By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Any one of the major candidates in this race will probably be a good vote on issues such as the living-wage ordinance. Two of them, though, would be a good deal more than that, and are the candidates most worthy of consideration.
AS THE LONGTIME HEAD OF THE ONE STOP IMMIGRATION and Education Center, Juan José Gutiérrez has built one of the most effective advocacy and organizing centers in town. Under his leadership, One Stop has become a champion of the disfranchised city-within-a-city of L.A.'s immigrant poor. A Councilman Gutiérrez, we're confident, would bring the concerns of this consistently overlooked community before the council at every session. On issue after issue, Gutiérrez is ahead of the curve -- laying out a structure for neighborhood councils that would encourage the participation of noncitizens, prioritizing the building of libraries and the need for the city to keep them open when schools are out. His mere presence on the council would alter our civic discourse for the better.
Unfortunately, that's not all Gutiérrez brings to the table. His political judgment has been erratic: He was largely responsible for what was perceived as the strident nationalism of the massive anti-187 demonstration shortly before the '94 election, which surely hurt the anti-187 cause. His tenure at One Stop has been marked by controversies between Gutiérrez and his employees. The strength of his vision and his commitment, sadly, is sapped by his occasional lapses of judgment and conduct.
Alvin Parra offers almost a reverse image of Gutiérrez: He's not much on cosmic vision, but he boasts the most unblemished record of commitment to community concerns of any candidate in the field. A onetime field deputy for legendary Eastside Congressman Edward Roybal, and a Gloria Molina appointee to a county commission, Parra emerged from obscurity four years ago when he did the unthinkable: In 1995, he challenged Richard Alatorre for re-election, and by amassing 42 percent of the vote despite being outspent 10 to 1, he showed that the Godfather's power had drastically dwindled.
In a district where, during the 40-year tenures of Alatorre and his predecessor Art Snyder, money has talked and connections-to-the-councilman have screamed, Parra is the one candidate certain to prioritize the claims of communities over the demands of developers. He favors a moratorium on high-density developments, opposes the extension of the 710, and throws cold water on the subway fantasies that other candidates still harbor. As a neighborhood advocate, he's dubious about Police Chief Parks' assaults on community-based policing. Unlike Gutiérrez, he's not likely to alter the city's discussion of fundamental priorities, alas, but he is a sure bet to alter the 14th's culture of corruption. It would be nice to have a candidate who did both -- but since we don't, in a close call, we're going for Parra.
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, MEMBER OF THE BOARD
1st District -- Genethia Hayes
Imagine Nate Holden on the school board, and you've got a pretty good picture of 1st District incumbent Barbara Boudreaux. Like Holden, she's a civil rights crusader of yore who has curdled over the years into a divisive and demagogic nationalist, a board member whose interventions in policy discussions run the rather narrow gamut from the frivolous to the ineffective. Her chief contribution to ã the discussion of district curriculum was her strident defense of ebonics during the controversy several years back. It is on her watch, however, that the levels of educational attainment at the inner-city schools she professes to defend have continued to decline, and she is stunningly devoid of ideas for how to stop that decline.
There is, happily, an excellent alternative to Boudreaux on the ballot. Challenger Genethia Hayes has been an LAUSD teacher and a principal of a local religious school. She's been a member of the task force that founded the district's LEARN educational-reform project, and a compelling champion of fair but measurable standards of educational attainment. For the past several years, Hayes has been executive director of the Greater L.A. Southern Christian Leadership Conference -- the organization founded by Martin Luther King Jr. -- where she has overseen a gang-prevention program, Project AHEAD (which trains parents to be more involved in their children's schools), and other cross-racial dialogues and projects. Hayes had already declared her candidacy, and garnered support from a wide range of educational reformers and political progressives, when Richard Riordan hopped aboard her bandwagon. She would be an independent and highly intelligent addition to the school board, and we support her unstintingly.
3rd District -- Caprice Young
Eight years ago, Jeff Horton -- a progressive, intelligent, Yale-educated schoolteacher -- came onto the school board with a progressive, intelligent agenda. He was determined to demolish whatever vestiges of institutional racism remained within the district, and to secure full educational and human rights for the district's gay and lesbian students and staffers. Horton fought and won these and other battles, creating a more humane and decent district -- a notable legacy both then and now.
Over the years, however, Horton has evolved in ways that have at times surprised and disappointed. He has become the most able defender -- and enabler -- of an ancien régime that needs changing far more than it needs defending. He consistently failed to recognize or address any deficiencies in the district's bilingual-education program, laying the groundwork for the deeply flawed Proposition 227. With fellow board member Vickie Castro, he was the biggest booster of the Belmont High boondoggle -- displaying, in the process, a stubborn resistance to unpleasant new facts.
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