LA Daily News Opinion Article-12-17-12

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Dec 18, 2012 No Comments ›› bleich

A Los Angeles mayoral debate report card: Opinion
LA Daily News
Posted: 12/17/2012 03:42:41 PM PST
Updated: 12/17/2012 04:04:37 PM PST

The prize: Los Angeles City Hall. (Getty Images)
Wendy plays rough. Eric is an excellent reader. Kevin is the class clown. Jan has interesting things to say and should express herself more.

A report card on L.A.’s mayoral-candidate class of 2013, based on the big four’s debate Saturday night in Little Tokyo, has to highlight style because the acknowledged front-runners are pretty similar on substance.

Some highlights:

• City Controller Wendy Greuel accused former federal prosecutor and talk-radio host Kevin James of running a “right-wing” show and insulting President Obama. It was Greuel’s sharpest moment of an event that suggested debating is not her greatest strength. And it probably was not a bad moment for James, a hint the highest-ranking elected official on the ballot sees the leading outsider as a factor in the race.

• City Councilman Eric Garcetti led off a round of answers about the Connecticut killings by promising to “be a national leader” for gun control. Garcetti portrayed himself as the hippest candidate on the stage by pulling out his smart phone to show off an app that finds open parking spaces in Hollywood. He also portrayed himself as the best prepared — maybe overprepared — by reading written-out answers from his lecturn.

• City Councilwoman Jan Perry also read some answers, but she had one committed to memory: Perry noted more than once that redevelopment projects in her district have created 90,000 jobs. This is a key claim for the self-styled pro-business
Democrat. In a lightning round of questions, Perry was the one candidate who said she’d consider a giant-soda ban like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s. And she was the one who, asked to name a favorite place, skipped obvious choices like Griffith Park (Greuel, James) and the L.A. River (Garcetti) and named the corner of Slauson and Compton avenues — the city park there, on a Sunday afternoon. We’d like to hear more about sodas and favorite places.

• James got the biggest laugh from the audience of nearly 1,000 with his answer to the lightning-round question: Paper or plastic? He said, “Boxers.” James, the only Republican and only first-time office-seeker in the race, aimed his sharp humor at the three City Hall insiders. After Garcetti and Greuel talked tough on budget-cutting, James said: “My opponents have been in office for a decade and they’re just now thinking it’s time to get serious.” Later: “We have a leadership crisis. My opponents are the leaders who’ve caused that crisis. And they want a promotion.”

The debate was put on by the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters and the League of Women Voters, and televised on channel 7. Most questions pertained to the environment and transportation.

The three Democrats talked up their efforts to make it a greener city. Greuel said she would restore a city department to deal with the environment, Garcetti touted a plan to clean the air and water and create 20,000 jobs, and Perry envisioned “a city where you don’t need cars”; James noted that the subway to LAX stops 1 1/2 miles from LAX, and added, “Yes, my luggage has wheels on it, but I don’t want to drag it a mile and a half.”

The primary in the election to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is March 5.

— Kevin Modesti

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