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
Today, City Hall is about political lifers. And without the media alerting Angelenos to this trend, voters have continually elected the lifers with their big-money campaign chests. Of 14 sitting City Council members (the seat sought by newcomer Joe Buscaino and political lifer Warren Furutani is vacant), five are former City Hall staffers and five are former state legislators.
"If that's what your life experience is, how are you gonna learn the experiences and concerns of your constituents?" Galanter asks.
Councilman Tom LaBonge was a City Hall staffer for 25 years before grabbing his old boss John Ferraro's seat in 2001. Richard Alarcon has held four offices in 18 years, ping-ponging from City Council to state Senate to state Assembly — where he served just 102 days before running again for the much higher paid L.A. City Council. Alarcon recently moved to another house so he can run for the Legislature — again.
Paul Koretz was a near-lifer on the West Hollywood City Council, then did a forgettable stint in the state Assembly, then moved inside the L.A. city limits — and got heavy establishment backing — to beat promising newcomer David Vahedi.
"I was thinking the other day," Nelson says: "What would they do to earn an income if they weren't an elected official?"
In fact, neither LaBonge nor Koretz has ever worked in the private sector; Alarcon spent a year teaching.
"You would think that having state legislators who've been dealing with bigger problems would broaden the outlook of the council," Boyarsky says.
Instead, "Politicians who go from one elected office to another, they're not looking at the long-range view of what the city needs in terms of finances and infrastructure. They have a real short-term mentality."
Two other politically well-connected insiders are councilmen Jose Huizar, a former elected LAUSD school board member, and Garcetti, son of former District Attorney Gil Garcetti. Councilmen Dennis Zine and Bernard Parks are former LAPD — not wholly an outsider category. Rosendahl is the councilman with the most mixed experience: He's a former political talk show host and cable executive.
This group has stalled for more than nine months on the basic task of appointing a DWP ratepayer advocate to protect consumers, something L.A. voters demanded and approved in March 2011.
Says Galanter: "Other than Ed Reyes and [his push to regreen] the L.A. River, I'm not sure I could identify anything any of them wants to get done."
Today, up to five sitting assemblymen in Sacramento are eyeing lucrative spots on the L.A. City Council, which pays $178,789 annually. Even if Warren Furutani loses to Joe Buscaino on Jan. 17, the lifers intend to angle for every new opening at City Hall.
Reach the writer at email@example.com.
What is wrong with a politician being well-connected? It's not the same as being corrupt. Not by a long shot. It's what politician are supposed to be. Does anyone remember what happened to New Orleans when Katrina struck its un-connected newbie pols?
Give me a break, LAW — and The LA Times — this is just the only thing you can bitch about at the moment.
koretz worked as an insurance adjuster so I don't think you can say he never had a private sector job
By the way, have you actually taken a look at the votes in city council? I have gone through a lot of the votes that the council takes on a daily bases and a CLEAR MAJORITY of the votes are procedural votes such as:
"Continued Consideration of Hearing Appeals or Objections to Building and Safety Department report and confirmation of lien to cover the cost of cleaning the lot at 10952 North Whitaker Avenue."
"Continued Consideration of Hearing Appeals or Objections to Building and Safety Department report and confirmation of lien to cover the costs of barricading of all openings and cleaning and fencing of the lot at 3029 North Eva Terrace"
'Ordinance Second Consideration relative to a 15-year lease and the sale of an access easement to Randy W. and Becky Marie Scott for City-owned property located at 156 Short Street, Bishop, California."
"Budget and Finance Committee Report relative to the City Treasurer's Investment and Cash Management Reports for the months of May, June and July, 2009."
The list goes ON AND ON AND ON. I am NOT defending the city council or saying they are doing a great job but can you HONESTLY see someone disagreeing or having passionate debates over issues such as THESE? I was legitimately not nit-picking voting results that favored my viewpoint. I was literally just randomly choosing vote entries. If you want to see it for yourself, use this website and search the votes: http://cityclerk.lacity.org/cv...
I am honestly not surprised that there is such a high level of agreement if these are the kinds of issues they are voting on..
Mr. Karapetyan. The items you point out are the mundane workings of making laws and what gives this process the likeness of making sausage. There are bigger issues the Council agrees on 99 percent of the time.Here's a glaring example of council members jumping on the train that will take them to their next political office. The Council rushed to judgment when it agreed unanimously to give AEG carte blanche to build an NFL stadium downtown without ever investigating the cost to the city of building the facility. The Council keeps saying the AEG stadium will cost the taxpayers nothing. That is a lie. The Council never bothered to find out what it was going to cost taxpayers to renovate streets to make this private stadium workable. Some transportation experts say the public will be on the hook for paying upward of $100 million for street upgrades to downtown. The Council ignored the fact that there are some serious transportation issues that need to be addressed. The Council preferred to believe "AEG" when the company said "there is no traffic on Sunday when there are NFL games. You could stand on the 110 Freeway and roll a bowling ball and you wouldn't hit a car on Sunday." The Council ignored the fact that 300,000 cars a day pass by the junction of the 10 and the 110 where the stadium will be built. That seems like a lot of traffic.The Council ignored all the warning signs and voted unanimously to let AEG build the stadium. The ulterior motive -- Council members want to say in campaign literature that they brought NFL football back to LA which would give them something to tout when they run for future office. You are right, sir, on one point. The sausage making at city hall is an ugly affair -- and voters ignore it at their peril.
Of course you miss the obvious connection to LA's unusual campaign finance laws which are the real reason no incumbent ever loses an election.
Here's a link to the CGS report, Money and Power in the City of Angels, mentioned in this article:
The CGS report, also found that incumbents have an overwhelming contribution advantage. "Incumbents have an overwhelming fundraising advantage over challengers. Incumbents raised a combined total of $5.3 million in private contributions, compared to challengers who raised a combined total of $285,000, a ratio of over 19-to-1."