- Written by Ken Alpern
12 Oct 2012
LA POLITICS - I was one of those who first met with former talk show host and moderator Bill Rosendahl 8-9 years ago when, after years of pro-developer politics destroying the Westside, and after years of half-hearted transportation advocacy and worsening traffic, and after years of top-down City Hall politics, I actually met a Man of the People who was not only “mad as hell and wouldn’t take it anymore”, but a man who was determined to empower the ordinary, unrepresented resident of the Westside by running for CD11 Councilmember.
Perhaps we ought to change the minimum age of running for office to age 60, which Bill Rosendahl reached during his first campaign to succeed termed-out Cindy Miscikowski. I liked and respected Cindy, and I liked and respected Bill’s political opponents as well…but absolutely no one wanted to fight simply to empower the grassroots, and absolutely no one wanted to run merely to make the world a better place, more than Bill Rosendahl.
The Los Angeles Times has described Bill’s recent announcement that he would focus on his fight with cancer (a fight he appears to be winning) and endorse his trusted chief of staff, Mike Bonin, to succeed him, and the accompanying twenty-minute diatribe, as a “bridge-burning” speech that (to quote Council President Herb Wesson) alienated “half the world.”
No offense, Councilmember Wesson, but if Bill had really wanted to alienate those political powers that would hurt his political future (should he choose to return to politics after a successful fight with cancer), he would have been far more biting and close to home with respect to City and County entities who dismissed Bill as a lightweight and someone who didn’t “play the game” at City Hall and the rest of Downtown.
And with all due respect, Council President Wesson, I think that after the recent council redistricting process, I would guess you’re the one who would be more easily accused of bridge burning—hard feelings from just about every community in Los Angeles now abound because of your efforts, which were anything but diplomatic.
As for Bill, well, I’m guessing his diatribe just made him more credible and likeable than ever as a street fighter who knows garbage and nonsense when he sees it. For example, does anyone really have any love for Philip Anschutz, the man who just sold out after we’ve altered our laws to create a Downtown Convention Center and football stadium, and does Bill’s characterization of Anschutz as a “punk” go far enough in the minds of Angelenos?
Bill made it clear that Westside mega-developers, including Playa Vista and Casden, who did and do have virtually the rest of the City Council wrapped around their fiscal little fingers, would have to play by the rules no matter what sort of money they offered to buy him off…which is not to say that developers aren’t still trying to break the zoning and infrastructure requirements of Los Angeles, but they’re not getting carte blanche like they’re used to getting.
Oh, and those pesky, annoying things called neighborhood councils? Bill Rosendahl actually listens and takes their motions seriously. From the beginning of his first election campaign, the advice he sought the most was from the grassroots, and to this day he’s had the courage to back off from some of his pet projects (usually to help the poor and homeless) when it became clear that legal problems and grassroots sentiment wouldn’t allow them to proceed.
Even those CD11 residents who oppose Bill’s aggressive advocacy on certain issues respect and like Bill as a man who will listen and try to accommodate homeowner groups, neighborhood councils and other volunteer grassroots groups who might not always agree with him. Bill has never stopped believing in his focus on empowering ordinary citizens who feel unrepresented in Los Angeles, and has never stopped building bridges to get things done.
Bill also made it clear that his very liberal leanings wouldn’t prevent him from embracing individuals of all political backgrounds. For example, my being a moderate-conservative Republican never stopped him from supporting my efforts to create mass transit and improve Westside transportation and other infrastructure, and his trust in the grassroots CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee we established remains unshakeable.
Bill did and still does never stop openly embracing liberals and conservatives, and cares not about whether Angelenos and Santa Monicans and other non-Angelenos live outside his district should they wish to play a role in improving the lives of both CD11 and the greater Westside. Other cities and special interests might not always respect Bill, or treat him very well, but he has always been as kind as he’s been intolerant of unfair play.
Unfortunately, Bill’s penchant for fair play and honorable behavior didn’t prevent his health from taking a dramatic and unexpected turn for the worse (Mother Nature’s a real witch, sometimes!), and it’s now time to pragmatically confront who should succeed Bill Rosendahl and continue his transformative representation of the Westside.
The obvious no-brainer of a candidate to answer this question is Mike Bonin, Bill’s chief of staff for roughly eight years, and who has been a trusted and savvy chief of staff and adviser to Ruth Galanter and Jane Harman as well. I can’t think of anyone, no matter what their background, who has the experience and respect for the Westside grassroots way of doing things as does Mike Bonin.
The Westside has, for the most part, been a rather serene and cooperative paradigm of political teamwork, and both Bill Rosendahl and Mike Bonin have been an integral and indispensable part of that paradigm. The grassroots gets represented, and the politicians of all political stripes talk with each other to get things done.
Mike Bonin is in very large part responsible for the Westside’s successful political atmosphere for the better part of the last decade, and the need for him to be elected in next year’s CD11 Councilmember race is vital to avoid the previous lack of representation that was all too often the case before Bill Rosendahl got elected.
And as for anyone who would accuse me of merely supporting Mike Bonin as a way to merely ensure a form of third term for Bill Rosendahl? Well, I would have to remind that person how little they know of Mike’s own behind-the-scenes and brilliant policy-making that has been the cause of so much of recent Westside progress.
But for anyone accusing me of wanting another four years or more of Bill Rosendahl’s pro-grassroots, pro-empowerment, pro-bridge-building and anti-corruption way of doing things?
My unswerving, unhesitating answer is, “DAMN RIGHT!”
Vol 10 Issue 82
Pub: Oct 12, 2012