The Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils attracts not only the biggest names in local politics, but proves it can bring them together for the same event.
Fresh from celebrating her coalition’s tenth anniversary, founder and president Jill Banks Barad had all six runoff candidates on hand for a grand debate at CBS in Studio City. They were all present for the anniversary bash as well.
It’s a tribute to Jill’s reputation as an organizer and leader that candidates and officials beat a path to VANC events. Name one other person in the city who can forge a political cooperative spanning an area as broad and populated as the San Fernando Valley. I certainly can’t.
I did not expect to learn anything more about the candidates from the debate. They have been in the spotlight for months; their positions have been heard over and over again.
Moderator Dan Schnur introduced new issues into the mix – the composition of the 20/20 Commission and Governor Brown’s plan to redirect education funding to districts serving the poorest families – hoping to stimulate the mayoral candidates to veer from their standard responses.
Greuel and Garcetti both agreed that the commission was not representative of the city’s key economic segments, and they spoke carefully around Brown’s plan.
He at least raised a little disagreement between the city attorney candidates when he asked what they thought of allowing non citizens to serve as jurors. Trutanich felt that jurors needed to understand the American system of justice. Feuer was irresolute. He said he understood that a trial of peers in a city like Los Angeles might possibly include non citizens, but he had no opinion.
Schnur assigned penalty minutes for answers that challenged or attacked opponents. Afterwards, I told him his approach reminded me of an NHL contest. Almost every answer provided by the mayoral and city attorney candidates resulted in “power plays” with 30-second bonus responses awarded.
By contrast, the city controller segment was very civil. However, there was an interesting exchange about audits. Galperin accused Zine’s committee of sitting on audit recommendations; Zine claimed all audit recommendations had either been implemented or were being processed. If what Zine said was true, then where are the savings reflected? Either the audits are of questionable value or he overstated the status. Could very well be both.
The subject of negative ads by Greuel’s campaign produced some very personal exchanges. Greuel said Garcetti started it when he challenged her claims of waste, fraud and abuse. For the record, her claims were also challenged by the media. Garcetti replied, and correctly, that challenging positions or information put forth by an opponent is not going negative. On the other hand, ads depicting him wearing a crown are clearly negative.
Greuel has a history of running negative ads going back to the city controller campaign of 2009 when her campaign hit the airways with lies about her opponent.
And the race goes on.