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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dragnet Endorsements for the March 5, 2013 Los Angeles Primary Election

Kevin James for Mayor

Los Angeles teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, a legacy of years and years of mismanagement and misdirection caused by a politically ambitious Mayor who spends more time out of the City chasing his next political career, than working on fixing LA.

But Mayor Villaraigosa is not alone in shouldering the blame for the sorry state of affairs Los Angeles is in. The City Council bears much of the responsibility for the out of control spending, business unfriendly environment, and potholes on our streets that makes you wonder if we are really living in the second largest city in the United States.

Whenever the Mayor and the Council have faced difficult questions, issues that put them at odds with the organized labor groups who swell the coffers of their campaigns, their answer has been to kick the can down the road. Well Los Angeles has reached the end of that pothole ridden road and it's time for new leadership and a new direction. Los Angeles needs a Mayor that won't use scare tactics cutting police and fire services, before trimming down a bloated Mayoral office staff larger than the White House, or cutting a City sponsored book fair in Mexico.

But who should Los Angeles chose as its Mayor to try to rebuild and restore a City that has suffered so much from poor leadership? The choice of candidates is interesting; three are termed-out councilmembers, the very same people who voted time and time again for the disastrous policies that brought Los Angeles to it's knees. The fourth candidate is Kevin James. He's a outsider and we believe he is exactly what Los Angeles needs to stop the rot.

James is a former Assistant US Attorney, former talk radio host and former attorney at one of LA's most prestigious lawfirms. James has not been shy to speak out against the culture of fraud and corruption that saw Mayor Villaraigosa receive the largest ethics fine in LA's history, or building inspectors investigated by the FBI for taking payoffs, or city workers using city vehicles to make beer runs to the liquor store on our dime. The rot starts at the top of City Hall, and given the example our current Mayor sets, perhaps it is not surprising that some in the city feel free to follow Villariagosa's footsteps.

Some regard James as a long shot. The kind of Mayor we would like to have, but who doesn't stand a chance against the multi-million dollar special-interest funded campaigns of the insiders. Put party politics aside for a moment (James is a registered Republican) and think about who would be best for LA, a breath of fresh air and good ideas, or one of Villaraigosa's council? We believe James will surprise his challengers on March 5, and if he is a long shot, let's take it.

We endorse Kevin James for LA's next Mayor.

Greg Smith for City Attorney

In 2009 we elected Carmen Trutanich as City Attorney. He promised to do many things if elected, but as soon as he was elected he forgot those promises.

In just three and a half years he succeeded only in surpassing his predecessor's reputation for being a career politician more interested in grabbing headlines and paving the path to the next political job, than doing the hard work of being City Attorney.

Trutanich promised he would not use the City Attorney's office as a political springboard to the DA's office. But he did exactly that, and didn't even have the decency to admit that he had made the promise, let alone broke it. That changed when Los Angeles delivered its verdict in the June 2012 primary election when, despite his name recognition, a laundry list of political endorsements, and a campaign warchest three times the size of his opponents, he lost.

Trutanich thinks Los Angelenos have short memories and will reelect him as City Attorney. They won't.

So who of the other candidates is right for the job? Mike Feuer is a name some will remember as  a former City Councilman and then State Assemblyman. It's not a name anyone will remember as the lead attorney who won a major jury trial, or even lost a major jury trial. That's because Feuer has never tried a jury case. That is, perhaps, 70% of what the City Attorney's office does - try case in front of juries. He has never done it. We think that rules him out.

Noel Weiss is a candidate who is running a grass roots campaign with loads of ideas and hopes, but without any funding to carry his message. Many in the network of Neighborhood Councils know Weiss as the go to guy when they have a problem, and he is. But the reality of political campaigns is that without a campaign warchest, even a small one, a good candidate cannot mount a viable campaign. Weiss has been good for the debates, but he has not got what it takes win the election.

Last, and by no means least, is Greg Smith. Smith is a native of the San Fernando Valley who served in the Navy during the Vietnam era aboard the USS Gudeon, a fast-attack submarine that monitored enemy communications - a spy ship. After completing his service for our country, Smith went to law school and passed the Bar in 1988. Over the next 25 years Smith established himself as the 'go to' lawyer in cases involving retaliation against whistle blowers who report corruption, and those who are the subject of discrimination and unfairness.

Smith represented Sergeant James Corcoran and exposed the rampant corruption in the City of Bell, leading the the arrest of the 'Bell Eight.' Smith fought for LAPD Officers who refused to follow illegal traffic ticket quotas. Many criticize Smith for suing the City of Los Angeles, but as Smith is quick to point out, who better to defend the city than someone who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the City Attorney's office?

Smith has been named a "Super Lawyer' three times and is a member of the exclusive American Board of Trial Lawyers (ABOTA). In 2012 Smith joined LA County DA Steve Cooley to receive the Los Angeles Police Protective League's prestigious 'Line of Duty' award. He is endorsed by the Los Angeles Daily News,  PORAC - the state's largest organization of peace officers, the California Correctional Peace Officer's Association, the Inglewood Police Officers Association, and former CHP Chief Gary Dominguez. Smith is clearly law enforcement's choice for City Attorney.

We believe Greg Smith is exactly the kind of leader the City Attorney's office desperately needs. He is respected by many in the City Attorney's office who work with him on a daily basis. They know him to be the kind of City Attorney they haven't had in decades, someone who knows how to do the job, and just wants to do the job.

We endorse Greg Smith for LA's next City Attorney.

'No' on Measure A

Measure A would put a half a cent on the city's current sales tax. The sales tax hike is being hawked as necessary to avoid further cutbacks to police and firefighters because the City cannot balance its budget. Would you give more money to a bunch of people who don't know how to balance a check book? We don't think so.

The answer to LA's budgetary problems is not to increase sales tax and drive business to surrounding cities where sales tax is lower. LA really doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem, and that's what needs to be fixed.

For that reason, we say vote 'No' on Measure A.

Interstingly, Trutanich and Feuer have both paid to have their names on slate mailers supporting Measure A, but recently, on KCRW's 'Which Way LA?' they both said that they do not support Measure A.  That's politicians for you. Haven't we had enough of them?

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