This is a partial transcript of Dennis Zine’s interview with the L.A. Weekly’s 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 didn’t qualify on the signatures.
L.A. WEEKLY: Have you talked with Bornstein about why he’s running against you?
DENNIS ZINE: I’ve never met Mr. Bornstein. I have no idea what he looks like. If he walked in here right now I would not know him. I’ve 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: We’re running a serious campaign. We’re going to spend probably 80 to 100 thousand dollars on mail. We’ve 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. We’re running the campaign as a serious campaign and running on the accomplishments and what we plan to do in the next four years. It’s 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 it’s really…
DENNIS ZINE: We will raise approximately $300,000. We’re close to $280,000 right now. It’s 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 didn’t receive his signatures and get certified. The first fundraiser we had $80,000 or $90,000 and we just kept 1397518451 If you don’t run a serious campaign you’re not going to get it done. I had no idea that there was an individual from Howard Berman’s 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 don’t think…
L.A. WEEKLY: Did the fundraising help you…
DENNIS ZINE: No. It doesn’t make a difference at all because what you look at is the people that I’ve 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. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about this pay to play where you’re going to buy someone. No one’s going to buy me for $500. I fortunately did all those years in law enforcement. In August it’ll 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. I’m 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. I’m just happy to give back. I donate $25,000 a year to charities. Everything from a battered women’s shelter to a children’s 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. I’m Catholic and I’m 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 aren’t 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 I’m not a greedy individual. What I’m going to do with the money that I don’t 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 that’s what I’m going to do. That’s my plan. I help raise money for battered women’s shelter, and March of Dimes. I’m not talking about five or ten dollars. I’m talking about significant amounts of money.
L.A. WEEKLY: What’s 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 district’s a little over $500,000 for a single-family residence. It’s very expensive. My son, who’s a police officer, can’t qualify for a $500,000 home. He’s single with no credit and he can’t qualify. So if a police officer, a fire fighter, a teacher can’t qualify then who’s going to be able to qualify? We’re working with developers. One developer we’re working with purchased 500 apartments and converted them into condos, which is the new trend. Everything in my district is built out. You’re not going to find hundreds of acres other than Pierce College, and we’re not going to touch that. You’re going to find that there’s 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. We’re working with the $100 million trust fund that we have established in the city. One thing about the city council that I’m sure you see when you go down to council is that there’s 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. Westfield’s investing $300 million in the shopping plaza. Three hundred million dollars are invested. They’re putting a Neiman Marcus and a Target. 1,500 new jobs. I worked with the community. I worked with Boeing. I’m not talking about just minimum wage jobs. A lot of kids in the community don’t want to go to college, but let’s give them a trade. Let’s work with the developers to include that. So now we’re giving someone a trade. We’ve 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: I’ve 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 you’ve lived there?
DENNIS ZINE: It’s 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 you’re going to find great revitalization. You’re 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 don’t care if you’re going east or west you’re 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 o’clock sharp. We got there an hour and a half later. You’ve got a lot of congestion because people are working out there. We’ve got a lot of opportunities, so we’ve improved the environment of the community. We’ve improved the job opportunities. We don’t have the transportation system we need to really address that, which we’re working on with the orange line. So the area has improved. You don’t find the abandoned cars. You don’t 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 it’s completed?
DENNIS ZINE: Well, Ventura County is continuing to build. We don’t 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 didn’t have when I got there 1397518451 I’ve been in office four years. I can’t be responsible for things of the past.
L.A. WEEKLY: I’m not trying to hold you responsible for it.
DENNIS ZINE: We’ve done nothing at Warner. We’ve 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. We’ve 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 — they’re tearing down one business and putting up another. Westfield Shopping Town. It’s been a shopping center. They’re tearing down some of the buildings and putting new buildings in to modernize. That’s not the case at all anywhere with Warner Center. We’re not taking beautiful, serene surroundings and turning them into developments.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why is it fair to tell Ventura County they can’t build a housing development in their open space when Warner Center was built?
DENNIS ZINE: It was Warner. It was a ranch. You’re right. I cannot…
L.A. WEEKLY: Where does it stop?
DENNIS ZINE: I can’t be accountable for what my predecessors have done. What I can do is be responsible and accountable for what I’m 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. I’m not into building on open space. Canoga Park and Reseda used to be farmland years ago. Van Nuys was a farmland. Over the years, it’s 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. It’s now a park forever and thank goodness for Governor Gray Davis’ Prop. 50. We purchased it and there’s no longer any threat to development. We don’t have enough open space. We don’t 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 that’s 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 don’t have a good, effective public transit system here. How do you go from the valley to the airport on public transit? It’s going to take you two days to get there. We need to have something that’s 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 don’t care if it’s Saturday or Sunday, you’re going to find the 101 and the 405 a massive congested area seven days a week. We’ve got a population of 4 million and our population keeps expanding, but what do we do? Put a fence up and say you can’t come in. The city’s closed. That’s not going to work, so you have to accommodate people and that’s what we need to do, but build it wise. Build the transit center and build the house so you don’t have to hassle with it. If you live and work at Warner Center, you’ll get a much-reduced rate if you purchase one of those condos. So you’ll save $10,000. It’s a positive way to bring them together. Eric Garcetti. Tom LaBonge. We’ve improved this whole area. We work together like a city family to improve the entire area. The economy is improving. The quality of life’s improving. Public safety’s improving. It’s 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 I’d 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 I’m 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 haven’t 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: They’re not used to it because they’re used to the car. But I will tell you; we’re not going to see people standing on the street corner at 110 degrees waiting for a bus to come by. That’s 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. I’ve used the red line. I’ve 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: I’d support a light rail system. Absolutely. I’d definitely support a light rail system.
L.A. WEEKLY: So for whatever taxes it costs to…
DENNIS ZINE: You know what? That’s the only thing about taxes. People in the valley are not into taxes. People in the valley have been paying taxes for so long they’re not putting in services.
L.A. WEEKLY: But that’s the tradeoff, isn’t it?
DENNIS ZINE: We’re paying transit tax right now. We’re paying gasoline tax right now. Where’s that money going? It’s 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. They’ve 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 we’re 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. We’ve got transit money being diverted, and that’s 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 don’t we have a system in place where we can have the expansion of the freeway system? We’re beyond that, but at one point, and I’ve seen the maps, there was a freeway going down Santa Monica Boulevard. They’re never going to do it now. Why? Because the cost of land is prohibiting. You’ll never be able to purchase that. So we dislocate half the society? That’s 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 I’m 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. It’s like smoking. If this were the old days you’d be sitting there smoking cigars and cigarettes. We don’t do that anymore. We’ve changed, we’ve conditioned ourselves to be healthier and that’s a positive thing.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you support the mayor’s 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 mayor’s reelection?
DENNIS ZINE: I have officially endorsed him.
L.A. WEEKLY: Do you support the mayor’s reelection?
DENNIS ZINE: I’ve spoken to the mayor and Bill Wardlaw’s called me about the fact that I wasn’t 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. It’ll tolerate corruption. L.A. was corrupt many, many years ago. I am not one who’s going to support someone who’s involved in it.
L.A. WEEKLY: So if someone in the mayor’s administration committed any kind of crime.
DENNIS ZINE: No, no. I’m talking about this pay to play 1397518451 doing things that are unethical. I’m 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 I’m 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 — I’m 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, ‘I’m not going to support him anymore.’ If I were to pull it right now today, the man who I’m talking about endorsing is Antonio Villaraigosa.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why?
DENNIS ZINE: I respect the man and he’s worked hard for what he’s 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 didn’t 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 we’re working for the people. I want to see Republicans and Democrats not divided. We’re working together for the people, and that’s what I believe in. I would never in my life go for a partisan office because I don’t believe in partisan politics. I believe when you work for the government you work for the people. When a train crashes, they don’t care anything about what you’re politics are. They’re going to fix you. They’re going to take you to the hospital, but let’s take the Republicans first and leave the Democrats. Let’s take the Latinos and leave the African Americans. No. You help people. That’s what I spent 37 years of my life doing. Antonio likes people and he helps people.
Bob Hertzberg’s a nice man. Richard Alarcon’s a nice man. Bernie Parks is a nice man. I think that you shouldn’t 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. I’ve 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 I’m going to cast my ballot 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: You’re concerned that the mayor has too much control over the general managers? They don’t 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? You’re accountable. So now the hat falls on you. That’s what Riordan wanted. He says, “I’ll take the heat.” Make me the bad guy, and that’s what the mayor’s 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?” I’ve had a number of complaints about planning in the city of Los Angeles. Con Howe is now retiring, and I don’t know if it’s 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. That’s what he really needs to have. You’ve got a city that’s second largest in the country, and things aren’t 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 we’ve done.” I’m responsible for my backyard, but I share that responsibility with everyone else and there’s a lot of frustration that We’ve got general managers that are holdovers from the old civil service system that need to be retired ‘cause they aren’t performing. You’ve got general managers that don’t 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 you’re serving. Why is Ron Deaton 1397518451
L.A. WEEKLY: But he’s always lived outside the city.
DENNIS ZINE: Yes.
L.A. WEEKLY: He lives in Seal Beach, right?
DENNIS ZINE: Yeah. I’ve been to his house. He had a Christmas party. First time I’ve been to his house. He has a lovely house. You know what? It’s a beautiful place. View of the ocean. But you’re the chief legislative analyst. Okay. But now you’re 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 you’ll have to come up from another county.
L.A. WEEKLY: What’s wrong with that?
DENNIS ZINE: Because you’re 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, they’d be able to afford it, but a general manager’s 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 don’t. Commissioners do it for free, and general managers don’t. I’d 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. I’m only a councilman. Yeah. I only answer to the mayor.
L.A. WEEKLY: That’s 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 didn’t 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 we’re 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 I’m getting reelected for another four years. You can’t go to the college of politics. That doesn’t 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 you’re being successful in what you’re 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 you’re on a cell phone you’re not concentrating on driving. We’ve gotten so far away from concentration driving. I devoted 18 years of my life investigating crashes, and fatalities without a cell phone. Now you’ve got cell phones and television sets on the dashboard. Well, you know what? Innocent people are going to die. I don’t 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. I’ll 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: What’s 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 don’t care, but run it in a decent fashion so you don’t irritate the community. So what happens is: I’m getting a lot of complaints. So if I go in as the councilman then the story is councilman visits strip club. I didn’t want to go in as a councilman. I didn’t 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 it’s like inside that place ’cause of all the complaints I got from the community. That’s what it was about. I wouldn’t go to a strip club because I don’t want to have that negative image that the councilman’s a pervert. So I would do it again in uniform. I went back to that place with Chief Bratton. We didn’t 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. There’s no immunity, and all we’re saying is follow the rules in the community. I don’t 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 didn’t.
DENNIS ZINE: Two days a month.
L.A. WEEKLY: Why do you do it?
DENNIS ZINE: Because I want to know what’s going on. What we see in city council is the best of the best. We see the glorified reports. Crime is down 20 percent. Everything’s going good. Well, I want to go out there and see if everything’s going good. So when I’m driving down the street and I see the sanitation folks cleaning out the sewers I’ll stop and say, “How are things going?” I want to know firsthand what’s 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 don’t want to have a scandal like we had at the airport where people aren’t handling radio calls or people aren’t providing the public safety that they’re paid to do. I don’t want to have that in Los Angeles. Tom LaBonge’s the same way. He’s a hands on counselor. We have a murder, and we go to the scene. It wasn’t that way years ago. The council members were the policy makers. We’re more than policy makers. We’re 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 don’t even know. I can go in a helicopter. I can go to different divisions and walk in the back door and see what they’re doing.
L.A. WEEKLY: What do you see?
DENNIS ZINE: I see that they’re doing a very professional job and I’ll 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. You’re not going to see another Rampart situation where people’s rights are abused and violated, and cops are criminals. You’re not going to see that because Bratton’s come in with a whole different mentality, and his command staff has followed that mentality. And that’s 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 don’t show up. Well, my God, where are they? Well, they’re at the donut shop taking a break. You don’t see that in LAPD because those officers are very aggressive and professional. In all my years of LAPD experience, I’ve never been charged with excessive force. You can take someone to jail without getting in an altercation. It’s about how you treat people. People submit because you treat them with respect.
They could be the hardened gang-bangers, but you’re going to treat them with respect. If they are going to bring out a weapon then that’s a whole different story. But I’m 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? I’ve been able to cross that line to say, I’m here for the people. I’m here helping the people and that’s why I say I’d never go over for a partisan office because you’re 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 don’t otherwise get?
DENNIS ZINE: I’m trying to make that connection. I’ve met with the governor on occasion. Billy Greer and I are good friends. I’ve utilized the resource of Billy to try and get things, and I’ve spoken to people up in the assembly and the senate. What the governor’s outfit is: “I’m a movie star and I’m going to do what I’m going to do, and I got so much money it doesn’t matter.”
So when you got that kind of attitude 1397518451 I’m a retired cop. I’m on a pension. I don’t need this. I can just say forget it and go do something else, but I’m committed to people. The governor, I don’t 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. I’ve met with Brad Sherman, a Democratic congressman. He is very liberal. I got his endorsement. I’m the only Republican in my district 1397518451
I’ve got two sons who could be drafted. I understand that they’re working on a draft, which to me is devastating. Now they’ve had their election, let them take care of their country and let’s bring our people home. We have to think about the 11-plus-thousand who lost their arms and their legs and the scars that they’re going to suffer forever, and enough with the war.
I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe that. I’m 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 pope’s 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 you’re very wealthy. I’m not real wealthy. But you know what? God was good to me. I want to give something back. You don’t spend 37 years helping people in law enforcement, and protecting people then all of a sudden change your stripes and say I’m just going to go by this political party. It’s not my style.
L.A. WEEKLY: What are your thoughts on Antonio?
DENNIS ZINE: He came from humble beginnings. People that aren’t 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, let’s sit down and let’s make peace and live in tranquility. He’s good with that. When I’ve seen him in council he doesn’t get up and pontificate. If he’s got an issue he mentions it and then he moves on. You’ve got Gray Davis, who they said raised a whole lot of money, but he didn’t relate to people. You’ve got Arnold, who has a lot of money, and people relate to him just ’cause he’s 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 didn’t 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, “I’m not asking you to pull it, but I’m asking you to do a dual endorsement.” Will you give me a dual endorsement? But he hasn’t been bugging me at all.
The mayor is accountable and responsible, and that’s what the charter says. And that’s why I hold him accountable, and responsible. We’re going to get a whole bunch more cops ’cause they’re taking the BLF money and we’re going to use that money to hire more officers. Why can’t we find money to hire more officers? Well, we’re going to get $60 million from the BLF to give to the LAPD to hire. In addition to that, there’s a number of LAPD officers — I’ve discussed this with the chief — that are being paid who aren’t working or they’re 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. We’re 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. What’s the priority? There’s a lot of money the city’s throwing away. So, yes, we need more officers. So this whole thing about a sales tax, I don’t buy that we need to have it. What we’re going to do is we’re going to hurt business. We’re going to hurt the consumer, and on top of that we’re just increasing your sewer and sanitation rates. We’re increasing your water rates 11 percent, and God knows what else we’re increasing.
L.A. WEEKLY: What about the Hertzberg argument that instead of giving raises to city employees you could hire more?
DENNIS ZINE: You’re right.
L.A. WEEKLY: But you voted for the raises.
DENNIS ZINE: You’re right. I did. I voted for the raise because when you look at a 2 percent raise 1397518451 you’re 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: You’re talking 9 percent over three years, but you’re 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 you’re 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. We’ll keep the department, but we consolidate. The planning department and building and safety, you’ve got critical departments. Fund your critical departments. Let’s roll in some federal dollars. We need to lobby our congressman or our senators. There’s a lot of money. We don’t have money for after school programs. Three hundred billion dollars for the war. And if you don’t vote for it then you’re un-American and you’re not supporting the troops. Yet, the troops don’t have armor plates on their vehicles and they have to go beg, borrow, and steal. It’s deplorable how the government runs. You talk about frustration. I think Halliburton’s making out like a bandit. Dick Cheney’s 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 they’re 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? We’re the priorities. I’ll be meeting with the mayor next month to discuss budget ’cause he’s going to be coming around to all the council members ’cause he was wrong the first time he came around. He didn’t discuss anything with us and he got trailed down the wrong path.
Cultural affairs is important. It’s wonderful. But if you’re afraid to go to the theater then what good is it going to be? So you’ve 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 I’ll be 62 years old. I got two great sons. One’s going to Beijing University. The other’s 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 it’s 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? I’m not getting indicted.
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