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City Hall: Grade for Homeless Crisis, F

DEEGAN ON LA — The far left Democratic progressives, hoping to increase their number of city council seat-holders, got one solid “yes” and two “maybes” in the recent primary election.

It’s a small, but incremental change that’s worth cheering by many, not as much that it brings in the radical left, but that it sends go-along-get-along politicos to the exits. 

As bad as being indicted for corruption by the feds, as a few council members have been, their failure to make a dent in the homeless head count is a scarlet letter “F” that hangs heavily from the necks of the mayor and many city council members. 

Their hapless approach to their civic responsibility has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and given these politicos a batting average well below the Mendoza Line in their “at bats” to hit home runs  for the homeless. The City Hall team needs a change of manager and players. The warning signs have been hard to miss. 

The radical left progressives are filling that vacuum, even if at a price. 

It took the defeated serial politico (state assembly, state senate, and city council) Councilmember Gil Cedillo (CD1) about two weeks to concede to what the voters told him, when they elected Eunisses Hernandez, that a change—even if it was a change into radical politics—was needed. 

Los Angeles Daily News reporter Elizabeth Chou tweeted that “I asked why there wasn't an explanation sooner, and was told Cedillo's council staff were greatly affected—traumatized—by the results of the race.”

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (CD13), facing a strong challenge by Democratic Socialist, and police de-funder, and jail abolitionist Hugo Soto-Martinez may be having the the next nervous breakdown. 

Hernandez, Cedillo’s replacement, is a political activist that led the successful “Measure J” charter reform in LA County.   

Measure J is a care first, jails last budget allocation for alternatives to incarceration. It would amend the county's charter to require that no less than 10% of the county's general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration. Although passed by the voters, it was challenged in court and stayed by a judge. The future of Measure J is pending. 

It’s too early to tell if this is a litmus test to how far the radical progressives can go before there is legal pushback to their plans, but some of their more radical ideas are sure to be challenged.

Council seats aren’t the only seats being targeted by the very far left. In citywide races, the storm also swept into viability Gina Viola, Faisal Gill and Kenneth Mejia as radical candidates for mayor, city attorney, and city controller respectively. 

Planks of their platforms include raising the minimum wage to $39 per hour that would give unskilled workers an annual paycheck of $81,120, defunding the police, putting misdemeanors on hold, treating serious-crime-committing-teens not as criminals, but as juvies, and abolishing jails. 

Collectively, these radical positions are going to shock an unsuspecting LA that will be getting politicos who they may have voted against, if they had been paying attention and voted. Turnout in a primary is typically measly. 

The far left Democratic Socialists of America-Los Angeles (DSA-LA) took a roll of the dice with Nithya Raman (CD4) in 2020. This cycle, they hope to increase their seats and are on track to do just that. Next cycle, 2024, may be the steamroller that crushes the political status-quo. 

The radical-progressive scorecard now looks like this:

  • 2020 - one elected councilperson.
  • 2022 - possibly 3 more councilpersons, a city attorney and a city controller.
  • 2024 - all 7 even-numbered council seats will be available. 

If the DSA-LA radical-progressives continue to make inroads, by 2024 they could hold 12 city offices, although just 8 seats would be needed to give them a majority in the city council. They will then own LA.

 

(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose Deegan on LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appear in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at [email protected].)