How Did A Bernie Loving Democrat Support Rick Caruso for Mayor?

THE EASTSIDER - As it turns out, it has been easier than I thought. 

As a Bernie small ‘d’ bottom up democrat, it is not surprising that what I see in the City of Los Angeles  are a bunch of corporate Democrats that vote 15-0 to turn the City over to developers and those who gave them enough money to close the deal. 

Then, there’s Eric Garcetti, the outgoing Mayor whose schemes collapsed when he couldn’t get the 2024 Olympics. He spent most of the rest of his time looking for another job. 

You know, the Mayor who who created the criminal conspiracy that just landed David Wright a 6 year jail sentence. 

The Twelve to Five to Three Candidates

Even though the press has shrunk the candidate list from these twelve, who are actually running, down to five they consider.  Let’s give credit to those brave enough to get on the ballot; Rick Caruso, Mike Feuer, Craig E. Greiwe, Alex Gruenenffelder, John Jackson, Andrew Kim, Ramit Varma, Gina Viola, Mel Wilson, and Kevin de Leon. 

Since no one can remember all of these names, the press quickly shrunk the list to a top five, with the others polling so low it is unnecessary to actually remember their names  and their platforms. 

And by now, it isn’t really about five candidates anymore, it is about three, if you include the Eastside Wannabe, Kevin De Leon, my very own Councilmember in CD14. Last I checked, he was polling under 3%, which is a gift, given De Leon’s selling out of his constituents. Take the Metro’s NoHo to Pasadena BRT, where he’s willing to destroy Eagle Rock for what? Or the toxic soil under the childrens parklet on York Blvd, which he simply ignores. All in his first actual term. I could go on, but you get the point. 

Then There’s Karen Bass

I like Karen Bass.  She’s a native Angeleno from Venice & Fairfax. Most people don’t know it, but she became a Physicians Assistant at the USC Keck School of Medicine. And then went on to get a MSW  (Masters of Social Work) degree 

She’s also a seasoned politician representing the westside and a good chunk of South LA in the State Legislature from 2004-2010. In 2010 she was elected to the US House of Representatives, and has been there until deciding to run for Mayor. Even as Eric Garcetti presided over the slow motion destruction of the City of Los Angeles. And as he jetted over us looking for another job. 

Under normal circumstances, she would be a lock for Mayor. She is a very good consensus democratic politician. Circumstances are far from normal today in Los Angeles, however.   We have a literally missing Mayor, other than photo opportunities.  We have a 15-0 City Council of dems who have been selling off their piece of the City for years, divided the homeless into 15 problems where each Councilmember gets to decide who’s encampments get trashed, where the police really appear, and where the next unoccupied luxury apartment complex gets built after they get their cut. And they are almost all corporate establishment democrats. 

That’s the real problem.  She’s been in DC too long as our City and County have drifted apart, with oversized egos and undersized solutions.  Look at the recent LA  Homeless Settlement, for example. You can find my recent article here. 

“It appears that the County of Los Angeles has decided to litigate instead of signing on to the deal. This is big, not only politically, but in terms of programs and dollars. The County has the action in terms of the support services designed to get the homeless reintegrated back in to the community and no longer homeless. 

Also, remember, the County is the biggest slice of LAHSA’s budget, as I wrote here. 

“Anyhow, LAHSA’s revised 2020-2021 Budget is a whopping $591 million. That’s over 1/2 a billion dollars for one year. Their main revenue sources are the Feds (5.6%), State of California (15.4%), County of Los Angeles (56.6%), and the City of Los Angeles (22.3%)”.  

It defies logic that having the biggest chunk of LAHSA’s funding refuse to participate in the agreement, doesn’t kill the reality of resolving the underlying homeless problems. Current levels are clearly not working, and by choosing litigate rather than deal cripples the deal. 

And we know that they’re going to the mat from the Times article: 

“In recent weeks, county lawyers, along with lawyers for other parties in the case, known as intervenors, expressed frustration with how the negotiations were going. The county asked that the case be assigned to another judge and for the talks between the parties and the judge that occurred outside of court to stop. Carter rejected their request for reassignment.

Skip Miller, a partner with the Miller Barondess law firm and outside counsel for L.A. County in the case, said in a statement: “This lawsuit has no merit with regard to the county. It is between the plaintiffs and the city, and we’re glad they settled. We intend to litigate and win this case.”

The county is “doing everything possible to address homelessness without stigmatizing it as a crime,” Miller added. “Any assertion that the county has failed on this obligation is utterly baseless.” 

For me and CityWatch regulars, the hiring of Skip Miller tells it all. As our very own Eric Preven is fond of pointing out, he’s a master of billing and litigating at his hourly rate instead of settling.” 

So her hopes to get the City and the County to work together aren’t realistic, as they are already in litigation against each other. 

I simply don’t think that a decent, consensus oriented professional Democrat stands a chance against this bunch. 

Rick Caruso

I don’t personally know much about Rick Caruso, other than the obvious that he’s very very wealthy, and was good buddies with Bratton when he was police chief. While I hear mixed reviews on Bratton, one of my good friends is a retired LAPD Captain, and she swears he was the best  Chief of Police in LA before or since.  I trust her judgment on the matter. 

We do know he’s rich. In this case I think that’s good - he isn’t likely to get caught taking under the table cash from developers to fix the planning process, unlike my old Councilmember ‘God’s Gift to the Eastside’ Jose Huizar.  And other Councilmembers. 

When I lived in the Fairfax district, I spent quite a bit of time at The Grove, and it seemed to be very clean, well run, and a popular place to be.  Now I live in Glassell Park, and go to The Americana, which also seems to be very clean, well run, and a popular place to be. 

I also believe, although no one’s come out and expressly said it, that Rick Caruso is no dummy, and had to have in place for at least a year of so, a top notch team  evaluating a potential run for Mayor from every perspective. That’s what real developers do. 

Finally, although I haven’t seen anything in the press, the 2022 election cycle feels a lot like what happened that created the Secession Movement in the San Fernando Valley. 

In a very good article in the Daily News back in 2012 , Rick Orlov nailed it: 

“After simmering for years, the explosion that led to the San Fernando Valley secession drive ended 10 years ago today when voters in Los Angeles rejected the Valley’s effort to break away and become its own city.

The vote count reflected how divided the issue had left the city.

In the Valley, 50.7 percent of voters approved secession. If the measure had passed, the new Valley city, with some 1.35 million people, would’ve become the sixth largest city in the United States.

However, voters in the rest of the city opposed it substantially, so it only tallied 33 percent support overall. A companion measure that would have allowed Hollywood to secede also failed – both in Hollywood and the city as a whole. And a third effort to have the San Pedro/Wilmington area also secede failed to make the ballot.

“The one question I hear is whether there will there be another secession movement,” said Richard Close, who served as chairman of Valley VOTE (Voters Organized Toward Empowerment).

“I tell them, absolutely, yes. And, if that fails, another movement will start. Eventually it will pass. It will happen again. It’s just a question of when.”

The secession movement was driven by a sense that the San Fernando Valley wasn’t getting its fair share of services and political attention from the city of Los Angeles.

Close said he does not believe the Valley’s standing relative to the rest of the city has improved in the 10 years since the secession vote.”  

In an era with the City and the County fighting each other, with the head of LAHSA resigning because the mess is unmanageable, I think Rick Caruso is the only real candidate with a legitimate chance to be a game changer, no disrespect to Karen Bass. 

So there you have it. The tale of how a Bernie Democrat is Voting for Rick Caruso. We put up our CARUSO sign yesterday 

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)