Greuel a no-show at South LA forum, Garcetti addresses crowd

Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti spoke out about his plans to improve South Los Angeles on Saturday, May 11, at a candidates forum at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in South L.A.Garcetti

The forum, organized by the South Los Angeles Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (SLAANC), was supposed to engage a debate between Garcetti and his opponent, Wendy Greuel, along with city attorney candidates Mike Feuer and Carmen Trutanich. But Greuel and Trutanich did not attend.

Garcetti was animated as he addressed his audience, which was comprised mainly of Neighborhood Council members and local residents. His platform points all echoed the potential of neighborhood turnaround.

“We’ve got a hinge of history where this city has to decide which way it goes,” said Garcetti. “It doesn’t matter where you live you deserve good city services….We’re going to turn this from a big city into a great city once again.”

After saying he was sorry for being the only mayoral candidate in attendance and disclosed that it was the third or fourth debate in South L.A. that Gruel has not participated in, Garcetti addressed why he cares. He said the forum was important to him not just to pay his respect, but also to talk about his agenda to improve South L.A., if elected.

He kicked off the forum with a personal touch, sharing that his family has deep roots in South L.A. He said his grandparents raised his father in a home around the corner from where the forum was held and his relatives were humble, hard workers.

“My grandmother was a meatpacker who woke up early every morning at 4 a.m. and did an eight-hour shift,” said Garcetti. “And then came back home to make sure there was food on the table for when her children came back from school.”

Garcetti said since South L.A. helped his own family lead a more successful life, he wants to help its current residents experience a more “livable” community.

With a vision influenced by the improvements he made in District 13, Garcetti said he wants to improve the street-level beauty because it is good for business, transit riders and residents. He comically referenced how he successfully transformed the community Atwater Village in District 13, which was previously struggling.

“You didn’t shop or eat there [Atwater Village]…the only store that was doing well was a casket store,” said Garcetti. “So literally, the business was dead.”

The forum later allowed audience members to ask their own questions about Garcetti’s policies. Harvey Spotts, a resident of Rancho Cucamonga, asked Garcetti how he plans to get citizens working in the Los Angeles area as opposed to resident immigrants or guest workers.

“Boys need to see men going to work every day and coming home tired,” Spotts said. “That will stop them from gang banging.”

Garcetti said that too often he sees people come back from war or jail without jobs available to them. He said he wants to “ban the box” on job applications that asks if an applicant has ever committed a felony, and wants to ensure that workers are not missing opportunities if they do not speak Spanish.

After also asserting his plans to better control medical marijuana dispensaries, Garcetti concluded with his plans to make city government more accountable by working directly out of South L.A. regularly.

“I don’t want to be a mayor who is just stuck in City Hall and then coming out for press conferences,” said Garcetti. “What I want to do is come to South L.A. and work…because people need to see and know that the mayor is in their community. It starts from the top.”

Sukey Garcetti, Eric Garcetti’s mother, attended the event and said she was proud of her son’s campaign efforts and his message at the forum.

“I am proud,” said Mrs. Garcetti. “It’s been a great Mother’s Day weekend.”

Wendy Greuel’s female trump card more attractive for women in District 9

Prominent South LA endorsements in the race for mayor

By Sarah Politis

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

Two powerful endorsements were announced in the race for Los Angeles mayor on Thursday. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel are running against each other in the May run-off. On Thursday, they each joined their supporters in South Los Angeles to announce the endorsements.

imageJan Perry endorsed Eric Garcetti. (Photo by Neon Tommy)

Jan Perry stood in front of a crowd at the 28th street YMCA to endorse her colleague Eric Garcetti. While Perry might wish it was the other way around, since she spent most of her unsuccessful mayoral campaign competing against Garcetti. [Read more…]

OPINION: Who’s that white lady?

With the Isley Brothers’ hit song “Who’s That Lady” playing softly in the background, if I had a dollar for every time someone Black said to me “who, that white lady?” or “who’s that white lady?” when referring to Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, I’d be rich.

Even though Greuel’s been in elected office since 2002 when she won a runoff election against then Assemblyman Tony Cardenas to represent Los Angeles’ 2nd District and has served as city controller since 2009—around most parts of South Los Angeles—she’s simply known as the “white lady” running for mayor. Which by all accounts, isn’t good for her campaign.

[Read more…]

Bill Clinton endorses mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel

Bill Clinton announced Monday that he endorses Wendy Greuel for mayor of Los Angeles, according to a Clinton press release.

Clinton highlighted Greuel’s strength in making “government work for ordinary people…especially during periods of crisis.”

Click here for more of the story.

Closeups of the 2013 Los Angeles mayoral race candidates

As Antonio Villaraigosa bows out of his role as Los Angeles Mayor, several candidates have stepped up to the stage to snag his spot. Those looking to replace him are City Council Members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, entrepreneur Emanuel Pleitez, former federal prosecutor Kevin James and City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Rosalie Murphy has profile of the candidates to discover the issues they want to address for Angelenos.

Candidate Closeup: Eric Garcetti
City Councilmember Eric Garcetti leads polling in the days before LA’s mayoral primary. But is he a strong enough personality to lead the city politically? MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Wendy Greuel
In the days before March’s mayoral primary, City Controller Wendy Greuel leads the field in funds raised. She is expected to advance to the May runoff election. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Kevin James
Kevin James is more like a watchdog than a City Hall outsider—a longtime Angeleno keeping a careful eye on its policymakers. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Jan Perry
There are two narratives about City Councilmember Jan Perry. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Emanuel Pleitez
Emanuel Pleitez is the Los Angeles mayoral race’s undisputed underdog. MORE…

Candidate Closeup: Wendy Greuel

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageThe mayor’s office would bring Wendy Greuel’s long political career full circle: She started in the same room.

The 51-year-old candidate began volunteering for former mayor Tom Bradley when she was still in high school. Greuel is a lifelong Angeleno. Born in North Hollywood, she graduated from Kennedy High School in Granada Hills and then from UCLA. She worked in Bradley’s office for more than ten years and was elected to City Council in 2002.

Her long-term dedication to the city impresses Kaya Masler, who took a break from phone banking at Greuel’s office on Crenshaw and 54th to talk.

“She really loves being in politics, especially local politics, and she loves LA. So that was inspiring to me,” Masler said.

As City Controller, Greuel discovered in 2010 that city agencies left more than 260 million dollars in debts uncollected, mostly in parking tickets. She also published the salaries of city employees after embezzlement in Bell, California made headlines in 2011.

“She’s incredibly genuine, and she is a watchdog. I mean, she’s a fiscal watchdog,” Masler said.

Greuel’s priority is economic growth.

“One, it’s about creating jobs in Los Angeles. It’s about addressing pension reform, and it is about looking at inefficiencies—ways in which we can address waste, fraud and abuse in the city of Los Angeles.”

Specifically, Greuel has promised to dedicate 20 percent of new revenues to the police and fire departments. She wants to hire 2,000 new police officers and 800 new firefighters, which the Los Angeles Daily News says would cost about 200 million dollars.

“We should have a goal of being the safest big city in America,” Greuel said. “If we increase the revenue that is so important to the city of Los Angeles, that a portion of that should be dedicated to hiring more police and firefighters, as well as making sure we have more emergency preparedness and gang reduction programs.”

But this year’s FBI report shows that property and violent crimes have fallen steadily for a decade now. Former Daily News editor Ron Kaye says growing the police force doesn’t need to be the city’s first priority.

“I think the perfect example of what’s wrong with this campaign is Greuel’s posturing that she’s going to get the police force up to 12,000 by taking all this booming new revenue that’s supposedly going to come in,” Kaye said. “The fact is that we’re at an incredibly low point for crime, unprecedented, and crime isn’t the number one problem, cops aren’t the number-one issue in this city. The health of our neighborhoods, the quality of our lives and our loss of faith in a city working for us is the crisis.”

To generate money, Greuel plans to rely on the new City Controller to reduce the city’s budget. In addition to reforming city pensions, she vocally supports the elimination of the gross receipts tax for businesses. Economists say it will probably drive investment, but it may take a decade to recoup the lost revenues.

Eric Garcetti, Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez support removing the tax, too. Jan Perry wants to keep it in place.

Greuel also opposes the half-cent sales tax increase on next week’s ballot. But Kaye wants more details.

“[Greuel is] against the sales tax in a very quiet voice. They haven’t suggested how they would actually fix the city’s financial problems, and they talk in symbolic language without actually specifying concrete policies that could be critiqued, examined, challenged, questioned.”

If elected, Greuel would be the city’s first female mayor. And after Tuesday’s vote, the City Council might become all-male.

Masler says gender isn’t the reason she supports Greuel, but she would like to see a woman in the top office.

“I’m not really one for tokenism, but she’s hyper-qualified,” Masler said.

Greuel leads the candidates in funds raised, and she’s neck-and-neck with Garcetti in most polls. She’s backed by most of the city’s public workers unions, who in total have donated more than 2 million dollars to her campaign. Detractors worry that such huge fiscal support will oblige Greuel to unions.

“When I’ve challenged it of why, why’ve they’ve jumped aboard, the answer generally is, Wendy’s the easiest one for them to manipulate. And I think it’s true—she has never really stood boldly for anything,” Kaye said. “She is incredibly likeable, everybody likes Wendy, she’s smart and personable… But she’s danced around the hardest issues.”

After more than three decades in LA’s public eye, Greuel is definitely popular—and if polls are accurate, she’ll have two more months to address those challenging issues.

Tiffany Taylor contributed to this report.

Pleitez hosts a hack-a-thon as latest effort to win voters

By Melissah Yang

Computers and coding was the theme of Sunday’s campaign event for mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez.

In an effort to bring technology to underserved communities like South L.A., the hack-a-thon – dubbed “Silicon-Alley” – brought together tech experts and local students to build a website that maps out the area’s resources and programs. image

Several laptop stations were set up in the backyard of a couple of apartments where Pleitez’s campaign team lives and works. Post-it notes on each laptop, all personal devices belonging to Pleitez’s campaign team members, signaled which topics would be covered in relation to South L.A.

Half a dozen students, who had little to no experience with web producing, typed quick blurbs, ranging from the history of South L.A. to local parks and after-school programs, and coded webpages with the help of a mentor.

Alejandro Bernal, a junior at 32nd Street/USC MaST High School, heard about the event through URBAN TxT, an organization teaching teens from South L.A. and Watts how to become leaders in technology. He said the website will be important for people who want to learn a little more about the history of South L.A.

“There’s enough about South L.A. on the Internet, but we want to incorporate more information including programs that will help people in this community,” Bernal said.

The hack-a-thon was one of many unconventional campaign events that Pleitez has hosted in preparing for the final days before the mayoral election. Pleitez, a former tech executive for social network aggregator Spokeo, said the event fit his campaign’s overall theme of community outreach.

“It’s youth-driven, it’s technology and it’s innovative,” Pleitez said. “And at the end of the day, it’s helping everyday people especially in the most underserved communities like South L.A.”

Juan Vasquez, Pleitez’s director of digital outreach, said the hack-a-thon and many of Pleitez’s campaign events defied the idea that “extravagant” events, backed with money and support from key sponsors, win elections.

“This type of event challenges the way traditional politics run in Los Angeles,” 24-year-old Vasquez said. “That’s something our campaign has been doing for months now, and we’re proud of it.”

Yet, the community events seem to have little effect on Pleitez’s standing in the mayoral race. The latest poll by SurveyUSA puts him in fifth place with 6 percent of the vote, well behind front-runner Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel by around 20 percentage points.

For students like Bernal, who wants to study computer engineering or software programming, the website is a project of pride that he hopes will help with his college applications.

“Now that I know more about technology…I’m actually excited because I didn’t know how to code before, but now I do,” Bernal said.

The website is set to go live later this week.

Wendy Greuel And Eric Garcetti Both Shine Among Environmental Groups

Click here to read the story.

South LA mayoral forum

Jan Perry, debate moderator Carolyn Webb de Macias, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Grueuel post after the South LA candidates forum.

The top three contenders for mayor of Los Angeles faced off in a debate in South LA Thursday night. A crowd of about 400 people gathered at Ward AME Church on West 25th St. to hear what City Councilwoman Jan Perry, City Councilman Eric Garcetti, and City Controller Wendy Greuel had to say about South LA.

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary–treasurer of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, opened the night’s proceedings with a call for the next mayor of Los Angeles to support good jobs with livable wages. Durazo inspired loud applause from the audience when she said union workers do not want more low-paying retailers like Walmart opening in LA.

Members of hotel worker’s union group, Unite Here, Maria Anaya, Mayra Vega, and Maria Loya prepare to listen to the debate at the South LA Mayoral Candidates Forum.

Former chief-of-staff of the US Department of Education, Carolyn Webb de Macias moderated the event. She, along with pre-selected members of the audience, asked the candidates questions about creating jobs, supporting affordable housing, and balancing the city budget.

Garcetti stirred up mixed reactions from the audience during one of his answers when he said he would have all of the city general managers re-apply for their jobs when he takes office. “President Obama didn’t just take Bush’s cabinet,” he said.

Greuel, responded to Garcetti’s statement by saying that, because of her experience auditing different city departments, “I know who I’m going to hire and fire. I don’t need them to re-apply.”

More than 400 people gathered to hear the top three contenders for Los Angeles mayor debate at the South LA Mayoral Candidates Forum.

On the topic of the city’s deficit, Greuel again referred to her work as auditor and mentioned adding to business taxes for companies doing business in LA. Garcetti highlighted job growth in his district in recent years. Perry connected her answer to South LA, saying she would like to see more developments like the University Village project set to begin near the USC campus.

Webb de Macias’ final question for the candidates was on the topic of gangs. She said some of LA’s students are “better prepared to be inmates than interns,” and asked candidates what they would do to close the “school to prison pipeline.”

In response to the question, Perry highlighted her plan to bolster South LA’s economy by keeping South LA politically linked with its more economically stable neighbor, Downtown LA, to keep residents of South LA connected to good jobs.

Garcetti said he wanted to “put the city’s best teachers in the worst performing schools.” He also mentioned his plan for creating a summer jobs program for young people who want work when school is out.

Greuel recalled working on an after-school program when she worked for former mayor Tom Bradley and said she didn’t want to see so many teachers laid off at the end of each school year.

Candidates give their closing statements at the South LA Mayoral Candidates Forum on Thursday night.

During their closing statements each of the candidates highlighted his or her own experiences working for the city. Garcetti highlighted his work on city council and also made a mild jab at Greuel, pointing out some of the media criticism she has received.

Greuel closed saying that her job as city controller has been to identify waste and that that will help her run the city efficiently.

Perry had the last word of the night. She said she has been “relentlessly focused” for the last 11 years on city council. She also emphasized that she does not just see running for mayor as a “stepping stone for a higher office.”

The candidates will debate in South LA again at Crenshaw High School on February 9.