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DRAFT ZEV: Can Anybody Do a Better Job as Mayor Than the Last Lion of LA Politics?

A few days ago I told a friend of Supervisor Yaroslavsky that I thought I would wind up supporting him for Mayor of Los Angeles.

At the least, I said sarcastically, “Zev is the lesser of four evils.”

On Thursday, Zev Yaroslavsky finally announced he had made up his mind about who he is in the here and now and decided to declare he was out of the mayoral race he never entered, a race he would have won in 1989, might have win in 1993 and 2001, could have won in 2005 and 2009 but didn’t seem to stand a chance of winning in 2013.

I say that because Zev had become jaded by nearly four decades of swimming in the sewer of an increasingly corrupt political system in the city and county of Los Angeles, a world in which elected officials had become indifferent to the challenges of leadership, of the obligation of being a servant of the public, not its master.

At a time when we so desperately need people in the White House, the statehouse, the “temple of democracy” as Eric Garcetti dares to call City Hall without even a wink and a nod to the cruel irony of his remark, we desperately need officials committed to the art of governance, not the black art of political manipulation and deceit.

By the political standards of this generation, Zev Yaroslavsky stands out as a lion in this winter or our discontent, one of two. The other is his antagonist and sometimes partner in keeping the County of Los Angeles fiscally solvent, even if so many of its departments are terrible failures, Mike Antonovich.

They have been a political odd couple a long time, savvy, untouchable, dominating with records of service in elected office that are noteworthy for their longevity as well as their willingness and ability to ‘make it work.’ Yet, both are flawed by the arrogance that comes come from holding office too long without challenge — they have become imperious, lost their faith in the people, consumed by the politics of the game they play so well.

In a word: Cynical.

Then something strange happened on Thursday when Yaroslavsky came clean: He will finish out his time in what he has called “the best job in the world” and get on with the rest of his life. He started sounded like the guy he once was before he waded into the sewer of LA politics that sucked the blood from souls of so many lesser figures.

Listen to what he had to say to Larry Mantle and Warren Olney – the voices of our two great public radio stations and leading arbiters of what’s important to our communities.

When Zev spoke to them, he suddenly sounded like a … heaven, help me… a leader, a real leader. He spoke about how bad things are, showing how clearly he understands what is wrong while displaying the grit to stand up to the special interests, at least some of the time.

Zev knows the details better than anyone in the game and as I have observed him over many, many years, served the people of the city and county of Los Angeles with distinction better than others, at least relatively speaking compared to the competition.

In the political desert we have been for so long, only Yaroslavsky and Antonovich stand out  as super-stars. Longevity. Political Skill. Smart. Few Mistakes. Nothing Sticks. Achievements. Fiscal Responsibility.

Yaroslavsky offered no apology, talking about the “other things i want to do with my life… offering no apology for doing what’s in my own best interest . . . ” insisting he would “love to be mayor of the city, especially in a challenging time . . .  I could have won.”

He wants to write and teach and travel., he says. We can relate to that but we also know that having blinked time after time at lunging for the big prize — mayor of America’s second largest city — no one can doubt what he would really like to do.

So let’s draft Zev, a groundswell for someone smart enough to actually understand the problems and tough enough to stand up the unions and special interests, at least some of them.

Look at the field:

Front-runner Wendy Greuel who is easily manipulated and given to covering her butt more than standing up for what’s right and necessary.

Eric Garcetti who hides his intelligence with platitudes and conceals what he’s really doing with deceits that reflect an underlying contempt for ordinary folks.

Jan Perry, tough and down-to-earth, who has showed courage standing up to the bullies at the Department of Water and Power while doing the bidding of AEG and the Central City Association who sold her out of her district in redistricting without even a word of apology.

Talk show host and attorney Kevin James who actually has connected to the city’s discontents at the grassroots but with only a tenth of the money of Greuel and Garcetti doesn’t stand a chance of being heard unless some big money steps forward to make him competitive.

So think about it people, do you really want to turn the reins of the city over to a leadership team of Greuel, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Controller Dennis Zine and Council President Herb Wesson when so much is wrong, when so much could get a whole lot worse?

Run, Zev, run.

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21 Responses to DRAFT ZEV: Can Anybody Do a Better Job as Mayor Than the Last Lion of LA Politics?

  1. homewatcher says:

    How about Rick Caruso? If he runs it’ll be from outside the system.

  2. JOHN WALSH says:

    DEAR MR. KAYE,
    Your Draft Yaroslavsky call to arms narrowly misses the mark.

    Yours Truly,
    John Walsh
    CHAIRMAN OF THE DRAFT BARBARA YAROSLAVSKY FOR MAYOR CAMPAIGN

  3. Ricardo says:

    WE are all in deep shit trouble with the candidates running. They ARE the reason our City is a disaster. Their incompetence and failure to do their job created the financial crisis. They have FAILED the people of Los Angeles. Wendy pretends she has actually been the watchdog of our tax dollars. All she’s done is become a media whore like Villar. Millions of outstanding debt to be collected but not one dip shit in council or Wendy knows how to collect it. Garcetti is trying his best to pretend he’s Latino which is only pissing off the legal voters of the City. He too is a huge failure and corrupt with the Hollywood & Vine development. Perry is in bed with developers and AEG and thanks to her we have more digital billboards. Kevin James stands alone but he’s Republican & friends and I are Democrat otherwise he would get our vote

  4. Damien Jones says:

    Mike Feuer for City Attonrey? Is that a joke? He already got his butt kicked once by Rocktard Delgadillo. We don’t need another Stankramento politician in Chitty Hall.

  5. NoHo Mom says:

    Well, why don’t we try to get Kevin James more money and see what happens? What’s the point of writing him off when we all know what will make him a serious candidate – money. That’s still within our power to at least try and do something about.

  6. Teddy says:

    ” Kevin James stands alone but he’s Republican & friends and I are Democrat otherwise he would get our vote”

    We do not “belong” to a Party, it is what we believe that our vote represents. The people in office now, and, have been for years, are examples of the Democratic Party.
    Are you proud of these particular individuals who have changed our city so drasrically that people are moving out? The city has been mismanaged for many, many years.

    My vote is private when I go to the polls. But I will share this with you all. My vote
    is for Kevin James. We definitely need a change. For the better??? I sincerely hope
    so. We cannot keep on as we have, agree?

  7. LAISCORRUPT says:

    Dear Ron (and misguided LA residents),

    I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by this article. First of all, there is a reason why Zev isn’t running. Potential scandal, both political and personal. He would not have been a good choice, and I am thankful he is out. Carusso is also a billionaire developer that WILL NOT run and does not know the issues, or care about the residents like Kevin James does.

    Second, the fact that everyone, including democrats, isn’t jumping on the Kevin James train immediately and completely, especially you Ron, is beyond me. Here is an ordinary citizen trying to stand up for all of us, offering great ideas and a real plan (all non-partisan mind you), yet you are trying to make it even harder on him. Why don’t you and people like Riordan, and everyone else that knows LA is beyond messed up (which is everyone) start saying this guy needs our support and he is the only good choice we have for mayor. You as the member of the media, have the power to do that, but your not!? You can effect the election and help get Kevin elected, but your not. Why Ron, I don’t understand that. Stick your neck out, or are you afraid to? Put your name behind the candidate before the money comes and maybe that will help him get more money to become even more competitive then he already is (which is truly amazing btw, given what he’s done with the money he has).

    But seriously, I used to listen to Kevin have you on his radio show every week, and now you sit here and say he doesn’t have a chance because he doesn’t have money. Let me ask, have you given Kevin money.?!?!?!? If not, why not? This is your friend, someone that has helped you and done a lot of good things for a lot of people. And all he needs is enough money to get his message out and he wins hands down. Why don’t you tell all your readers and everyone you know to fully support Kevin and do so yourself, lead by example. If your not going to do that then you don’t care if the city is left in the same hands as the people that have destroyed it.

    I’m a long time fan of yours Ron, and I truly believe you are better then this. Take a stand, what’s stopping you, who are you afraid of? Back Kevin James or don’t write one more blog complaining about any problems in LA, because your not doing the one thing you can to really fix them and make a difference. And donate some money to the Kevin’s campaign yourself, seriously. Or do you think your money is better spent given to Greuel Garcetti or Perry. Be a man of principal and do what is right here please!

    • anonymous says:

      don’t expect too much…
      Ron engaged in same destructive equivocation
      during another citizen candidate’s campaign…
      dare we speak the name…because, in his opinion,
      Mr. X was a one issue candidate…and just what…
      what was that one issue…?…ah yes, the rampant
      corruption within LA power structure…resulting in
      blight, crime, dysfunction…rule by organized crime…
      knowledgeable sources “within the monster”
      will have to disclose the dreck and rot…meanwhile,
      prepare to suffer…pay attention…courage…

      • ex valley says:

        Excellent post. Could not say better myself.
        Ron and other PC posters here stood by and let the corrupt incompetent thief and whore to rule four more years. Ron and his crowd could not bring themselves to vote against that crook BECAUSE that meant a vote for Mr X. And that would be soooo against their ideas of social multicultural nirvana. And not voting and supporting Mr x they effectively said FU to all taxpaying residents. And now it is too late. Engaging in goofy dreams like zev or Caruso running is very much like re-arranging chairs on the titanic. The city is heading towards bankruptcy. Just a matter when. Can’t survive when takers outnumbers payers.

  8. Dick Platkin says:

    Other than issues of age and plans for a semi-retirement, there is probably a second reason Zev Yaroslavsky is not running for Mayor. As one of the savvier pols around, he must understand that the institutional culture and external forces impinging on City Hall are not easily toyed with. We live in an era of austerity for most government services, except those related to policing, surveillance, military, and corporate and Wall Street bailouts. This does not leave much to play with in local government, even if Supervisor Yaroslavsky is the competent and well-meaning politician presented by Ron Kay. Zev surely understands the realities facing the next Mayor of Los Angeles, and since he is also cautious, his decisions to play the wise outsider role makes sense.

    • ex valley says:

      And how did Yaroslavsky show himself to be a competent and well meaning politician? Versus a career pol feeding out of taxpayers’ trough?
      Care to point any of his actions that benefited the taxpayers and not various special groups? And does he even reside in the city? I bet he has a nice gated house in Beverly Hills.

      • Sierra says:

        @ex valley – Your statement about betting that Yaroslavsky lives in a “nice gated house in Beverly Hills” shows whats wrong with voters today and why we are in the mess we are in – Voters for the most part a lazy and ignorant of the facts – Complaining about what’s wrong, but with no real research or understanding.

        Yaroslavsky has lived in the same house in the Fairfax district since he was an LA City Councilman. He has lived a frugal, modest life and that is why he did not get caught in “Limo-gate” when his LA County Supervisor’s where exposed.

        If you want to vote and promote Kevin James, there is nothing wrong with that, but don’t spout out your speculation or guesses without bother to back it up with facts.

        • ex valley says:

          Sorry about just guessing Zev’s residence location.

          But the fact he doesnt live in a mansion is not that important. What is important – he is a career pol and by the virtue of being a city councilman and a county supervisor the last many years during which the city has gone downhill, so he is very much responsible for the present sorry state.

  9. LAISCORRUPT says:

    I’d really like Ron to respond to my comments…what should I do??

    Dear Ron (and misguided LA residents),

    I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by this article. First of all, there is a reason why Zev isn’t running. Potential scandal, both political and personal. He would not have been a good choice, and I am thankful he is out. Carusso is also a billionaire developer that WILL NOT run and does not know the issues, or care about the residents like Kevin James does.

    Second, the fact that everyone, including democrats, isn’t jumping on the Kevin James train immediately and completely, especially you Ron, is beyond me. Here is an ordinary citizen trying to stand up for all of us, offering great ideas and a real plan (all non-partisan mind you), yet you are trying to make it even harder on him. Why don’t you and people like Riordan, and everyone else that knows LA is beyond messed up (which is everyone) start saying this guy needs our support and he is the only good choice we have for mayor. You as the member of the media, have the power to do that, but your not!? You can effect the election and help get Kevin elected, but your not. Why Ron, I don’t understand that. Stick your neck out, or are you afraid to? Put your name behind the candidate before the money comes and maybe that will help him get more money to become even more competitive then he already is (which is truly amazing btw, given what he’s done with the money he has).

    But seriously, I used to listen to Kevin have you on his radio show every week, and now you sit here and say he doesn’t have a chance because he doesn’t have money. Let me ask, have you given Kevin money.?!?!?!? If not, why not? This is your friend, someone that has helped you and done a lot of good things for a lot of people. And all he needs is enough money to get his message out and he wins hands down. Why don’t you tell all your readers and everyone you know to fully support Kevin and do so yourself, lead by example. If your not going to do that then you don’t care if the city is left in the same hands as the people that have destroyed it.

    I’m a long time fan of yours Ron, and I truly believe you are better then this. Take a stand, what’s stopping you, who are you afraid of? Back Kevin James or don’t write one more blog complaining about any problems in LA, because your not doing the one thing you can to really fix them and make a difference. And donate some money to the Kevin’s campaign yourself, seriously. Or do you think your money is better spent given to Greuel Garcetti or Perry. Be a man of principal and do what is right here please!

    • Sierra says:

      @LAISCORRUPT: Regarding your statement “Carusso is also a billionaire developer that WILL NOT run and does not know the issues”:

      1. Yes, he is a “billionaire developer.”

      2. “WILL NOT run” – I agree with that speculation, but only time will tell.

      3. “does not know the issues” – I’ll take issue with you here. I believe Carusso is smart as a fox and knows the issues very well. He has be deeply engaged in Los Angeles politics for decades.

      But I also believe that Carusso has (with the cooperation of elected officials) screwed the taxpayers in several of his development deals.

      • LAISCORRUPT says:

        Sorry for not explaining further. He does know certain aspects of city issues. As you pointed out, development deals that ended up screwing the city do give him insight into some of the inner workings of city hall. He might also know about the issues through his work on the coliseum commission (now tied to many scandals, also included Zev). The issues I was specifically referring to were the ones that you will hear about from regular citizens across the city and in neighborhood councils. Rick has not spent time in all corners of the city learning about those types of issues, or coming up with solutions to them. I don’t believe he can identify with the average tax paying citizen really in anyway. Take for example Kevin James, who spent 10 years working with people from every part of LA, to essentially embarrass elected officials through the media into doing the right thing. Kevin took calls from everyone, everywhere, and took up 10 years of his time while being a lawyer on the side, just to learn and help people. not for political gain. I doubt Rick has a quarter of the knowledge about the city Kevin gained from that experience, Or for that matter Zev or any of the established candidates greuel, garcetti, perry. All five of these people have had significantly large powerful podiums for at least the past decade, and for Zev and Rick even longer. Yet Kevin has more to show in terms of ways he’s helped Los Angeles Citizens from his 10 years a a radio broadcaster then these people do as high level elected officials or as a powerful billionaire. he’s an insider/outsider with an insiders perspective was my point about his lack of knowledge

        • LA Moderator says:

          Ok, I’ll take a stab at this…

          First of all, Kevin James? Great idea. I must have been on sabbatical when Mr. X was pseudo-named, but I can venture a best guess as to which challenger is inferred, whom we (and other like-minded iconoclast candidates) failed to coalesce around.

          It was well within reach to bring the Mayor to a run-off, and then run him down with the momentum of our defeat of Proposition B.

          We came closer with CD2, and other races since then, getting particularly organized for the Clean Sweep slating process…and there’s the first clue regarding Ron.

          This column is written with his newspaper man’s hat on….sort of.

          Seems like a love letter to the knight in shining armor Zev could be, particularly in comparison to Garcetti/Greul/Perry.

          Remember, Zev started out as a model for us…a grass rooted mensch, pivoting from tilting at Soviet windmills to charging at the political establishment at the time…forcing a runoff in CD5! Like his leftside accomplishments or not, he was a force to be reckoned with…but particularly with the pragmatics of allowing landowners’ rights to growth, however slow, he admitted “I can’t lock myself in a closet and say, ‘I’m a crusader”….

          But Ron can, and undoubtedly will.

          The fiscal swamp is too deep for anyone to undeclared to ride in on a white horse*, so if Kevin stands tall, and wades in, I think Ron will be throwing him a line.

        • LA Moderator says:

          Now, as for Rick Caruso*…I have nothing but good things to say, though you should pardon my biases (Trojan and otherwise…sorry Wayne, I agree Coliseum Commission transparency is more important than ever, but USC’s patience with oft-deferred maintenance, and intentions based on overwhelming respect for the historic edifice, make it an honorable steward).

          He’s definitely playing against type…what with endorsing Brown in 2010, and bending over backwards towards marriage expansionists in slapping a ban on Manny at the Grove. It makes sense that he held off on being a high profile Romney supporter this time around, if he’s trying to avoid any positions which might alienate large chunks of L.A. voters.

          Hardly a mere Coliseum Commission dilettante…take a look at his years on the dwp and Police Commissions. I keep hoping he starts being more public with interacting with NC’s, but we’re on his radar.

          But he’s in no rush…besides the chance that a Romney win may usher in other opportunities for a centering figure like Rick, there’s just not enough attention span (or air time for that matter) to warrant an announcement between now and November. He could still make a big splash, throwing his hat in the ring right at deadline, but now there’s another consideration.
          Rick’s a class act. I don’t know how accurately the cliché of a developer screwing the taxpayers applies to him…seems to have dogged him since the Grove was proposed. But folks in the 101 corridor suburbs on both sides of the county line see him as the go-to guy for doing something right.

          And part of the way he does it, may lend a clue to what he may do: He likes to be in charge of his developments…albeit working very closely with the local governments and community interests. Though there may be some interesting joint ventures coming up, he likes to avoid meddlesome ‘investors’ or shareholders, that interfere with his vision. (I mean this in a good way!)

          City of LA? Mayor? Lots of stakeholders, lots of crazy bureaucracy, lots of special interests who don’t play nice.

          But the County, on the other hand…

          Some LA insiders are going to see that currying mayoral endorsements from Zev is a short term plan. Someone (from within or without the City) is going to see his seat in 2014 a better perch. We’ll see if he proffers his brother-in-law as heir-apparent, but I’m thinking Caruso would rather become the “Mayor of Los Angeles County”.

  10. anonymous says:

    Ron, this post is one of your “spitballs”…right?
    Well… stop it already…stop messing around…

  11. Wayne from Corruptopia says Ron is right about Kevin says:

    YOU’RE LEARNING RON…YOU’RE GETTING IT! As for Zev, of course he’d be better than the other leading crappy candidates. After all, he’s royalty!

  12. Vote blindly, then complain says:

    I think Zev made a wise decision. The council holds the real power and they have a corrupt scam where they vote together over 99% of the time. It’s all corruption all the time. That’s why some people in Hollywood are looking for a Federal Grand Jury investigation into the $1.5 Billion dollars that disappeared into developers’ pockets while the city cut the LAFD budget by $200 Million. The LAPD is also suffering and we have the worse roads in the nation and people are leaving Los Angeles because the corrupt incompetents in charge have destroyed the city’s infrastructure.

    Zev knows that Angelenos repetitively vote for the same crooks and fools — so why would he want such a thankless job? Angelenos would make him mayor and then immediately vote for host of knaves and thieves for councilmen.

    I wish Zev well. He needs to enjoy life a little. I respect Zev for having the wisdom to say No.

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