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
A Rhodes scholar who now teaches political science at Occidental College, Garcetti says his doctorate in Ethnicity and Nationalism (and poverty work in Africa) well qualifies him for what may be the most ethnically diverse district in the city. He identifies with Goldberg and wants ”to be a successor.“ He draws an interesting (and perhaps Goldberg-ish) distinction between the ideals of social equity and social practice. Garcetti quotes Dostoyevsky: ”The easy work is to love humanity; the hard work is to love your neighbor.“ He says he’s committed to police reform and neighborhood councils, and wants to see input from the latter into the former: ”The current police advisory board is a joke,“ he says. He‘s alert to the poorest areas: ”If all Los Angeles had the density of the Temple-Beaudry area,“ he notes, ”it would have 22 million people.“ Noting that as a City Council member, he’d have little say in the Los Angeles schools, he supports the completion of the new Belmont High School complex if the gas hazards can be offset.
He drives an electric car. Perhaps he just can‘t help looking like the freshest face in the race. He’s that race‘s second biggest fund-raiser, just behind Woo, with $111,000, and has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women and L.A. County Young Democrats.
Bennett Kayser seems always to have been active in the 13th. But the LAUSD middle school teacher says he first became involved in local-government causes during the 1980s battle to bring Los Angeles’ zoning and planning objectives into mutual compliance. Kayser trounced a mayor-endorsed competitor in the 1997 City Charter Commission election. He became one of the hardest-working members of the Elected Charter Reform Commission.
”I believe in inclusiveness,“ he says, adding that to him the new charter opens up tremendous possibilities via neighborhood councils. Like Woo, he has a ground-level familiarity with the district. Moreover, he says, the district knows him. He won the charter election by 60 percent, and the charter itself passed by 63 percent in the 13th District -- despite Goldberg‘s own opposition. He wants better public transportation, and more affordable housing, particularly for people with AIDS. A landlord, he also says he’s a strong backer of rent control, plus Goldberg‘s cornerstone accomplishment, the city’s living-wage law. He‘s raised $25,000 as of last month.
It’s not just the name: Scott Wildman is the most outspoken candidate. The former assemblyman‘s public hearings on the Belmont fiasco got him lots of ink and the distinction of being perhaps the only candidate in this race who opposes further LAUSD educational use of the gas-fraught school site, which is not in this council district. Wildman’s got the backing of the Sierra Club and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. And the teachers. To whom (a former teacher himself) he‘s been good -- he takes credit for a $400 million textbook bill and the 1997 Teacher Training Act.
Wildman accuses the city of lackluster Sacramento lobbying. He’d change this, he says, although the city‘s lobbying responsibilities have, under the new charter, largely passed over to the Mayor’s Office.
In the context of the Belmont controversy, he made two factually dubious statements in an interview with the Weekly‘s editorial board. The first was that the site’s previous investors had bailed out ”because of contamination, frankly.“ But the Japanese consortia behind the project knew they were building on a former oil field. Further, the project collapsed (along with several others on downtown‘s outskirts) because of the simultaneous slump in the Japanese and Los Angeles economies.
Wildman’s second dubious statement in his Weekly interview was ”The massive mitigation [proposed for Belmont] would deal with methane but not the major concern of H2S,“ or hydrogen sulfide. I haven‘t heard of any proposed mitigation plan that omits hydrogen sulfide; the mitigation plan itself has been deadlocked by the school board. He’s supported by 13 state legislators, and two U.S. reps: Grace Napolitano and Joe Baca. He‘s the choice of the county Democrats and the Police Protective League. He’s third in fund-raising, with $139,000 in contributions and $37,000 in matching funds.
Attorney Art Goldberg acknowledges just one failing in his sister Jackie‘s council career. She was bad at returning phone calls. ”I thought this accusation was bullshit, but I found out it was true when I talked to [her] constituents on the street . . . [even] those who loved Jackie.“
”I can’t afford not to return phone calls,“ Goldberg says. ”I am in a small business, and some other hungry warrior out there will get my [client].“ Goldberg‘s law office in Echo Park provides services for low-income clients, so he both lives and works in the district. He’s handled thousands of divorces and other family-law matters, and about 30 murder trials.
He‘s been practicing for most of the 30 years he’s lived there. He studied law at Howard in Washington, D.C., and Rutgers in New Jersey, and claims that even after he passed the California bar, his radical past held up his license to practice. Even more than his sister, he was deeply involved in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement of the mid-1960s, and recalls ”printing 10,000 pamphlets a day, and they flew out the door,“ all on political topics, all on paper stolen ”by the truckload“ from the university.
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