GUEST COMMENTARY - When I came to LA 40 years ago---LA was an energetic, happening place--full of life--vibrant--entrepreneurial--with limitless possibilities---and there was a sense of joy throughout the city---
Randy Newman's "I Love LA" was the anthem---and when you told folks around America, you lived here, there was a knowing smile and a hint of I wish it was me. Yes, we have had our awful disturbances--Rodney King and the civil unrest that followed---but I always saw LA as an optimistic place where all things were possible.
Sadly over the last 9 years, that has changed---Garcetti has been one of LA's worst Mayors--and to paraphrase Will Rogers (a great American humorist from another era)--He never met a decision he couldn't avoid----3 major areas have grown during his time in office----crime is up (defund the police was idiotic--and led to the police being demoralized--does anyone believe the city is safer than it was in 2013) followed by the current DA who's idea of compassion has led to more lawlessness and more disrespect for the law; more people have left the city than arrived---and the homeless situation has reached crisis proportions. It's not about having the resources to solve the latter---we have the money-it's the will. The balkanization of government in Los Angeles---City Council--County Supervisors--and the Mayor---lead to the conclusion that no one is in charge....Camp Chaos.
For those of us who care about the future of our city, this election for Mayor is crucial to the city recovering the quality of life for all our citizens--a return to civility and safety for all. To understand where we are heading if we follow our current path---take a good look at Westwood. At one time there were many movie theaters, people were on the streets, and there was an energy in that community after dark. Today---not even close--most theaters are closed and night life is a sad shadow of what it was 30 years ago.
There are two candidates for Mayor--and while the Mayor of Los Angeles does not have the same power as the Mayor does in New York and Chicago, the office does carry the weight of a bully pulpit. Full disclosure--the two best Mayors of the city since I have lived here were Tom Bradley (a giant and a great leader for our city) and Richard Riordan (who knew how to get things done) --- in my opinion, all the other Mayors have been footprints in sand--ending with Eric---who has spent more time worrying about his next position than his current one.
The difference in the candidates is stark in terms of experience. One's career is in the legislative sphere and the others in the executive. One thing I learned in running various businesses over the last 40 years is that when you hire people put them into positions that they have the skills to succeed at. You can put very smart individuals into positions that they will fail at if they don't have the requisite skills and experience to accomplish the tasks in front of them. Football coaches don't become basketball coaches and vice-versa--and there's a reason for that----different skill sets.
Candidly, the City of Los Angeles today is a mess---there is an overwhelming sense that nothing works--the city is not safe and that the quality of life has precipitously declined over the last 9 years. In my opinion, we need someone to right the ship who has the ability and experience to make the tough executive decisions that must be made---and that means making decisions that are not always popular but are necessary. We need to get people off the streets over the next 12 to 18 months--not 4 to 5 years. This situation is totally out of control--and 70,000+ people are impacting the lives of more than 10 million. We have the financial resources---we currently just don't have the will. It requires bringing the city, county, and state together to create a solution that restores the streets to all the people who live here. I believe in compassion--but not compassion that negatively impacts every citizen in every part of the city. The Statue of Liberty says, "Give me your tired, your poor, etc." There is no statue in Los Angeles that says to the rest of America "give me your homeless"---the tail is wagging the dog and impacting every citizen's quality of life.
To be clear, I personally like and respect Karen Bass--I have supported her in the past--and she is a wonderful human being--but her skillsets are legislative--not executive. That's a big difference. This job requires someone with experienced executive skills and decision making ability--the city cannot afford someone who will be an extension of the current Mayor. Not to mention--the robbery in her home of someone taking her guns--is a message that the criminals think that she will be a continuation of the City's current policies--business as usual---nothing to fear. Becoming Mayor of Los Angeles is not the place to begin on the job training.
I'm supporting Rick Caruso--because, in this moment, in this time, the city needs a Mayor who has the requisite executive skills to lead the city and set the tone for the future. To be clear---I have not agreed with some of his positions in the past--and no one is perfect----but problems need to be solved by individuals who have the experience, knowledge, and capability to make difficult decisions. You lead by example and get others to follow you---otherwise you get a camel instead of horse.
Los Angeles is at an inflection point---what is our future going to be? More of the same will make more people leave the city and hasten its decline. We could have a trifecta of elected officials in November's election--which would change LA's theme song to "Exodus". We have Kenneth Mejia who called Biden a rapist---and is LA's version of Madison Cawthorn--- running for controller. He and his campaign manager disrupted two city council meetings because there was a motion--which subsequently passed-- to move the homeless 300 feet from every public school. Really?? That's not progressive or compassionate--that's just unbelievably idiotic---and shows why he is unfit for public office and its attendant responsibility to the public. Faisal Gill is running for City Attorney--and his level of compassion is not to prosecute people committing misdemeanors for a period of time---which will only increase the smash and grab incidents in our city.
The trifecta of Bass-Mejia-Gill will do irreparable harm to Los Angeles. This isn't about Woke--it’s about Waking Up and having real leadership in our city---otherwise, LA will continue to decline from its present situation.
No candidate can solve all the problems---but all journeys start with the first step. We need a strong Mayor to put Los Angeles back in its place as a great American City---that is why people should rethink their choices before it’s too late. For Rick Caruso--this is the right time and the right place---. The LA Times--one can only wonder about their thinking these days---says Caruso is trying to buy the election--and their coverage has been highly negative to his candidacy. Yes, he's successful--and yes, he's using his resources---that's what America is about--and his successes should be inspirational to young people in our city. Bloomberg used his resources to be elected Mayor in New York and he was elected three times---but even with his resources--he was not able to be elected President. The electorate is smarter than that--it’s not easy to "buy" elections -the electorate saw that his qualifications would work on a local--not a national level---and that applies here also.
All the opinions set forth here are mine---no one paid me to write them--and no one told me to do it---and many will not agree with me. I just think its so important that someone needs to say it.
Vote in November--and let us hope for the best.
(Fred Rosen is a retired businessman who resides in Los Angeles.)