The Dec. 8 runoff in Council District 2 between Paul Krekorian and Chris Essel shaped up as a choice between the lesser of two evils, both beholden the same City Hall political machine that for so long has betrayed the public trust and jeopardized the city’s future.
Krekorian: Liberal Democrat owned by Hollywood, the Democrats and the SEIU
Essel: Business advocate owned by Hollywood, downtown developers and DWP’s union, the IBEW.
With nearly 90 percent of the money spent in the primary to succeed Wendy Greuel in the East San Fernando Valley, they easily knocked off eight other candidates — who unlike them actually lived in the district prior to the seat opening up.
It was a tossup, as far as I was concerned, between two decent, intelligent people who would do nothing to change the political dynamic at City Hall.
Then, on Wednesday, the election calculus changed.
IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy escalated what was already a vicious and expensive campaign against Krekorian by suing the people who, against their will, have made his union members the wealthiest utility workers in California, if not the nation and the world.
D’Arcy isn’t just greedy and selfish like most of the special interests who feed at the trough of City Hall. He’s the closest thing to a truly evil force in city politics. He’s someone who has shown utter contempt for the public interest for years, someone who has sabotaged every effort to replace the DWP’s coal-burning power plants with renewable resources, someone who has blackmailed city officials into putting ratepayers money into staggering increases in wages and benefits while the water and power systems rotted.
Using the IBEW front group Working Californians — the one that spent $800,000 in a failed attempt to pass Measure B in March so the union get rip off the billions of dollars that was supposed to buy solar energy — D’Arcy went to court Wednesday to challenge the city’s campaign financing law.
Maeve Reston in the LA Times reported that the legal challenge is to the 1985 city law that “bars political
committees from accepting contributions of more than $500 if the group
plans to use that money to make an independent expenditure for a city
“In practice, the law prevents outside groups or
individuals from contributing to each other to pay for independent
expenditures that support city candidates. Contributions that are not
earmarked for a specific city campaign are not subject to that $500
limit. (If violations are suspected, the City Ethics Commission’s
enforcement division determines whether a contribution was for an
In other words, D’Arcy who has already spent nearly $100,000 in the runoff to elect Essel wants to lift all limits on what he can spend to buy the election outright. It’s an indication that he has polls showing the race is close and winnable, which ought to wake up voters if anything will.
His lawyer, Stephen Kaufman, the mouthpiece and campaign treasurer for
virtually every city elected official, piously made this claim:
“Working Californians has always played by the rules in the past and
wants to play by the rules in this upcoming election, and it has filed
this lawsuit to ask the court to clarify the rules once and for all.”
D’Arcy’s plays by the rules all right, the devil’s rules.
Essel can claim all she wants that she had nothing to do with this
lawsuit and hasn’t spoken to D’Arcy since earlier in the campaign but
she’s sold her soul to the devil.
We can argue about the public
value of giveaways to downtown developers and how the city has enriched
AEG with its sweetheart deals for Staples Center, LA Live and all those
digital billboard eyesores, but there’s no ambiguity about the IBEW’s
role at the DWP.
They got 5.9 percent pay raises the last two
years, increasing the gap of as much as 40 percent IBEW workers have
over other city workers doing the same jobs. And last month they got a
sweetheart deal with huge lump sum payments and guaranteed raises of up
to 4 percent for five years when cops got nothing and the rest of the
city workforce lost money.
If there was any doubt about where
Essel stands, she cast her lot with D’Arcy by putting out a statement
after thinking things over that accuses Krekorian of raising campaign
money from lobbyists and oil companies:
“Real reform starts with holding politicians accountable for violating
our ethics laws,” she said, “I am the only candidate who has offered
voters a series of tough new ethics rules that will, among other
things, force politicians to pay fines out of their own pockets and
stop Sacramento politicians from skirting city rules by using their
state political accounts to secretly fund campaigns.”
Chris, the city doesn’t set oil prices. It sets the wages and benefits
of DWP workers and the rates the public has to pay to keep D’Arcy from
carrying out his threats to shut off our water and power.
Essel has her chance to denounce D’Arcy. Instead, she attacked Krekorian.
She’s sold her soul to the devil and that makes her without doubt the greater of two evils.