeles City controller. A recent LA Times article noted they have similar records, but very different styles. Garcetti grew up in the Valley, moved away from LA, and now resides and associates with the hipster communities in Hollywood, Silverlake, and Echo Park. He is a skilled pianist who recently jammed at a fundraiser with Moby; his father is former Los Angeles DA Gil Garcetti. He attended the private Harvard-Westlake High School. Greuel is more down-to-earth. She was born in the Valley, and has lived in the Valley all her life. She drives a hybrid SUV, favors modest skirt suits and marks snack duty for her son’s soccer games on her official city calendar. She enjoys listening to Elton John. Her family has run a building supply store in North Hollywood, and she’s an alumna of Kennedy High School in Granada Hills. I think in terms of personal style and background, I’d have to give the point to Gruel.

Endorsement-wise, they’ve been battling for endorsements. Garcetti has the support of the LA Times and the Daily Bruin, of councilmembers such as Ruth Galanter, Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, Jan Perry and Emanuel Pleitez (both candidates in the primary), a number of unions including the California Federation of Teachers, numerous actors and leaders, and the sole republican candidate for Mayor, Kevin James. Greuel has an equal number of name supporters, including Bill Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Richard Riorden (the former mayor), loads of congress and assembly people, and most notably, the public utility unions. In fact, most of the unions support Greuel, with the notable exception being the Teacher’s union (so the LAUSD board is behind Greuel, and the teachers behind Garcetti). The troubling aspects here are the LA DWP unions, which have held a bit too much power in the city…. but the teachers are behind Garcetti. Which union wields its power for good, and which for evil. Right now, on the endorsement side, I’m giving the point to Garcetti, but it really is a split decision.

Let’s look at some other issues. Garcetti has had some troubling issues with conflicts of interest, and specifically not recusing or admitting when those conflicts existed. This occurred both in the Clear Channel vote and ownership interests in leases under Beverly Hills High School. Greuel has also had conflicts of interest. I do think Greuel will be more fiscally responsible. Both support tunnels under the Sepulveda Pass for transit (like that will ever happen). Greuel supports the LAX modernization plan that will drastically impact Westchester; Garcetti is opposed to it.  Although I agree somewhat with Garcetti regarding LAX, the other issues here make me lean towards Greuel. Again, a split decision, this time with a leaning towards Greuel.

I think it boils down to issues and vision. Here I’m leaning like I did with John Anderson — going for the candidate that clearly articulates their vision the best. The point here is clearly Greuel’s. She’s sent out a booklet to all voters detailing her positions, and she has a clear summary on her website of all her positions. Garcetti only has a few positions on his website. Further, I like how Greuel is emphasizing jobs and transportion issues, and looks to be emphasizing growing technology jobs.  She has the right ideas regarding schools (and more importantly, has experience with the LA Unified Public Schools). She’ll also, I feel, understand the needs of the valley better.

In the primary, Greuel was initially my favorite, but my analysis swayed me towards Perry. At the last minute, transit issues switched me to Garcetti. Looking again at the two contenders, I’m still mostly in the middle, but leaning slightly towards Greuel. I think she’s more like the people of the city, and less of a hipster looking for status (which was one of the current mayor’s problems).

Conclusion: Wendy Greuel.

City Attorney: Trutanich vs. Feuer

Yet another epic battle, this time between the current city attorney Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich and termed-out assemblycritter Mike Feuer. I remember when Trutanich ran the first time on a strong law and order campaign, and then lost the faith of the city by then running for District Attorney before his first term was even out. Feuer, who has the endorsement of the LA Times, is attempting to stay in politics after being termed-out at the state level.

Endorsement-wise, Nuch has the sheriff, a former city attorney, Riordan, and some councilcritters and unions behind him. Feuer has even more supporters, including all the major papers, lots of local and national leaders, and loads of unions and law enforcement.

Looking at the positions of the two candidates, Feuer has a much more detailed statement of positions on the issues than does Nuch, who really only has three short videos detailing his positions.

In short, I don’t believe Nuch (Trutanich) has proven himself a successful city attorney deserving of a second term. I think Feuer will do a better job. This was my conclusion in the primary as well.

Conclusion: Mike Feuer.

City Controller: Galperin vs. Zine

This contest is between a current city councilman/reserve police officer, Dennis Zine, vs. an efficiency commissioner and businessman, Ron Galperin. The analysis I did at the primary showed that  although Zine is a good man, his focus is not financial but law and order. Galperin has a fiscal focus that is important in the city controller.

Looking at the issues again, I see that Galperin still has the endorsements of the major papers, many congresscritters, former Mayor Riorden, Kevin James, loads of unions, and all the Democratic clubs. Zine’s endorsements are primarily law enforcement unions plus citycouncil members and other political leaders. It almost looks like city leaders are endorsing Zine, and those whose oxen wouldn’t be gored by an investigation are endorsing Galperin.

More important to me is constrasting the background of Zine vs. Galperin. Zine’s emphasis throughout his career has been law enforcement and law and order. Fiscal responsibility and efficiency has been there, but in the background. Galperin, on the other hand, has been focused on the financial and fiscal aspects, looking into how to do more with less. In this era where flat budgets are considered the new norm, we need that financial focus.

Conclusion: Ron Galperin.

Los Angeles Community College District, Seat Nº 6: Pearlman vs Vela

In the primary, there were four candidates: Tom Oliver, Nancy Pearlman, Michael Aldapa, and David Vela. The LA Times endorsed Oliver. Only Oliver and Pearlman had real websites. Oliver is a past college president, but his issues statement focuses on student improvement. Pearlman doesn’t have that focus, and continues to support the problematic building program.

Now it is Pearlman vs. Vela. Vela now has a website, and the endorsement of the Democratic party and labor, among others. Pearlman’s website is much less polished, doesn’t detail her positions, and even pimps her cabin in the woods. She does, however, have an impressive list of endorsements. The Times has endorsed Pearlman, stating that she has better experience and goals than does Vela.

Contrasting their backgrounds, Pearlman doesn’t bring much to the table other than currently being involved in the issues. Vela brings a lot, but little is educated related.

Conclusion: Nancy Pearlman, solely on the strength of the Times recommendation.

Measure C: Resolution Regarding Rights of Corporations

This is an advisory resolution that there should be limits on political campaign spending, and that corporations should not have the constitutional rights of human beings. It simply encourages congress to pass a constitutional amendment.

Conclusion: For.

Measures D, E, F: Competing Medical Marijuana Proposals

The state long ago approved medical marijuana, but left it up to the cities to regulate the cooperatives. Los Angeles has totally screwed up doing this, resulting in the mess we see in the ballot today.  What happened is there was a plan in place before 2007 and a number of coops followed it. Then in 2007 that plan was set aside and pot shops proliferated. The city then tried to close them all down. The CSUN Daily Sundial has a good analysis of the issue.

Measure D basically limits the establishments to those approved before 2007 (about 135), increases the taxes, and defines rules for those establishments. Measure E roughly does the same thing, and the people who supported E have moved their support to D (E was an initiative, D from the city council). F establishes no limits on the number of establishments, but does increase taxes and puts in some quality rules.

Both of the papers have come out in favor of D. My initial thought was to vote yes on all of them. However, after reading more, D seems the best of the three.

Conclusion: Yes on Measure D; No on Measures E and F.