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
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.
ATTORNEY GENERAL: JERRY BROWN
In the churning political waters created by term limits, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown stands as the oddest of political symbols: a safe harbor for California voters. Yet with dozens of would-be lawmakers scurrying across California seeking office — many without the slightest clue on how to fund education, expand health care or lure good-paying jobs — it’s oddly reassuring to encounter Jerry Brown, candidate for attorney general, a 68-year-old veteran policymaker with a full menu of life experiences. Who’d have thought 30 years ago that we’d be debating the merits of Jerry Brown, elder statesman?
Brown comes to the job with an impressive rÃ©sumÃ©: mayor, secretary of state, governor, presidential hopeful — perhaps the broadest background in politics and policy of any candidate in the state. He speaks with ease about the work of the Attorney General’s Office — the legal advice, the opinions, the advocacy — and, even better, has an enjoyable sense of perspective about the absurdities of politics. Unlike other candidates seeking the job, Brown wouldn’t be tempted to weigh his every move as attorney general on whether it could provide a springboard into the Governor’s Office. Let’s remember, he already was the governor.
Throughout his campaign, Brown has promised to elevate the profile of the Attorney General’s Office, making it comparable to New York’s, where Attorney General Eliot Spitzer remade his office into a political powerhouse. Spitzer showed a ferocity in his attacks on corruption and questionable business practices in the private sector, taking on securities firms, banks, and other financial giants — a strategy that secured billion-dollar settlements and protected the interests of investors and the general populace. Brown is setting a very high bar, and we intend to hold him to it.
With the Spitzer model in mind, Brown would not say exactly where he would place his focus. But he points out that there are more than a few workers being cheated out of overtime pay, minimum wage and other legally required protections. Brown also hinted that there are some major inequities in California’s education system that may deserve a look.
Which is not to say that everything that Brown touches turns to gold. Brown learned some hard lessons in Oakland about policing, economic development, ethics laws and public education. We’re anxious about the city’s recent spike in crime. And we have strong doubts about his promise to use his contacts to improve what he described as the “highly poisoned partisan environment” of Sacramento. To be honest, we’re not sure the Democratic Party wants to be anywhere near him. Wasn’t he the guy who couldn’t get the party to keep the volume on when he reached the stage at the 1992 Democratic National Convention? Considering the state of the Democrats, all of this is fine with us. We welcome his independent voice.
Brown easily outshines his opponent, Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo. Despite small-scale achievements involving neighborhood prosecutors and student truancy, Delgadillo simply has not demonstrated bold leadership. A bland political presence, Delgadillo has mastered generating bad press over his dealings with slumlords, billboard companies and contracting.
So vote for Jerry Brown, the guy who’s been around the block. Vote for political experience and real-world experience, and a candidate who’s promising to push the political envelope.
STATE BALLOT MEASURES
PROPOSITION 81 — YES
This $600 million bond measure would build and renovate public libraries. We’re for it.
PROPOSITION 82 — YES
A good deal of controversy, some legitimate, some vastly overblown, is swirling around the campaign that actor-director Rob Reiner has waged for Proposition 82, the ballot measure he authored that establishes free, universal preschool for the state’s 4-year-olds. When the measure is weighed on its merits, however, it is one of the most important and innovative propositions we’ve seen in many years.