Unable to attend last week’s mayoral forum sponsored by Southern California Grantmakers, I listened to a complete audio tape of the event.
Considering the sponsoring organization promotes philanthropy, I was not surprised the discussion revolved around the subject – specifically, why does Los Angeles lag behind other major cities when it comes to donations in support of civic projects and programs? As moderator Warren Olney pointed out, our city’s ranking is perplexing given the great concentration of wealth here.
While all of the candidates read from their resumes about projects they implemented or supported, only one candidate attempted to answer why potential donors are not as generous when it comes to opening their wallets to the City of Los Angeles.
Kevin James, who served as Assistant U S Attorney, co-chair of Aids Project LA and evening radio host, pointed to widespread corruption in the city as a possible reason donations are not as high as expected.
No one disputed his assessment, but neither did the other candidates mention specific instances of corruption as James did.
Austin Beutner did raise a good point. He expressed concern over the city’s shoddy accounting as a factor that would discourage confidence in the ability of our officials to assure funds are used appropriately.
James also emphasized the need to attract business back to L.A. He stated that businesses are important source of donations we can ill afford to lose. He cited an instance when the Aids Project Los Angeles lost a donor due to the departure of a company.
Garcetti and James racked up more minutes than the others, but Garcetti’s comments, along with Greuel’s, were the least substantive.
Beutner was very soft-spoken. As a result, his message was muted.
Perry emphasized her personal confidence in the economic potential of the AEG stadium plan.
Overall, this forum was a warm-up….. and it was short. Core services were not discussed and little was said about the overall state of the city’s finances.
I believe James made the best impression. Perhaps his skills as a practicing attorney worked to his advantage.