Dennis Zine, City Council District 3
This is a partial transcript of Dennis Zines interview with the L.A. Weeklys editorial board. As with all of the candidate interviews, it has been only lightly edited and has not been fact-checked.
L.A. WEEKLY: How many people are you being challenged by?
DENNIS ZINE: One.
L.A. WEEKLY: Jeff Bornstein?.
DENNIS ZINE: There were two, but one didnt qualify on the signatures.
L.A. WEEKLY: Have you talked with Bornstein about why hes running against you?
DENNIS ZINE: Ive never met Mr. Bornstein. I have no idea what he looks like. If he walked in here right now I would not know him. Ive never seen him, never met him, and never spoken to him. I have no idea. None whatsoever.
L.A. WEEKLY: What kind of campaign are you running?
DENNIS ZINE: Were running a serious campaign. Were going to spend probably 80 to 100 thousand dollars on mail. Weve got endorsements from labor, endorsements from law enforcement, endorsements from city officials. From sheriffs to police agencies to Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante and Sheila Kuehl the whole gamut. Were running the campaign as a serious campaign and running on the accomplishments and what we plan to do in the next four years. Its amazing how quickly four years passes. It seems like yesterday that I was sworn in as a councilman.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why would you raise money and spend it on mailers when its really...
DENNIS ZINE: We will raise approximately $300,000. Were close to $280,000 right now. Its a little race and I signed up for the limits. I agree with that 1397518451 not to go over $333,000. I started raising the money because you want to have money in the pot. You want to have money so you can run a campaign. There were two possible challengers. So I continue to raise money. Mr. Bornstein received his signatures. The other gentleman didnt receive his signatures and get certified. The first fundraiser we had $80,000 or $90,000 and we just kept 1397518451 If you dont run a serious campaign youre not going to get it done. I had no idea that there was an individual from Howard Bermans office who was going to run against me. His chief of staff was running against me. Mr. Bornstein was the last one to get certified. I had no idea if he was going to get certified or not, which I dont think
L.A. WEEKLY: Did the fundraising help you
DENNIS ZINE: No. It doesnt make a difference at all because what you look at is the people that Ive connected with - the labor unions, law enforcement, fire fighters, the businesses, and the community. What you receive is simply an opportunity to meet the councilman. Thats what its about. Its not about this pay to play where youre going to buy someone. No ones going to buy me for $500. I fortunately did all those years in law enforcement. In August itll be 37 years in LAPD. I am currently a reserve officer. My son works Hollywood division. So you establish a reputation, and a record. I was the charter commissioner. We got no compensation for that. I ran and got lucky. But as far as the ability to raise money with the ethics rules, $500 is the maximum. You raise that and all it simply does is let people meet the councilman. There are a lot of people who want to meet elected officials. I learned that somehow people put us in a different category. Im a real humble guy. My dad was a gardener. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I grew up on a street right near Fairfax and Melrose. We then moved to Orlando. I came from very humble beginnings. Im just happy to give back. I donate $25,000 a year to charities. Everything from a battered womens shelter to a childrens hospital.
L.A. WEEKLY: From your salary?
DENNIS ZINE: From my salary. I donate $25,000 a year. I was Man of the Year at the Jewish temple in my district. Im Catholic and Im Lebanese, and the Jewish temple honored me as Man of the Year because I do the right thing for the community. The last four years, they received $20,000 dollars from my personal fund. These arent government funds. These are personal funds. I had them set up a foundation and it comes right out of my personal account. Why? Because I want to give something back. Because Im not a greedy individual. What Im going to do with the money that I dont spend is it is going to go to charity because they can use those dollars. You either give them back to the people that contributed, and put it in the general fund or use it for charity, and thats what Im going to do. Thats my plan. I help raise money for battered womens shelter, and March of Dimes. Im not talking about five or ten dollars. Im talking about significant amounts of money.
L.A. WEEKLY: Whats the most important issue in your campaign?
DENNIS ZINE: Well, the most important issue right now is affordable housing because the cost of housing in my district is just really expensive. We are addressing the housing with developments where we can come down to an affordable level. The median price in my districts a little over $500,000 for a single-family residence. Its very expensive. My son, whos a police officer, cant qualify for a $500,000 home. Hes single with no credit and he cant qualify. So if a police officer, a fire fighter, a teacher cant qualify then whos going to be able to qualify? Were working with developers. One developer were working with purchased 500 apartments and converted them into condos, which is the new trend. Everything in my district is built out. Youre not going to find hundreds of acres other than Pierce College, and were not going to touch that. Youre going to find that theres virtually no more space. I have six different communities that have separate identities. Some are more fluent than others, but affordable housing is in crisis not only in my district but also in other districts in the city. Were working with the $100 million trust fund that we have established in the city. One thing about the city council that Im sure you see when you go down to council is that theres a common denominator that we want to help people. As far as jobs, we have plenty of jobs, but we need to have the residents so people can live there and work those jobs. An article came out today that a Target is going to be built. Westfields investing $300 million in the shopping plaza. Three hundred million dollars are invested. Theyre putting a Neiman Marcus and a Target. 1,500 new jobs. I worked with the community. I worked with Boeing. Im not talking about just minimum wage jobs. A lot of kids in the community dont want to go to college, but lets give them a trade. Lets work with the developers to include that. So now were giving someone a trade. Weve given them a nice profession. Now they can purchase something and find that American dream.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first move to the district?
DENNIS ZINE: Ive lived there for years. I was born and raised in L.A. I grew up on 7th. I was married in the 70s, and moved to Northridge. I got divorced in 89 or 1990. I bought my house about 1990 because I had been there for 12 or 13 years.
L.A. WEEKLY: In what way has it changed since youve lived there?
DENNIS ZINE: Its gotten better, um...
L.A. WEEKLY: How has it gotten better?
DENNIS ZINE: If you look at the quality of life and the property values increase. The areas of Canoga Park and Reseda You go down to those areas now and youre going to find great revitalization. Youre going to find a lot more traffic because Warner Center is the major business hub and people come into work at Warner Center. You look at Ventura Freeway. I dont care if youre going east or west youre going to find massive gridlock because people are going to that area to work, and people are leaving that area to work in other parts. Where I commute from is the far west valley near Topanga and the 101 to city hall. It takes an hour and a half to get from my residence to city hall. It should take maybe a half hour. We had our neighborhood schools meeting at Reseda High. Janice Hahn and I are on that committee. We left city hall at five oclock sharp. We got there an hour and a half later. Youve got a lot of congestion because people are working out there. Weve got a lot of opportunities, so weve improved the environment of the community. Weve improved the job opportunities. We dont have the transportation system we need to really address that, which were working on with the orange line. So the area has improved. You dont find the abandoned cars. You dont find the graffiti. You find a better quality of life in that district and people who live there know that and they see it every day.
L.A. WEEKLY: How is the orange line going to address the transportation problem when the area gets denser by the time its completed?
DENNIS ZINE: Well, Ventura County is continuing to build. We dont have any control over them. They wanted to build Ahmanson: 3,045 homes, pebble golf courses, hotels, and massive destruction to beautiful open space, and the congestion of the 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: But your district had open space at the Warner Center area.
DENNIS ZINE: It didnt have when I got there 1397518451 Ive been in office four years. I cant be responsible for things of the past.
L.A. WEEKLY: Im not trying to hold you responsible for it.
DENNIS ZINE: Weve done nothing at Warner. Weve done nothing to expand open space. There is no open space in Warner Center that is being modified. There is some industrial 1397518451 for example, the Boeing plant. Weve purchased areas to park, for the cars that are going to be using the orange line. If you look at Warner Center right now and you look at what is there the hotel, the business structures theyre tearing down one business and putting up another. Westfield Shopping Town. Its been a shopping center. Theyre tearing down some of the buildings and putting new buildings in to modernize. Thats not the case at all anywhere with Warner Center. Were not taking beautiful, serene surroundings and turning them into developments.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why is it fair to tell Ventura County they cant build a housing development in their open space when Warner Center was built?
DENNIS ZINE: It was Warner. It was a ranch. Youre right. I cannot...
L.A. WEEKLY: Where does it stop?
DENNIS ZINE: I cant be accountable for what my predecessors have done. What I can do is be responsible and accountable for what Im doing. Now, how much open space do we have left? We have Griffith Park. We have pocket parks here and there. The Ahmanson project with 3,045 homes on a massive congested freeway with all the environmental, watershed and nature issues. Im not into building on open space. Canoga Park and Reseda used to be farmland years ago. Van Nuys was a farmland. Over the years, its developed from ranches, barns, single family, apartments and condos. This population has increased tremendously over the years. How do we address that? How do we bring the components together? Clearly Ahmanson would have been negative for the environment. It would have been negative for nature. Its now a park forever and thank goodness for Governor Gray Davis Prop. 50. We purchased it and theres no longer any threat to development. We dont have enough open space. We dont want to be an asphalt jungle. I lived in Northridge in Porter Ranch when I was married, and that area north of the 118 freeway used to be beautiful pristine area. Chappelle Construction came in and built thousands and thousands of homes. At what point does it stop? They built the 118 freeway, which is already at a congested rate. We need to manage our population, and what we need to do is build transit centers and thats what the orange lines all about. You build your residence near the transit centers. You go to England, you go to other parts of this world and you have good, effective public transit. We dont have a good, effective public transit system here. How do you go from the valley to the airport on public transit? Its going to take you two days to get there. We need to have something thats effective. This orange line is going to take the people from the east, and bring them into the west. What we will do is relieve the gridlock congestion off the freeway. I know that I will personally use it because I would much rather sit on an articulated bus, which is going to have priority because the traffic lights are being resynchronized. I dont care if its Saturday or Sunday, youre going to find the 101 and the 405 a massive congested area seven days a week. Weve got a population of 4 million and our population keeps expanding, but what do we do? Put a fence up and say you cant come in. The citys closed. Thats not going to work, so you have to accommodate people and thats what we need to do, but build it wise. Build the transit center and build the house so you dont have to hassle with it. If you live and work at Warner Center, youll get a much-reduced rate if you purchase one of those condos. So youll save $10,000. Its a positive way to bring them together. Eric Garcetti. Tom LaBonge. Weve improved this whole area. We work together like a city family to improve the entire area. The economy is improving. The quality of lifes improving. Public safetys improving. Its all improving. I want to be able to get you out of your residence into public transit without having to clog the highways.
L.A. WEEKLY: What are you saying when you say public transit?
DENNIS ZINE: A bus. The metro link. The orange line, red line, blue line 1397518451 Id rather leave my car at home and get on public transit, and take it to LAX. The congestion and chaos that you have to go through to get to LAX, I would much rather 1397518451 When I fly, I try to fly out of Burbank just because the hassle you have to go through at LAX. What Im trying to do is bring in the reality of convenience. I grew up in a generation where at 16 you want a car. You get your car, you get freedom. A lot of people grew up in that environment. You go to other parts of this country like New York where they have the subway, and it works. In London, it works. But we havent adapted to that. We had a big public transit system at one time in the city and it was all scrapped because of Chevron and because of General Motors and because of Firestone because they sell the gas, the cars, the tires. I am a strong supporter of public transit and I will be using public transit to go from my residence to city hall.
L.A. WEEKLY: How do you think the rest of your constituents feel about public transit?
DENNIS ZINE: Theyre not used to it because theyre used to the car. But I will tell you; were not going to see people standing on the street corner at 110 degrees waiting for a bus to come by. Thats not going to happen we need to make it efficient, safe and convenient.
L.A. WEEKLY: How do you do it?
DENNIS ZINE: Well, you encourage them by making the system every five minutes. Ive used the red line. Ive used the blue line. Those trains run real smooth during commuter hours. I think we should run the trains longer than we do. I wish that the system would have gone out to the valley and not stopped at North Hollywood.
L.A. WEEKLY: Would you support a rail system that goes to the valley?
DENNIS ZINE: Id support a light rail system. Absolutely. Id definitely support a light rail system.
L.A. WEEKLY: So for whatever taxes it costs to...
DENNIS ZINE: You know what? Thats the only thing about taxes. People in the valley are not into taxes. People in the valley have been paying taxes for so long theyre not putting in services.
L.A. WEEKLY: But thats the tradeoff, isnt it?
DENNIS ZINE: Were paying transit tax right now. Were paying gasoline tax right now. Wheres that money going? Its being diverted by the state of California. The state of California comes in like a gun and they rob you. Give me your money. They take our money. Theyve been ripping us off for a long time. The proposition that recently passed is going to give us back the DLF fund, which is going to be used to provide public safety, but were all paying gas tax.
Look at all the people driving cars. Gas tax is a humongous amount of money, but the state rips it off. Weve got transit money being diverted, and thats the problem. We need to have those funds appropriated for that designated purpose and not divert it cause when you divert it then you lose the effectiveness. Why dont we have a system in place where we can have the expansion of the freeway system? Were beyond that, but at one point, and Ive seen the maps, there was a freeway going down Santa Monica Boulevard. Theyre never going to do it now. Why? Because the cost of land is prohibiting. Youll never be able to purchase that. So we dislocate half the society? Thats not going to work. So we have to deal with what we have now, and what we have now is a patchwork of transit. But Im looking at my district: Woodland Hills and every corner along through Valley Village and North Hollywood, to utilize that back and forth commute. That will relieve a massive amount of congestion on the freeways. I went to the Rose Parade. What did I do? I took the gold line. I parked my car in the lot, jumped on it and then I got a three-dollar pass. It was very efficient, and people will get used to using that. We have to change the mentality. Its like smoking. If this were the old days youd be sitting there smoking cigars and cigarettes. We dont do that anymore. Weve changed, weve conditioned ourselves to be healthier and thats a positive thing.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you support the mayors reelection?
DENNIS ZINE: I did endorse the mayor.
L.A. WEEKLY: Okay.
DENNIS ZINE: Way back when the mayor was the only one to...
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you support the mayors reelection?
DENNIS ZINE: I have officially endorsed him.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you support the mayors reelection?
DENNIS ZINE: Ive spoken to the mayor and Bill Wardlaws called me about the fact that I wasnt going to pull the endorsement. If Troy Edwards or someone in his immediate cabinet gets indicted then I would easily in good conscience pull my endorsement.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why?
DENNIS ZINE: Because to have that type of disgrace 1397518451 the city tolerates a lot of stuff. Itll tolerate corruption. L.A. was corrupt many, many years ago. I am not one whos going to support someone whos involved in it.
L.A. WEEKLY: So if someone in the mayors administration committed any kind of crime.
DENNIS ZINE: No, no. Im talking about this pay to play 1397518451 doing things that are unethical. Im talking about indictment 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: Even if the mayor had nothing to do with it you would pull the endorsement.
DENNIS ZINE: You know what? If someone at my office does something wrong Im held accountable. When an L.A. cop that goes out and does something wrong, the mayor is accountable because the charter was designed that way. You take the praise. You take the hit. So if his administration Im not talking about people from that organization but his administration were doing things that are illegal and break the rules then that would give me the motivation to say, Im not going to support him anymore. If I were to pull it right now today, the man who Im talking about endorsing is Antonio Villaraigosa.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why?
DENNIS ZINE: I respect the man and hes worked hard for what hes got. Tony can bring people together and I like him for that, and I work with him. We sit a couple chairs away from each other. I knew him when he was in the assembly, and then when he first ran. Tony didnt have a great reputation with law enforcement, but he has really shown how he can get people together. He turned that whole assembly upside down when he said were working for the people. I want to see Republicans and Democrats not divided. Were working together for the people, and thats what I believe in. I would never in my life go for a partisan office because I dont believe in partisan politics. I believe when you work for the government you work for the people. When a train crashes, they dont care anything about what youre politics are. Theyre going to fix you. Theyre going to take you to the hospital, but lets take the Republicans first and leave the Democrats. Lets take the Latinos and leave the African Americans. No. You help people. Thats what I spent 37 years of my life doing. Antonio likes people and he helps people.
Bob Hertzbergs a nice man. Richard Alarcons a nice man. Bernie Parks is a nice man. I think that you shouldnt 1397518451 Antonio was the speaker of the state Assembly, in a very prestigious position, and the effectiveness that he had on society was very important. I respect that. I recognize that. His position as a mayor of the city would have a dramatic impact on how people are treated in the city of Los Angeles. Ive officially endorsed Jimmy Hahn. Antonio and I have had conversations. I mean, if I were to vote today, I would really have to sit in that booth and think about where Im going to cast my ballot 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: Youre concerned that the mayor has too much control over the general managers? They dont report to the council.
DENNIS ZINE: Oh, absolutely. The charter says the general managers ...
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you think the new charter makes them report exclusively to the mayor?
DENNIS ZINE: Because what we wanted to do, in good conscience, is to have someone accountable and responsible. Who do you hold accountable? Youre accountable. So now the hat falls on you. Thats what Riordan wanted. He says, Ill take the heat. Make me the bad guy, and thats what the mayors supposed to do.
So he brings the general managers in, rolls his sleeves up and says, Okay, folks. This is the problem. What do we do to fix it? Ive had a number of complaints about planning in the city of Los Angeles. Con Howe is now retiring, and I dont know if its because of work. Ed Reyes was trying to get rid of him. He was trying everything in his power to get rid of this guy. The mayor needs to have huevos. Thats what he really needs to have. Youve got a city thats second largest in the country, and things arent run efficiently and smooth. We can always improve. We should always try for perfection. I look at my district with pride and say, this is what weve done. Im responsible for my backyard, but I share that responsibility with everyone else and theres a lot of frustration that Weve got general managers that are holdovers from the old civil service system that need to be retired cause they arent performing. Youve got general managers that dont live in the city of Los Angeles.
L.A. WEEKLY: Who?
DENNIS ZINE: Ron Deaton. Wayne Tanda. If you start looking at all the general managers you would 1397518451 if you were a general manager making over six figures you better live in the city that youre serving. Why is Ron Deaton 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: But hes always lived outside the city.
DENNIS ZINE: Yes.
L.A. WEEKLY: He lives in Seal Beach, right?
DENNIS ZINE: Yeah. Ive been to his house. He had a Christmas party. First time Ive been to his house. He has a lovely house. You know what? Its a beautiful place. View of the ocean. But youre the chief legislative analyst. Okay. But now youre the general manager of the Department of Water and Power and you live outside not only L.A. city, but also L.A. County. You live in Orange County. Is something wrong with that? I would make it a mandate that a general manager must live in the city that he or she is providing that service to. Say we have an emergency. Then youll have to come up from another county.
L.A. WEEKLY: Whats wrong with that?
DENNIS ZINE: Because youre a general manager of the department.
L.A. WEEKLY: Should you require all the police officers to live in the city?
DENNIS ZINE: No. Well, you know what? If you pay them enough they would, theyd be able to afford it, but a general managers making six figures of take home. They should be able to live in the city of Los Angeles. If they want that job that bad they should live in the city of Los Angeles. There should be an obligation by the mayor. Commissioners have to live in the city, but general managers dont. Commissioners do it for free, and general managers dont. Id change that.
L.A. WEEKLY: Are there any parts you would change in the charter?
DENNIS ZINE: Yeah. There are parts I would change.
L.A. WEEKLY: What would you change?
DENNIS ZINE: You know what? There are so many different aspects of it. I would share some of the responsibilities with general managers. Im only a councilman. Yeah. I only answer to the mayor.
L.A. WEEKLY: Thats one of the things you changed.
DENNIS ZINE: I know. Because the reason we wanted to do that was to say whom are we going to hold accountable. Everybody pointed his or her finger at somebody else. No one was held accountable, and that was one of the major issues that the mayor said he was going to be in charge of.
L.A. WEEKLY: How do you put the mayor accountable?
DENNIS ZINE: You know what we got out of that charter committee? We got zip. And you were at many of the meetings because you were working and writing articles about it. So you know how frustrating it was. There were certain charter commissioners who would sit out on the deck and smoke half the time and come in for the vote and vote no on everything. But the rest of us were really committed to making a difference and making a change. After that I didnt know I was going to run for city council, but the intention was, How do you blend the elected and the appointed? How do you make it work? Now were coming with more amendments, like the airport. Now we want to say the airport police ...
L.A. WEEKLY: You guys said it would never be amended again cause it was going to be perfect.
DENNIS ZINE: But you know why it was? Because the chief of police at that time was creating the problem and he wanted to take everything and strip everything. Things have to change. There are good points in term limits and bad points in term limits. I pray to God every day Im getting reelected for another four years. You cant go to the college of politics. That doesnt tell you how to be a council member. How do you work with your colleagues? How do you work in a cooperative fashion? How do the people know that youre being successful in what youre trying to do? There are so many different facets to it, so term limits are a downside.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you still want to ban hand held cell phones in cars?
DENNIS ZINE: Absolutely. People are driving and paying no attention
L.A. WEEKLY: You want to ban them completely or only hand held?
DENNIS ZINE: The latest report that came out shows that if youre on a cell phone youre not concentrating on driving. Weve gotten so far away from concentration driving. I devoted 18 years of my life investigating crashes, and fatalities without a cell phone. Now youve got cell phones and television sets on the dashboard. Well, you know what? Innocent people are going to die. I dont want to see some sweet innocent people killed.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you now believe that it was a mistake for you to go to the strip club?
DENNIS ZINE: No, it was not a mistake. Ill tell you why it was not a mistake. I was working with a reporter from the Daily News and it was a ride along. I went to that strip club with Chief Bratton by the way on a second occasion.
L.A. WEEKLY: Whats it called?
DENNIS ZINE: Frisky Kitty, I think. I had a number of complaints from the community about this strip club. Now if you want to run a business I dont care, but run it in a decent fashion so you dont irritate the community. So what happens is: Im getting a lot of complaints. So if I go in as the councilman then the story is councilman visits strip club. I didnt want to go in as a councilman. I didnt want to go in. Councilman visits strip club. There was a guy who was running for political office and that became an issue with him. I forgot his name. Bruce, I think it was. So I, with a reporter and another officer in uniform, went and did what is legally authorized. I did an inspection. I was in there no more than three minutes, in and out. In and out, I wanted to see firsthand what its like inside that place cause of all the complaints I got from the community. Thats what it was about. I wouldnt go to a strip club because I dont want to have that negative image that the councilmans a pervert. So I would do it again in uniform. I went back to that place with Chief Bratton. We didnt go in. We cruised the parking lot in a black and white. The strip clubs have to comply with every rule and procedure that everyone else has to comply with. Theres no immunity, and all were saying is follow the rules in the community. I dont wear my uniform that often cause I still work LAPD twice a month.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you get any pay for that?
DENNIS ZINE: You get 50 bucks a month. That is basically to take care of your uniforms and your ammunition 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: Your colleague decided not to do that anymore.
DENNIS ZINE: Who?
L.A. WEEKLY: Smith.
DENNIS ZINE: He still does.
L.A. WEEKLY: I thought he didnt.
DENNIS ZINE: Two days a month.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why do you do it?
DENNIS ZINE: Because I want to know whats going on. What we see in city council is the best of the best. We see the glorified reports. Crime is down 20 percent. Everythings going good. Well, I want to go out there and see if everythings going good. So when Im driving down the street and I see the sanitation folks cleaning out the sewers Ill stop and say, How are things going? I want to know firsthand whats going on. I do the same with the LAPD. Is morale good? Are we treating people right? Are we following the rules? Or do we have a problem? I dont want to have a scandal like we had at the airport where people arent handling radio calls or people arent providing the public safety that theyre paid to do. I dont want to have that in Los Angeles. Tom LaBonges the same way. Hes a hands on counselor. We have a murder, and we go to the scene. It wasnt that way years ago. The council members were the policy makers. Were more than policy makers. Were people who are making us a better city. So that connection with the police department keeps me in touch. Being a reserve officer gives me access that most people dont even know. I can go in a helicopter. I can go to different divisions and walk in the back door and see what theyre doing.
L.A. WEEKLY: What do you see?
DENNIS ZINE: I see that theyre doing a very professional job and Ill tell you why. Because they got good morale and they got good supervision. When you got good morale and good supervision you can do a good job. Youre not going to see another Rampart situation where peoples rights are abused and violated, and cops are criminals. Youre not going to see that because Brattons come in with a whole different mentality, and his command staff has followed that mentality. And thats the problem with the airport. I met with the airport general manager a couple days ago. I said, You need help at the airport. You just got robbed and you call up the 911 at the airport and then the unit gets the call and they dont show up. Well, my God, where are they? Well, theyre at the donut shop taking a break. You dont see that in LAPD because those officers are very aggressive and professional. In all my years of LAPD experience, Ive never been charged with excessive force. You can take someone to jail without getting in an altercation. Its about how you treat people. People submit because you treat them with respect.
They could be the hardened gang-bangers, but youre going to treat them with respect. If they are going to bring out a weapon then thats a whole different story. But Im talking about how you treat people and how you relate to people.
L.A. WEEKLY: Are you a Republican?
DENNIS ZINE: Yes. There are two registered Republicans on the city council. Me and Greig Smith, and they know that. But you know what? Ive been able to cross that line to say, Im here for the people. Im here helping the people and thats why I say Id never go over for a partisan office because youre in elective office to help everyone.
L.A. WEEKLY: As a Republican, do you have any possibility to get some response from our governor or our federal government that we dont otherwise get?
DENNIS ZINE: Im trying to make that connection. Ive met with the governor on occasion. Billy Greer and I are good friends. Ive utilized the resource of Billy to try and get things, and Ive spoken to people up in the assembly and the senate. What the governors outfit is: Im a movie star and Im going to do what Im going to do, and I got so much money it doesnt matter.
So when you got that kind of attitude 1397518451 Im a retired cop. Im on a pension. I dont need this. I can just say forget it and go do something else, but Im committed to people. The governor, I dont think, is committed to people. Now he wants to change the constitution so he can run for president. It frightens me what some of his agendas are. Ive met with Brad Sherman, a Democratic congressman. He is very liberal. I got his endorsement. Im the only Republican in my district 1397518451
Ive got two sons who could be drafted. I understand that theyre working on a draft, which to me is devastating. Now theyve had their election, let them take care of their country and lets bring our people home. We have to think about the 11-plus-thousand who lost their arms and their legs and the scars that theyre going to suffer forever, and enough with the war.
I believe in a womans right to choose. I believe that. Im Catholic. I go to church. But you know what? A woman has a right to choose, and I got to sleep at night with my conscience clear. I pray for the pope. The popes a nice guy. I met him when he was out here in 86. How many elected officials give out of his or her own pocket? Very few, unless youre very wealthy. Im not real wealthy. But you know what? God was good to me. I want to give something back. You dont spend 37 years helping people in law enforcement, and protecting people then all of a sudden change your stripes and say Im just going to go by this political party. Its not my style.
L.A. WEEKLY: What are your thoughts on Antonio?
DENNIS ZINE: He came from humble beginnings. People that arent born with a silver spoon who find accomplishment, have different values. What I like about the man is he can bring people together. Antonio is that kind of person. Put down the guns, lets sit down and lets make peace and live in tranquility. Hes good with that. When Ive seen him in council he doesnt get up and pontificate. If hes got an issue he mentions it and then he moves on. Youve got Gray Davis, who they said raised a whole lot of money, but he didnt relate to people. Youve got Arnold, who has a lot of money, and people relate to him just cause hes the Terminator. The action hero. Perception is reality and for Antonio to come as close as he did last time, and I look at it history repeats itself 1397518451 The first time Bradley didnt win. The second time he won. If it comes to a run off between Antonio and Hahn, I would really give the odds to Antonio.
L.A. WEEKLY: Will you change your endorsement at that point?
DENNIS ZINE: Time will tell. There may be a dual endorsement before the election for Antonio.
L.A. WEEKLY: Is he asking you for it?
DENNIS ZINE: We went to breakfast and I said, Antonio, before you ever got in this, before Alarcon, before Hertzberg, before Parks, I endorsed Hahn. He endorsed me I endorsed him. You want to get your endorsements lined up early and it was all taken care of. He said, Im not asking you to pull it, but Im asking you to do a dual endorsement. Will you give me a dual endorsement? But he hasnt been bugging me at all.
The mayor is accountable and responsible, and thats what the charter says. And thats why I hold him accountable, and responsible. Were going to get a whole bunch more cops cause theyre taking the BLF money and were going to use that money to hire more officers. Why cant we find money to hire more officers? Well, were going to get $60 million from the BLF to give to the LAPD to hire. In addition to that, theres a number of LAPD officers Ive discussed this with the chief that are being paid who arent working or theyre working in capacities that lessen the field. We need to analyze and we need to rectify that. So there are a lot of people who are on duty status. You go water skiing, and you come in sick. You hurt yourself at work, you go out by OD. The police department is trying to address it. Were going to give the police department $60 million. I I got a call that Bratton wants to meet again. He keeps on trying to browbeat me into supporting the sales tax. We have funds available to provide for public safety, and we have a budget of over $5 billion. Whats the priority? Theres a lot of money the citys throwing away. So, yes, we need more officers. So this whole thing about a sales tax, I dont buy that we need to have it. What were going to do is were going to hurt business. Were going to hurt the consumer, and on top of that were just increasing your sewer and sanitation rates. Were increasing your water rates 11 percent, and God knows what else were increasing.
L.A. WEEKLY: What about the Hertzberg argument that instead of giving raises to city employees you could hire more?
DENNIS ZINE: Youre right.
L.A. WEEKLY: But you voted for the raises.
DENNIS ZINE: Youre right. I did. I voted for the raise because when you look at a 2 percent raise 1397518451 youre not talking about a 15 percent raise. The first one they got was 2.
L.A. WEEKLY: A 9 percent raise over three years.
DENNIS ZINE: Youre talking 9 percent over three years, but youre talking increments of 2 or 3 percent. Now, how much is gasoline a gallon? How much is food? How much is clothing? How much is tuition at school? If youre talking about police officers who start at about $42,000 a year, 2 percent is not a whole lot of money.
L.A. WEEKLY: You still have to make choices with that money. Cops versus cultural affairs.
DENNIS ZINE: Cultural affairs and other departments. I believe in consolidation. Well keep the department, but we consolidate. The planning department and building and safety, youve got critical departments. Fund your critical departments. Lets roll in some federal dollars. We need to lobby our congressman or our senators. Theres a lot of money. We dont have money for after school programs. Three hundred billion dollars for the war. And if you dont vote for it then youre un-American and youre not supporting the troops. Yet, the troops dont have armor plates on their vehicles and they have to go beg, borrow, and steal. Its deplorable how the government runs. You talk about frustration. I think Halliburtons making out like a bandit. Dick Cheneys making out like a bandit. The people are suffering the consequences. When I see those military folks who come back without a leg or arm, it tears me up because they go over as young kids thinking that theyre going to do well for what the American tradition is. So when it comes to the priorities, is planting a tree as important as providing paramedic service? Is painting a mural as important as providing the fire unit? Were the priorities. Ill be meeting with the mayor next month to discuss budget cause hes going to be coming around to all the council members cause he was wrong the first time he came around. He didnt discuss anything with us and he got trailed down the wrong path.
Cultural affairs is important. Its wonderful. But if youre afraid to go to the theater then what good is it going to be? So youve got to bring it all together.
Any other questions? I would appreciate your endorsement. The last time I ran I got an endorsement from 1397518451 should I tell you what it was?
L.A. WEEKLY: If you want to.
DENNIS ZINE: I got endorsement from another paper that was, uh ...
L.A. WEEKLY: Another alternative?
DENNIS ZINE: I was very proud to get that. I look at this race seriously and people say, Are you going to go for another political office? Honest to goodness, I will not go for a partisan office. If a non-partisan office opens up I would consider it. But when I finish this next term Ill be 62 years old. I got two great sons. Ones going to Beijing University. The others an L.A. police officer. Life has been good to me and I just want to give something back. I am going to continue giving to charity? Absolutely. Why do I do it? Because its my opportunity to give something back. Thanks for the opportunity. I would appreciate the endorsement because it means something to me to tell the community that I can get publications across the board and elected officials across the board to support me. And if you check your record you probably never endorsed a Republican 1397518451 Cooley sent me a personal letter of endorsement and you know what that means? Im not getting indicted.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- American Apparel Files for Bankruptcy
Thu., Oct. 8, 6:00pm
Thu., Oct. 8, 7:00pm
Fri., Oct. 9, 12:00am
Fri., Oct. 9, 12:00am
- Under New Law, Cops Have to Track Suspects' Race
- Major Marijuana Coalition Takes First Step in Legalization Drive