Sunday, March 3, 2013

Los Angeles is Voting for Mayor on Tuesday

Angelenos are voting for their next mayor on Tuesday. The current mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, is termed out. Political junkies should be excited. Campaigning did not end on November 6, and will probably continue into summer since none of the five candidates is expected to win a clear majority on Tuesday. Hence a runoff between the top two vote getters will be set. So far the election has been a snoozer. Even Wendy Gruel’s calling Garcetti and Parry “Liars” has received little traction. Five candidates are running for Mayor of Los Angeles, a city many predict is headed to bankruptcy within two years, partially due to the profligacy of the current mayor. The response of Mayor Villaraigosa during his first term, when informed that the city was in perilous economic condition, was to increase the payroll and offer salary increases to the city’s workers. The five candidates are Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Jan Perry, Kevin James, and Emanuel Pleitez. All five are united in opposing Prop A, a half-cent increase in LA’s sales tax to 9.75%. Eric Garcetti is a city council member and son of former District Attorney Gil Garcetti, who was voted out of office for incompetence. Eric is part Hispanic and speaks Spanish fluently. He is expected to win the Hispanic vote in Tuesday’s primary. LA politics are dominated by the Hispanic-Labor organization so he has an edge in making it into the runoff. Councilman Garcetti has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times. He is running neck and neck in the mid to high 20% range with Wendy Greuel, who left the Council in 2009 to become the city’s Controller. Both are running expensive TV campaigns. Wendy is campaigning for the Valley vote. The African American Councilwoman Jan Parry, like Eric Garcetti, is termed out, and should carry the sizable African American vote in the primary. She lacks the funds for a TV campaign so she is relying upon the mass mailings of placards. The unions don’t like her because she has supported attempts to rein in the generous benefits of the union employees. . Kevin James is the true oxymoron in the race. He is an openly gay Republican talk radio host. Money from outside California is funding his campaign with hard hitting ads. He has an outside chance of squeezing into a runoff. His ads feature Garcetti, Greuel, and Parry voting for the employee benefits that are bankrupting the city. The three voted in 2009 to give over 20,000 unionized workers a 25% pay increase over 5 years. The City of Los Angeles is running a $200 million annual deficit, which is expected to rise. The fifth candidate, Emanuel Plietiz, is a former high tech executive. The 30 year od candidate has unsuccessfully run for office before. He has no money and is capigning old school style by doorbelling the City. The numbers are against him. 1.4 million registered voters are in LA. He will only meet a few of them. Unfortunately for Los Angeles one of the five will be the next mayor. They’ll good people, but none is inspiring or shows any vision or desire to solve LA’s problems. Wendy Gruel’s campaign is funded by over $2 million from the State Prison Guard and Department of Public Works unions. The teachers support Garcetti. We in Orange County should care less who’s Mayor of LA. Our economic success and growth has always been partially based on not being LA. Entrepreneurs flee LA for the economic openness of Orange County. Orange County, for example, welcomes Walmart today whereas the unions fight keep it out of the City of Angels. LA though is the economic heart of Southern California. If it fails, the economic blow will fall over all of California. Garcetti and Greuel both pledge fiscal responsibility, but both also sought the endorsement of SEIU Local 721 with 10,000 municipal employees in its membership. The unions will win this election.

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