L.A. Council District 2 Special Election: KPCC joins the old-school media machine to anoint the "leading" candidates in Valley

By Paul Teetor

They're at it again.

We've previously reported how bad the L.A. media machine was at covering events six months ago, when the city's reporters and editors were slow to grasp, and sometimes never did grasp, the anger unfolding in the March 3, 2009 election:  

--Neighborhood groups and bloggers convinced voters to defeat solar Measure B in a very pro-environment city. Few L.A. journos saw its demise coming.
-- Louis Pugliese, an educator with virtually no money, nearly beat Nury Martinez, a special interest type backed by Antonio Villaraigosa for LAUSD Board of Education. No journos remotely considered Pugliese viable -- because he had no special interest money. L.A.  journos then ignored his stunning near-upset of Martinez.
--Villaraigosa, facing candidates with little money, achieved a wan 55 percent re-election victory widely seen as a defeat. Journos who ignored the underfunded candidates were amazed.

So why are these extremely poor predictors of elections, known as the L.A. media, insisting on naming three candidates in the Council District 2 race tomorrow (Tuesday, September 22) as the "leaders"?  The latest to do this is KPCC radio's Larry Mantle.

Bloggers, who have covered the race far more intelligently than old-school L.A. media, are bugged.

Mantle, on his show, gave free air time -- and thus free advertising --

only to the three special interest-funded candidates he sees as the


The seven candidates being largely ignored by local media,

Mary Benson, Pete Sanchez, Zuma Dogg (David Saltsburg), Josef Essavi, Michael McCue and Augusto Bisani, don't owe a thing to special interests. They are running articulate races about the Valley, which they each know well.

In some towns, the seven activists would be the story.

On Friday night, the effort to diminish these seven was starkly seen at a Valley Glen "candidate forum" where neighborhood council leader Judy Price brought two private security guards to make sure the seven did not disrupt a "Meet and Greet the Big 3" 

thrown only for three candidates who are swimming in special interest cash.

At the "forum" at St. Jane Francis De Chantal Church in Valley

Glen, Frank Sheftel, a proud member of the "Grassroots 7" who hope at least one activist does well enough tomorrow to make the December runoff, was

informed that he could go inside the church, but not speak.

That decision was made by a private developer, Christopher Alan, who rented the

church's hall for the "Meet and Greet." He's hoping for political

support at City Hall for his proposed, huge, two-block long mixed-use

project near the church, so there's not much mystery why he threw a forum for three candidates who have sizable special interest cash behind them.

These three candidates, the ones the media are so keen to anoint

as the "leaders" in Tuesday's race, include two blatant carpetbaggers --

well-to-do Westsider Christine Essel and Burbank politician Paul Krekorian

-- who both moved into CD 2 solely to run for the powerful 

council seat that pays $178,789 per year.

The third candidate with serious money behind her is LAUSD School Board member Tamar Galatzan.

At the Valley Glen "forum," candidates Sheftel, Sanchez, Dogg, McCue and Bisani all listened

politely as each of the monied three spoke. 

Sheftel and Sanchez gave credit to Galatzan for using a few

minutes to introduce the five grass-roots candidates --

something neither of the carpetbaggers, Krekorian and Essel,

thought to do. "That was a classy thing for Tamar to do," Sanchez said.

Blogger Paul Hatfield, on his Village to Village site, holds out hope

that one of the seven civic activists gets enough votes tomorrow to make

the runoff for this powerful job. He riffs on his favorite

flick "The Replacements."

If he's to be proved right tomorrow, the seven Valley civic activists will not only have to overcome the

big money from L.A.'s special interests, but the Los Angeles media itself.

(Note: An earlier version of this post used the name Paul Saltsburg instead of David Saltsburg due to an editing error. We apologize to Zuma Dogg/David Saltsburg, whose real name has inspired many versions and alternate spellings in this election cycle.)

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