IN LOS ANGELES, GOOD GOVERNMENT BEGINS WITH YOU AND ME

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As we all know, Mayor Villaraigosa is a very powerful man. He’s the City’s Chief Executive Officer. He has management authority over nearly all city departments. He determines who will manage those departments, and he decides how much money they will spend. But as his 7-year record demonstrates, the mayor hasn’t used his power to support and improve the city’s civil service system.

It’s not that Mayor Villaraigosa initiated the sneak attack on Civil Service. That effort was launched in 1993 by Mayor Riordan. It was allowed to continue by Mayor Hahn. But in 2005 (as well as on several other occasions) when he was asked to end that attack, Villaraigosa flat-out refused. Rather than serving his constituents, he has consistently supported Riordan’s crippling, illegal attack on Civil Service!

What Los Angeles needs now is for Mayor Villaraigosa to do a U-turn, to restore the Board of Civil Service Commissioners, and to require all department heads to bring their personnel practices in line with the City Charter and the Civil Service Rules. He’s not likely to do that, but he could. He still has 15 months left in the Mayor’s Office, and he’s done stranger things than a U-turn during his administration.

But whatever Villaraigosa does before leaving office, you and I must begin now preparing for the next mayoral election. Yes, I know; that election’s nearly a year away. It’s not scheduled till March 5, 2013. But there’s already a list of 12 candidates for that office. And since you and I will decide who the next mayor will be, shouldn’t we learn as much as we can about those 12 candidates?

Based on information posted by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, the following individuals have indicated an interest in being the next Mayor of Los Angeles: Austin Beutner, Theodore M. Crisell, Jose F Di Raimondo, Y.J. Draiman, Eric M. Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Malcolm Mays, Addie M. Miller, Jan Perry, David Saltsburg, and Rick S. Young.

Each of these candidates has been asked to provide information that this column could share with you — information that would help you understand why the candidate feels qualified to be the city’s next mayor. Candidates will also be expected to answer questions about city revenues, performance management, access to public information, putting the public back in public service, etc.

My plan is to serve as a source of fair and relevant information about each declared candidate for mayor. With that in mind, I invite you to share your views and concerns with me. Are you concerned about the role of money in city campaigns? Do you feel the city’s news outlets — newspapers, radio stations, and television channels — provide sufficient information about local campaigns? If you have a question you’d like to ask about the candidates, share it with me at (626) 576-8396, or by e-mail. I’ll do my best to see that your views and concerns are addressed — that your questions are answered.

Dear Reader, the next Mayor of Los Angeles will inherit one gigantic mess; he/she will find there’s no one in charge at City Hall. The Chief Executive Officer position is vacant. The Board of Civil Service Commissioners has been stifled. The Personnel Department doesn’t administer the civil service system. And Department Heads, who run their own agencies, seek permission before making a move.

The next Mayor of Los Angeles will, indeed, find a challenging job waiting for him/her. And if he/she actually cleans up that gigantic mess at City Hall, you and I and 4 million other Angelenos will be well-served. But we can’t sit back and hope for that to happen; it’s in our interest to make sure it happens!

In our American Democracy, good government truly does begin with you, you, and me!

You can contact Sam at samuelmsperling@yahoo.com.

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Trouble-Finder at City Hall

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