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Published on May 3rd, 2013 | by RLn Staff

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Ballots, Not B.S.

Garcetti, Trutanich and the Nnecessity for CD 15 to Step Up and Vote
James Preston Allen, Publisher

You can just hear the refrain from Harbor District residents in the mold of Roger Dangerfield: We get no respect, or the requisite amount of municipal services from downtown LA for that matter. From the local perspective, 26 miles from City Hall, it seems true enough. A member of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Board of Commissioners, Doug Epperhart reminds us that we are actually closer to the seat of government in Avalon on Catalina Island than to Los Angeles.

The real problem is that that all the political power is centralized and that the power bases of money and votes lay outside of District 15. When you hear the folks at the Port of LA complain about abundant community concerns in the harbor, it has something to do with Port of Los Angeles being the largest city department that is within reach of the citizens that’s most impacted.

In this campaign season, curiously, I have come to recognize one of the other issues in getting a hometown advantage or recognition in citywide politics. A great deal of the political donations that come to politicians campaigning here actually comes from donors who don’t live but does do business in the district.

One of the few hedges that this area has against political irrelevancy is the involvement of the powerful labor unions, particularly the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. In this mayoral race, Local 13 and Local 63 is split between the candidacies of Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.

Local 13, the largest of the longshore units, is supporting Garcetti in a big way. They gave his campaign office space in downtown San Pedro and provided lots of volunteers. The local has even spent a reported $200,000 on an independent expenditure campaign. In full disclosure, the back page of this issue (and other ads in area publications) was paid for by a portion of that independent expenditure money set up by Councilman Joe Buscaino’s supporters.

The political split between ILWU 13 and local 63 is a rare but interesting phenomenon, and has caused certain amount friction between the brothers and sisters of the waterfront. However, the unions’ political contributions do tend to offset the influence of significant private contributions emanating from the hills of Palos Verdes.

Having said this, let me remind you that advertising dollars does not influence my political endorsements. I have previously endorsed Garcetti in the primary and have found no reason to change that endorsement now. If anything, my endorsement of Garcetti has only been reinforced  since Greuel picked up the endorsements of former Los Angeles mayor, Richard Riordan (someone I detest politically) and the ultra conservative Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. Those two backers should “pickle” anyone’s support for Greuel!

Even though you can never be sure 100 percent, Garcetti impresses me as a candidate who says what he means, doesn’t change his position based upon who he’s talking to and clearly understands the economic importance of our port to the city.

However, I have been somewhat on the fence on the city attorney’s race until now. I have come to the conclusion that it is better to have at least one other elected officer of the city, outside of our councilman, who has to spend the night in our district.

Carmen Trutanich can be a really argumentative and combative SOB. I know this because I argue with him most of the time but at least he is our SOB and he does know this area and represents us relatively well. What more do you want from a lawyer who represents the city than an attorney who could argue a fence post into the ground? On top of this, having the city attorney living in our district does add weight to our potential influence at City Hall.

Even more important than the political money, are the votes, which were deplorably low in this city election. Only 9.39 percent of registered voters in Council District 15 in the March 5 primary–a number significantly lower than the 11 percent voter turnout citywide. If you are one of those who complain about getting no respect from Los Angeles,  consider this– if more of you actually voted in these low turnout elections, your collective influence would go up proportionately.

Only some 10,276 voters cast ballots in this district in the primary election which is something like .57 percent of the total number of registered voters in the City of Los Angeles! We could and we should be able to turn out double that amount of voters even to the extent of being the ones who tip the scale in a close runoff. This would earn us all some respect!

This low turn-out, this apathy towards civic affairs, is quite embarrassing when you consider that in other places and other times people fight oppression and often die for the right of suffrage, the right to vote. Have we become so blasé about our own futures that we can let a handful of corporations and wealthy elites run this city? No, the ballot box is still our best hedge against deceit of the monied interests.

Mark your calendars Tuesday May 21, ask your friends and neighbors to vote and don’t leave home without your sample ballot.<

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