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Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
If the candidates alone got to select the next mayor of Los Angeles, City Councilwoman Jan Perry would win the city’s top job in a landslide.
Asked by Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, who moderated a forum with the five leading candidates at his synagogue in Westwood on Jan. 29, who they would vote for if they couldn’t choose themselves, all four of Perry’s competitors said she would get their support.
The candidates gave varied reasons for selecting Perry: City Controller Wendy Greuel cited Perry’s record of creating jobs downtown and noted that Perry – like Greuel – would give Angelenos the chance to elect the city’s first woman mayor. City Councilman Eric Garcetti said Perry inspired him by fighting for the causes in which she believes. Kevin James, the lone Republican in the race, said he’d vote for Perry because she exposed “back-room dealings” at City Hall, and Emanuel Pleitez, a technology executive, also picked Perry for her “courage” in admitting mistakes.
[Watch the entire debate at jewishdebates.com]
Wolpe’s question was just one of a number intended to put the mayoral hopefuls off of their pre-scripted stump speeches. The candidates had met for a televised debate just 24 hours earlier and at least 18 more forums and debates are scheduled to take place between now and the primary election on March 5.
Despite the rabbi’s efforts, each candidate stayed mostly on message.
Greuel highlighted her work as controller in identifying waste, fraud and abuse, and pledged to be a mayor “for all of Los Angeles,” a slogan that also appears in her first TV advertisement, posted on her website earlier on Tuesday.
Garcetti pointed to his success at revitalizing Hollywood, pledged (along with every other candidate) to abolish the city’s gross receipts tax, and said he would continue his work to improve public education in the city, even if the Mayor’s powers in that arena are limited.
Perry said she would follow the example of former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, by advancing her agenda “in a hands-on way,” taking ideas to community members first. “By the time you bring it back into City Hall for a vote, you build energy, you build momentum, you build consensus and community support,” she said.
James, a first-time candidate, kept his message as clear as it has been from the start: Los Angeles is a city in the throes of a “leadership crisis,” he said, and the elected officials on the stage should be held responsible, not given a promotion.
“They are City Hall,” James said on Tuesday evening. “It is broken. They broke it.”
Pleitez sounded a similar note in his closing statement. “If you’re happy with the results and the experience, you have three great choices, and you should vote for them,” he said, referring to Greuel, Garcetti and Perry. “I present to you an alternative.”
Pleitez, for the record, was the candidate who Perry picked, in her response to the question that won her so much support from her opponents. Perry said she admired the 30-year-old candidate’s enthusiasm and intelligence.
Speaking to a reporter after the debate, she didn’t dwell much on her opponents’ kind words.
“The rabbi made this an unusual evening in the way he conducted the forum, and I really enjoyed it,” Perry said.
For full video of the debate, visit www.jewishjournal.com/debates.
5.15.13 at 4:51 pm | Attorney Ron Galperin is unhappy with Los Angeles. . .
4.25.13 at 12:28 pm | When Jesse Gabriel, an alumnus from the Jewish. . .
4.16.13 at 9:49 pm | “The appeal to violence and to extreme violence. . .
4.11.13 at 9:26 pm | Differences between the two veteran politicians. . .
4.10.13 at 10:29 pm | (Post includes a link to video of a one-hour. . .
4.4.13 at 11:35 pm | This time, he's off to Turkey.
5.15.13 at 4:51 pm | Attorney Ron Galperin is unhappy with Los Angeles. . . (612)
4.10.13 at 10:29 pm | (Post includes a link to video of a one-hour. . . (30)
4.16.13 at 9:49 pm | “The appeal to violence and to extreme violence. . . (29)
January 4, 2013 | 12:24 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
At a debate held on Thursday evening at Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills, five candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles may have been addressing a Jewish audience in an Orthodox synagogue, but the subjects they covered were anything but sacred.
Questions about economic development, public safety, education and traffic all were covered during the forum on Jan. 3, but the topic that brought to the fore some of the clearest distinctions between the candidates was the fiscal future of Los Angeles.
“Leadership is not telling people about what they want to hear, but what they need to hear,” Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti said when asked what he would do as mayor to help the city avert bankruptcy.
Los Angeles is facing a $222 million budget deficit, a sum that is only set to grow in subsequent years, and is driven in large part by commitments made by the city to its workers.
Story continues after the video.
In 2007, Garcetti voted for a deal to give city workers raises, which has helped contribute to the deficit. He told the audience of about 350 people on Thursday that he would negotiate “respectfully but tenaciously” with the leaders of public sector unions over the terms of their contracts.
The other two elected officials on the stage at Beth Jacob, Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilwoman Jan Perry, also voted for the 2007 pay raise, and each offered different ways of closing the budget deficit facing the city.
Greuel, who served on City Council before being elected Controller, emphasized economic development as a way of closing the deficit, but also said that some pension reform would be required, promising to crack down on the practice of “double-dipping,” when workers collect pensions while remaining on the city payroll.
Perry, who has said that she regrets her 2007 vote, spoke about refocusing the city’s attention on providing core services – like public safety -- and suggested Los Angeles might benefit from outsourcing the management of its convention center and the zoo, or privatizing those facilities completely.
Neither of the two other candidates who took part in the debate, Kevin James and Emanuel Pleitez, has held elected office, and both pointed to the past actions taken by the city as evidence that their better-known opponents were unfit to lead the city.
Pleitez, a self-described “progressive” candidate who just turned 30 years old last month and whose campaign reached the fundraising threshold to receive matching funds from the city two days before the debate, proposed raising the retirement age for public sector workers. Pleitez also advocated converting city worker pensions to 401k-style plans and generally adjusting the benefits so that workers pay more and the city pays less.
James, a gay Republican radio talk show host who whose campaign has been getting more attention lately, didn’t offer specific measures to reduce the deficit, but he did pledge to use the threat of bankruptcy as a bargaining tool with city workers. He called the actions taken by his opponents “municipal malpractice.”
The debate, which was moderated by Jewish Journal President David Suissa, was organized by CivicCare, a grassroots group dedicated to engaging and educating Jewish voters in Los Angeles on matters of importance to local governance.
October 23, 2012 | 12:41 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
By the third or fourth time Mitt Romney called the Iranian nuclear threat “the greatest national security threat we face,” a good number of the few dozen youngish Jews who had gathered at Federation headquarters to watch Monday evening’s Presidential debate appeared to have stopped listening.
Some were perusing their Twitter feeds, others were nursing plastic cups of kosher wine, and a handful were busy finishing off the sliders on pretzel bread on the buffet near the back of the room.
Even in the Federation boardroom, where there was no shortage of interest from voters in the candidates’ pro-Israel bona fides, people seemed well entrenched in their positions, and little they heard from the men projected on the two big screens at the front was going to change their minds.
“Certainly, the Israeli question is going to very important to me,” John Mirisch, vice mayor of the nearby city of Beverly Hills, told me near the beginning of the debate.
Mirisch, a registered Republican who’s a self-described social liberal (he’ll be voting for Prop. 34 on Nov. 6, which would abolish the death penalty in California), said he wasn’t too happy about casting his vote for either Romney or President Barack Obama.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been a fan of a candidate for President,” he said. “I was a fan of Al Gore.”
Well aware that the issues of greatest importance to most American voters are domestic, Romney and Obama frequently pivoted away from the prompts being lobbed at them by CBS News’s Bob Schieffer to address subjects including education, fiscal policy and who would best prepare America for another generation of prosperity and economic growth.
The biggest cheer from the crowd came from the more vocal of the Democrats, who exulted when Obama responded to Romney’s criticism that the U.S. Navy’s fleet was smaller than it had been in nearly a century with a barb about how the army also had “fewer horses and bayonets."
But as expected, the debate did feature a number of exchanges between the candidates about Israel. On more than one occasion during Monday evening’s debate, Romney made reference to the President’s perceived distance from Israel, a criticism that clearly had resonance among some at the Federation’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters.
The President’s supporters in the audience were audibly impressed by the response Obama had ready for Romney’s criticism of his not having visited Israel during his first term. Obama described his 2008 visit to Israel as a candidate and drew a sharp distinction between his itinerary -- which included trips to Yad Vashem and Sederot -- and Romney’s, which featured two fundraisers attended by wealthy Republican Jewish donors.
“His response about visiting Israel as a candidate was very effective,” said Leeor Alpern, President of the Los Angeles chapter of Democrats for Israel, who called the criticism of Obama for not visiting Israel “a straw man." The last two Presidents to visit in their first terms were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the latter for the funeral of the assassinated Israeli Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin, Alpern said.
Obama’s opponents, like Ron Rothstain, were undeterred. He pointed to President’s lack of a visit to Israel as just one piece of evidence of the friction he saw between Obama and the Jewish state.
“A couple of weeks ago, Bibi wanted a one-on-one meeting with him after the whole U.N. address, and he wanted to be on ‘The View’ instead, having no time to set aside for him,” Rothstain said a few minutes after the debate ended . “So clearly there are issues there.”
September 11, 2012 | 2:20 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Sheldon Adelson’s pledge to spend $100 million this year trying to elect a Republican President may have been eye-popping, but it’s not as large as the tax cut the billionaire casino mogul could reap should Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney be elected this November.
The potential windfall could add up to $2 billion over a four-year presidential term, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
That report, published today, adds up the impact of the lower tax rates proposed by Romney on Adelson’s various income streams, including executive compensation, corporate dividends, capital gains and corporate earnings.
Adding those numbers up yields a $2.3 billion tax advantage for Adelson under a Romney-style tax code.
The real monetary advantage of a Romney tax plan might not accrue to Adelson himself, but rather to his heirs.
“All of these figures are dwarfed by the potential tax windfall that Adelson’s family would receive from Gov. Romney’s estate tax plan,” writes report author Seth Hanlon, director of fiscal reform at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Estate taxes – “death taxes” in Republican parlance – have existed since 1916. Adelson’s net worth is estimated at $19.7 billion; the difference between what his heirs would inherit under Obama’s proposed estate tax plan and Romney’s total abolition of the estate tax is $8.9 billion, or 89 times what Adelson has pledged to spend on political giving this year.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund is the sister organization of the Center for American Progress, a nine-year-old resarch and advocacy organization founded by alumni of the Clinton Administration. Both organizations share the same overall progressive outlook, but the action fund is, under U.S. tax law, allowed to engage in direct lobbying activites in ways that the Center for American Progress cannot.
Click here (pdf) to read the report.