Look into insurance money collected on Fires at Navraj Singh businesses over the past. You will be shocked.
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
The glossy item in the mailbox might have been a gossip magazine, because on its cover was an heir apparent standing regally in a dark suit and red power tie with a toothy, confident smile and receding hairline, faintly suggesting a young royal.
It turned out to be an expensive, four-color campaign mailer from Mitchell Englander, whom the Los Angeles media have all but named as City Council District 12's councilman-in-waiting.
In L.A. politics, Englander, 40, longtime chief of staff to retiring San Fernando Valley Councilman Greig Smith, who in turn assumed the mantle years ago from his own boss, Councilman Hal Bernson, is about as close to the crown as you get.
In the March 8 L.A. city primary, still more than two weeks away, Englander is solidly backed by the establishment, including former Mayor Richard Riordan, former Police Chief William Bratton and the editorial boards at the Los Angeles Daily News and the Los Angeles Times — which nevertheless used the word "unseemly" to describe Englander's vast $440,000 campaign chest.
Analysts say Englander hopes the huge sum — given to him by developers, unions, lobbyists and others — is enough to crush five others running in CD 12: Armineh Chelebian, Danny Lakhanpal, Kelly Lord, Navraj "Singh" Singh and Brad Smith.
Yet those five non-insiders have earned kudos for their grasp of Valley issues, ideas for turning City Hall around, business savvy, personal stories — and sheer nerve in trying to cross the political moat that keeps outsiders from gaining a spot on the Los Angeles City Council.
The winner gets broad powers over a huge swath of land containing 260,000 residents — about half again more than the 165,000 or so residents represented by each of New York City's 51 council members.
UCLA political science professor Joel D. Aberbach says the risk created in L.A. by electing only insiders to the City Council is "stagnation."
Over the years, the long-reigning insiders have moved away from addressing core duties such as L.A.'s deteriorating citywide infrastructure. Today the City Council is seen by many critics as far too involved in pursuing individual, fiefdomlike powers over land development inside its 15 giant districts.
Aberbach says the debate over giving newcomers a chance or sticking with insiders is "a tradeoff. You always want expertise, and you want to give new people a chance to run. ... The question you have to ask is, just how hard is it to break through?"
If Englander wins more than 50 percent of the March vote, he'll be the outright winner. There won't be a June runoff or an extended debate about what it might mean for L.A. to have a successful businessperson, restaurant owner or active neighborhood council member representing them in City Hall instead of another chief of staff.
For his part, Englander says Greig Smith gave him the "freedom and flexibility" to work in the district rather than get tethered to downtown.
He touts his chief-of-staff job — for which he's paid about $154,000 a year — as having given him the chance to help galvanize opposition to the now-scuttled Las Lomas mini-city and support the successful expansion of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.
"What's important is who's most qualified for the seat," Englander says.
Every City Hall insider who's run for office since 1987 — each one of whom has won the post — has said that.
Has the long reign of insiders served L.A. well? Englander's list of supporters and endorsements runs two pages.
Residents attending the forums describe the five candidates taking on Englander as an unusually impressive group of private citizens choosing to stick their necks out.
One crowd-pleaser has been "Singh" Singh, 63, a former Indian army captain who has spent about half of the $30,000 he raised and will qualify for public matching funds. He lost twice in past bids for the 27th Congressional District, and is comfortable in front of a crowd.
Singh is hoping that growing discontent with City Hall's many controversies and problems, and his own campaign style — which includes meeting with constituents one-on-one and handing out tote bags emblazoned with his singhforla.com website — will get him past the March primary.
He wants the City Council to return to its overarching duty of providing core services. Los Angeles is about 50 years behind on paving its roads, and City Hall now insists that residents pay to repair the buckled public sidewalks in front of their homes.
Englander, Singh says, will "be the 15th voice of the same mentality that exists there now."
Another CD 12 candidate, Brad Smith, 46, who is vice president of the Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council, sums up L.A.'s elected political class this way: "The status quo has proven itself incapable to deal with the realities of the city."
Look into insurance money collected on Fires at Navraj Singh businesses over the past. You will be shocked.
YJ Draiman for Mayor of LA - Statement
Dear Fellow Los Angelino’s
Thank you for taking a few moments to learn more about my ideas for building a new Los Angeles.I appreciate your interest in my campaign and hope my jobs plan will provide you with a better understanding of the type of Mayor I hope to be – one focused on transparency and putting Los Angele eons back to work.
Los Angeles faces one of the most challenging times in our city’s history.Because of the unfriendly business environment, along with some of the highest tax rates in the nation, families and businesses are being forced to make unthinkable trade-offs, including living the city they love. But I am optimistic about Los Angeles future.
I am running for Mayor because I believe everything is still possible in Los Angeles. That is why as Mayor creating jobs will be my priority. It is the only way we are going to clean up the mess in Los Angeles. I have a unique skill set and the detailed plan to get Los Angeles going again.
I have started businesses from the ground up and within a short time revenues exceeded $60 million a year. I have been involved in gentrification of whole neighborhoods; I have built a 5 star hotel and implemented energy efficiency for over 20 years. I am currently working on my PHD in Energy Conservation.
I think Los Angeles needs a little bit more of a business-like attitude. We have to be honest about our problems, offer grown-up solutions and put an end to the partisan bickering and hand-wringing that is business as usual.
If you do not know and admit that there is a problem, you can not fix it.
I am running to reinvigorate Los Angeles economic potential – it will take time and the effort of all the people of Los Angeles. We shall overcome there economic hardships if we work together as a unified force.
If you have any suggestions on how we can move Los Angeles forward, please contact our campaign. We will listen. We want this campaign to be special, one that addresses your concerns and speaks to your hopes for what a new Los Angeles can be.
Together, we can put Los Angeles back to work and make our City great again and call it the city that works.
YJ DraimanDraiman is determined to bring a new approach to Los Angeles. One that demands we create jobs and lower taxes. One that requires more efficient and better services. One that makes a renewed commitment to improving our schools. One that is committed to improve public transportation.
Draiman has a plan to make Los Angeles economic vitality flourish.Make Los Angeles Competitive again, raise the standard of living, grow the tax base and help put an end to the yearly budget problems in Los Angeles.
Voters Wake up, Angelinos! It's not too late to knock a really big dent in our Los Angeles City Council—specifically among those incumbents and their staff running for reelection on March 8—all of whom can be included among our "leaders" who've helped preside over our City's spectacular accumulation of ever larger debt while guiding us in accelerating decline toward Third World status.The trick available to us is somewhat radical, but only we voters can make it happen.I propose that we should—each of us voters Citywide no matter of what political stripe—on March 8 vote ALL City Council incumbents & staff then up for reelection OUT by voting IN whichever challengers we each may choose in our respective Districts.Adopted theme
How do we fix the Pension Deficit- A voter gave me this proposalI feel bad for many of these folks because this was promised to them. The trade off was suppose to be low pay in exchange for great benefits including gold plated early retirement. The low pay drove high performers to the private sector and created a vacuum of people that would otherwise be on the gov't teet from some angle.
One time payout to the pensioners based on the original actuarial tables of life span/payout (There should be a minimum value for those already exceeding the limit). For employees and retirees not yet drawing from the pension plan, roll the value into a 401K system. This should be financed with municipal bonds which would establish and end date for the funding need.
Set up 401K system for all current and future employees.
All current and future healthcare benefits should be pooled into one high deductible plan with retirees and current workers paying a defined percent of the premium.
Do you want to maintain the quality of life in CD12. Elect Brad Smith For Council. If you want to change the business as usual. Elect Brad Smith. He has carisma, honesty and integrity. Brad Smith is a family man, a church goer, believes in family values and morality.
YJ Draiman for Mayor of LA
Thank you for providing coverage to this almost forgotten race. I first saw it covered at Paul Hatfield's Village to Village blog where I put this comment, which is worth repeating. Among several problems with the annointed candidate, Englander, is his lack of knowledge on most land use issues that affect everyone’s quality of life or any financial acuity to serve a city in crisis. He supports Enterprise Zones that are slated for demise by Governor Brown and which studies have shown to be worthless for job generation. His Council Office supported the CPIO Ordinance that has been legally challenged by community activists who understood that it deprives residents of any say in land use matters and shifts power to the cabal of politicians, developers and bureaucrats. The CD12 communities need to know this.
Despite this, the Daily News voted for status-quo even when it harms the city. After endorsing Cardenas, they endorsed Mitch Englander while admitting "as chief of staff to a sitting councilman, Englander effectively has the incumbent's advantage. He's raised a campaign war chest of $444,000, filled with contributions from the developers, businesses and political action committees that bankroll elections. We expect that he will focus his energy on serving the men and women of CD 12 who elected him, not his donors".
How can we expect him to serve the men & women of CD 12, while collecting money from developers? Just hope those men & women are savvy enough to see through this game and ignore such endorsements that will be harmful to their quality of life. That both the leading dailies saw such collection of money as business as usual is downright shameless.
Interestingly, one of the challengers, Brad Smith was already aware of the close ties between Englander and developers, as his quote in Daily News summed it that “Greig Smith and predecessor Hal Bernson were too friendly to land developers and provided "very poor service" to the district that runs from Chatsworth on the west to North Hills on the east, and that I see no reason it would be any different with Englander."
Hopefully, the communities will support Brad Smith who has not fed at the public trough and supports a quality environment for both businesses and residents. The City simply can’t afford 12 years of Englander.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city