The L.A. City Council today unanimously approved the appointment of Kevin James to the city's Board of Public Works, despite reservations about his past views on the environment and immigration.
James, a former mayoral candidate, was confirmed on an 11-0 vote, after assuring the council members that he no longer holds the outspoken anti-immigration views he espoused when he was a right-wing talk radio host.
Several council members expressed reservations about his appointment. Councilman Gil Cedillo and Councilman Jose Huizar each raised the immigration issue, with Huizar saying that some of James' statements had offended him as an immigrant.
James finished third in the March mayoral primary, and endorsed Mayor Eric Garcetti in the runoff.
As a radio host on KRLA, James had referred to illegal immigrants as “thugs” and expressed doubt about climate change.
“I don't think there's ever been a commissioner … that I've had more strenuous political disagreements with than you,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who went on to praise Garcetti for appointing James as an act of “bridge-building.”
“You do speak in a way that many of our constituents speak,” Krekorian said. “You have political views that many of our constituents share.”
If the council was anxious to distance itself from James' prior views, James also has to worry a little about tainting his own outsider image by accepting a $134,000-a-year commission appointment.
In his remarks, James referenced one of his best lines from his mayoral campaign, that he was “going to find the engineer who knows how to make a manhole cover level with the street.”
He said he has since spoken with L.A.'s street engineers, and has concluded, “I know our city engineer knows how to make a maintenance cover level with the street.” The issue, he had come to realize, was one of funding.
Wow, say it ain't so, Kevin. What else was bullshit?