As for killing redevelopment, laying that at the feet of one member of the Assembly is just silly. And if an opposing candidate is going to do that anyway, he or she ought to describe how else the state budget situation was to be resolved, while still keeping redevelopment intact.
So Blumenfield’s a shoo-in and has locked up The Times' endorsement? No way. There are some serious questions about the baggage that Blumenfield carries with him. Ron Kaye, columnist, watchdog and former editor of the Daily News, raises a legitimate point about Blumenfield running almost simultaneously for another term in the Assembly and for City Council (see his hilarious video cornering Blumenfield on the issue). And Presberg has some interesting questions about all the money he raised in the Assembly race, and whether it was really meant for his council run even before he was legally allowed to start.
And there's a bill he carried to prevent Los Angeles from getting property owners to fund sidewalk repairs. Not that Los Angeles residents should want city government to transfer those costs to property owners, but we should be pretty leery of bills cooked up in Sacramento that interfere with municipal politics and procedures. It seems transparently the type of bill that a state legislator would come up with if he were planning to run for City Council and wanted support from local property owners.
And in fact, Blumenfield inherited that bill from his former Assembly colleague Felipe Fuentes, who is now running for the City Council in the 7th District, at the other end of the San Fernando Valley.
So yes, there are questions for Blumenfield. But they aren’t the ones being asked by his rivals. Presberg’s assertion at the forum that Blumenfield had a bill to guarantee union slots on certain commissions? Never mind; that one wasn’t a Blumenfield bill. And the argument that he’s from the Legislature so he must be corrupt?
Come on, candidates. You have to do better than that. OK, so you can point out that in addition to Blumenfield and Fuentes, three other candidates -- former Assemblyman and state Sen. Gil Cedillo, current state Sen. Curren Price and former Assemblyman Mike Davis -- are or were in the Legislature. And that current City Council members Paul Koretz (running for reelection), Paul Krekorian, Herb Wesson and the recently departed (for Congress) Tony Cardenas also came here from Sacramento, and that Richard Alarcon has shuttled back and forth over the years. But so what? Any reader of any newspaper or blog that covers city politics knows that. Pointing it out means little more than that you are qualified to be a reader of a newspaper or blog that covers city politics. But you’re running for office.
So what is the critique and what is the challenging candidate’s platform? That being from Sacramento is corrupting, and you’re not from Sacramento? That’s not a critique. It’s not a platform. It’s not even a blog post. It’s at best a breezy reader comment on a blog post. A candidate for office must offer more. What does the “Sacramentization” of Los Angeles government mean? Why is it bad? Not just in image; why is it bad for city residents? Why is it not just provincialism unsuited for a city the size and sophistication of Los Angeles? Aren't experience and knowledge of how things work in the capital good? Hasn’t the L.A. City Council been filled too long with sheltered locals who don’t have the first clue how to get state funding or sponsor a bill?
If Blumenfield -- or Fuentes or Cedillo or anyone else -- have both experience and baggage, how do those things balance? What experience in government and in getting good projects done, Mr. or Ms. Challenger, do you have to compare with the Sacramento transplants’? If you have not been in government, what have you done in the private sector that is comparable? What can you offer the voters to assure them that you won’t spend your entire first term wondering how the job works and getting fleeced by lobbyists, labor unions and others?
And don’t answer that you have been involved in your neighborhood council. That’s great, as far as it goes, but it’s evidence only that you know your neighborhood, not that you are prepared to serve your constituents as a council member.
Joyce Pearson, attorney and CPA, was elected to represent this area as a City Council member of a new Valley city during the secession election of 2002. She didn’t take her seat, because there was no seat to take: Valley cityhood was defeated at the polls. But she’s not just another former neighborhood council president. She has a vision for the district, and seems to know that there can’t be economic development without real estate development. She can talk about growth, where it is needed, where it is not. She understands taxes, finances and changing demographics. Voters may or may not like her vision, but they can't seriously doubt that she knows what she is doing. She is a credible contender.
Presberg comes at it from a different background but also has something to offer. Also a lawyer, he worked in government both in New York and here in Los Angeles, and has some pointed things to say -- and facts to back them up -- about the city budget, employee pensions and financial sustainability. He was one of the primary drafters of the current city charter, so he knows a thing or two about how Los Angeles works (and how it doesn’t). He needs to lay out a better vision for the district, but he is also a candidate to take seriously.
Elizabeth Badger, Scott Silverstein and Cary Iaccino are smart people but, so far, not smart candidates. They must step up their game and lay out not just what is wrong in City Hall but how to change it, and why they are the best people to make that change -- and also, by the way, why they'd be better for CD3 than someone with Blumenfield's experience.
Their next chance will come Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at a candidates’ forum presented by the Woodland Hills-Tarzana Chamber of Commerce at a spot that has become a sort of civic center in the West Valley: the Westfield Promenade shopping center in the space formerly occupied by Dick’s Sporting Goods, 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills.