It may not work for drug prevention, but Just say no has a certain ring to it when theres a mischievous Republican Congress and White House afoot. No is how Barbara Boxer voted on tax cuts for the rich, the Iraq-war resolution and the bogus Medicare reform. By contrast, Dianne Feinstein voted yes on all but the war resolution. Boxer remains a staunch liberal and a valuable member of the U.S. Senate.
State Senator (27th District)
This bright, affable Long Beacharea progressive is termed out of the Assembly and is seeking a lateral move to the state Senate, where he would replace the termed-out Betty Karnette. Hes worked diligently to clean up the L.A. River and the regions air. His initiatives have included legislation imposing fines for terminal operators that allow diesel trucks to idle or queue outside their gate for longer than 30 minutes.
State Assembly (47th District)
Herb Wesson is termed out of this Crenshaw-to-Westside state assembly district, and an important battle is unfolding among the three major candidates to succeed him.
The best known of these candidates is clearly the least qualified: former L.A. Councilman Nate Holden. A shameless demagogue who played the race card whenever he thought it would help him, Holden shouldnt be allowed in Sacramento even on a day-pass. Attorney Ricky Ivey is the candidate of the African-American old guard in this race a solid Democratic vote, of course, but too close to the pro-corporate perspectives that increasingly characterize much of the African-American political elite.
Our clear choice in this race is Karen Bass, a brilliant community organizer and advocate who has fought for decades to make L.A. a better place to live. As head of the Community Coalition, Bass has worked successfully to reduce the number of liquor stores in South-Central, to bring training programs and jobs into that community, and to create cross-racial organizations. As a USC professor, shes taught physicians how to relate better to indigent and minority patients. Shell bring a street-wise perspective to Sacramento that the legislature badly needs.
State Assembly (50th District)
Hector de la Torre
De la Torre, a South Gate city councilman, was a hero of the drive to recall from office members of the political machine that ran South Gate. He seeks to replace the termed-out Marco Firebaugh. De la Torres intelligence has always impressed, but in the past we had concerns about his employment as corporate-contributions project manager with Southern California Edison and also his failure to recuse himself, because of this connection, from voting on issues surrounding a proposed local power plant. But De la Torres tireless fight against local corruption has clearly earned him a political promotion.
County Supervisory (Districts 2, 4, 5)
Not many good arguments exist for term limits, which strip from voters the ability to keep their elected officials or fire them and pick someone else. Three of the best arguments are sitting on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich.
Most of the boards $17 billion budget is already spoken for by required programs like welfare and police protection. But a few dollars, a few programs and a few choices are still within the boards ambit. One of them was the decision on how to handle the health-care budget, which relies largely on shrinking funds from the federal government. These supervisors (plus two not on this years ballot) put off dealing with the pain of inevitable cuts for so long that they actually made the problem worse. They tried to deal with it last year by closing hospitals, but they hadnt done their homework, and a federal court prohibited hospital closures when the county failed to show it was out of options.
The supervisors also are the biggest single bloc overseeing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which last year brought us a long strike and a decision to fight a court order to provide more buses.
County supervisors have such political and fund-raising clout that few challengers ever deign to run against them. A recent term-limits measure holds them to three terms, which means 12 years but the limits dont kick in until November. For now, heres what were stuck with:
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was first elected to the board in 1992 to represent the 2nd District, which covers much of South Los Angeles and smaller nearby cities like Compton and Carson. She has vowed not to run again in four years. If only she would call it a day right now. Burke has staunchly defended the operations of the jewel of her district, Martin Luther King Jr./Charles R. Drew Medical Center, which was built after the Watts violence of 1965. But even she began backing away from King/Drew last year in the wake of mismanagement that has led to patient deaths. Her response: I have spent a lot of my time just going from crisis to crisis to crisis. I dont hire the people who are the administrators there. On the looming health-care crisis, and the failure so far to respond adequately: Its a matter that you really believe that there is, somewhere, someone that believes that we have to provide health care for people.