Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Election Day In L.A.: Eric Garcetti Is The Better Candidate... By A Mile


I don't recall any L.A. Mayor going on to be President of the United States. Eric Garcetti could be the first. Today's the day that will be decided. His opponent, "former" (technically-speaking) Republican Wendy Greuel, a shill for the DWP (Department of Water and Power), is a dead end hack with a lot of endorsements from a lot of people who instinctively pick a corrupt conservative Democrat over a progressive reformer. Bill Clinton is backing Greuel of course. He never backs progressives over ConservaDems and EMILY's List... well, they can always be counted on to play the filthy politics they play against progressive men on behalf of conservatives.

Eric started out with a massive lead and EMILY's List immediately had Greuel go negative and vicious. Garcetti stayed on the high road, running a grassroots campaign and strictly positive ad. But Greuel started gaining as her attacks went unanswered. I suspect when she ran ads claiming he isn't half Latino-- his father is Mexican-American-- he had had enough of her lies. He came out with a series of devastating TV spots tying her to the ugly corruption of the universally hated DWP, her #1 campaign donor. I hope it wasn't too late. We'll find out tonight.
While Greuel cast herself as the underdog in Tuesday's runoff, her rival, Eric Garcetti, warned volunteers in Westchester not to take victory for granted in a contest that remains fluid to the end.

"We're ahead, but we're not winning," the city councilman told them on a break from making phone calls to voters who might need some prodding. "Most people have not voted."

With the mayor's race drawing to a close, the two rivals dashed across Los Angeles on Saturday in a race to pick up support, with stops in Wilmington, Granada Hills, Venice Beach, Boyle Heights and points between.

After the release of a USC Price/Times poll showing Garcetti leading by 48% to 41%, Greuel tried to assure backers she could pull off a win, while Garcetti sought to guard against overconfidence, which could cost him the election.

But there was no escaping the mood of cautious optimism in Garcetti's camp and anxiety in Greuel's. At a Mexican seafood restaurant in Wilmington, Garcetti told dock worker Joe Cortez that he hoped Cortez would "be there July 1st for the swearing-in."

Later, Garcetti stepped outside and approached Arthur "Oldskool" Medina's glistening white 1968 Chevrolet Caprice low-rider sedan in the parking lot. He admired the hood's chrome engravings.

"I'm going to need an official mayor's car, you know?" Garcetti joked to the group of car enthusiasts who dropped by the event at Mariscos Agua Verde to urge him to open a racing strip on Terminal Island.

"I got one for you-- 62 Impala convertible-- ready to go, Eric," a bystander told him. "I love it baby," Garcetti replied. "Certainly for the parades-- we'll pull that one out."

Garcetti, whose paternal lineage is Mexican, is counting on strong Latino support in Wilmington, where he campaigned with former mayoral rival Emanuel Pleitez and ex-state Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres.
The L.A. Times which has watched both candidate sin action for years endorsed Eric, both in the primary and for today's run-off.
That's based in large part on the records both candidates have compiled in city government over more than a decade, and less on the statements, charges, claims, counterclaims, missteps, outrageous mailers, misleading ads, high-profile endorsements and spending reports that have emerged in the course of the campaign.

...Greuel disappointed as city controller. It's not that she didn't do her job; she did, performing audits, unmasking some problems on her own, responding to others as they emerged, offering appropriately conservative estimates of revenue and careful critiques of spending. As a city employee, she earned a grade of "meets expectations."

But she didn't earn a promotion. Controller is a poorly named and loosely defined job in city government that nevertheless allows the woman or man holding the office to propose far-reaching revamps of policies and processes. In a government without political parties, the controller could and should be the loyal opposition, the gadfly in chief, the public advocate. Greuel always seemed to grasp the political value of purporting to find waste, fraud and abuse in City Hall but never was able to outline for Angelenos the larger narrative of what was going wrong or how things could be better. She found a contract that she believed should be renegotiated or a program that should be better supervised, but she didn't tell the city, in essence, "Here is why building inspectors are being indicted, this is the reason the Housing Authority gets away with wasting money, here is how the mayor is mismanaging city departments and how the council members are failing in their oversight duties, and here's what can be done about it."

Garcetti, as council president, had a different role, but he did a better job with it. He was late to deal with the budget crisis, but he got there and, importantly, he then got his reluctant colleagues there as well, overseeing difficult budget cuts and taking the first tentative steps toward resolving the city's pension problem. At the same time, he remade his district with innovative programs to deter gang crime, erase graffiti, house the homeless and provide shelter for the addicted and those in need of mental health services. He guided Hollywood to a renaissance and helped make it, once again, a geographic destination rather than merely the description of an industry headquartered across the city limits in Burbank.

Perhaps most important, Garcetti has demonstrated the capacity to grow, learn and improve his performance. He admits mistakes, such as his vote in favor of a settlement allowing, for a time, virtually unregulated digital billboards. Neither candidate has the executive experience one would like to see in a mayoral candidate. Greuel's response, tellingly, is to cite her role helping to manage a small family construction business and to assert, and perhaps to believe, that it is sufficient.

Selecting a mayor may sometimes seem just as random as (and a lot less fun than) picking a winner on "American Idol," but in the end it's a hiring decision. Of the applicants, who is best suited to the job? Neither candidate is ready, but Greuel seems like a completed project that falls short of what's needed, while Garcetti comes off as a creative work in progress with potential to meet the challenge. That makes the choice easy. It's Garcetti.
I've known Eric for almost a decade. I have faith in his abilities, his integrity and his aspirations for L.A. And he's got a great wife. The final poll, released this morning, shows him ahead 49-44%. (I was polled by Survey USA for this one a couple of days ago.)

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At 6:49 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

And as of this morning he has won the race congrats to LA's new progressive mayor Eric Garcetti. :-)


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