If you watched the Roosevelt series on PBS, as I did, you might have been struck by how Teddy and FDR saw their presidential duties. Both acted on the belief that the role of the federal government was to secure the material wellbeing of the American people. In their eyes the central government had a responsibility for full employment, living wage jobs and reining in the power of corporate America, among other initiatives. They took responsibility for how the national economy impacted the ordinary citizen and saw government action as a vehicle to reverse economic suffering.
Fast forward to the present. We now have a largely paralyzed federal government, consumed in debate over whether or not government action is a curse or a blessing, and unable or unwilling to address the widening income gap. In response, many major American cities are stepping into that pro-active, Roosevelt role; new minimum wage laws have been passed,
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray used last May Day to announce that business and labor had agreed to a historic plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Seattle’s bold measure is part of a growing wave of activism and local legislation around the country to help lift the working poor out of poverty. The gridlock in Washington – where Congress hasn’t boosted the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour, since 2009 – has catalyzed a growing movement in cities and states.
The Seattle victory was a game-changer. Within months, politicians in other cities jumped on the bandwagon. San Diego city officials voted in August to adopt a $11.50 an hour by 2017. In San Francisco, which already has a citywide minimum wage, voters will decide in November whether to raise it to $15.
On September 24, the Los Angeles City Council voted by a 12 to 3 margin to require large hotels to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers.
The recent Los Angeles City Council vote to raise hourly pay for 10,000 hotel workers to $15.37 could be part of an historic groundswell to create a new minimum wage across Los Angeles and beyond.
The Los Angeles City Council is expected to soon take up an introductory motion that would raise compensation for more than half a million employees throughout the city now laboring at California’s minimum $9 hourly standard.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who rolled out the proposal on Labor Day with eight council members at his elbow, commissioned an impact study that calculates some 567,000 workers would benefit from the pay raise by 2017.
Garcetti has proposed a wage of $13.25 an hour, which would result in an annual wage boost of $3,200 per worker. Some advocates are pushing for a higher wage, as well as other provisions including paid sick days and strict enforcement to guard against wage theft.
For days before Thanksgiving, 2009, Santa Ana winds had been blowing up ash and dust from the massive Station Fire that recently burned north of Los Angeles. The scorching, high-pressure weather system seemed a suitable climate for L.A.’s financial meltdown as the city entered the third year of America’s recessionary slump. Inside City Hall on that Wednesday before the holiday, government representatives and members of the news media listened to the testimony of a man who was on his way to becoming one of Los Angeles’ most powerful figures. He was only 40, held no elective office and had started his job as the City Administrative Officer just three months before.
Yet on this Thanksgiving eve Miguel Santana held the rapt attention of the City Council and journalists as he delivered shocking news: Los Angeles faced an imminent shortfall of $98 million and, based on his projections, the city could be burdened by a $1 billion debt by 2013.
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.
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.
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.
(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 —
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.
Frying Pan News continues its series of interviews with the leading mayoral candidates, who will face off in the March 5 primary. Part Two of our interview with City Councilmember Eric Garcetti appears today (click here to read Part One), followed Thursday by a conversation with City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Frying Pan News: Many in the business community would prefer the mayor to be a cheerleader for business, but in the last few years we’ve seen what happens when the economy is left to big corporations and financial institutions. How will you balance the interests of the business community and those who are desperately trying to find a path into the middle class?
Eric Garcetti: There’s no question that business is absolutely critical to our economic strength here, and by business it’s not necessarily just the large corporations – we’re talking about the mom and pop store,
Today Frying Pan News launches a series of interviews with the leading mayoral candidates, who will face off in the March 5 primary. Beginning with City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, we posed questions about what we think are the most pressing issues our next mayor must confront. Part One of our interview with Garcetti appears today; Part Two will run tomorrow, followed by a conversation with City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Frying Pan News: A lot of the mayoral debate so far has focused on challenges with the city budget and whether we should cut benefits for city employees. Can you paint your broad vision of how we bring good jobs, clean air and healthy communities to all of Los Angeles?
Eric Garcetti: Our recovery can’t be just about how we are going to cut more, tax more. My greatest fear is that we will have those who will do well no matter how bad things get – the highly educated,
Update: KPPC FM’s Hayley Fox reports that L.A. City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jan Perry is also declining Walmart campaign funds.
Los Angeles’ two top mayoral candidates announced Thursday they will not accept campaign contributions from Walmart, which is locked in a battle with community and labor groups over the retail giant’s plans to open a 3300-square-foot grocery store in Chinatown.
The pledges by L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and his chief opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel, bring new focus to Saturday’s protest march and rally against Walmart. Both candidates have endorsed the June 30 action.
“Los Angeles loses if we run a race to the bottom in terms of wages and working conditions,” Garcetti said. “Our economy needs good middle class jobs to get back on track, and that’s what we should be working toward.”
The two candidates urged other elected politicians to also refuse money from Walmart.