Words of Fire, the Frying Pan’s new poetry section debuted this week with a series poems the new mayor should read.
These five poems by some of L.A.’s finest poets are intended to help Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti look closely at our city and listen with care to its diverse voices, from janitors to sidewalk fruit sellers to donut shop insomniacs. They are also an antidote to the platitudes of the campaign trail, and a reminder that the best political speech – and acts – can tap into people’s deepest emotions and aspirations.
the crowded foyer of the L.A. County Museum
of Natural History, and babies shriek like bats
in the elevator that lowers my daughter
and me to the basement….
Eric Garcetti has enormous potential to be one of L.A.’s great mayors. He is young (just 42), full of energy, experienced in politics and government, passionate about L.A., brimming with policy ideas, compassionate toward the disadvantaged and a great communicator and explainer. I saw many of these traits up-close when I co-taught a course with him at Occidental College in 2000, and have watched him blossom as he joined the City Council and served as its president.
Now he faces the daunting challenges of running America’s second-biggest, and most diverse, city.
No mayor can succeed unless he or she attends to the routine civic housekeeping tasks that residents expect from municipal governments – fix the potholes, keep traffic flowing, maintain public safety, keep the parks and playgrounds clean and in good repair.
But Garcetti didn’t run for mayor just to be a caretaker. He promised more.
The political leadership of Los Angeles is changing hands in a month – bringing tremendous challenge and opportunity.
One of the greatest opportunities, for our Mayor-elect and the biggest batch of new City Council members we’ve had in over a decade, is finishing the transformation of our archaic commercial waste and recycling system into a highly effective national model. I say finish because we’re almost there.
Why is this important?
Well, for starters, we’re running out of space to deal with our waste. For decades, as a city and region, we’ve relied on a constellation of toxic landfills, many of which have closed. The largest of those, Puente Hills, is set to close next year, which is going to create a genuine problem for the region, particularly cities like Los Angeles that throw the most away.
The success of Measure R, passed by voters in 2008, the “30-10” plan to accelerate implementation of our transit revolution, and the 66 percent “yes” vote on Measure J each demonstrates that Los Angeles voters are ready to invest in a transportation transformation. There is an opportunity now and a coalition partnership available that’s too good to waste. Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti we must continue cultivating this voter trust and this partnership of labor, business, environmental, community groups and elected officials who share a common vision — of a Los Angeles with a clean public transportation system that is both robust and financially sound, and that has a vigorous economy with prosperity that is widely shared.
As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has demonstrated so clearly, we can think big about solutions to our challenges as a region — and we can expect to succeed.
Now that the L.A. mayoral race is over, its winner, Eric Garcetti, has much to do to help advance an environmental agenda for Los Angeles. He has a strong record of environmental protection and I’m confident that as mayor he can lead the City to a big and bold vision of environmental sustainability. There are several major issues L.A. will need to address during the next four years. A comprehensive report prepared by UCLA serves as a more in depth analysis than this blog can undertake, but here are some of the major issues that Mayor Garcetti should undertake.
This next year is going to be critical to advancing a future that relies less on landfills and more on reducing, reusing and recycling. Of immediate priority, Eric Garcetti needs to push hard with the City Council to vote on the single-use plastic bag ban ordinance,
South L.A. is the neediest and most politically challenging part of the city that gets in the news chiefly for the story of its shifting demographics — from mostly black to mostly Latino. Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti’s background fits nicely into that story. He is being touted as the first Jewish mayor, although the heritage he touted openly and often during campaign season was Latino. That’s identity politics, technically, but his win was hardly as landmark a moment as were Tom Bradley or Antonio Villaraigosa’s victories. But it was effective. Garcetti captured a solid majority of the Latino vote — 60 percent. Every elected official in the country and especially in California and Los Angeles is keenly aware of the upward trend of Latino political influence and the need to address it.
Garcetti didn’t really have to do a hard sell because of the Mexican heritage on his father’s side—his great-grandfather was killed during the Mexican Revolution—and he speaks fluent Spanish.
Is it too soon to hope that the snickering will end?
One theme of our coverage of the marijuana industry has been to make it clear that dispensaries are an industry and should exist. They employ L.A. residents, they have suppliers and customers, they pay rents and taxes. Like it or not, this industry is here to stay; it is not a sideshow, and it deserves some respect. With the preliminary results from Tuesday’s election, it seems that voters embraced the notion.
At the time of this writing on Wednesday morning, it appears that Los Angeles passed Measure D by a margin of more than 25 percentage points. More people voted for Measure D than voted for either mayoral candidate. Measure D was put on the ballot by the City Council, and was backed by a set of dispensaries, as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union,
Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s two-year campaign to become Los Angeles’ first Jewish-Mexican-Italian-American mayor ended in victory early this morning when his challenger, City Controller Wendy Greuel, phoned the candidate shortly before 2 a.m. to concede.
A preliminary count released by the L.A. City Clerk’s office put the margin of victory at eight points, with Garcetti taking 53.92 percent to Gruel’s 46.07 percent. Those numbers mirrored an unofficial Loyola Marymount exit poll taken earlier on Tuesday.
With 380,108 total votes cast, Garcetti’s victory comes amid one of the lowest voter turnouts ever for an L.A. mayor’s race, with a mere 19 percent of registered voters bothering to cast a ballot.
Early returns had Greuel out in front by a slim two-point margin. And while the Garcetti camp remained publicly confident throughout the evening, campaign insiders were nervously eying their smart phones, worried that an especially low turnout could result in the kind of squeaker that would deny their candidate a definitive win until the City Clerk’s official tally three weeks from now.
Although voters had been warned that it might take weeks after Election Day for a winner in the Los Angeles mayoral race to be declared, outgoing City Councilman Eric Garcetti decisively bested the outgoing Controller, Wendy Greuel, to become the city’s 42nd mayor. Garcetti, 42, will take office July 1.
The race, which had been predicted by some pollsters to be headed toward a dead heat, was effectively over by 11 p.m. last night, when Garcetti pulled ahead of Greuel and never looked back. In a forecast of his victory made hours before, exit polling by Loyola Marymount University showed Garcetti ahead by a comfortable eight points.
By 3:15 a.m. Wednesday, the City Clerk’s final election bulletin placed the vote count as 181,995 for Garcetti (53.92 percent) and 155,497 (46.07 percent) for Greuel.
Frying Pan News will post first-hand coverage of scenes from the two candidates’ Election Night celebrations later this morning.
Los Angeles’ polls close at 8 p.m. tonight, so there’s plenty of time to vote – and brush up on who and what is on the ballot. Frying Pan News, which does not endorse candidates, has been providing election coverage throughout the spring — offering in-depth interviews with mayoral hopefuls Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, as well as asking political thinkers like Raphe Sonenshein and Jonathan Parfrey their opinions on what L.A.’s next mayor should do in his or her first term. We also sent veteran reporter Marc Haefele around town to ask what advice (and complaints) voters have for City Hall.
For a complete index of our features, see Frying Pan News’ Next L.A. section.
When you see a news story about Election Day in Los Angeles there’s a good chance it’s not about any issues or personalities involved during any one campaign, but about the city’s poor voter turnout. Depending on who you read, L.A. is the city that is too lazy for democracy, or too cool, bored or indifferent. Watching our turnout numbers fall has become a spectator’s sport, like watching a limbo dancer – how low can we go?
But whether 200 or two million people vote today, the future of this city cannot be sneered or shrugged away. We remain a troubled town with infinite resources, a divided city with the potential for great unity. Pundits may bemoan a sameness with the two mayoral candidates, or the lack of sexy ballot initiatives, but like it or not, Los Angeles will begin changing July 1, when the new mayor takes office.
(Jack Lavitch and Henry Lee are two West L.A. retirees who are also part-time, second-hand car buyers. They were lunching at Philippe the Original sandwich diner near central Chinatown when asked about the coming mayor’s race.)
“First and foremost, the next mayor should fix up our city streets. There are potholes everywhere and they are a danger to us all. This would be something everyone could easily see — it would make a huge difference for everyone. That’s something [the mayor] could actually accomplish. It wouldn’t cost that much and it would make us all feel better about the whole city.”
“Oh yes,” he adds, biting into his sandwich. “He could get everyone free French dips like this one every Friday. I am joking.”
Jack is skeptical about official claims stating the city is nearing bankruptcy. “Maybe they actually are but they haven’t convinced me or the public.
(As the May 21 mayoral runoff election approaches, Frying Pan News is asking voters what they believe the next mayor’s priorities should be — as well as what he or she should avoid doing once in office. This week reporter Marc Haefele interviews three San Fernando Valley voters near the corner of Van Nuys and Burbank boulevards; all three women are Van Nuys residents.)
We do need a better distribution of wealth in our city. At the same time, we need more funding for both teachers and police. Of course I’d like to see more jobs, but how much can the mayor alone do to accomplish something like that? Maybe we can only work with that problem on the national level. There was a lot of flash to Antonio Villaraigosa and yet not too much substance.
For five years a chorus of voices has been predicting bankruptcy for Los Angeles, while often calling for deeper cuts to city employee pensions. Today, however, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed a budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 that includes a one-time surplus of $119 million. While some of that surplus would rely on additional pay and benefit reductions for city workers, even without such cuts the city would have a projected surplus of close to $100 million.
“It’s better than seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – we’re almost out of the tunnel!” Matt Szabo, Mayor Villaraigosa’s deputy chief of staff, told Frying Pan News in an interview last week. Szabo discussed the city’s financial picture and said that dire financial warnings have been largely overblown.
“One of the issues that’s highly irritating is the ease with which some people have thrown around the bankruptcy term,” Szabo said.
(As the May 21 mayoral runoff election approaches, Frying Pan News is asking voters what they believe the next mayor’s priorities should be — as well as what he or she should avoid doing once in office. This week reporter Marc Haefele interviews South Los Angeles residents at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the sprawling retail complex located at Martin Luther King Jr. and Crenshaw boulevards.)
I would hope the new mayor would at least do better than the current one. Of course, they are all politicians aren’t they — what can you expect? Sometimes the most you can do is to hope that it just doesn’t get worse when someone new is elected.
But here’s what I hope the new mayor would do — do a lot more to help the poor folks. Help them to get more opportunities. The economy right now is still simply horrible for poor folks.
(Raphael “Raphe” Sonenshein is executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs and has headed charter-reform and neighborhood council review commissions. A California State University political science professor, Sonenshein is also an author whose books have analyzed racial and reform politics. He spoke to Frying Pan News about what he believes are the biggest tasks facing L.A.’s next mayor – as well as telling reporter Marc Haefele what candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel should avoid during the campaign before the May 21 runoff election.)
The Biggest Job
The next mayor has to reinvent his office as an office of strength, because just being elected doesn’t hand you that. Once you are in you will be dealing with very powerful forces of the community and very powerful forces at City Hall —
Let the hand-wringing begin! In last week’s primary election, just over 16 percent of Los Angeles voters turned out at the polls, less than four years ago, which was less than the election before that, which was less than the election before that – and on and on. In Southern California municipalities – big city or small – elections draw about 20 percent of the vote. This is a problem in a democracy.
Low turnouts mean that more and more money gets spent on fewer and fewer voters, and when only a small minority of voters go to the polls, elected officials make major policy decisions based on a narrower group of constituents. In a democratic society, where people are empowered to make decisions that affect their lives, fewer voters mean diminished participation and less accountability.
In the early 1980s, when reformers first took a majority of seats on the City Council in Santa Monica,
But what does it really mean to be a good fiscal watchdog in the city of Los Angeles? As a long-time city commissioner and community leader, I have found that the biggest demonstration of strong leadership is the willingness to stand up to the powerful corporate interests and their lobbyists, who continue to dominate most of the decisions made at City Hall.
In 2012, “clients” spent more than $35 million on lobbyists hired to influence City Hall decision-makers. For-profit corporations accounted for more than $31 million of that. Unions spent less than $700,000 on paid lobbyists. The list of companies paying lobbyists to represent their interests at City Hall is a Who’s Who of corporate America.
We present the following guide to show where three front-running mayoral candidates stand on issues affecting jobs and the local economy. Except as noted, all quotes are drawn from our interviews with the candidates. (Jan Perry did not respond to interview requests.) Please note that Frying Pan News does not endorse candidates.
Jobs are extremely important but depend on a revitalized business sector.
“The first thing on my agenda is putting this city back to work, making City Hall work for everybody but then also getting jobs back here — good, middle-class, decent-paying jobs with benefits.”
“I will be the jobs tsar. I will be the person in the city that is going to go out and talk to businesses and encourage them to move to the city of Los Angeles and to grow.”
“We have a shockingly high unemployment rate – it’s 50 percent higher than the national average.
Yesterday we published Part One of a conversation with mayoral hopeful Kevin James, continuing our interviews with Los Angeles’ front-running candidates. James is an entertainment lawyer and talk-show host, who has previously served as a U.S. prosecutor and AIDS Project Los Angeles co-chairman. (The series’ interviews, which have been edited for clarity, include Eric Garcetti, Parts One and Two, and Wendy Greuel, Parts One and Two.)
Frying Pan News: Your campaign’s main selling point is that you are not a City Hall insider, that you have no institutional connection to the city’s budget problems. Other than this, why should Angelenos vote for you?
Kevin James: Neighborhoods across our city believe that this City Council has shut them out, that they don’t have a voice.