Last night I attended a City Council campaign event held at the Autry National Center near the L.A. Zoo. It was presented by the Los Feliz Improvement Association. The political candidates featured were current City Council Member Tom La Bonge, bicycle activist Stephen Box, and school improvement crusader Tomas O'Grady.
When they announced who the moderator for the evening would be, I almost fell out of my seat in disbelief.
Allison Cohen Ferraro of the Los Feliz Ledger!!?? WOW! Are you kidding me?
Joseph Mailander over at the Street Hassle blog would be blowing a gasket if he saw this.
I've already made clear that I am less than impressed with Ms. Ferraro, and what I saw last night only made things worse...in fact it almost killed the evening for everyone.
The Los Feliz Improvement Association needs to take a memo from The Jennerjahn Report:
DO NOT allow someone to moderate your political forum when they are completely in the tank for one of the candidates!
While Ms. Ferraro should have conducted herself in a serious, professional manner, she couldn't help herself but to interrupt the forum to fawn, in a fan-girl like manner, over the wonderful Tomas O'Grady and how he had saved her kids schools!! Her rather one-sided support of O'Grady made people in the audience uncomfortable. Her behavior did not go unnoticed.
On to the forum...
The LFIA took written questions from the crowd...which was probably a good idea to prevent grandstanding from questioners - who sometimes are airing a grudge along with their question.
The questions seemed very Los-Feliz-centric and were quite predictable.
In his opening statement, Tom La Bonge went off on a long, boring rant quoting the creation dates of various landmarks, and talking about peoples high schools. In short.. "same old Tom."
Stephen Box was cool and crisp with his answers. Unlike the other candidates, who sometimes kind of wandered around a bit in their answers, Box seemed to know his answers before he started speaking. There were no mis-statements and he seemed very knowledgeable about CD4.
Tomas O'Grady, Ms. Ferraro's favorite candidate, was refreshingly honest for a political campaigner. I really liked his story of how America had "worked" for him and given him all his dreams. However, O'Grady did seem a bit nervous and fidgety and kind of bumbled around in some of his answers. He glanced at his notes a few times on questions that were not that difficult. He seems like a nice guy, but he needs a little more practice when it comes to campaigning for political office. However, O'Grady was responsible for the highlight of the night.
O'Grady told a story...and I wish I could re-tell it better... but it focused on a publicity event where he and Tom La Bonge were planting trees at a school. O'Grady mocked La Bonge and his handlers for telling him to leave a few holes so that La Bonge and his photographers could "get some good shots" of the Councilman planting the trees. He did it a mocking manner that exposed Tom La Bonges Achilles heel...
Tom La Bonge does not like to be made to look like a pompous ass.
In fact, Tom La Bonge kind of lost his temper over the ribbing he took from O'Grady. He grabbed the mic when it was his turn and leaned over and kind of shouted in O'Gradys ear.. "You need to learn to work with the community!!" It was so shocking and out of character for La Bonge that heads were spinning in the audience. (People were asking "Did you just see that?") La Bonge then went off on a long-winded rant about all the areas he had worked in and bragged about the hours he put in as a Council Member. La Bonge had a few fans planted in the audience, and they all applauded his dramatic show. However, the damage was done.
Box and O'Grady should exploit this angle for the next few weeks.
La Bonge lost my respect forever when he talked about "our wonderful Congresswoman Karen Bass!"
Karen Bass is a monster.
If she wasn't in a District that was 90% Democrat, she couldn't get elected dogcatcher.
Adios Tom La Bonge. You won't be getting my vote.
That leaves me to choose between two other Big-Government Socialists who want to tell me what to eat, what car to drive, and what type of shopping bags I am allowed to use. Wonderful.
WINNER: STEPHEN BOX
Even though I am not that big of a fan of Stephen Box, he was the clear winner last night. He sounded like he had rehearsed his answers. He was smooth and polished, and even often steered his answers around to answering an even bigger un-asked question. That made him look very professional, thoughtful, and it also looked like he had really done his research. He stayed away from the fracas between O'Grady and La Bonge, and made himself look like the most professional and best choice for voters.