By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Antonio Villaraigosa understands that capital is more mobile now than it was then. But he also understands that a sweatshop is a sweatshop, that a slum is a slum, and that it is no less incumbent upon L.A. now than it was upon New York then to do its utmost to help its residents live decent, fulfilling lives. His victory would mean that the wave of immigrants who’ve settled here — and throughout the nation — over the past two decades finally have a champion in a position of power. It would mean that neighborhoods of all ethnicities, routinely ignored by the downtown elites, finally have a small-d democrat advancing their cause. It would mean that, a scant seven years after Proposition 187, Los Angeles has renewed the commitment to inclusion it demonstrated 28 years ago when it first elected Tom Bradley. And it could make Los Angeles the place where the elements of the next New Deal are tested and perfected. In the slough of despond that is George W. Bush’s America, Los Angeles under Antonio Villaraigosa could become something it has seldom if ever been before — a beacon of hope to the nation.
CITY ATTORNEY — MIKE FEUERMike FeuerCandidate photos by Debra DiPaolo
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Feuer is not simply the best qualified candidate for city attorney in this year’s election. So far as we can figure, he’s the best qualified candidate for city attorney in the city’s history.
A Harvard Law grad, Feuer first made a name for himself running the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Agency, where he supervised a staff of 53 and the activities of more than 500 volunteer attorneys. Under his leadership, Bet Tzedek established itself as the number-one nemesis of L.A.’s slumlords and one of the city’s most effective advocates for low-income tenants and patients.
In 1995, he was elected to succeed Zev Yaroslavsky as the council member from the 5th District. In that capacity he’s consistently been the most intelligent voice in council deliberations and the member most devoted to cleaning up government. Feuer was the one council member to lead the charge for charter reform; he authored the charter amendment that strengthened the city’s Ethics Commission, and heads up the drive to ban contributions from lobbyists. He’s been the council’s chief proponent of gun-control measures, writing the nation’s first law to restrict handgun purchases to one a month, and just last week authoring a new ordinance banning the sale of small handguns. He also is responsible for greatly expanding the number of seniors serviced by the city’s Meals on Wheels program.
As city attorney, Feuer pledges to create teams of staff attorneys who’d work regularly with neighborhood councils, and to establish a series of community courts to deal with graffiti and vandalism offenses. Asked in our editorial-board interview whether there was anything the City Attorney’s Office could do about sweatshops, Feuer immediately rattled off the statutes that would allow the city to intervene in an area that traditionally has been the jurisdiction (neglected, to be sure) of the state and federal governments. His record of support for police reform long antedates the department’s Rampart follies.
Feuer’s chief opponent, Deputy Mayor Rocky Delgadillo, has led a storybook life: going from East L.A.’s Franklin High to Harvard, the Canadian Football League, Columbia Law, and O’Melveny & Myers, where he developed an intellectual-property speciality. One of the original crew at Rebuild L.A., he went to work for Mayor Riordan in 1994, creating the mayor’s L.A. Business Team and eventually serving as deputy mayor for economic development. Delgadillo points to thousands of jobs his office has helped create, but critics at the Living Wage Coalition and elsewhere contend that he’s paid insufficient attention to making sure those jobs offer decent pay and benefits. (Delgadillo says his focus has been on “family wage” jobs, but that this has been a “soft target” rather than a mandate.)
In classic Riordan fashion, Delgadillo has made schools ä the centerpiece of his campaign, though he has surprisingly few concrete things to say about schools except that he’ll aggressively prosecute any violations occurring in and around them. He doesn’t place much emphasis on the civil side of the city attorney’s practice — the environmental, workplace, housing and other areas of non-criminal law where the office could make a real difference. Finally, his list of political mentors — Warren Christopher, Peter Ueberroth, Dan Garcia, Henry Cisneros and, of course, our mayor — bespeak a closeness to the city’s power elite which may not be exactly what the city needs in this watchdog position.
Delgadillo does have a compelling story to tell — but it’s Feuer who will create a City Attorney’s Office that will be one of the nation’s very best in protecting consumers, tenants, seniors,the environment and in matters of campaign-finance and police practices. We believe Mike Feuer will be a great city attorney.
CONTROLLER — LAURA CHICKLaura Chick
Rick Tuttle — for the past 16 years the city’s controller and one of its finest public servants — is term-limited out of office, at the very moment when the new city charter has given his office the authority to conduct performance audits of city agencies. Even without that authority, Tuttle’s more than made his mark on city government — most notably, as the one city official who investigated both the dubious relationship between Mayor Bradley (his friend) and a local bank in the waning days of Bradley’s tenure, and the questionable deal Mayor Riordan’s Airport Commission chief cut with Friend-of-Bill Webb Hubbell in an apparent attempt to curry favor with the Clinton administration. What’s needed most in the controller’s job, Tuttle says, is “an independence of spirit” — a willingness to follow the money even when no one else in City Hall wants to pry into the deal.