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
When 13th District L.A. City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg talks about her major accomplishments in 16 years of public office, she likes to talk about Hollywood -- and you like to listen. That’s because it‘s a good story. Anyone who’s spent some years in the world-famous, 4-square-mile entertainment district that‘s in both her present council district and her sought-after 45th Assembly District can see the improvement.
There is, for instance, the big TrizacHahnCRA development springing up north of Hollywood Boulevard and west of Highland Avenue. There’s the newfound paucity of empty storefronts along that once-dirty boulevard for most of its commercial length, from Mann‘s Chinese to well east of Vine Street. More importantly, perhaps, there is the obvious improvement in the Hollywood back streets that used to be crack alleys and cocaine highways. We are talking about thoroughfares like the notoriously druggy and gangy Selma corridor here. A lot of Hollywood is getting to be a nice place to live, again.
Hollywood’s downtown hinterland has active neighborhood organizations, clean streets, and a sort of self-esteem it‘s probably lacked since the teenage hookers trolled the area in the dawn of the Reagan administration. ”It’s part luck and part the economy,“ Goldberg agreed. But then, someone had to make it happen, too. Goldberg enjoys describing how she and her staff, which she often praises, managed to get the long-deadlocked Hollywood players -- the CRA, the property owners, the entertainment industry and the residents -- to talk and work together. ”It was like couples counseling,“ she said. ”First, people have to learn to stop assigning blame.“
Her opponent in the race, Cesar Portillo, might see this assertion in a different light; Portillo claimed last weekend that Goldberg‘s own campaign for the Assembly seat being vacated by Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa had been getting out the word about Portillo’s arrest nine years ago for alleged misdemeanor lewd conduct after being approached by an undercover LAPD officer. He said he paid a $200 fine and resigned from the LAUSD teaching job from which he was automatically suspended, pending an appeal he failed to make.
Goldberg and her campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, fervently denied the charge. Goldberg said she had heard of the allegation. Portillo, his staff and his family made the admission of the arrest at a Sunday news conference. ”We put it out there and put it to rest,“ said Portillo‘s campaign manager, Frank Bergad. ”We think we’re winning.“
The effect of Portillo‘s statements remains to be seen. But the arrest disclosure seemed, for the first time, to put the Portillo campaign on the defensive. Until now, Goldberg supporters, and even a few neutrals, have criticized Portillo’s campaign against the 55-year-old councilwoman and former LAUSD board member as overly aggressive. Some have even compared it to the controversial campaign whereby former Councilman Richard Alarcon two years ago narrowly beat out former Assemblyman Richard Katz for a Valley state Senate seat. Particularly when Portillo makes a point of the fact that the district is 70 percent Latino, with a 51 percent Latino plurality among registered voters.
”You don‘t have to be a Latino or gay [the 45th District also has a high gay population] to represent this district,“ he stated. ”But it is important to recall that the number of Latino representatives in Sacramento still doesn’t represent the overall [state Latino] population.“ He also resents that he gets accused of race-baiting when he refers to the real demographics of his district.
Goldberg talks of her far greater experience as an elected official. Besides her Hollywood showpiece and a claimed 800 new units of affordable housing, she can take much of the credit for establishing Los Angeles‘ landmark Living Wage Ordinance. She’s further extended that wage to jobs in the TrizacHahn development -- including all the jobs at the renovated hotel on the site. Goldberg has the unstinting support of most of the area‘s unions in her campaign, and added that, whatever the ethnic demography, more than half of the 45th District’s voters are union members.
But her opponent is no stranger to Sacramento. At 36, Portillo‘s longest employment has been as a lobbyist for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, writing and working for legislation to benefit people with AIDS and other chronic diseases. And Goldberg’s nine years on the school board concluded just as the monumentally wrong-headed Belmont Learning Complex was getting under way. Goldberg now claims that most of her efforts to provide a new high school at that time focused on acquiring the Ambassador Hotel property -- Belmont‘s predecessor fiasco, you might say. But documentation from that time indicates that Goldberg was a board member long enough to be involved with the acquisition of the original -- and gas-permeated -- 11 acres of that project. Goldberg states that she did not have any real knowledge of the toxics issues at the time, since the LAUSD staff kept such information from board members. She has a point there, although the issue did arise in school board deliberations, according to some who were present.
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