Read L.A. Weekly's news story on Proposition A: “L.A. Sales Tax Hike: Will $211 Million Increase Fix City's Problems?”
While nearly all of L.A.'s political establishment — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Herb Wesson, and deep-pocketed special interests — are lining up behind Proposition A, City Hall watchdog Jack Humphreville is conducting what's essentially an unofficial, one-man campaign to defeat the highly controversial sales tax hike.
Humphreville is getting some support from like-minded folks like former Los Angeles Daily News editor Ron Kaye, but it's basically his show — and he's doing it with no official web site, no campaign consultants, and no budget.
“It's David versus Goliath,” Humphreville tells the Weekly, “although we're not even David. We're a bunch of pip-squeaks trying to fight the establishment.”
Humphreville, an affable, wise-cracking, 66-year-old father of three, twenty-something daughters, says the proposed sales tax would be used to put a small band aid on the city's broken pension system, and not for more city services.
“It's just going to feed the beast,” he says. “It doesn't solve the problem. It's going to encourage more bad behavior.”
Such as Villaraigosa's and the City Council's favorite habit of sticking taxpayers with under-the-radar parking, trash, and other fee increases to plug short-term holes in the city's multi-billion-dollar budget.
The Yes on A campaign has over $1 million in contributions, with powerful politicians Wesson and Villaraigosa leading the charge. The unofficial No on A campaign is led by Humphreville, a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and co-owner of the Recycler and Recycler.com. He lives in Windsor Square with his wife.
“And with the mayor,” quips Humphreville, referring to the mayor's official residence in that affluent neighborhood.
Humphreville has lived in L.A. for nearly 29 years. He regularly comments about city affairs on the website CityWatchLA.com, and helped to defeat the troubled and very controversial solar power plan, Measure B, in 2009.
Back then, Humphreville had a few more friends helping him.
This time around, Humphreville is more of the lone wolf, but he's still reviled by the L.A. political establishment. “I am not the mayor's best friend,” Humphreville says with a chuckle.
Humphreville's no-frills No on A push is only anchored by a Facebook page and a Facebook group. That's it. “I haven't spent a damn dime,” he says.
But the watchdog probably spends up to 30 hours a week writing articles and talking with neighborhood councils across Los Angeles. He's also made a YouTube video.
“I haven't seen anybody who's really in favor of [Proposition A],” says Humphreville. “They don't just say 'no,' they say 'hell no.' There's a complete distrust of the system.”
While there's no official slogan for Humphreville's campaign, he likes to refer to Proposition A as “Herb's sleazy slush fund,” referring to City Council President Herb Wesson, of course.
Humphreville says simply about Proposition A, “It's a con job.”
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.