By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But, as several longtime Zevologists note, the supervisor from the Westside/Valley district can now afford to wait. No one in L.A. politics can raise money faster than Zev. No one but Wachs has a longer track record; no one but Hahn represents a larger district. Above all, no one starts with a bigger base of support in the first round of voting than Zev, who is the natural candidate of thousands of mainstream Democrats west of La Brea and on both sides of Mulholland.
And while Yaroslavsky has been busy not running, he has methodically spent the past year working on issues of concern to a key constituency outside his base: the Latino-labor alliance. Within the past year, Yaroslavsky has been the leading force behind the county's new living-wage ordinance (and the only real voice among the supes for expanding it further). He's been the one member of the MTA board to side consistently with the Bus Riders Union in its fight to get more resources committed to improving bus service. He offered crucial support to the efforts to organize home-care workers earlier this year; he even paraded in the Justice for Janitors march, which commemorated their beating by the LAPD nine years ago in Century City, and put forth their new demands.
"The most important issue in Los Angeles," Yaroslavsky told Weekly editors last Friday, "is the growing gap between rich and poor -- which is manifested not just in finances, but in unequal education and access to health care. Raising income levels at the bottom of the L.A. economy is critical -- and I'm offended when millionaires, including some of my own financial supporters, squawk at raising the pay of the people who clean their toilets to $8 an hour."
Yaroslavsky's involvement in the key campaigns of low-wage L.A. marks a fascinating turn in a career that has long been centered on battles to rein in the excesses of private- and public-sector development. Of the four successful initiatives Yaroslavsky has authored during his quarter century on the council and then the board of supes, one -- Proposition O -- banned Occidental Petroleum from drilling off the Palisades, a second -- Proposition U -- banned high-rise development save in a handful of areas around town, and a third -- last year's Proposition A -- banned any further expenditure of county sales-tax revenues on subway construction. (There is something, well, ground level about Yaroslavsky's ballot measures: They stop either the digging of holes or the building of skyscrapers).
Join the Yaroslavsky of the ballot measures to the Yaroslavsky of the living wage, and you get the candidate of Controlled Growth With Equity -- a weird amalgam ã which might just be exquisitely attuned to the politics of the new Los Angeles. There's a good deal here for his Westside/Valley base, but also a good deal for the Latino-labor alliance, whose support -- particularly in a runoff against Hahn -- could be decisive.
Not that Yaroslavsky doesn't have some fences to mend. "Within the Latino community, the more nationalist elements around [state Senator Richard] Polanco think Zev is simply anti-Latino for opposing an Eastside subway and a larger version of County General [Hospital]," says one Eastside observer. "That misreads Zev, but he's got to sit down with them and make that clear."
Should he run, however, Yaroslavsky's immediate problem is to pull enough votes out of what could be a very divided Westside and Valley to make the June runoff. West Valley Council Member Laura Chick has made that task a little simpler by deciding not to run, but now California State Controller Kathleen Connell, who has ample money of her own to spend on a campaign, is reportedly considering a go at it. "She could well be the only woman in the race," says former Assemblyman (and 1993 mayoral candidate) Richard Katz, who's been talking with Connell. "People have voted for her on a statewide basis, and she brings legitimate private- and public-sector financial experience to the job." What she doesn't bring is much of a public profile, nor is it clear that there's a sizable gender bounce in a municipal race like this one.
One Yaroslavsky constituency that no one will contest is the L.A. Jewish establishment: The organized Jewish community is Zev's base of all bases. "But if Zev doesn't go," says one leader of the Valley Jewish community, "it gets very complicated. I foresee a Wachs-Soboroff-Antonio split."
"Antonio?" I ask.
"Antonio is out here all the time," he says. "Antonio is everywhere."
IN A SENSE, VILLARAIGOSA IS A MIRROR image of Yaroslavsky. He begins the race as the candidate of the Latino-labor alliance and whatever there is of a cross-town progressive community, and he is working furiously to win Westside and Valley support. Hence he has authorized state funds to finance the secession-feasibility study, though he is himself opposed to secession. He has involved himself in the Westside's fight against the phone company's 310-overlay plan. He speaks at the slightest opportunity against ethnocentric politics of every stripe; he consistently calls attention to the working poor, but is careful to cultivate business.