Endorsements: Part 2 

Our recommendations in the April 10 Los Angeles city election


Page 3 of 13

The real question, we think, is why do we need him? To begin, as colleagues on both sides of the aisle acknowledged when he stepped down from the Senate, Hayden was actually quite an accomplished and effective legislator, even if he lived in a wider world — writing books, tackling some international issues — than most of his legislative colleagues. With Antonio Villaraigosa, he played a key role in ensuring that last year’s state-parks bond would fund urban parks throughout L.A., and most especially, the restoration of the L.A. River. He authored the law banning MTA board members from voting on contracts for their own contributors. Many of the state’s protections from toxic substances are Hayden’s handiwork, as is the Parents’-Right-To-Know Act, which mandates public disclosure of the condition of school sites — a law he crafted in response to the Belmont debacle. (Another response was his bill creating an inspector general’s position within the LAUSD.)

You’ll note many of these endeavors were directed specifically to L.A.; in fact, Hayden has immersed himself throughout the past decade in L.A. issues — a number of which his colleagues feared to touch. He’s been a consistent advocate for open space — at Playa Vista, on the banks of the L.A. River and all across town. He marched with striking janitors and steadfastly championed the causes of L.A.’s low-wage workers. Perhaps most notable has been his work with gang members and former gang members — helping to broker truces, finding training and jobs programs to get them off the streets. No one on the L.A. scene has done more to undo the demonization of these “predators” (a term, Hayden reminds us, that was applied to the young Irish immigrants who came to America in the mid-19th century) whose biggest mistake is sometimes nothing more than growing up poor, nonwhite and male in L.A.’s inner city.

This demonization, Hayden argues, is what laid the groundwork for Rampart. Indeed, the reason we think it’s particularly important to have Hayden on the council is that he will not be intimidated by various phobias that keep otherwise decent elected officials from even scrutinizing the kind of war-on-gangs programs that have led us to the Rampart debacle. If Los Angeles is ever to establish real civilian control over its police, and develop a crime-reduction program for the inner city in which the police are to become something other, and better, than an occupying army, it’s going to take Tom Hayden on the City Council to push for those changes.

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two years ago, at the tender age of 26, Alex Padilla was elected to represent this fast-changing, long-neglected Northeast Valley district on the City Council. Increasingly, the 7th is home to a sizable chunk of the city’s burgeoning Latino working class; indeed, more people are crammed into fewer housing units there than anywhere else in town. On some district issues — air pollution and youth facilities, to name two — Padilla has done fine work, often out of public view.

As a city legislator, however, Padilla has yet to demonstrate he’s more than a pretty face. For too long, he placed himself under the protection and tutelage of totemic city father figures — Mayor Riordan and now-ailing and absent council President John Ferraro. Often, he’s gone along with their program, and it was a bit eerie to see the one council member who’s young enough and nonwhite enough to fit the LAPD’s demographic profile for harassment nonetheless dragging his feet on the consent decree because his elders didn’t like it. We don’t object if Padilla seeks out mentors; but Riordan, Ferraro and the Democratic Leadership Council (to which Padilla belongs) are hardly the folks you’d go to if you really wanted to help the 7th District. (Riordan’s contribution to the debate on affordable housing, let us recall, is to deny that it’s a problem.) Nonetheless, Padilla is a well-intentioned young legislator, and we have reason to hope he’ll grow into the job.


Jan Perry

The 9th comes in two parts: upscale downtown (the office towers of Figueroa Corridor, Staples Center, the Civic Center) and downscale everything else (South-Central). Six candidates are vying to succeed the term-limited Rita Walters, among them Ted Hayes, the colorful and often thoughtful homeless advocate, whom we can’t easily envision functioning on the City Council (though the council’s distinct culture is certainly no less strange than that of the homeless).

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