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
Among the other minor candidates, businessman Philip Lowe is running the most visible campaign. We fear Lowe may be giving business Democrats a bad name; in one mailing, he says he “supports a reduction in the estate tax that benefits working families — not the ultrawealthy.” Since the estate tax only is assessed on the wealthiest 1.4 percent of Americans, this would be a neat trick. If Lowe can peddle a line like this, he’d be wasting his talent in Congress, so long as iceboxes remain that have yet to be sold to Eskimos.
The first of the three major candidates for this seat is the L.A. City Council’s resident lulu — Nate Holden. The incumbent councilman has been endorsed by Mayor Riordan and a number of his council colleagues, and we understand perfectly why that is: They’ll do anything to get him out of town. A demagogue not above pitting blacks against Latinos and Jews if it bolsters his support; a consistent defender of the LAPD old guard, be it Daryl Gates or Bernie Parks, against police reformers; a perennial deaf ear to his constituents’ pleas for more parks in his center-city district, Holden has long been the bottom of the council barrel. In council meetings, he revels in playing the malignant buffoon — a shtick that’s partly an act and partly, we suspect, genuine.
Happily, term limits will end Holden’s council career in two short years. We do not have to inflict him on the nation — with all the guilt feelings that would engender — just to get him out of this place.
State Senator Kevin Murray has represented much of the 32nd in Sacramento for the past six years — four years in the Assembly, the last two years in the upper house. He’s an accomplished legislator who deserves some credit for the urban parks appropriations in last year’s parks bond measure; he certainly embraces some of the more liberal positions you’d expect a center-city Democrat to take. (He dismisses, for instance, the idea that energy is best rationed according to the dictates of the market.)
But Murray is consumed, almost visibly, by the culture and the art of the deal. His father was a legendary political consultant on L.A.’s south side; Murray himself was an entertainment lawyer before he turned to elective office; deal making is in his blood. In trade deals, he says, his first impulse is to look for reciprocity — which should surely be on the list, we think, but not before labor or environmental standards. He pronounces ideological as if it were a dirty word. And Murray’s desire for the deal certainly served him poorly when he let Gray Davis water down his racial-profiling bill by removing mandates on police departments to monitor their traffic stops. Compared to Diane Watson, his opponent for this seat and his predecessor as state senator, Murray describes himself as the “more operational legislator.” He is that, and less principled, too.
Diane Watson is no newcomer to the L.A. political scene. She was elected to the school board in 1975, and became a state legislator in 1978, the same year Julian Dixon went to Congress. Term-limited out of the state Senate in 1998, she’s spent the last two years as ambassador to Micronesia. In her years in the state Senate, Watson played a leading role in health and welfare issues — increasing funding for child care, slapping a dime tax on cigarettes way back in 1982, helping develop welfare-to-work programs. While her political instincts are generally decent, she’s not one to swim against the prevailing currents, even when they threaten to wash away some of her constituents. She speaks of welfare reform as if it were just one of Bill Clinton’s peccadillos, minimizing the extent of the threat it could pose in an economic downturn. Her focus on a number of key issues does not seem particularly sharp. She will be a more reliable vote than Murray, but it’s hard to see her leading any battles on behalf of the people she represents.
Asked to differentiate himself from his two main rivals, Murray said, since he was at least a quarter-century younger than either, he’d be in a good position to accumulate more congressional seniority. Alas, we find that to be an argument that cuts in favor of Watson. The district that sent Julian Dixon to Congress deserves better representation than that which would be provided by any of the three front-runners in this race. If Kevin Murray is elected, the 32nd may not get that chance for better representation for many decades. Diane Watson’s tenure is likely to be cleaner, and shorter. And for this lamentable set of reasons, she’s our choice to go to Congress.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES MEASURES
1 — YES
This measure — the first attempt to amend the new city charter L.A. voters adopted two years ago — is a modest but important step to improve the city’s ability to discipline police officers guilty of misconduct. It removes what is currently a “double jeopardy” prohibition on re-opening a disciplinary procedure against an officer when new evidence surfaces. It also amends a statute-of-limitations clause that currently restricts the time in which the department can take action against an officer. In short, Proposition 1 would stop the current practice of arbitrarily terminating a case against an officer simply because the clock has run out. It’s no panacea, but it clearly merits your support.