After working in finance and education for several years, Odysseus Bostick decided last year to switch careers.
For Bostick, 36, it is much less of a mid-life crisis than what he thinks is an opportunity to, in his own words, “heal the community.”
Bostick, along with three other challengers, is vying to replace Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl in representing the largely coastal 11th District. Rosendahl, who served two terms in office after years as a cable television journalist and executive, is stepping down to fully recuperate from cancer of the ureter.
Attorney Frederick Sutton, city attorney Tina Hess and Mike Bonin, the councilman’s chief of staff, are also in the running for Rosendahl’s seat.
Bostick blasts Rosendahl and Bonin for what he calls mismanaging the district and points to an ongoing tempest in Venice over the creation of overnight parking districts and a battle between those who want the homeless removed from the beachside community versus those who would like to see them moved to transitional and eventually permanent housing.
He credited them for creating a plan called “Roadmap to Homes” that called for using city lots for those living in recreational vehicles to sleep until they find housing, but accuses them of essentially dropping the ball on the matter.
“After about a year, they didn’t follow through on things and they left the community of Venice on its own to deal with this issue,” Bostick asserted.
“It festered and people’s anxiety over entering into this relationship slowly deteriorated.”
Bostick, who has attended many Venice Neighborhood Council meetings, suggested that there was a direct correlation between some recent opposition to a storage locker in Venice for the homeless who sleep in the Westside winter shelter to store their belongings and what he claims was the councilman’s failure to follow through on the “Roadmap to Homes” initiative.
“It has created a lot of hostility towards each other and now people are automatically at each other’s throat,” he continued. “The lack of leadership and follow-through in Venice on this issue has directly created a wedge in the community that was perhaps there before but wasn’t exacerbated where it is now to where it is almost a dysfunctional relationship.”
Bostick also talked about recent neighborhood council elections, where there were renewed complaints about the integrity of the election process and how voters who do not live, work or own property cast ballots.
Once in favor of maintaining the current definition of a stakeholder, Bostick, during the interview, decided it would be much easier if only those who reside in a particular neighborhood be allowed to vote.
“In my opinion, neighborhood councils should be the incubators of public policy for the city,” he said.
The former teacher then revealed a plan that to date had not been heavily publicized. “I would like to work with neighborhood councils on a plan that would double the size of the City Council and cut their salary (currently $178,789) to $110,000,” Bostick said.
Pension reform and increasing the number of members of the council are two ideas that Bostick thinks separate him from his opponents. He feels the former is essential to moving Los Angeles toward sounder political footing.
Bostick acknowledges that police and fire are the two departments where reform is most needed. “Public safety pensions is where the issue lies,” he said. “The civil pension system is nowhere near as costly.
“So, my opinion is the civilian employees have taken all the furloughs, they’ve taken hits to their pensions and you don’t want to start laying them off.”
He also advocates a “performance-based budget” for the city. “This is not brand new to city governments,” Bostick said, although when asked, he could not name one that employs this financial strategy.
Performance-based budgeting, is defined by the National Conference of State Legislatures as “focusing on spending results rather than the money spent-on what the money buys rather than what is made available.” According to the USC Public Service and Policy Research, California has only recently begun experimenting with this type of budgeting. Minnesota, Texas and Oregon have longer histories using performance-based budgeting.
A counter argument, offered by Marc Robinson and Jim Brumby, who co-authored a paper for the International Monetary Fund in 2005, states, “performance-based budgeting models rarely make clear just how it is that performance budgeting is supposed to impact upon the work motivation of individuals.”
The fate of the north runway at Los Angeles International Airport is another topic that the challenger expounded upon.
“This is a very personal issue for me, because I live in Westchester,” said Bostick, who opposes relocation of the northermost runway.
He then took Rosendahl and Bonin to task for what he said is their failure to be direct with constituents about their influence with the airport or federal authorities.
“For them to say one thing to residents in Westchester when it isn’t within their (ability to stop expansion) is egregious,” he asserted. “The fact is that Westchester has been taken for granted and they have not done anything to pursue regionalization.”
Asked why voters in the 11th District should elect him to represent them for the next four years, Bostick responded, “I can work with everybody, I will work toward consensus and I am independent.”