I have followed the Los Angeles mayoral campaign closely.
I have listened to many forums, read almost all of the articles in both the Times and Daily News.
It is clear to me that Kevin James is the only candidate prepared to deal with a city as dysfunctional as ours.
All of the candidates have been criticised by very respectable forum moderators and journalists for not proposing comprehensive solutions for the chronic financial crisis, one that has handcuffed this city for at least ten years. The crisis has led to a decline in the quality and quantity of services to the residents, so the criticism is well deserved. Unless City Hall can manage the taxpayers’ money, the prospects of satisfactorily providing for not only our core needs, but enhanced amenities as well, are unlikely.
However, that criticism should not apply to Kevin James.
A few of James’ opponents have offered a handful of one-off proposals that will contribute to reducing the scope of the city’s fiscal woes. One has offered nothing but pie in the sky promises that cannot be kept. Collectively, their ideas will barely scratch the surface of the problem, but they spin them with such assurance that many uninformed voters may be misled. And who can blame the voters? Many are busy with carving out a living in tough times to follow the campaign. They tend to support names they recognize.
By contrast, James recognizes the crux of the challenge.
In a city where compensation and benefits comprise close to 90% of the general fund, and where retirement and health benefits will soon absorb almost 50% of it, the solution requires overall salary and benefits reform.
Kevin James is the only candidate who has unequivocally called for across-the-board, simultaneous negotiations with all of the city’s public unions. He alone realizes you must cut to the chase and solve the primary problem in order to eliminate an expected billion-dollar deficit over the next few years. It is a challenge that will not be resolved by nibbling around the periphery, as the other candidates would like you to think.
Time is of the essence; therefore, a concerted effort aimed at reining in all labor deals is an absolute necessity.
Kevin James is not a fan of bankruptcy as a cure for years of fiscal mismanagement, but he is not afraid to keep the option open as a negotiating tool. Yes, bankruptcy is ugly, but it at least offers a structured and sustainable realignment of municipal finances.
Do you know what the alternative is?
That’s where city services are allowed to erode to a level far below satisfactory. It is worse than bankruptcy because city employees will lose jobs and residents will lose services. Everyone loses.
A compensation structure that is flexible is what is needed. James is the only candidate willing to fight for it.
All city office elections are non-partisan for a good reason. Successful management of a city has nothing to do with party affiliation, ideology, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or ethnicity. Some would have you believe otherwise.
The job requires someone who can make sound business decisions. It also entails educating the public as to why those decisions are important.
James is not only able to use sound judgment, he can articulate his reasons. His opponents, on the other hand, are accustomed to mincing words rather than speaking substantively.
For the record, I am a registered Democrat – a true Blue Dog who believes in practical fiscal conservatism. I have degrees in accounting and economics, along with an MBA and a CPA. I have served in the Neighborhood Council system since its inception and have worked in industry for over three decades. I am not opposed to taxes or bond proposals, per se. However, our city government must show it will bring expenses under control by dealing with the chronic drivers of costs before such measures are introduced. The insider candidates in the race have shown no inclination to do so.
Don’t waste your vote on any of them. Vote for Kevin James.