This is a partial transcript of Bernard Parks interview with the L.A. Weeklys editorial board. As with all of the candidate interviews, it has been only lightly edited and has not been fact-checked. L.A. WEEKLY: I recall that in your
final address as chief to the City
Council, you spoke of many things, including
corruption in City Hall. You actually
used the word corrupt.
L.A. WEEKLY: And you distinguished between
the LAPD on the one hand and
City Hall and politics on the other.
You mentioned people being fed up with
City Hall. But Im struck by that
word corruption. Did you know then about
many of the things that weve been
reading about in the newspaper, over
the last year or so?
I did not know about the pay to play. Its clear
to me that the mayors office moved money to the union so that they could run
their ad campaign, which just happened to coincide at the same time the mayor
made his announcement for his non-support.
L.A. WEEKLY: Okay.
They werent supposed to get the money until they
assumed the full duties of defending officers on their payroll versus the fee.
It was unambiguous language. The mayors office made sure that they received over
two million dollars worth of city funds, well in advance of them assuming the
duties. They were able to put forth their ad campaign that just happened. Not
that it was, you know, a plan. It aired the first day. The same day that the mayor
made his announcement
L.A. WEEKLY: Okay. Was that your first
experience, in all of your years with
the city of Los Angeles, with something
that you would call corruption in City
No, weve had a number of times where weve arrested
people for individual acts. But the one thing I thought was interesting. They
came in with an attitude that clearly the mayor could do anything. They had that
attitude when we got there the first day.
L.A. WEEKLY: Well, now Im intrigued. Who
L.A. WEEKLY: Everybody in the staff?
The staff that he dealt with. From the deputy, from
public safety, to their chief of staff. That was their attitude from the first
day in operation.
L.A. WEEKLY: Can you relay a couple
of specific incidents of this?
Well, the specific incident is when we talked to
them about the issue that I just mentioned. Beth Barrett did a very extensive
story about it. One of them
was a policy issue where they were wanting us to approve
authority for Councilman (Dennis) Zine and I wouldnt do that cause
I thought it was inappropriate and violated policies that you cant be a city
council member and be a reserve officer. The administration thought we should
ensure that happened. There are several things like that. I dont have any more
specifics but time has passed. But if you go back and look at that one-hour presentation,
you will find a number of those issues came true.
L.A. WEEKLY: Mm hmm.
Not that I was a prophet but it just happened.
L.A. WEEKLY: Okay. Also, on the subject
of the LAPD, you were critical from
the beginning of the 3/12 schedule.
And you have said in the campaign
that, as mayor, you would work to
L.A. WEEKLY: What other reforms, things
that have been characterized as reforms
in the LAPD, would you work to
reverse? Specifically, would you want to
keep Chief Bratton? Would you do anything
about reversing anything on Proposition F?
No, I would not reverse Prop F. The thing that I
would change in the department is the two-day workweek because I think we lose
30 percent of our resources. We also know that we piloted the three-day workweek
before I became the Chief of Police. The number one mission of the commission
was to get rid of the three-day workweek. That was the number one mission given
to Lewis. Because everyone knew it was ineffective and that it was not something
that the department supported for a number of reasons. Anyone that talked about
a three-day workweek, youll find, theres never a mention about the community
it only benefits officers. I can live farther away. I can have a part-time
job. They come to work roughly a hundred days a year and 85 percent of them live
out of the city. Yet youre talking about community based policing and how people
relate to the issues in the city. Its inconsistent to have that. I believe that
many things within the department have been altered to compensate for the three-day
workweek. The elimination of DARE. The elimination of many of the prevention and
intervention programs that were a hallmark of prevention of crime. The current
administration never talks about crime except in the last 18 months. They forget
the mayors been there since 2001. Look at 2002, your crime went off the map.
We became the murder capital of the world. The only initiative within the LAPD
was to give officers a two- and three-day workweek. If you take credit for crime
dropping since 2002, you may want to take credit for it going up in 2002. The
mayor talks about the whole picture. But if you go back and look at his tenure
in the four years before that weve had over 300 more murders.
L.A. WEEKLY: The crimes that you just
talked about. How much does this reflect
deficiency in Chief Brattons term in
I dont know how much you can reflect on that. What
I look at is how much better it may have been had we not had a significant increase
in 2002. The city, if you recall, from 1992 to 1999, had 100 consecutive months
of crime reduction. You had to go all the way back in the 60s to find the same
level of crime we experienced in 1998 and 99. But the crime began to increase
in 2000. It went off the map in 2002 because you cant take resources off the
street. In the last 24 months, this administration has made significant projections
about crime reduction and backed off of all of them. So we dont know how much
it has an impact. We know that crime is cyclical. In the 40 years Ive been in
the city, for the first three months of almost every decade, crime goes up a little,
a little bit. And then it begins
it will go down in the middle years. So, I cant
answer the question how much he made an impact. I just know that officers are
spending more time at home than they are on the street.
We have a ten-acre plot of land on 83rd and Vermont thats been vacant since the 1992 riot. Were going to have a $100 million dollar county building built there, which will bring in 1200 employees. We believe this will be a catalyst to develop the other six acres. Well have condominiums in Martin Square. Well have opportunities for home buying. We are going to change the dynamics of the whole community by having homeownership in an area that is almost exclusively renters. So thats been an effort. The other issue that we have put a lot of energy into is the Vision Theater. Weve committed about seven million dollars. It will become a catalyst for economic development in the area.
L.A. WEEKLY: Whats going to happen there
thats not happening now?
The Vision Theater. It will end up being a full service
theater. The fact that we can put together several hundred events per year. For
20-plus years the Martin Luther King parade went eastbound on King Boulevard and
stopped on Western. This year, weve reversed it. Thousands of people stayed in
the park and in the business community until nighttime. Were looking at ways,
in which, to bring activities to the community. Were going to have two ordinances
that will be coming about in the Eighth district. If you go to poor communities,
almost every piece of land is a carwash, a car lot, or an auto-related business.
Well have an ordinance shortly that will call for any auto related businesses
in the Eighth district to have a conditional use permit. We also will have one
thats going to come out very shortly that will affect developers. But those are
two things that are zoning issues that we have
L.A. WEEKLY: How would you describe Mr.
Hahns efforts in Marlton Square? Was
he generally helpful in making that
You know most of that deal was done before I got
there. But I think the mayors office was helpful in basically it being funded
by a number of sources. Certainly it would have taken much longer to get that
job done had we not had the cooperation of the mayors office. But that deal is
much better today than it was when I came into office.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why would you want to
give up your research while youre doing
all these important things?
I think what I see in the city is that the things
were doing in the Eighth district can be done in the First district, in the 13th
district. The problem that we have in the city of L.A., is that we have no planning
department. The planning department is working on projects, in the wealthier parts
of the city, telling people what you cant do. There are no limitations. Thats
why when you drive to our communities, you may see 13 consecutive car washes,
a liquor store and then three churches. Because theres nothing that guides a
plan. It takes ten years. We expect 50 million people in the state of California
by the year 2020. If that occurs, were going to get our full share. If we do
not start almost immediately on an infrastructure, meaning the street, sidewalks,
sewers, housing, public safety, transportation, economic development, we will
not be able to live in this city in the next five to seven years. We are talking
about building an airport to bring 78 million people to one location, with no
public transportation. So we need to have a short to long-range plan to address
every infrastructure issue because without that we will not be taken serious at
the state and federal level. Funding will not be forthcoming and we will continue
to meddle around in dealing with 25 crosswalks, or intersections per year.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you consider yourself a
Im pro-Los Angeles and I think in order for Los
Angeles to thrive you have to have business. I do believe that if you invest,
you have a right to expect a return on the investment. I do understand the difference
between non-profits and for-profits. I do not believe that government should get
involved in making it more difficult for developers and for business people. I
think the community should have significant input when we talk about bringing
businesses in. But, again, I dont think we should be relegated to monopolies
that can write their own tickets. That is anti-business. We do not consider people
who own property a business. We believe that advocates should be able to tell
those who are responsible for the deals that everything should be absolved until
that advocate can dictate how you run your property. In fact, we have an argument
for people who want to tell the St. Regis Hotel that you must go out of business
before you can change your business. I dont think thats appropriate. I think
if you invest your money, you should have a right to return. I dont think you
can do anything that you want and be a nuisance to your community. But I dont
think that we, as government, should be involved in interceding at every aspect
to tell business, go away.
L.A. WEEKLY: I think one of the arguments
for the ordinance was that a store
like Wal-Mart doesnt give its employees
much of a rate of return and
that, besides being concerned for investors,
does the city have an obligation to,
you know, deal with the kinds of
issues that were raised in the supermarket
No, I think you need to be concerned about several
things. But just think about Wal-Mart. Do you prefer to have 500 people unemployed
in a vacant store in a shopping center going under? Or a store that left in the
middle of the night and didnt even tell their employees?
L.A. WEEKLY: Youre talking about the Crenshaw
Thats right. And then you bring in a Wal-Mart that
L.A. WEEKLY: Millions.
I dont believe that Wal-Mart should have a monopoly.
But I dont believe we should have a vacant store and 500 people unemployed. I
think if we look at the grocery store and use that as an example, the most recent
strike, I think it was a sad day for the union to settle, what, six months after
the strike? They failed to realize that the grocery industry is now national and
international. We also have to realize the same stores that went on are the ones
in poor communities that we get the most complaints about. That when you walk
into a Food 4 Less, you have to unstick your feet off the floor. You cant go
as a senior because you must take somebody thats able-bodied to package your
groceries. Those are the kind of stores that those unions have put into the poor
communities and do nothing as it relates to complaints about rude customers, bad
product, and poor pricing. Yet, we would take a stand and say, lets not let Wal-Mart
come in and fill a void. When we go in Wal-Mart, its the only store Ive been
in that is almost predominantly women and minorities that are hired. Thats the
only store Ive ever been in Los Angeles that you get greeted when you come in
and come out. Its the only store Ive been in where they hire a large percentage
of disabled people. The only one who thinks $10 an hour is bad is somebody who
has an $11 dollar an hour job. I would prefer people making $10 an hour and be
employed than not making $10 an hour and be unemployed. I would prefer them to
buy, in Crenshaw, than to drive 30 miles to another Wal-Mart. So I think, we have
to look at the reality of the situation. Im concerned about the people who live
in Los Angeles. Most of the people that we find that get the good union jobs on
trades and everything do not live in the city. The people that showed up in the
chambers talking about building LAX, most of them are Orange County trades. We
want to raise the living standards of Los Angeles. But I dont think you raise
the living standards in Los Angeles by having unemployment.
L.A. WEEKLY: Whats your opinion on the
Well, I have not studied the initiative but I think
that if the vacant lot is there in five years people are making the wrong decision.
Is a vacant lot better? Do you get revenue off of it? I dont see vacant lots
doing a great deal of economic development. So I think weve got to be realistic.
The issue is what can you put there that practically develops the community? Thats
the real issue.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you think that this
mayor and a majority of your colleagues
on the city council are making a
mistake by being vocally supportive of
the hotel workers and their fight with
the coalition of hotels?
I have a very clear idea of where I think people
should be on issues. Public officials should be in a position of neutrality. I
dont think they should take one side. You try to keep the parties together. Youre
supposed to meet and confer about the issues dealing with their business. Then
the elected officials step in and become an advocate against business and find
out quickly as we all did at St. Regis, the owner said, thank you very much. Im
going to make condominiums. One of the things were working on, pro-football to
bring it to Los Angeles, because we are...
L.A. WEEKLY: We knew you were going
to get to that.
Were going to do that. And we hope very shortly.
Just think about what we have at the Coliseum. We have a historic stadium. Its
the only place in the world thats had two Olympics, Super Bowls and all the other
things. But its a stadium that, in 1992, almost fell apart because of the earthquake.
There is no revenue stream to develop it. Between the Coliseum and the sports
arena, it makes up to a million dollars a year, between the two facilities. The
sports arena will be relegated to church events and parties, which is not a revenue
producer. So, if you have a multi billion dollar corporation called the NFL come
into the city and say, Ill build you a $500 million dollar stadium, just on that
investment alone. The city and the county would make $200 million dollars in tax
increments. Of which 20 percent, right off the top, go into housing. Now, should
we remain as we are with a 1932 facility thats producing little or no revenue?
And six or eight games from USC and a couple of concerts? Or should we be looking
to bring in the business that will attract people that will then become maybe
a mini Staples Center? That people might even build a hotel or a motor inn or
a restaurant and develop that whole corridor?
L.A. WEEKLY: Why is it realistic that
we can attract a National Football League
to a part of town where people
in the NFL have frankly said they
worry about crime, they worry about
the neighborhood? And its not realistic
that we could bring in a first
class supermarket or a first class project
of some other kind to South Los
Its very simple. First of all, the NFL has never
said that its not acceptable. In fact, in 99, they deemed the Coliseum as the
place of choice in Los Angeles. Theres just one hitch. A guy in Houston paid
$700 million dollars for a team and the city and the owner built a brand new stadium.
The city of L.A. and its millionaires only wanted to offer about $500 million.
But the NFL also knows that no one is going to put public funds into building
a stadium. So when they put $500 million dollars in a stadium, its going to be
a unique situation for them. They will not be able to go to another city and say,
we have no money to build a stadium. Because they have money to build a stadium.
Its a unique product. There will be 25 major events. About 80 thousand people
per year in that stadium. It will enhance the whole park. Its a totally different
business than a supermarket. You can go to Superior or you can go to Food 4 Less.
You have more variety. There is only one product called NFL and they need to be
in the Los Angeles area.
L.A. WEEKLY: Would it be unreasonable to
work out the kind of deal with
them in the Coliseum that was worked
out with the Staples Center for living
wages and community amenities and parts
and local hiring and that sort of
I dont think its unreasonable. We certainly would
push for that. But we have to, in my judgment, identify what we call local hiring.
I dont think a person traveling from Orange County is local hiring. Particularly
the community around the Coliseum doesnt think that either. I think we have to
define what is local hiring.
L.A. WEEKLY: We have a couple of
districts where its showing a high
incidence of throat and lung cancer
near the 110 and the 10 freeways.
What are some of your ideas to
clean up L.A.s air and water supply?
Several thousand people drive through the 8th and
9th district. They suffer from noise and air pollution by the airport. I think
we have to stop the LAX plan. Theres no logical reason to consider bringing 78
million passengers to one location when we own four airports. No one that lives
in the valley should ever come to LAX and no one that lives in the Inland Empire
should come to LAX. Now, before you go any farther, you need to bring in public
transportation at or near the airport. You certainly would not go forward on Manchester
Square, which is supposedly not an expansion of the airport. Its supposedly on
the 3500 acres of the airport. Do we really want to do something with terrorism?
So the airport has to be dealt with. The harbor has to be dealt with. You should
be trying to reduce the number of pollutants significantly. The only way we can
do that is to be able to deal with the tankers. Then you begin to look at how
you can extend to Alameda Corridor to the east, to where you begin to get those
trucks and lower the cost. You expand the workload of the trucks over a 24-hour
clock. You move forward on the 710 expansions. There are a lot of things that
could be done. Well educate people that public transportation is important. We
need a leader at MTA. We dont need a person at MTA that says Id rather not be
president. Ill let a councilman be president. You dont want to be the MTA mayor
and not be an advocate at Sacramento and in Washington to get at least our fair
share of revenue. So those are things that you have to do. Its very obvious.
Its a matter of having the willpower to say it. We have a conflict in many of
our issues. The mayor can only go so far because the unions. These are all the
things that tie up the city of L.A. The mayors missed 140-some votes at MTA but
he cant vote because of conflict of interest. Now, how can he be the leader of
the city and cant vote on 140 issues? And youre not there 30 percent of the
time? Well, whos representing the city of L.A.? I also think its a mistake on
MTA to make all your appointments elected officials.
L.A. WEEKLY: Councilman, youve said publicly,
on numerous occasions, because people like
us have asked you this on numerous
occasions, that it is or it is
not your purpose in running for mayor,
in order to get back at James
Hahn for denying you a second term?
L.A. WEEKLY: I will come clean and
tell you that Im a little skeptical
and Im going to ask you to convince
us, as best you can, that that
has no place in your decision to
run for mayor.
Let me ask you this. Do you ask everyone else his
or her intent?
L.A. WEEKLY: Yes, actually.
Oh, okay. Is Antonios intent to get back?
L.A. WEEKLY: Well, we havent asked him
Well, first of all, let me say this. The mayor is
not that important to me. For me to dedicate my life to him. If you believe that
he has a good record, then you should support him. If you believe that his promises
have not come through, then you should look elsewhere. If you believe hes brought
corruption here in the city, then you should hold him accountable. But my intent
for running for mayor has nothing to do with trying to get back at him. I have
shown, for 40 years, a leadership pattern that I dont take a moment of my time
to get back at anybody. Nor do I spend an ounce of my energy on anything thats
not positive. So if 40 years bases your question, if I havent proved it by now,
Ill never convince you. But I have a pretty clear open book 40-year record. And
if you can find one parcel of getting back or spinning my energy in a negative
fashion, show it to me.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why has your campaign
being saddled with the perception of
Well, mainly because people havent taken the time
to figure out what were doing. What happened very seriously is when I decided
to run for mayor, I had a young man that was in my office that Id known for 30
years. He wanted to retire from his job. I went to him and said: would you come
run my council office for a year? He said, yes. That year came up. He said: Im
ready to go. I said, do me a favor. Go set up my campaign office. He said, fine.
So hes never intended, nor were we ever expecting, that he was going to work
for the campaign. So he came and did what he was asked to do. We had consultants
on board who we listened to, doing this great strategy. We knew from the beginning
that we were not going to be the special interest candidate nor were we going
to raise four million dollars. But we also know that we have the highest, one
of the highest name recognitions. We also know, on every poll, we have the highest
positives and the lowest negatives. So, we knew that if we raised $1.5 million
dollars that was going to probably be our limit. With almost $900,000 to date.
When people dont know why youre doing things and they speculate about them,
they come up with all kinds of conclusions. My campaign is running the way I want
it to run. I am pleased with what were doing, even though people on the outside
may not understand it. They have no interest in asking. They have this perception.
Theres reasons for everything thats been done. Our consultants sat down with
us and said dont pay us any more money. Go put your money into design, ads, and
media. Run your ground operation where you see the benefit. Because weve given
you the best advice we can give. Now, thats what we do. Plus, weve said to people,
were not going to be the union candidate. Were not going to be the special interest
candidate. Were not going to raise four million. But we do believe that with
40 years of service in the city of L.A, we dont have to raise four million to
L.A. WEEKLY: You have a reputation as
a lone ranger.
You obviously have not watched my 40-year career.
I couldnt be a lone ranger and be Chief of Police. You couldnt be a lone ranger
if you had never run for citywide office and you are tied for second in the polling
in every poll that comes up. You couldnt be a lone ranger if youre the only
one that put together minorities and sexual orientation groups that were formed
for the Chief of Police. I am a lone ranger on values and honesty. I will stand
my ground on that. The people who dont know me and havent seen what I do have
all kinds of perceptions. But it takes time to understand. Those who work around
me understand that. You cannot be successful in the police department or in life
being a lone ranger. You cant do anything in the police department without having
people who support it. You cant be a leader without followers. People believe
the police just dictate, but thats not true. We didnt reduce crime in half because
I dictated it. We reduced crime in half because we put police where they should
be. We deployed them in a fashion that was relevant and got the community involved.
You dont get to 400 homicides in two consecutive years by just dreaming about
it. You work 20 hours a day to make that happen.
L.A. WEEKLY: You talked about the anti-special
interest candidate. And Im hearing today,
for example, you know, youre not totally
fond of unions.
Not true. Ive been in the union all my life. But
when people make decisions that are contrary to general public, we separate. So
when a union member tells me the three-day workweek is wonderful for 8,000 employees
and people are dying, we separate on that issue.
L.A. WEEKLY: Okay. What do you support
and what organizations support you?
People I support? The four million people that live
in the city of L.A. I will always be a voice for them. I do not support people
who take advantage of the city of Los Angeles. The people that support me are
people such as business people. People that support me are people in the community
like the Sherman Oaks homeowners who say, youre the only Chief of Police thats
ever been in our community that came and sat in our bedrooms and listened to us
about our issues and made sure crime went down. People appreciate the fact that
you are working on their behalf. My endorsements run the gamut from Michael Antonovich
to Yvonne Burke. We have a list we can give you. But none of them are going to
be of star-quality. We get money from the library to the guy who gave us $20 dollars
and said dont cash it until my welfare check comes in. So, thats the gamut.
But everybody we get money from are voters.
L.A. WEEKLY: Are you sort of at concerned
that you dont have the black political
No. Because Im not a black candidate. If I was only
running from the black community, then I would be concerned.
L.A. WEEKLY: What are your views
Injunctions are an effort to give the community a
sense that somethings going on, a perception. It may not do much at all but it
gives the community a sense that they believe someones trying to help them. It
also makes gang membership less visible. Because when you start putting limits
on gangs and things - you cant wear this, you cant do this, you cant congregate
at least reduces the intimidation in the community. Now does it reduce gang activity?
I dont think so. Weve had gang activity all my life in the city of L.A. The
issue is addressing the gang problem. If you go back and look at what the mayor
has accomplished, you cannot find results. Hes the only mayor Ive seen thats
offered up goals about reduction of crime, and backed off of them almost immediately.
You can go right on LAPDs website and look at the crime stats for four years
and look at the previous four years and you can interpret them yourselves. He
shouldnt be telling you that crimes down. Everyone of you knows a crime victim.
They dont believe crime is down. Probably the only crime statistic that is fairly
accurate is homicide cause its a body. But when you look at the thousands of
missing persons, you dont even know how accurate homicide is. The issue is we
can play politics with crime. Look at the issues that are affected by it. Look
at how the department has dissipated most of its prevention and intervention programs
for the benefit of a three-day workweek. Then look at the results.
L.A. WEEKLY:Youre running as a Democrat?
Yes. I got a lot of insight going to the convention.
But when you spend a month trying to debate whether youre a war hero or not,
you lose all of the momentum. We wasted a month. Although the Democratic Party
is inclusive, sometimes its so inclusive that it cant get on the bus. Sometimes
they miss the point.
L.A. WEEKLY: So do you have an agenda
for making it better?
You got to get more focused. You have to get people
involved. They have to feel as though somethings going to happen. The one thing
I feel good about, in the 8th district, when I ran, not only had we won by 80
percent but we got 5,000 more people out to vote than ever before. Somebody has
to be able to develop an agenda that people believe in, that they see themselves
in, and that they see as a reality. We have to be able to let people know its
a day-to-day process. Its not an every four-year process. That is where we get
into the confidence in public officials. We just cant come up with a slogan and
a drive every four years and think people are going to show up. There has to be
an ability to think somethings going on every day that makes you want to be a
part of it. Thats where public officials and elected officials lose their constituents.
People dont see how they connect with their life. Until the Democratic Party
is able to deal with that at the graduate level, youre going to find folks on
these varying subgroups that will not pull it together.
L.A. WEEKLY: What do you think of
the other candidates?
Ive worked with Antonio for years. When hed worked
on the MTA. I have not seen that he has been dishonest. I think there is one issue
that is certainly relevant today. People believe he clearly said Im not going
to run. But I dont view him as being dishonest. The mayor has not been necessarily
honest. Some of it is how you cut the line and how you draw the line on material
or statistics or whatever. Ive only had a situation where one person has reflected
a level of dishonesty.