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
He is still angry, and his supporters still feel betrayed, by the crack-pipe ad. He got back in action by taking on a Hahn supporter — Councilman Nick Pacheco. Newspaper headlines about criminal probes of people connected with Pacheco allowed Villaraigosa to present himself as a more upstanding alternative. It worked, and personal hits against the challenger on family issues failed. The run against Pacheco is a road map for this campaign: enthusiastic coalition, crusade for the future, incumbent tainted though uncharged. To cap it off, Villaraigosa may well be hoping for, rather than dreading, the same kind of personal attacks he suffered before, to make him the high-road candidate.
Like Villaraigosa, Parks has a personal history with Hahn, having lost his job as police chief at the hands of the mayor. He would like nothing better than to return the favor, ousting Hahn. But Parks, despite a curious assortment of endorsements from people as varied as the conservative county Supervisor Mike Antonovich and several celebrities, will have a hard time getting into a runoff. He insists he is in for keeps, but his smartest political move would be to broker his support to whoever does make the runoff against Hahn, and reap the political rewards after the next mayor is sworn in.
But Parks insists he is no politician. People who know him know better.
With no viable Republicans in the race, Bob Hertzberg appears to be making a play for the pro-business and single-family-homeowning centrists claimed by Mayor Richard Riordan in 1993 and 1997. That would explain his promise to break up the school district and his less than inspiring rallying cry at the debate: "I will end the gross receipts tax as we know it!" That won’t get the masses to pour into the streets, but Hertzberg knew the masses weren’t listening last week.
As for the school plan, it plays well in his San Fernando Valley base and makes him appear, like Riordan, as a man who cares little for City Hall minions who will remind him that the mayor has no authority over the school district. But Riordan swept the school board clean by opening his own wallet. Hertzberg has money, but he’s no Riordan.
Then there’s Alarcon, for whom we geniuses in the news media had been drafting a political obituary. After all, he was out-Valleyed by Hertzberg and out-Latinoed and out-progressived by Villaraigosa. And he’s had trouble raising money. Earlier this summer, at a Loyola University forum, he made his best pitch for electing him mayor, and it fell flat. Mike Woo, who lost badly to Riordan, told him publicly he would have to do better.
At the debate, he did better, avoiding negative swipes, coming across with concrete ideas, displaying genuine passion. He did better than Villaraigosa, who left his usual spark at home, or Hertzberg, who showed up without his warmth, or Hahn, who has yet to turn on his fight switch, or Parks, who may be right, but is still Parks.
So that’s the Who, with a little of the How thrown in. As for the Why, well, that may come into it eventually. January, maybe, or at least February, when an association of neighborhood councils hosts two debates that will focus on their concerns. The questions may be lofty, calling for a long-scale vision for the city, or mundane (but actually quite important), like whether the mayor should use his power to can every single department head and bring in his own cabinet.
In the meantime, there’s another televised mayoral debate on Tuesday, then a blessed two weeks off for the holidays before we get into it for real.
By the way, if you want to watch the debate, over and over, you can find it at http://www.la36.org/. To listen to the real first debate, from September, go to http://www.scpr.org/programs/talkcity/listings/2004/09/totc_20040906.shtml.
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