Here’s my takeaway from moderating the Big Four candidates for L.A. mayor at the CD5 Coalition’s forum last Saturday:
If Jan Perry, Kevin James, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti really meant every they said, every promise they made, and actually worked to bring their constituencies together for the common good, we could actually fix this broken city – balance the budget, solve the pension crisis and start repairing the streets and sidewalks.
Don’t hold your breath.
From what Garcetti, Greuel and to a lesser extent Perry – who at least displayed some toughness in her criticism of the nonsense that goes on at City Hall – had to say, we will be getting more of the same but without the showbiz theatrics of our current mayor.
That’s why more than half the 75 people who attended the Coalition forum said that if the election were being held now, they would vote for the outsider, attorney and radio talk show host Kevin James.
James 54 percent, Greuel 32, Garcetti 10, Perry 5 were the results of the audience survey — a far cry from an election day exit poll of questionable validity conducted by LMU’s Fernando Guerra’s students at Loyola Marymount which gave Garcetti 36 percent, Greuel the same 32 percent, Perry 15, James 9.
Survey participants gave all four candidates high marks for being “articulate” and “informed” and offered insights into why they preferred James whose candidacy has gained credibility with the commitment of several million dollars from a Super-Pac:
“We need to be desperately seeking independence from public unions and other special interests. Desperately hungry for change. I’m tempted to try another outsider.”
“ Let’s start again. How much worse can it be.”
“Kevin is the only one with clean hands.”
“Kevin made good points, but needs to be on a city staff first to see how the city works.”
“ Kevin is the only one with Independence. “
“ The people currently in office have not monitored the City and don’t deserve to have a higher office.”
Others were skeptical of all four candidates and their ability to fix City Hall:
“All four are amazingly glib, but they lack true substance in analyzing the city’s problems.” ”I’m tired of the political talk. We need real answers to the city’s problems, not just same old, same old. “
Will a new mayor be able to fix the city when the political hacks who created this crisis likely will be joined by six or more retreads from the legislature who bear heavy responsibility for the state’s mess?
Will the insiders even try to do anything different? Will the outsider be thwarted just as Richard Riordan was during his two terms as mayor?
My own view for what it is worth is that it will take a calamity to finally wake up the civic, business and community leadership to come together and take control of City Hall away from the unions, developers, contractors and consultants.
In the meantime, there is the mayoral horse race with the next debate coming Saturday Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Aratani Japan America Theater, 244 S. San Pedro St. downtown. It is sponsored by the L.A. League of Conservation Voters and will be broadcast live on KABC, Channel 7.