Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walter Moore for City Council!

In the recent special election in CD 2, the eight underfunded grassroots candidates got their collective rear-ends handed to them by the special interest money that flowed freely into the campaigns of Paul Krekorian and Christine Essel. The money worked wonders at spreading their message -- while the candidates who didn't have that type of money didn't even come vaguely close to winning. These results were extremely unpalatable to Neighborhood Council members and local activists, who had warned many voters of the pain of an Essel-Krekorian showdown in December. Even though the other candidates had also warned about this, they didn't effectively get their message out. What many of them had feared eventually became a reality. Essel and Krekorian will chase voters one more time in December. The other eight candidates will watch from the sidelines in despair, thinking about what could have been. This was an election that was clearly up for grabs.

88% of the voters in CD 2 didn't bother to go vote. A mere 5000 votes would have given any one of them first place in the primary and a spot in the runoff. I am quite sure that many of them are regretting their decision not to go door-to-door and seek votes in person. (50 people a day times 100 days equals 5000, right?)'re probably asking yourself -- what does this have to do with Walter Moore? The answer is that many of the Los Angeles City Council seats are going to be up for grabs in 2011. That might seem like a long time to you, but it really isn't. The City election is on March 8th, 2011. That is only 526 days from now. That might seem like a lot, but it really isn't. About a year and a half. Time for a candidate to start to get to know as many voters as possible in that district. It is time for the activists in this City to start deciding who they can get to replace some of the horrible Council Members in the even numbered Council Districts - all of whom are up for election in 2011. Even the newcomer, whoever it will be..(Essel or Krekorian)...will have to defend their seat.

Voters will finally have a chance to be rid of Council Members like Tom LeBonge, Tony Cardenas, Bernard Parks, Herb Wesson, Greig Smith, and Jose Huizar.

Voters also had this opportunity in March of 2009, but several candidates, including some horrible Council Members -- like Richard Alarcon and Jan Perry -- didn't even have an opponent in the election! Activists need to make sure that this trend comes to an abrupt end. We are clearly seeing now how the bankrupting of the City and the looting of its tax dollars happens when the wrong people are in power. How on earth were the voters in Council District 7 and 9 ever supposed to expect change - when change was not available on the ballot?

Walter Moore ran for Mayor in March. He didn't win, but he spent over $300K on his election efforts and managed to come in second place and draw about 72,000 votes citywide. This earned Moore some political capital. People know who he is and many people voted for him. In fact, in Council District 12, Walter Moore got 40% of the vote. I think that in 2011, it wouldn't be difficult to get 51% of the voters to support him.

I have already communicated with Walter about this. He says he is not interested and he is out of politics. OK. He says that now...but I notice he couldn't help getting involved in the CD 2 election and endorsing Mary Benson. Walter told me he wants to change the City and can only do that as Mayor. I disagree.

Council Member Herb Wesson likes to talk about "the power of eight" .... getting eight Council Members to agree to vote for something to make sure it passes. There is great power in that. Activists need to find eight good people in which they can place their trust for the future of this City.

Is Walter Moore a perfect candidate? Of course not. He is flawed like everyone else. But he is well known for his anti-Villaraigosa message and many people have been willing to vote for him in the past. When we were both running for Mayor in March we took a few jabs at each other...but I regarded this as political campaigning and bear no grudges against Walter. I respect his skills as an attorney and agree with many (but not all) of his political policies.

But Walter doesn't live in CD 12, you say? Who cares? The City has shown that it not only doesn't care about actually encourages it! Neither Krekorian nor Essel live in CD2 now, nor did they live there before the election, yet one of them will be the next Council Member for that district. To be honest -- even though I criticize them for it -- I don't think the issue is a big deal. So what if someone has to drive an extra mile or two over a non-existent imaginary line? It is all quite silly, really. I don't have a problem with anyone running for any office that they live within 10 miles of.

Walter Moore needs to start looking for a cheap, phony apartment in CD 12. Mitch Englander isn't much of a candidate. Moore is staring a golden opportunity in the face. Let's hope he changes his mind.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Funny Money

Candidate Votes Expenses Cost Per Vote

Tamar Galatzan 1,871 $73,534 $39.30
Joe Essavi 306 $12,089 $39.50
Chris Essel 4,104 $321,464 $78.32
Michael McCue 339 $166 $0.48
Pete Sanchez 699 $2,698 $3.85
David Saltburg 410 $0 $0.00
Frank Sheftel 441 $6,943 $15.74
Paul Krekorian 4,929 $225,256 $45.70
Mary Benson 1,198 $3,401 $2.85
Augusto Bisani 158 $3, 178 $20.11

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CD 2- The Aftermath : The "Blame Game" begins...

Last night was a stunning rout for the "Big 2" carpetbaggers in the Los Angeles City Council special election for District 2. Burbank Assemblyman Paul Krekorian and former Paramount Pictures movie executive Christine Essel are headed for a dramatic runoff in December. The night was filled with laughter for some, but it was also filled with tears and self-doubt for others. As usual, it didn't take long before angry supporters of the defeated candidates started to play the "blame game"as to why the District will now be subject to a runoff between two candidates that many neighborhood activists despised. Why did things happen this way? Let's review....

Paul Krekorian - Paul ran the best race. He was organized and his forces worked effectively for him. He made sure to get out the vote... both the mail-in and the polling place votes. However, he had to be disappointed with finishing with less than 40% of the vote. As an Assemblyman, he was the only big name politician in this race and would have preferred winning outright. Now he has to face a dangerous Chris Essel...who may be so overjoyed to have made the runoff that she might go raise a million bucks to take Paul down in December. Paul can blame repeated attacks from the other candidates for lowering his numbers, although, as a serial "Runaway Politician", Krekorian has his own behavior to blame for some of it.

Chris Essel - Many of the other candidates can point the finger of blame at Chris Essel. Although Essel stumbled badly at the forums and debates, most voters never saw those performances. They did, however, see the bright, shiny and happy mailers that arrived in their mailboxes week after week. TV commercials, robocalls from Wendy Gruel...Chris Essel showed that ...yes...quite often elections do come down to money. She had it. She spent it. She got the votes. However, she did get shockingly low results from her cash outlays. Chris Essel spent over 320K on this election...and got 4,104 votes. That works out mathematically to an eye-popping, mind-boggling total of about $80 per vote!! This has to be some type of world record. At least an American political record. If Chris is committed to spending this type of money to win a City Council seat...maybe she should just walk around CD 2 handing out $100 bills. She would definitely get a bigger turnout for that....that's for sure.

Tamar Galatzan - I got a terse email from Tamar Galatzan last night. She wasn't happy. That is easy to understand. She doesn't like to lose. Although I started out as vocal critic of Tamar, I eventually grew to like her and respect her as a candidate. She is tough, she is a fighter and she really wanted to win this election. She kicked some butt at the forums and debates and showed real leadership ability. However, she finished in third and won't be the new CD 2 Council Member. Not for now, at least. Politics is a cyclical game and Tamar has to understand that a defeat isn't the end of the world. I'm sure she'll win an election for something else in the future. Tamar can blame the other candidates for their aggressive attacks and criticisms of her as a runaway politician, but the biggest culprit in her defeat last night was that gigantic pile of Chris Essels money.

Mary Benson - Mary Benson did very well in the election, coming in fourth place. Not bad for a woman who didn't raise or spend a lot of money on her campaign. Mary can point the finger of blame at several things -- some of it just plain bad luck. The Station Fire, which preoccupied a lot of her supporters in the heart of the campaign, cost Mary a lot of time and energy. Mary got an endorsement from Kevin James, but it came very late in the campaign. Walter Moore tried to help her also...but it was a case of too little, too late from Walter.

Joe Essavi - Michael McCue - Pete Sanchez - David Saltsburg - Frank Sheftel - Augusto Bisani

I am lumping these candidates all together because none of them had a decent showing in this election. Pete got about 700 votes, but all the rest got under 500. It took them 500 signatures from District 2 voters just to get them on the ballot. If you can't get 500 votes in the election, then your support actually dropped during the campaign. Voter apathy was terrible. The 14, 525 votes cast was only 11.74 % turnout. Horrific.

Fans and supporters of the 8 who didn't win - There has already been a lot of finger-pointing and acrimony over the results. More people voted AGAINST Krekorian and Essel than voted for them. Unfortunately the vote was too scattered. Fans and supporters of Mary Benson and Tamar Galatzan have been heated on the blogs...saying how all the other candidates should have dropped out and supported one of them. It is an interesting idea. The combined votes of the 8 who didn't win would have totaled 5,422 if added together. Enough to claim first place and a spot in the runoff. Instead, we have 8 upset candidates watching from the sidelines in December as the two most-disliked candidates have a runoff election.

Many have suggested they should have brokered a deal before the election. Unfortunately, politics doesn't work like that. There are egos and emotions involved. The time for discussing that type of grand strategy -- and believe me, it happens -- was the first few days of the campaign. Maybe the candidates should have talked soon after they found out who was going to run from the City Clerk. It is often difficult to get candidates to agree to this type of thing. The last few days of the campaign was not the time to be discussing this, though. The big winner here was Louis Pugliese, who made it on the ballot, but dropped out immediately because he didn't see a way for him to win.

Eric Hacopian/John Shallman - The "Black Ops" consultants for each candidate. Hacopian can blame Shallman and Shallman can point the finger at Hacopian.

Republican Party of Los Angeles County (RPLAC) - Yes, I hate to say it, but my own party shares some of the blame for this outcome. My God, it only would have taken 4,200 votes to get Joe Essavi or Mary Benson into a runoff election for a City Council seat in a District with 123,000 registered voters. RPLAC did send out an email asking people to support both candidates, but if RPLAC had a team of 200 volunteers show up and walk precincts and phone bank ... ohhh. It really hurts to think about it. Especially in this City where we are so outnumbered.

Voters of Council District 2 - Faced with the ballot choices of two horrible carpetbaggers and eight community members, 88% of the voters in CD 2 did not bother to vote for a new City Council Member ... a person that will probably influence their lives for years to come.

Sometimes in politics, you get the government you deserve. (And that's not always a good thing.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Election Day in CD 2! And the "Little 7" would appreciate your support!'s finally here...Election Day in the City Council Special Election. The "Little 7" candidates...the ones who didn't spend a quarter million dollars on their campaigns...they would appreciate your vote today.

If you vote for the "Big 3" candidates -- (two of them carpetbaggers) then nothing is going to change at City Council. More 15-0 votes. More bankruptcy talk. More slashing of crucial services to pay for ridiculous social programs and Villaraigosa's failed attempt to hand your tax money to gang members to encourage them not to commit crimes anymore. (Hard to believe that government program didn't work!)

PAUL KREKORIAN - The Higby-endorsed Burbank Democrat has been leading this race from the start. He was crafty enough to rent his apartment in CD 2 before the final election totals were in on Wendy Gruels race for Controller. He has finely-tuned political instincts, and will probably get 30-40% of the vote today. However, you should avoid voting for him. His performances at the debates and forums exposed him as being arrogant and selfish. His election to CD 2 would cost voters another million dollars for the special election to replace him in the State Assembly. And if he is willing to turn around and abandon his voters in Burbank and Glendale after only six much do you really think voters in LA can trust him? There is also the issue of him being a budget-destroying Socialist. He helped vote his way through the entire State budget -- and then some -- and he helped put California on the brink of bankruptcy. No excuses. Do not vote for Paul.

CHRISTINE ESSEL - Chris Essel has seen some of her best moments in this campaign met with the sound of crickets at forums and debates. She may be wealthy, but she is not deeply connected to the community. There seems to be no love for her. However, her endorsement from the LA Times may carry some weight with certain voters. Her carpet-bombing media campaign has left her quite famous and well known...but not necessarily well liked. Essel is in danger today of being surpassed by some of the other candidates because voters aren't "feeling" her. There is a danger Chris could crash out today and not make the runoff. If she does, it would be a costly misfire. I wonder if on Wednesday morning - should she lose - if Essel will go out in her front yard, fall to her knees, throw her hands to the heavens and scream (like George Costanza ) "SHALLMAN!!!"
Because of all her failings in the campaign (see multiple Mayor Sam stories) she is not the choice.

TAMAR GALATZAN - I had originally labelled Tamar Galatzan one of the "Axis of Evil candidates" for her ties to the politically poisonous Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. However, I may have been too quick to judge her... she says she is on the outs with the Mayor and her lack of labor endorsements or positive words from Antonio seem to back this up. Tamar has proven to me in the forums that she is a fighter...that she is very well prepared...and that she wants this job more than anyone. I have come to gradually respect her and her efforts.
She is the least offensive of the Big 3 candidates, and of the three, I could only see her having the ability to beat the other two. However, Tamar made a promise to voters to serve as a member of LAUSD Board. For reasons of personal integrity, she needs to keep that promise. are the 7 candidates that you should consider...

FRANK SHEFTEL - Frank has been making positive moves for his whole campaign and has organized and run a real campaign with a headquarters and volunteers. I think he has done a better job than most of the grassroots candidates and will probably surprise a lot of people today with his good showing in the election. Frank has stayed out of the crossfire of the Big 3 candidates and has spent his time seeking votes and meeting voters. That will show up in results today.

DAVID SALTSBURG/ZUMA DOGG - David has been fighting for the community for three years now, trying to stop shady behavior at City Hall. He surprised many media members by finishing in fourth place in the Mayoral election just a few months ago in March. His showing will probably surprise many again today. Tomorrow morning he will still be "Zuma Dogg"...but will he also still be a Council Candidate?

MARY BENSON - Mary got the last-minute endorsement of KRLA Radio Show Host Kevin James. She also had former Mayoral candidate Walter Moore support her by dropping a ton of emails on his former supporters. One of the Sunland-Tujunga area supporters of Mary that I talked to described her actions during the Station Fire as "heroic". That is a word you don't hear attached to politicians too often. Will it be enough? We will know later tonight.

JOE ESSAVI - Joe is a friend of mine and I hope he does well today. He is unselfish and committed to doing the job. He also made Paul Krekorian look like a complete jerk at one of the forums. Something for which the voters in CD 2 should be thankful. He took some collateral damage that night, but in doing so -- he may have saved the whole district from the wrath of Krekorian.

MICHAEL MCCUE - McCue consistently gave stellar performances at the forums and debates. He also has the support of the Green Party. Not sure if that will be enough today, but he would not disappoint voters if he were elected to City Council.

PETE SANCHEZ - Deeply admired in Valley Village, Pete impressed many with his calm, cool, collected and analytical behavior on the campaign trail. He didn't seem to burn any bridges, and his endorsement will be sought by others if he doesn't make the runoff tonight.

AUGUSTO BISANI - Augusto is a nice guy with some good ideas...but I don't think he is cut out to be a politician.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Zuma Dogg : "Fighting for the voice of the community..."

David Saltsburg/Zuma Dogg in his most blistering attack on "The Big 3" money candidates.

I think it was the best moment of the election campaign.

Saltsburg called me this morning and said "Listen man... If the other candidates can't do the job, then don't vote for them. They are going to be swimming with the sharks down there at City Hall."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chris Essel self-destructs at S.O.H.A.

On Wednesday evening the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association held the last forum for the special election on September 22nd to fill the vacancy on the City Council in the 2nd district. All the candidates attended, and most of them had really been looking forward to this forum. Except Chris Essel. Essel really got hit from all sides tonight and things did not go very well for her.

After some very standard and routine opening statements, the forum got into what was the most exciting element of the entire election. Candidates were allowed to ask specific questions of their opponents -- and the way they delivered those questions was a subtle kind of scorching indictment of the other candidates behavior or character. Most of the candidates had been waiting for this moment to go after any perceived flaws or weaknesses in their rivals. Unfortunately for Chris Essel, because of her big money raising advantage, many of the candidates decided to target her. And again, unfortunately for Chris Essel, she didn't seem ready for it.

Let's get to the action...

Frank Sheftel - Tamar Galatzan : Frank discussed how Tamar is on the LAUSD Board and how the schools are closing and there are big problems at LAUSD. He asked how she could justify leaving. Tamar countered by saying she had brought resources and new computers to the schools. She also said she had helped take 6 closed schools and have 4 of them opened up to the idea of being charter schools.

Augusto Bisani - Paul Krekorian : Augusto asked Paul if he would run for City Council if the salary were only 80k per year. Paul said "Yes! And I hope voters would vote for me."

Tamar Galatzan - Chris Essel : Tamar talked about how much she had worked for the Valley in her job at LAUSD and how many forums and groups she had spoken to. Tamar then turned and shouted at Essel .."I have NEVER SEEN YOU at any of these community meetings!". She asked Essel to name any meetings she had been to prior to running for this office. Of course, Essel couldn't name any. It was a devastating blow. Tamar was basically calling Chris a phony and Chris didn't have an answer to counter the attack. Chris gave some generic answer "I'm a businesswoman. I lived in the Valley for thirty years".... blah blah blah... -- it didn't work. Essel had been badly wounded by this attack and never recovered.

Mary Benson - Tamar Galatzan : Mary Benson asked Tamar Galatzan if she would reimburse the City for causing another special election for her LAUSD seat. Tamar started answering about how she would prefer appointments to the seat to save money on elections, when suddenly a heckler in the crowd shouted something at her. She shouted the heckler down, saying "Don't interrupt me!" -- the heckler didn't disturb anyone again.

Pete Sanchez - Chris Essel : Pete talked about SB1818 and how Essel was previously for SB1818, but then at the Valley Village forum, she said it was "wrong." Chris answered by saying she never said she was in favor of SB 1818. She said she was working in the entertainment industry and trying to make things better there.

Paul Krekorian - Chris Essel : Paul was eager to go after Chris, but realized that Pete had just stolen his question, so he asked Chris to restate her answer in more detail. Paul pointed out that when Chris Essel was President of the CCA she had called SB1818 the "crowning achievement" of her group. Chris again gave some nonsense answer. "I was a neighborhood advocate" and "I repopulated my board with activists". When she was done, all you could hear was the sound of crickets.

Mary Benson - Chris Essel : Chris was clearly not happy when Mary Benson became the third straight candidate to go after her. Mary asked if Christine would support CD 2 and keep it all Valley if there were redistricting after the census in 2010. Essel said she saw "no reason to redistrict."

Luckily for Chris Essel the next question finally went to someone else. But Chris did something I didn't like. She stepped back from the table and stood about two feet behind everyone else. She was clearly angry at being attacked by all the other candidates and stopped smiling at or even looking at the crowd. (See the photo at the top of this story) Not good.

The other ugliness tonight happened between Paul Krekorian and Joe Essavi. (below)

Joe Essavi - Paul Krekorian : Joe Essavi directed his question at Paul Krekorian and decided to expose a weakness of Pauls. Paul had said at other previous forums he doesn't want to take a salary cut at City Council. Joe asked him if he would make the same pledge that Joe had cut his own salary at City Council. From the 178K that the job pays, he would give 90K to Neighborhood Councils. Pauls response badly damaged his candidacy in this election. He was kind of smarmy and snotty in his response when he said "That's an impressive pledge, Joe...seeing as you have so much on the line... and you'll have such an opportunity to fulfill that pledge". Paul didn't say it in exact words, but he was being very petty and condescending. He was belittling Joe Essavi. Paul was basically calling him a loser and telling him he had no chance to win the election. The subtlety of his delivery was not lost on the crowd. There were gasps of shock from the audience. Sympathy votes will not help Joe Essavi win this election, but one thing was clear tonight. However many fans and supporters Paul Krekorian had when he walked in that room tonight... he had a few less when he left. To be quite honest, I think it was beneath the dignity of a State official to behave this way towards another candidate, one who had not made his question into a personal attack.

David Saltsburg/Zuma Dogg -Tamar Galatzan : David finally got his chance to confront Tamar. David had been burning for weeks after Tamars little LAUSD mailer fiasco. He got very specific about it and asked her if she had purposefully moved money over to her LAUSD officeholder account and used the money to send mailers, knowing that it was avoiding campaign rules. Before he could finish the question, he got cut off by moderator Richard Close. That made Zuma Dogg even more angry and he shouted out that "Richard is endorsing Tamar....that's why he won't let me finish my question!" I asked SOHA members about that later and they said it was simply a matter of being timed on a stopwatch. They said Richards feelings had nothing to do with it. ( big deal). Tamar answered "No, I did not!" and that was the end of it. David never really "unleashed the DOGG" tonight. That's too bad. David looked like something was bothering him the whole night.

Chris Essel - Pete Sanchez : In a truly bewildering move, Chris Essel did not use her question to go after her main rivals Paul or Tamar, but instead lobbed a softball to Pete Sanchez. "How would you use your skills to stop development?" she asked him. Pete answered, but he didn't really have to, because the question was so non-threatening.


SOHA moderators asked the candidates written questions from the audience. As usual, some of the question writers had an axe to grind and just reading the question sometimes took longer than the 30 seconds the candidates had to answer it. Some choice quips...

Tamar Galatzan ( on the budget crisis)
"We need someone to say the Emperor has no clothes! We don't need any more sheep!"

Chris Essel (on growth)
"We would need to assess if we have the capacity to handle new growth."

Augusto Bisani showed some NIMBY tendencies when asked about the growth of the Westfield Mall.
"They are going to be parking on our streets," he said.

Frank Sheftel talked about how as Councilman he would stay in touch with the community. He compared his future network of support to the Verizon commercials.
"I'm going to have all the Neighborhood Councils behind me," he predicted.

On the question about Prop 13, both David Saltsburg and Michael McCue felt it was best to talk about things they could control at City Council... not things they couldn't.


SOHA moderators had a great idea to ask rapid fire questions and have the candidates hold up a card : Green with a"YES" on it or red with a "NO".

Michael McCue absolutely destroyed every other candidate during the lightning round of questions at SOHA. Take a look at photo above. Michael often had his card up before the question was finished. In fact, on a question about rate-payer advocacy, I think the moderator hadn't said five words when McCue answered. He was clearly way ahead of the field here. Tamar and Paul struggled, because being elected officials, they didn't want to get boxed into a corner. Paul kept asking for qualifiers and quantifiers..."Which one?"..."What part of that do you mean..?" He was terrible. Luckily for Paul, someone else bungled the lightning round even worse than he did. guessed it. Chris Essel.

On only the second or third question of the lightning round, Essel may have sealed her fate in this election. When the moderators asked if the candidates were in favor of the expansion of the Westfield Mall, all the other candidates held up the "NO" card. Chris was the only "YES".

It is difficult for me to explain the looks of absolute horror on the faces of many members of the crowd who saw this happen. Let's just say that Chris didn't gain a lot of votes tonight. Chris even held up her "NO" card upside down on several questions. After a performance like this, I just don't see any possible way she can win this election. Her advisors - who must have been pulling their hair out - clearly are overpaid, judging from their results.


Chris Essel was very frustrated by the end of the forum and used her time to complain. "I don't like all these "Gotcha" questions.." she said.

(Wow. Unbelievable. She is running for office and thinks policy questions are unfair.
She knew she was one of the frontrunners and should have predicted every attack that came her way.)

Frank Sheftel saved his best weapon for last. He revealed that Joel Wachs had donated money to his campaign. It brought a cascade of applause. There was a lot of gray hair in that room and many of them remembered the good old days of strong leadership in Los Angeles - names like Tom Bradley and Joel Wachs - instead of the bumbling incompetents we have in power now.


In a fragmented election like this, it is crucial to destroy your enemies, yet maintain a tight defense against attacks. Tamar destroyed Chris Essel tonight. She also kept up a tough wall of defense against those who attacked her. Frank Sheftel and Michael McCue did very well tonight, but did not achieve the double objective of attack and defense like Tamar did.

All the candidates for talking with me during this campaign. Also, thanks to David Hernandez and his wife Debi for saving me a prime seat at this event. A big Mayor Sam "hello" to Alan Skobin, Ellen Vukovich, Nancy Kaleel, Louis Pugliese, Noel Weiss, David Vahedi, and many, many of the other great people I talked to tonight.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Showdown in Sherman Oaks

The ten candidates for the open seat on Los Angeles City Council (in District 2) converged at the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council meeting at Sherman Oaks Elementary School on Monday night. The evening started out with a humorous note when SONC President Jill Banks Barad was talking about the forum and how the election was being held to replace Wendy Gruel. A man near the front row started applauding aggressively at the mention of Wendys name. Jill paused and asked the man, jokingly.."Oh, are you Wendys brother?" The man responded loudly and very matter-of-factly "I'm glad she's out of the office!" This drew some solid laughs from the crowd and a few nervous giggles from some of the candidates.

The forum was moderated by former Assemblyman Richard Katz. Katz was tough, but fair to the candidates. He brought home a poignant moment when he introduced Ben and Jean Fury, a family that had been burned out of their homes by the Station Fire as it swept through Big Tujunga Canyon. The moment was nearly ruined by Paul Krekorian, who leaped to his feet and started applauding the family... making the other candidates appear almost uncaring or uninterested by their slower reactions. It was a real Drama Queen moment from the professional politician. I hope the voters saw through it.

I won't bother to discuss the candidate intros...all of them gave standard campaign statements as they had at past forums... no new news here. I will break things down by candidate.

MARY BENSON - Mary had some good moments at the forum. When the discussion turned to Neighborhood Councils and how much all the candidates said they cared...Mary said "It's nice to see everyone being so supportive of Neighborhood Councils...but where were they when the Mayor was threatening them with budget cuts?" Mary also talked about the Station Fire tonight and added "If it wasn't for Twitter, hundreds of animals would have burned to death." Mary was at her best during closing statements when she implored the voters "Support me! Don't think a grassroots candidate can't win!"

AUGUSTO BISANI - Augusto had a much better time tonight, as he focused on more local issues. He went on to discuss issues with the Westfield Mall. He said it would be a "big problem" and that he didn't like uncontrolled growth. "It needs to be directed by the community," he said. Augusto also had a funny line about himself as he talked about putting together his campaign flier "at 3 in the morning".
JOE ESSAVI - When Katz asked the candidates about how they would save money in these tough financial times, Joe Essavi unloaded one of the best shots of the night. "We need to ask these job-hopping politicians to pay for all the special elections they create!", he said. The line got a lot of applause. Some of the loudest applause, as you can see, came from Chris Essel, who loved the shot Joe took at Essels main rivals Tamar Galatzan and Paul Krekorian. Tamar seemed to take it well, showing a little embarrassed laughter.

CHRISTINE ESSEL - Chris Essel did reasonably well tonight and didn't make any major missteps. However, she had two young women supporters with her and I sat near them in the back of the room. After Chris would answer questions, those two would be the only two people in the room applauding her. The silence from the others was eerie and unsettling. I don't think Sherman Oaks likes Chris very much. Or maybe they just liked the other candidates better.
TAMAR GALATZAN - Tamar was well-prepared, confident, and aggressive as usual. I liked many of Tamars answers, including one about working together with the Neighborhood Councils. "I can only control my own actions, " she said. I thought it was great and very human to hear a candidate say that she couldn't promise to solve all the worlds problems. I think of all the candidates, Tamar is the one who makes it very clear that she wants to win the most. But will it be enough to overcome Krekorians name-recognition advantage and Chris Essels' carpet-bombing of CD 2 with her glossy campaign literature? Who knows? We will soon find out.

PAUL KREKORIAN - Paul showed his true nature as a professional politician at the forum. He did some world-class butt kissing when talking about moderator Katz and some of the Sherman Oaks neighborhood council members. He also bragged about how much he had done... to change schools... and even to stop speeders! (That last line got a sarcastic laugh from Frank Sheftels manager David Hernandez, who asked "How does he do that?") Paul may have made a misstep and offended some neighborhood council members with his closing statements where he said "This is not the time for amateur politicians! "
(Of course not. As one of the pros... he's been doing such a great job in Sacramento.....)
MICHAEL MCCUE - Michael had used his energy and passion to trounce his opponents in a few of the earlier forums, but tonight he seemed very average. He did have one of the evenings biggest laughs from the voters when he criticized the Mayor and City Council for using outdated methods. "It would behoove us to use 21st Century technology... because we live in the 21st century!," he said. McCue might be given a pass for tonight , because he told me he was saving some of his best ammunition for the SOHA forum on Wednesday.

DAVID SALTSBURG/ZUMA DOGG - David had been sitting at the forum with an upset look on his face for much of the event. He looked especially unhappy with some of the statements made by Chris Essel, Tamar Galatzan and Paul Krekorian... as if he couldn't believe the audacity of the comments. I guess his anger built up until he exploded during the closing comments. He went off on a tirade against Essel, Krekorian and Galatzan that brought cheers from the crowd and squeals of laughter from some. "CHRIS ESSEL IS THE QUEEN OF SPECIAL INTERESTS!!", he erupted. He made another passing mention about Tamar getting in the Mayors 2 million dollar "getaway car" to get on the LAUSD board. He attacked Krekorian and his time in the State Legislature by saying "Krekorian bankrupted the State! He took us there!!". It was , by far, the most interesting part of the evening. David captured the quote of the evening, when, talking about Krekorian, Essel, and Galatzan, he said "talk to them tonight, because once they get an office in City Hall, they will never talk to you again!!"
PETE SANCHEZ - Pete was at his best tonight when we waved his finger at the other candidates and said very calmly "I know more about Neighborhood Councils than all these candidates!" He trumpeted his experience at the grassroots level and said he was ready to take his achievements to the next level at City Council. I really didn't like how Pete refused to answer a question from Katz, but he gave me an explanation later...and we'll get to that in a minute.
FRANK SHEFTEL - Frank didn't say too much different from what he had said at other forums. He ended with his signature line "We recycle trash, not politicians!". In a rather clever move, Frank had brought samples from his candy store...small bags of jellybeans...that were given away. The candy was a big hit...all the bags had been emptied by the end of the forum. Now maybe if Frank can bring about 400 boxes of chocolates to the final SOHA showdown on Wednesday, he just might be calling himself "Councilman Sheftel" in the near future. Voters tend to remember generosity.
Overall, the night was very good, and one can see the race is getting more and more heated as we only have one week left until the election. After Tuesday night, there are clearly going to be some hurt feelings and some disappointed candidates.

A few other items about the night...

I really intensely disliked some candidate behavior in a segment in the middle. Moderator Katz was trying to get the candidates to explain where they would make budgetary cuts. He started naming off commissions and asking candidates to raise their hands if they were willing to cut these specific commissions. It was a logical question due to the City Budget crisis.

Amazingly, Katz rattled off name after name and NONE of the candidates raised their hands. It really killed me to see the only Conservative in this race, Joe Essavi, not raising his hand. (I'll have to talk to him about this.) It was a pure horror show for those of us who do not agree with the concept of an ever-expanding government. I knew Krekorian wouldn't be raising his hand, because he likes that type of thing. Eventually Pete Sanchez interrupted Katz and said "I'm not willing to answer any of these questions."
That answer really enraged me, because as I said to David Hernandez "I would be raising my hand on every commission he mentioned." I sought out Pete Sanchez after the forum and asked for an explanation. He told me he doesn't deal in theoreticals in his line of work, and he would have wanted more information before making those types of decisions. He said he would have wanted to know exactly what he was getting for the publics money in each individual case. I have to was a brilliant answer. Too bad he didn't mention that part when the voters were listening. There are things I don't like about Pete Sanchez --( I think he's a liberal ) -- but I have to admit...sometimes the guy is very impressive.

Mary Benson told me she didn't like some information that was circulating on Mayor Sam about her having been born in Iowa. She stated for the record that she was born in Glendale. She added that her name is a somewhat common name and someone must have made a research error.

Frank Sheftel told me that his campaign staff has personally contacted over 5,000 voters. If this is accurate, I think it puts him far ahead of the other grassroots candidates. Like Michael Higby always says, without a real get-out-the-vote effort, you can't win an election.


David had been somewhat low-key until his explosive tirade at the end. But his outburst showed his true passion and his willingness to cross boundaries to make his point. I think David is getting frustrated with his years of activism at City Hall and his inability to stop bitter rivals like Richard Alarcon. He wants the button in his hand. But simply wanting it badly is not always enough to win.

Friday, September 11, 2009

CD 2 candidate profile: Michael McCue

Michael McCue has been a Valley resident for thirteen years and an elected Board Member of the Studio City Neighborhood Council for three years. He is the Chair of the Environmental Affairs Committee and a voting member of the Government Affairs Committee. Through his work on the Neighborhood Council he has introduced or voted to support motions to; create a Rate-Payer Advocate for the DWP...introduce Clean Money Elections for the City of Los Angeles...improve our air quality by enforcing the leaf-blower laws...reform the lax City Vehicle Fleet policies as per the Controller's Audit...amend the Lobbyist Reform Ordinance so that all lobbyists are identified properly when commenting at Council hearings...increase the amount of Relocation Funds for those displaced by Over-Development...oppose Measure B...and restore the L.A. River to its natural state.

A life-long activist for Progressive ideas and social justice, Michael was raised in a military family and brought up with a sense of duty to country and community. He describes his upbringing as a "Kitchen Table Democracy" because his Naval Officer father was an Eisenhower/Goldwater Republican who was hand-selected by Pres. Nixon to be one of the first employees of the EPA, and his mother was a Roosevelt/Kennedy Democrat working as a Congressional Secretary for Rep. John Dingell (D-16th District, MI). Growing up, Michael heard all sides of political issues and was taught to think for himself. A hybrid of his political upbringing, (Key Values of Accountability, Social Justice and Future Focus) Michael is registered Green Party so that he can reflect all of the values (from both the Right and the Left) that his parents instilled in him.

Michael's experience as a community activist, and also leading and serving on NC committees, has kept him up-to-date on all of our city issues in the past few years. He has been outspoken about his opposition to Over-Development in the Valley and his support of an Affordable Housing Policy. His CD-2 campaign has become known for its no-nonsense, direct approach and upbeat attitude. Michael's experience qualifies him for the CD-2 Council Seat because there is no duty expected of him in that capacity that he is not already performing on his Neighborhood Council, albeit on a smaller scale. His work on the SCNC is all volunteer and he was the highest vote-getter of all the SCNC candidates in the 2007 election. Michael McCue is the only candidate in the CD-2 race who is endorsed by The Green Party of Los Angeles County, the LA Greens, and the Green Party of San Fernando Valley. His website is

Michael McCue asks for all Progressive & Reform-minded voters who are demanding Accountability from City Hall and who cannot tolerate the mayor's corrupt political machine any longer, to vote for him in the Special Election on Sept. 22nd. LA is on the's time to...