The entire labor movement from the County Federation to the SEIU, police union and the DWP’s IBEW union is funding a million dollar campaign against Councilman Bernard Parks — the only Council member who actually knows the city budget, and has consistently fought to rein in spending and put LA on a sound financial footing.
His crime in the union leaders’ minds is that he is fiscally responsible, brings badly-needed business and jobs to his community whether or not they are union jobs and has filled the vacuum of leadership left by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa going from dictator of policy to a cipher pandering to the wealthy and powerful.
Greed may be legal but that doesn’t mean it’s good.
The city is suffering from drastic cuts in core services and so are working people — with half a million people in LA unemployed or under-employed and many in the city workforce suffering loss of income from furloughs and inevitably facing layoffs unless Parks prevails in actually confronting the worsening budget crisis.
Union leaders care nothing about this; they just want stooges.
They are backing Forescee Hogan-Rowles with a staggering amount of their members’ money in a desperate effort to oust Parks so they can keep on bleeding the city dry in a feeding frenzy that will lead to bankruptcy, massive job and service cuts and a chaotic situation that will harm everyone for years to come.
Hogan-Rowles is their patsy, a woman whose service on the DWP Commission was marked by her ignorance of policy and a 100 percent record of voting for rate hikes and massive salary increases to IBEW workers.
She ran against Parks eight years ago and finished fourth in a field of five with less than 5 percent of the vote while the former LAPD Chief — one of the few Council members who actually achieved something outside the political arena — got 78 percent of the vote.
Hogan-Rowles also got caught violating city ethics rules and was hit with an 11-count complaint. that could have led to $55,000 in fines. But ethics enforcement being what it is, she was let off with barely 3 percent of that, $1,650.
For all his self-promotion and kowtowing to billionaires, the mayor is silent in this race even though Parks was instrumental in his election in 2005 over James Hahn who had strong support in the black community.
The reason for his silence has a lot to do with County Federation of Labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, someone Villaraigosa has met with more often than anyone else in town, someone who talks about “working people” but only means that small fraction of workers who are union members.
Durazo and IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy are using their vast treasuries to operate independent expenditure committees to buy tens of thousands of dollars in TV ads and barrage voters with mailers disparaging Parks.
Union leaders used to stand for more than this, for the betterment of all workers, and the health of their communities.
The mayor knows better. He once stood for more, promised to help us reach our higher ideals, be our better selves. He has given labor almost everything it wants; now is the time to give the people what they need.
Without Parks and his only ally on the budget, Greig Smith who is retiring, the city’s fiscal crisis will grow worse in a hurry.
There is at least a $350 million deficit next year and even bigger deficits looming in the years beyond.
There is only one way out of this crisis and it calls for great leadership. It calls for unions to face reality and make concessions that reduce the cost of payroll, pensions and health and it calls for the public to face their responsibilities and pay more for a period of time to avoid drastic cuts in services.
The LA Clean Sweep movement endorsed Parks because he is the only incumbent running on March 8 who has a record of honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility.
LA needs Bernard Parks and others who will stand with him to make progress in alleviating poverty, preserving the middle class and growing the economy for everyone’s benefit.
It doesn’t need yet another stooge for narrow, special interests.