Despite his massive spending, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield barely gained the votes needed to beat neighborhood council activist Joyce Pearson in Los Angeles City Council District 3 race in the West San Fernando Valley.
Blumenfield, one of the more audacious job-hoppers from Sacramento, who has nearly two years left to serve there and now will abandon that post, squeaked into office with 51.62 percent. He faced the vastly underfunded Pearson, who won 19.96 percent, and numerous other civic activists and leaders who split the rest of the votes.
Blumenfield's less than resounding win -- despite big name ID, big union backing, big spending and an L.A. Times endorsement -- is expected to energize Valley neighborhood council activists and other reform-minded non-politicians who have yet to break into top echelons of Los Angeles power despite many election attempts.
Blumenfield is one of several legislators and ex-legislators in the career movement dubbed "Sacramento South" who are seeking highly lucrative $178,789 Los Angeles City Council jobs.
California legislators are paid $135,000, including a base salary plus an extravagant "per diem," but the City Council pay is higher than that of the U.S. Congress. So it's a major step up from mere California state legislator.
The Sacramento South movement has set off intense debate among political watchers over how many of Sacramento's bad habits these politicians will spread to Los Angeles City Hall. Other results from Council District 3:
Unofficial election counts with all precincts reporting showed Elizabeth Badger fourth with 9.4 percent and Cary Iaccino third with 9.8 percent.
Before Blumenfield announced he was running for City Council he was dragooned by blogger and former Los Angeles Daily News Editor Ron Kaye, who peppered him with questions about his "abusive" and "outrageous" plan to abandon his State Assembly District 45 seat if he could win the L.A. City Council seat.
Kaye, with a videographer taping his testy-yet-funny exchange, demanded to know, "Are you going to pay for the special election?!" (that will have to be held if Blumenfield leaves the Assembly almost two years early to join the L.A. City Council.)
Kaye never got his answer. Blumenfield talked around the job-hopping controversy for several minutes, looking slightly ill.
Blumenfield did get one good line off, however, retorting, " I don't know if you want to see my retina scan, if that's what you're trying for."
Pearson is perhaps best known for buying into the glittery claims of Australian mall giant Westfield, which promised the communities of Canoga Park and Warner Center that it was going to build an upscale, transit-oriented development "village" of homes and shops on a vast piece of land walking distance from the Orange Line.
Many residents and advocates believed the gazillionaire developers and spent thousands of hours over several years working out plans with Westfield for the "village."
Then Westfield announced it was going to build a Costco instead, and a whole lot less village.
In the controversy that followed, City Councilman Dennis Zine largely acted as an apologist for Westfield. Pearson publicly castigated Zine for failing to call public meetings on the issue, and wrote a stormy editorial in a small Valley newspaper, saying:
Costco hasn't even relocated yet, but it is already turning what Westfield once promised as an upscale "shop/dine/work destination" into a strip mall with a wholesale arm behind it, that is destined to hurt traffic, surrounding businesses and neighborhoods, not to mention leaving blight behind in Canoga Park, just blocks away.