Enough with the non-partisan elections
After all the money and rancor, another Los Angeles mayoral contest is in the books.
At the end of the day, Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti and opponent Wendy Greuel were very much mirror images of each other, governmentally as well as politically.
Both from the Valley and colleagues on the City Council, one had to win and one had to lose.
In the end, Garcetti ran the superior effort in managing to convince voters that Controller Greuel was a tool of the unions, especially the Department of Water and Power, which is hated by ratepayers, despite the fact that they had similar records in terms of supporting raises and promotions for that specific collective bargaining unit.
The race was not about the issues, but the style of the candidates as well as the endorsements they received.
Greuel could not hold her Valley base and failed to make any serious inroads on the Westside where she was beaten rather easily.
But to me, this election is a model example of why non-partisan primaries and municipal elections are anachronistic, dated and simply need to be scrapped.
With a turnout of just 20 percent in both the primary and runoff, clearly voters are not tuned in.
Elections in March and May just don’t work and voters have made that quite apparent with nearly 80 percent not bothering to participate. This is a structural deterrent to democracy and it needs to be addressed.
The Los Angeles Democratic Party does itself little good by enabling a process that enables Republican voters and depresses Democratic voter turnout.
Primaries by definition are party elections to choose a nominee. That process has been destroyed by “jungle” primaries and non-partisan municipal elections.
What’s the point of conducting non-partisan elections when all the candidates clearly identify themselves as Democrats and tout those party endorsements?
Wouldn’t a June Democratic Primary in a winner-take-all scenario be far more representative of voter sentiment and preference?
Wouldn’t it make far more sense to have both Democrats and Republicans select nominees like they do in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, where turnouts are double and triple that of Los Angeles, when selecting the city’s chief executive?
Moreover, the size of the Los Angeles City Council is far too small when compared to the same cities where New York has nearly 60 council members and Chicago over 50 aldermen.
Doesn’t expanding the size of the City Council offer more accountability and a sense that city government is not this detached reality that rears its head only at election time from downtown?
With no elections scheduled this year to my knowledge, a mayoral contest between the major party candidates on the first Tuesday in November would probably double the interest as well as the turnout.
The hard reality is that non-partisan elections depress turnout and offer the special interests far too much influence in a smaller voter pool. The millions spent went wasted on mailings people discarded and television spots few watched is evident.
Mayor-elect Garcetti would be wise to consider serious charter reform in the way city government elects its leaders:
* Implement partisan primary elections
* Hold these primaries on the first Tuesday in June
* Conduct the general election of the first Tuesday in November
* Expand the size of the current City Council from 15 to 30 members
* Recommend that the positions of city attorney and controller be mayoral appointees who serve with the advice and consent of the City Council
Eric Bauman and the Los Angeles Democratic Party would build a far better political bench of candidates because they will have more offices to run while turning out far greater Democrats in these city elections.
The Democratic Party is being stymied at both the city and county levels with these archaic, non-partisan elections that depress turnout, enable Republicans (especially at the county level) and have Democrats facing Democrats in these jungle primaries that only promote party in-fighting.
It’s a system that in my view would not stand a legal challenge in the courts.
It’s time for Democrats to openly oppose these non-partisan elections and sue for a system that allows Democrats to nominate candidates for public office in a far more responsible and partisan way that increases voter turnout and interest.
Election relocation headaches
We have heard a lot about poor voter turnout for the May 21 election. It is ironic because the location of our new polling place seemed designed as an obstacle course to discourage voting. If we did not live in Del Rey, I would strongly suspect it was an attempt at voter suppression.
I have lived in the Del Rey area for the past 36 years. During that time, our polling place has alternated between Short Avenue Elementary School, the clubhouse of the condos on Maxella Avenue near Alla Road, or the Marriott Hotel. For this election, it was at a new location, the Mirabella Apartments Clubhouse at 13701 Marina Pointe Drive.
Marina Pointe Drive is the name of Maxella when it crosses Lincoln Boulevard into Marina del Rey. The street is merely an access route to the huge apartment buildings and the underground parking for their tenants.
My next-door neighbor, who has some difficulty with mobility, asked if I could give her a ride to the new site. Since there is no parking on Marina Pointe, I parked in the Ralphs parking lot. We traversed Marina Pointe Drive and the circular driveway several times to arrive at the tall building, only to discover that the Mirabella Apartments are tucked behind the large buildings, down what looked like an alley but is still, presumably, Marina Pointe Drive.
Arrows printed on sheets of white paper and affixed to various poles flapped in the breeze as we tried to find our way. By the time we reached our destination, which was upstairs, my poor neighbor had to walk about half a mile.
It turned out that voters were allowed to park in one of the underground lots of the buildings there. Who knew? When we returned home, my neighbor phoned another elderly friend across the street to alert her to the set-up. Although she was able to finally park in the underground garage, she had a difficult time locating the Mirabella Apartments from her car because some of the signs had blown down.
While I appreciate the hospitality offered by the Mirabella Apartments, I feel sure that most voters from Del Rey were equally dismayed by the inconvenience of this new site. I hope they will do as I have, and let the County Registrar-Recorder know how they feel. My neighbor got no answer when she called the telephone number provided. I was more successful by making contact at their website: http://clerk.lacity.org/elections.
Traveling through Marina is an ‘obstacle course’
I have lived in the Marina for two years now and I can’t remember one single day when there wasn’t road construction on either Via Marina or Admiralty Way.
Over the past few months, I’ve watched workers tear up the road between Panay Way and Marquesas Way, only to repave it, then days later a different group tear it up again. What’s going on? Do not any of the Public Works departments communicate with each other?
It’s an obstacle course out there and I see near-miss accidents every day. I’m exhausted from the lack of traffic flow in a neighborhood area that should have minimal traffic.
Is this a question of job security? Are members of the public sector making sure they get paychecks during a difficult economy? Or is it Public Works managers who have no clue how to manage projects?
It needs to end. Get together, figure it out, minimize the destruction and waste, and let us travel without obstacles.
Marina del Rey
Many neighbors never asked for LMU parking charges
Re: “Master plan document shows homeowners asked LMU to charge for parking” (Argonaut, May 23).
In the article about Loyola Marymount University parking there are some whoppers of misinformation. The very title of the article misleads the reader: Master plan document shows homeowners asked LMU to charge for parking. While it may be true that some homeowners put for this suggestion, for whatever reason they had, the huge majority did not.
I quote this paragraph, “LMU officials seem perplexed that some residents who live within blocks of the university’s south gate on Loyola Boulevard are now complaining about recommendations that a representative group made on many of their behalf.” (sic)
Later, the same article quotes Richard Hofmeister, “Thank your for your professional courtesy service and on behalf of the McConnell Quality of Life Group we sincerely appreciate the hard work you and others in (the Department of City) Planning (sic) have done and will continue to do to make LMU’s master plan a rousing success. . . . . The long sentence concludes by saying that Hofmeister represented the homeowners group cited above in master plan negotiations with the university during the planning process.
Did the homeowners’ recommendation for paid parking on campus originate in this group, voiced through its spokesman, Hofmeister? This recommendation has nothing to do with the streets that lie south of LMU. Over the years the residents of McConnell Avenue have had their own problems with the university, which has made large concessions on at least two of the issues.
My wife and I have lived 46 years on Georgetown Avenue, seven houses south of West 80th, the street that runs east-west on the south border of LMU. McConnell runs north-south on the east border of LMU. I have never heard anyone on our street say that they have authorized the McConnell Quality of Life Group to speak for them on any matter.
The article says, “But a document obtained by The Argonaut shows that a group of residents representing the interests of the homeowners, largely from McConnell Avenue, actually were the ones who recommended that the Jesuit University charge parking fees and help create a permit parking district.” Let me be clear, the people on McConnell, whatever their desires might be, have not been given authorization by the people I know on Georgetown to represent them, and I know most of them. Kathleen Flanagan, LMU vice president of communications and government relations, is quoted as saying, “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.” She goes on to say in the quote that some of the same people who suggested terms of the master plan agreement are now protesting their own solution. I suggest that Flanagan is not only objecting to misinformation but spreading it.
Perhaps I should say where I stand in this town-gown controversy: in the middle. I am a professor emeritus of LMU. My wife earned her teaching credential by taking classes on campus. Both of my sons are graduates of the university.
I considered it a great privilege to teach in the philosophy department for30 years. I have wonderful memories from the years I spent on campus.