Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Villaraigosa versus the other candidates

The other four candidates running for Los Angeles's mayor don't even come close to Villaraigosa.

Bob Hertzberg is a moderate business-orientated Democrat. His best is to use the rubber from heaps of used tires to make rubber sidewalks, a good idea but far from an environmental plan to solve L.A.'s many environmental problems. To improve the economy, he suggests the mayor persuade Korean banks in invest in this city, but Koreans and Japanese companies have been investing in L.A. for years with little impact. His major idea is to break-up Los Angeles Unified School District, but as mayor he has little power to do so, and can only suggest that the state legislature take action. He has a few proposals to help driving such as no roadwork during rush hour, but these plans won't solve traffic gridlock. He has a couple ideas how to reduce runaway film production by eliminating $20,000/day location, but this will so little for the economy.

Richard Alarcon is a decent liberal Democrat, but he, as many other candidates want to add 1,000 more cops. His major ideas are to roll back DWP rates 11%--nice but a quick fix, solving no long-term problems. His idea for improving transportation by creating a Green Business Program to provide tax credits for business that have good wages and give public transportation to their employees would have little or no impact on reducing traffic gridlock He had some decent ideas for improving schools--reduce administrative spending; increase per capita spending; localize decision making--but the mayor has little influence over the huge bureaucracy of the Los Angeles United School District. He wants to get rid of pay-to-play for awarding city contracts by limiting campaign contributions of developers and lobbyists to $100. That's a nice idea but laws such as these have been passed for a decade with little discernible effort.

As for Bernard Parks, he has been a good representative for his district, getting more than $7 million in funds for the redevelopment of the Vision Theater in Leimert Park, so arts and culture can be catalyst for economic development in the African-American area. He has supported the Lula May Washington Dance Studio and African Marketplace and other art projects in L.A.’s. He is serious about supporting arts through funding the Cultural Affairs Department, has helped support gay rights, and has a good transportation plan that integrates pushing for more rail lines, better buses, and improved street driving. His business orientated idea to help the economy through tax incentives would do little. Often Parks seems to be more campaigning against Mayor Hahn than giving forth ideas to solve the city problems. He has made witty remarks attacking Hahn such as "asking Mayor Hahn about reforming the pay-to-play scandal is like asking Fat Albert about dietary tips."

Finally, Mayor Hahn's boasts his two most notable accomplishments were appointing Bratton as head of the L.A.P.D. and stopping Valley succession--a very shortlist. As for the environment, he as one small accomplishment: getting the DWP not to invest in a Utah coal plant. Other than that, he's do nothing for the environment; for example, he hasn't pushed the DWP to increase its use of non-polluting energy sources.

During the long bus strike in fall 2003 he walked a picket line but was unable to negotiate an end to the long, drawn-out lockout/strike. During the February floods he was again M.I.A. He's usually not there, without a vision, without ideas. He has been decent to labor, supporting both the grocery workers and the longshorepeople during their strikes as well as allowing for raises of city hall workers. But that is not enough to be re-elected mayor. His administration has been tarnished by the pay-to-play scandal of giving city contracts to developers who had previously given him campaign contracts.

All in all Villaraigosa beats out his four competitors for mayor in terms of previous accomplishments and he has the most far-reaching and detailed vision for Los Angeles.

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