Just a quick recap on the Krekorian/Essel debate broadcast on KRLA’s Kevin James show.
I listened to the debate at the home of former CD2 candidate Pete Sanchez with a handful of Valley Village residents.
The radio format is more productive than the live forums in that more ground is covered. I can’t thank Kevin enough for dedicating the time to host these events.
The debate was segmented into four topics: runaway film production, the city’s infrastructure (namely DWP’s), the budget crisis and development.
There were no meaningful differences in the first two topics. Both candidates touted their own efforts at curbing runaway production and voiced their support for a DWP rate payer advocate. For what it’s worth, Chris referred to the RPA as the inspector general. I assume she was referring toCouncil Member Smith’s vision of the position.
Regardless, most people realize there is much work that needs to be done in defining the appointment process and the duties.
Krekorian and Essel both also stated they opposed Measure B on the grounds that there was no public comment and was flawed. Krekorian stated that he helped defeat an Assembly Bill that was as impractical as Measure B.
The infrastructure discussion strayed off topic when the two argued over who was more aligned with the establishment. Chris cited Krekorian’s role as Assistant Assembly Leader and Krekorian countered with some of Essel’s contributions coming from 336 of Villaraigosa’s allies.
The answers became evasive when the subject of the city’s budget came up.
Krekorian talked around Kevin’s very direct question concerning employee raises. Kevin asked , “if you can only provide a raise to one group, who would it be -police, fire or civilians?
Paul answered that he was proud of all of his union endorsements but safety would come first. I assume that means civilian employees would not receive a raise given those choices, but it was a very roundabout and indirect answer to a very direct question.
Essel received a different question. Kevin asked if she thought the City Council’s actions over the last few years contributed to the current defict, which the LA Times claimed is still at $100 million after all of the most current decisions have been considered.
Chris answered that the City Council should have addressed the problems much sooner. She would call for workforce reductions (it was not clear as to whether she meant what had already been determined as opposed to additional cuts), a two tier pension system and increased employee contributions to benefit plans.
When asked how she would prevent the Council from deferring problems to future periods, she said she would fight for timely treatment of issues; however, she was not specific as to how she proposed to accomplish that.
On balance, Essel was a little stronger than Krekorian on the topic.
What ground she gained on the budget issue was lost on the topic of development.
Both candidates went on record of opposing development that could not be supported by the existing infrastructure. However, the specter of her work on the CCA and CRA returned to haunt her. Essel admitted she wished her name had never appeared on the notorious CCA press release in support of SB1818.
In their closing statements both traded barbs about the other being the insider. Krekorian emphasized his recent endorsements from both Tamar Galatzan and Mary Benson as evidence that he is not part of the city’s establishment.
I managed to ask the last listener call-in question of the evening: since 80% of the general fund is related to compensation and safety must be a priority, how will they close the budget gap without seeking significant concessions from the civilian unions?
Both of their answers were disappointing. Krekorian said if we establish a good working relationship with the unions, they will cooperate, but he did not say if he would seek concessions.
Frankly,in my opinion, the civilian unions have been treated well over the years, but I have not seen any willingness on their parts to make meaningful long term commitments to reining in labor costs.
Chris Essel said she would rather rely on increased revenues to close the gap. Just as Krekorian’s answer skirted the issue of labor costs, Chris’ answer ignored economic reality -tax revenues are decreasing and will likely remain stagnant for a prolonged period of time.
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