By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But this is the real world. And in the real world, we have Molina and Yaroslavsky, two intelligent yet frustrating policymakers. Both showed courage in difficult financial times, staring down angry employee unions as they made unpleasant budget decisions, especially those involving the health system. Both helped win passage of Measure B, which delivered $170 million per year to the county’s troubled trauma centers. Yet both need to wage an equally effective pitch in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., by demonstrating that Los Angeles County and the nation needs a concentrated response to the crisis of the uninsured.
Neither incumbent faces opponents even remotely up to the job. So we offer a few helpful suggestions for the next four years. Yaroslavsky, who delights in the rising ridership numbers on the east-west Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley, should work doubly hard to bring a subway deeper into the traffic-choked Westside. Molina, who is bringing light rail to the Eastside, must now think about the Westside, too. That means parting with her anger over the fact that the Gold Line East will remain largely aboveground — a situation that sucks but is now unavoidable. Molina and Yaroslavsky should finish the job of rescuing Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center, by doing it so successfully that the facility once again houses a trauma center. Both should work to fill the county’s reserve fund, to shield the county from the next, inevitable economic downturn.
Yaroslavsky said on the campaign trail that he excels at turning around struggling bureaucracies, and he is right. Molina and Yaroslavsky have provided steady leadership. Yet having seen the disasters that have enveloped King/Drew, the county jail system, the Department of Children and Family Services and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over the past decade, it would be nice if, during the next four years, they took steps to ensure that there are no more agencies in need of such dramatic rescues.
41ST ASSEMBLY: JONATHAN LEVEY
Few sections of California are as ecocentric as the 41st Assembly District, a stretch of Southern California that takes in Santa Monica, Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura Hills and other suburbs on each side of the L.A.-Ventura County border — not to mention the Santa Monica Mountains and a good stretch of coastline. Five candidates — four of them waging persuasive campaigns — have stepped forward to fill the seat being vacated by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, an outspoken leader in Sacramento on environmental issues. Pavley and another force in the district, state Senator Sheila Kuehl, have thrown their considerable support behind Julia Brownley, an extremely likable school board member for Santa Monica and Malibu who has promised to make public schools her No. 1 issue. Yet despite her promise to direct more funds into the classroom, Brownley showed a surprisingly limited understanding of education funding issues, particularly the strategies needed to increase per-pupil spending. Attorney Barry Groveman and activist Kelly Hayes-Raitt show an impassioned interest in the environment, yet neither seems entirely suited to the work of getting difficult bills through the state Legislature. Our choice is a relative outsider to the world of politics — college teacher Jonathan Levey, an attorney who shows an understanding of state government and an ability to communicate his progressive ideals to moderate legislators and a doubting business community. We like that Levey speaks with specificity on complex topics, and with candor on the challenges facing the Democratic Party agenda, such as comprehensive health care. We also like that Levey tried to engage voters with a 162-page policy booklet, even one that went a little heavy on the platitudes.
42ND ASSEMBLY: MIKE FEUER
We’ve never been happy with term limits. Since 1996, state lawmakers repeatedly have been shown the door just as they learned to navigate the corridors of the Capitol and advance meaningful legislation. The race for the 42nd — which includes West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Sherman Oaks and other well-heeled communities — leaves voters with yet another reason to hate term limits: a nail-biter between two extremely qualified, well-matched potential replacements for departing Assemblyman Paul Koretz. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Feuer and West Hollywood City Councilwoman Abbe Land easily outshine the other Democrats in this race, offering strong track records on health care, gay rights and the environment. Feuer showed a strong interest in ethics reform during his time at City Hall and would likely place a strong emphasis on clean-air issues. Land, on the other hand, has promised to parlay her work at the Los Angeles Free Clinic into a one-woman campaign for universal health care. While both are strong liberal Democrats, we give a slight edge to Feuer, a thoughtful community advocate who recently gained a strong understanding of the inequities within the state’s education system by helping to negotiate a settlement to a lawsuit over access to education resources. But Feuer must learn to curb his penchant for self-righteous finger-pointing. For someone who calls for restraint on campaign fund raising, he took an awful lot of money during his failed 2001 bid for city attorney from lawyers — whose firms were on the prowl for city contracts. We look forward to a Mike Feuer who persuades, not alienates.