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Six Things of Note From Tuesday's Mayoral Debate in Highland Park

The four candidates played it safe, but there were moments where each made efforts to establish themselves from the field.

Hundreds of locals filled Ramona Hall on Tuesday night to see four of the five candidates vying to be Los Angeles' next mayor participate in a forum hosted by the Northeast Coalition.

Current City Council Representatives Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry squared off against radio host/lawyer Kevin James and businessman Emanuel Pleitez in a mostly cordial affair moderated by journalist Patt Morrison. City Controller and candidate Wendy Greuel had a commitment in San Francisco, Morrison told the audience.

While it was a mostly predictable stop along the road to election, there were six things worth noting from Tuesday's forum.

The candidates defined their respective roles:

Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry leaned on their accomplishments while Emanuel Peitez and Kevin James tried to establish themselves as the fiery outsiders.

While the candidates agreed on almost every issue, Pleitez and James often chastised the council members for their failure to follow through on issues like pension reform while in office. This led to a heated exchange, where Garcetti declared that pension reform was about working "behind the scenes" to make changes and not "macho grandstanding." Pleitez took issue with those comments, saying Garcetti had failed to uphold the public trust as a member of the city council.

The candidates stood united on important local issues …

It should come as no surprise that all four candidates in attendance took stands against the extension of the 710 Freeeway through Northeast Los Angeles and in favor of the reopening of the Southwest Museum.

Each attempted to make their own sort of political hay in stating their support of the Southwest Museum. Garcetti referred to his first visit to the museum as a youth as a "rite of passage." Perry said she would reach out philanthropists to find funding to reopen and operate the historic museum. James leaned on his legal experience and called out the Autry for failing to follow the terms of the contract that granted them possession of the Southwest Museum's collection. Pleitez asked why, if Perry and Garcetti supported the reopening of the Southwest Museum, they hadn't done anything about it while on the city council.

… and on Measure A:

All four candidates opposed the proposed sales tax increase. James and Perry pointed out that they signed the opposition argument against the sales tax, Garcetti reminded voters that he voted against placing it on the March ballot, Pleitez called it a "band aid to bad problems at City Hall."

Eric Garcetti took a stand against Wal-Mart:

Moderator Patt Morrison lobbed a steady stream of softballs at the candidates throughout the two hour forum, but a question regarding the potential permitting of a Wal-Mart superstore in Chinatown challenged the candidates to balance their stances on growth and development against their support of local business and workers' rights. Pleitez and James argued that, given the city's current revenue picture, it wasn't wise to "antagonize" any particular business, regardless of their global reputation. Perry, who represents Downtown and South Los Angeles on the city council, said it should be up to the locals to decide the value of the superstore.

Garcetti stood out on this issue, saying he would welcome any big box store to Los Angeles that could prove their business would bring have an overall net positive impact on jobs. "We don't have any of those stores in this town, because they can't prove that."

Wendy Greuel was out of town, and she paid for it:

Greuel hasn't been a total no-show in Northeast LA; she visited firefighters at LAFD's Highland Park Station 12 last month and was at the unveiling of the York Boulevard parklet. But she wasn't on hand Tuesday night, and Pleitez and James both took the opportunity to jab at the city controller in her absence. Had she been on hand, Greuel may have been able to distinguish herself from her opponents by calling on her efforts to find "waste, fraud and corruption" in the city's budget. Instead, the other candidates were able to call out her failure to do so.

Northeast LA represented:

Ramona Hall was packed, with the more than 200 seats filled and many more audience community members standing along the walls of the hall. The community certainly made a statement to the mayoral candidates that they plan to make their voices heard in the coming years.

nonoise February 13, 2013 at 04:52 PM
When talking about Walmart Eric Garcetti said he does not want to subsidize the employees with Food Stamps. I guess he does not know that millions of small businesses employee people that are subsidized by government benefits because small businesses can not afford to give employees big salaries and health insurance and other "goodies" that city, state, and federal government provides. I guess Garcetti knows nothing about the hardships of small businesses, but seems only to critize Walmart. Garcetti and Perry did nothing about pension reform. It was brought up that police and fire contribute the most and that is 10%. Wow! That's all, only 10% ?? Amazing. Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez said they would reform pension plans and health care cost. It was a good night and the clear winners were Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez.
Creper Chimone February 13, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I attended the meeting. It did not change my voting I will still vote for Pleitez. Though I am afraid garcetti will win because of all the money he has. I laughed when he talked about walmart because those jobs that pay minimum wage with no health benefits will not be good for any workers who live in the city. they can't afford to work there. I saw wendy greule at the parklet opening she seemed insincere and it was funny she made out a piece of sidewalk to be a big deal. Pleitez seems concerned and smart and genuine.
Cerro Gordo February 13, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Mrs. Rocha, This is pretty off topic, but I'm curious. Do you ever consider moving out of LA? I mean, you really seem to hate it here. The only time you comment on here is to complain about something: too much crime, liberal local government, too many illegal immigrants, welfare cheats, oppressive parking meters, tyranny of bike lanes, church bells driving you over the edge, etc... I just don't understand why you're still hanging around this city. Have you ever heard of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho? You'd love it. It's 99% ex-LA people who got sick of it all. It's jaw dropping beautiful up there and no oppressive government putting in bake lanes. No illegal immigrants, no liberals, and most of all...no noise! Seriously, you could hear a pin drop at night. Anyway, I just don't get why you would stay in a place you seem to be so disgusted with. With a nom de plume like "nonoise", you have to admit that it's a strange choice for you to live in the second largest city in the country. Maybe you enjoy complaining.
nonoise February 13, 2013 at 06:18 PM
I agree that Pleitez or James would be a good choice. And, Creper, who is complaining. I stated just the facts. If you really cared about the city you would have been at the meeting or maybe you can not handle the truth.
nonoise February 13, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Cerro, sounds like your pretty angry by your angry rant. I try to better this city. You must be one of those people that do not want anything better for the city or anything to change. If you feel a need to force your noise on your neighbor, you must feel that rape is fine too. An intrusion into one's home is the same. There is no respect. I get it that some do not care about quality of life issues or maybe you do not want to hear it from someone of a different race/culture. You are showing your true colors.
Jennifer N February 13, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Good article, cuts through the fluff. Thanks to Monica Alcaraz for making this happen.
nonoise February 13, 2013 at 06:57 PM
It is a very good article. It gives the facts.
BOOMERHULK February 13, 2013 at 08:16 PM
BOOMERHULK ANGRY NO CAN CAUSE FURTHER BRAIN DAMAGE TO NONOISE. NONOISE CUT OFF NOISE TO SPITE FACE.
nonoise February 13, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Boomerhulk, what are you trying to say? I don't get it.
Cerro Gordo February 13, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Huh??? I have no idea where you got that I was angry. Did I dispute anything you stand for? You have made it very clear on this site how you feel about things. The city disgusts you and noise really bothers you. That much is clear. I am not saying you are right or you are wrong. I am not attempting to argue with you or change your mind about anything. All I was asking is if you ever consider moving to a place where they don't have all the things that seem to bother you so much. That's all. Seriously, read what I wrote again. There was no need to bite my head off.
BOOMERHULK February 13, 2013 at 08:58 PM
BOOMERHULK VOTING FOR PLEITZ OR JAMES. LIKE SMILING MANS WITH NICE WORDS. SMASH ALL OTHERS. NO CARE ABOUT COMPETENCE OR TRUTH LIKE CRAPER AND NONOSES WE VOTE WITH HULK INSTINCT LIKE CAT INSTINCT OR SPIDER INSTINTC BUT WITH MORE SMASHING
Nimby pimp February 13, 2013 at 09:01 PM
NONOISE. BOOMERHULK TRANSMITTERS RECEIVE ONLY WITH ART SCHOOL DEGREE. NO MFA, NO UNDERSTAND. OFF WITH NONOISE NOSE.
Nimby pimp February 13, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Cerro is giving you good, neighborly advice. He is not being angry, but sensitive. Think about it, noise. There are some nice cabins in Big Bear that we understand to be empty.
Brock S. Evans February 13, 2013 at 10:35 PM
So Wendy found it more important to be in SF than Highland Park? I have to admit I already decided I can't vote for a panderer with a terrible commercial who demeans the office, the voters, and even herself in a campaign beneath all our intelligence that is full of platitudes and knowingly disengenous mixing the discovery of "waste" - isn't that your job and should be a given for all? - with future savings that is not money returned to a budget, for shame Ms. Greuel, your promising career comes to a crashing end on the shores of reality. As far as Eugene, as much as I like and respect him, I don't believe that even a genius gets to start at the top with no mere service on the school board, city council, lowly board, commission, or any other collegial body to mature and sharpen your skills. Eric, after years of hiding behind your finger to the winds of uncertain political climate, and your neglect of the Silverlake Dog Park in your own district, how can anyone believe you could lead anything? So that leaves me with a courageous Councilwoman Perry unafraid to stand up to the powers that be, developer, social worker, or council president, in accomplishing what others can only dream of, a revitalized district full of new economic opportunity and rebirth for all, young and old, straight and gay, student and elder, homeless, artist, enterpreneuer and or just us run of the mill worker or retired residents happy to be surrounded by cafes, art, life. I am voting for Jan!
Brock S. Evans February 14, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Platitude is defined as a banal, pointless, unoriginal or empty comment. Such as in my opinion, Eric and Wendy’s knee jerk positions to solve the budget through finding enough waste, fraud to achieve budgetary nirvana, or pandering to employee unions behind closed doors. I appreciate and sympathize with your position on the farms, but it is not an example of a platitude. It is an example of an elected official bravely taking a clear position knowing she will anger some constituents. That is anything but a platitude. Although there seemed to be a dispute over the history, the outcome saddened me. With less than ideal candidates, voters need to evaluate their priorities, and I respect yours. I would never vote for someone who would eliminate the business tax as Eric has. It can only result in a regressive impact on low and working class, regardless of his platitudes contradicting such inevitability. EVERYONE must pay their fair share, including businesses. And while I may not agree with her on everything, I respect her record of civil rights, standing up to the Council President, and considering all the facts and the good of the whole community before making a difficult decision based on her judgment, regardless of the fickle direction of political winds. And don’t we expect our electeds to act consistent with their base? James is horrible; I don’t ever vote for Republicans. Pleitetz is smart and admirable.
Molly Taylor February 16, 2013 at 12:50 AM
I am voting for CHANGE, my vote is for Kevin James!
Brock S. Evans February 16, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Emanuel Pleitez brings progressive change. You like Kevin James, Republicans, Rand Paul, McConnell, all voted against violence against women act, right wing nuts is NOT the change LA needs, but it's your vote to waste for right wing extremism!
Culturevator February 18, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Yikes, Brock! Talk about platitudes. Have you read your last sentence? Please don't put Greuel in the same category as Perry and Garcetti. Unlike them, she never got to vote on any City Council issues. She was appointed to the seat as city controller. Perry/Garcetti are both partially to blame for their many failures to protect our taxpayer interests, and serve us. Playing to your base is de riguer for a councilperson. Wendy has not developed a voter base to pander to. Her approach is for true equality. Jan Perry destroyed what was the largest urban sustainable farming community of any city in the US, even with the Annenberg Foundation coming to the rescue with a check to buy the farm as a valuable community concept/resource. Then she has the gaul to talk about "green space". What a load.
Culturevator February 18, 2013 at 05:35 PM
If KJ ran as an independent, he might have stood a chance. Alas.
Samantha Newman February 18, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Playing the "right wing" card is getting really old. So is recirculating the same clowns in City Hall. Just saying......
Brock S. Evans February 18, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Greuel is worst than all execpt the Republican James. She hasn't taken one substantive postion on any issue of controversy. Like Eric, she would eliminate the business tax and worse than Eric, I guess she outbid him, she is pandering to both business and labor. By the time we find out what she promised to give away to unions and the film industry the budget will be beyond ruin. An honest person does not make back room deals or secret promises and she would sell out the farmers or anyone else like she has the public. Representing one's base and consituents is not pandering it's admirable and to be expected.
Culturevator February 18, 2013 at 06:54 PM
I simply dont agree with u Brock. Jan would be an embarrassment as a mayor.
Brock S. Evans February 18, 2013 at 07:10 PM
old or not, i would never support those who support a party that would deny my rights as a gay man, that has opposed equitable health care reform, deny women's rights, and includes such nuts as Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz but you can support any right wing misogynist homphobic party you want including gay republicans. and anyone can choose to support whoever they want as mayor but Jan Perry has never been an embarrassment to herself or any constituency and has always fought for the civil rights of everyone. calling her an embarassment is appalling and distasteful and not supported by the facts. I respect anyone who picks an issue and supports a candidate because of it but opposing your limited view which apparently had no support of the local residents and for which she had substantive reasons is not an embarassment, it is a disagreement among valid viewpoints.
Culturevator February 19, 2013 at 05:13 PM
@ Brock, Hold your spew,Dude. Last time I checked we ALL had the freedom of choice. Dem,Rep, or Indie. I get to vote for my candidate, and I see good/ evil on behalf of all parties. It's freakin' poly-tics,man. It's what we have to work with. Until someone comes along who is filet mignon, we have to choose amongst the lesser cuts. My complaint: I would like to see civil service, and the navigation of it, examined. Too many people on the city dime, do nothing, and can't get fired. Too many are skill-less relatives of someone in the heirarchy,who got them, and their mama, a job. Civil Service in a nutshell: Punch in, wash up, lay down, collect your check with healthcare with pension benefits,and complain that it's not your fault the city's broke, and so it's hard to do your job. Baloney!
Brock S. Evans February 21, 2013 at 11:54 AM
You are the only one "spewing" "dude". Like you and others, I am simply expressing my opinions and the reasons for them. No one on this page has challenged anyone's freedom of choice to vote for whom they wish. I have observed and occassionally been involved in local, state, and federal politics and elections since 1964. As a passionate believer in political involvement and awareness by all for my whole life I am pleased that so many continue to thoughtfully consider their options and continue to participate despite obstacles and increased well placed cynicism. I respect those who participate in activities that further the public interest, including the South Central Farms, and identify particular reasons or issues , including that one, as an informed basis on which to determine whom to support or oppose or who to vote for, much more than those who simply fail to be attentive, lump together persons with differential records and positions, and whether out of conviction, convenience, or insufficient time lash out at all incumbents and support all "outsiders" as if there are no significant differences within those groupings.
Brock S. Evans February 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM
However, when I see obvious contradictions or misstatements I am unable to resist pointing out facts. Such as the fact that as the one who won the bidding war for union endorsements by making promises behind closed doors without public disclosure that unions apparently found more generous than those offered by other candidates, Ms. Greuel would appear to be the candidate least likely to challenge the status quo of the city workforce or wildly varying employee benefits provided to workers represented by varying unions, the DPW union being the one with the most overly generous benefits. As the prime competitors for union support, I find no basis to expect that either Greuel or Garcetti will challenge unaffordable benefits or the status quo of workforce issues, nor any basis to believe they will suddenly abandon their practices of making backroom deals (redistricting among many others) without public input. Jan Perry has been the most vociferous in challenging the DPW workforce's inordinate control and unjustified perks and benefits while supporting the new DPW ratepayer advocate approved by voters yet ignored by the DPW commission and other council members. At the same time, Wendy and Eric are committed to ending business taxes and compete at how generous they can be to business as well at the public's expense.
Brock S. Evans February 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM
And Pleitez and James could not be more different, the former a progressive activist, and truly independent thinker, high potential for future contributions to public service, analytical skills and commitment to equitable public service for all; while, like it or not, James still belongs to a party controlled by the most far out right wing ideological homophobic, anti-immigrant, and misogynist forces in our nation's history, while they seek to maintain easy access to guns, construct barriers to voting access by many, prevent the elected majority from enacting effective solutions to improve the economy, and basically try to hold the country, the Congress and the President hostage to their increasingly outrageous destructive and dangerous demands unsupported by science or fact. The major political parties have distinct, historic and important differences. I would neither attempt to interfere with someone's right to support such dangerous nonsense than I would hold my breath and fail to point out the offensive bigotry hostility and incompetence of the Republican party.
nonoise February 21, 2013 at 03:48 PM
The mayor's race is non-partisian. It is not democrat or republican. Kevin James has worked for AIDS project Los Angeles. That gives him special qualifications. He has helped the gay community. He is not city hall as usual. The other city councilmembers have put our city in the bad condition it is in, broken sidewalks, broken streets, 50% drop out rate at LAUSD, broken bankrupt budget. No one should elect anyone that has a proven bad broken record. And, Jan Perry is a wasted vote. She is no Mayor Tom Bradley. Kevin James will bring change. No more city hall as usual. The best mayor Los Angeles had was Richard Riordan. Richard Riordan has endorsed Kevin James. He knows who is best for the job.
Brock S. Evans February 21, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Like I said, I've been involved in PROGRESSIVE PRINCIPLED politics since 1964. Of course I know the mayoral and council positions are non partisan and am familiar with Mr. James work for APLA. He is not the only one who has worked in public service positions for advocacy groups and I say a big so what to all that irrelevance. No matter to me on any of that. Mr. James can run for any office he wants and be a member of the political party of his choice. And my informed choice is to be supportive of my own and others rights. I have already described my view of the despicable bigoted Republican party that opposes the rights of gays, women and immigrants, opposes and is still trying to end Social Security, Medicare and Health Reform, and supports policies to help the rich and hurt workers and poor, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. No matter whether Mr. James or you or anyone else differs with Republican right wing orthodoxy on one particular issue or another. Anyone who is a Republican is supporting the party's interests and power base simply by being a member. Saying someone has 'special qualifications' whatever that means does not make it so. The city is not perfect, but like the Republicans who like to bash America when the Democrats are in power or the While House, you and Mr. James inaccurately describe and exaggerate the challenges the city faces. The city is not bankrupt at this time nor is the budget broken, just ailing for now.
Brock S. Evans February 21, 2013 at 05:57 PM
As you must know and as the current Mayor learned, the Mayor and Council have no actual authority over LAUSD, which has its own governing body. You don't like that board, run for office or support candidates whom you perceive will change things to your liking. While Riordan demonstrated a commendable commitment to public service, I don't believe that makes him the only expert. Nor do I think we should recycle or emulate officials from our past. Barack Obama is no Robert Kennedy, Luis Lopez is not Harvey Milk, kevin James is not Richard Riordan, and Jan Perry is not Tom Bradley, nor do I wish they were. We need leaders for the future not the past. The fact that some gay people are Republicans does not make the party's homophobic regressive pro wealthy policies any more palatable than gay Catholics make the Church welcoming to gay people. You can believe whatever you want but your are foolish to think that I would ever support anyone who belongs to a political party for which I have nothing but contempt and disgust. And I am not here trying to convince you or Mr. James or others that you are wrong nor am I delusional to think that I will change anyone's mind. I am here simply to articulate my own beliefs, the basis for my beliefs, and ensure accuracy in reporting.

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