With the March 3 primary election drawing near, The Times asked all candidates for Los Angeles mayor to respond to questions about key issues facing the nation's second-largest city. Here are the responses from candidate Craig Rubin:
1) What distinguishes you from the other candidates in the race?
I know that local press has reported that we are not out campaigning, but I was up at 5 a.m. this past Sunday and hit four churches to get the word out that I was running for mayor. Other candidates and I have also been at every local neighborhood council or homeowner's association that has invited us. We are working hard to get the word out and meet the people, but in some ways it seems as if the press is in the tank for Villaraigosa. It is my personal opinion that God decides who will be the rulers of cities and states, so I feel confident that in a David and Goliath fashion the mayor in his arrogance will lose the election to an unknown. There have only been six candidates showing up at these forums, so I'll focus on the other five for comparison's sake, then the mayor and lastly, Zuma.
Phil J. -- He is a nice person, a good dresser, has an interest in the entertainment field and is conservative, economically speaking. These are similarities that we have. What distinguishes us is that I have more experience in the real world, having run a business and worked as a religious leader. As a father with children in public school I have more of an interest in the future of the city. Phil is a transplant; I grew up here and have an intimate knowledge of what our city needs. He seems to be a reactionary conservative, where I tend to be more pragmatic.
Bruce D. -- He is someone who looks good in a suit. In fact, he looks like an attorney or a person who plays one on TV. He seems to know what he is talking about, but if you listen closely he is spouting out cliches and never really takes a stand on anything. He seems like a typical politician, taking both sides of every issue and never answering a question. My personal style is distinct from this in that I give a straight answer, so you know where I stand on an issue.
However if you will hear what I have to say, I know what I am talking about. If I don't know I will keep my mouth shut and say, "I'll have to look into that." I have a constituency that recognizes that in the future our city will still need to grow larger than it is today and that we need to plan an infrastructure to meet those needs. I don't think Bruce gets that fact, so that is how we are different.
Carlos A. -- He is a handsome young man who really represents the future of Latino leadership as he is well dressed, although casually, at the community forums and proudly speaks his communistic mind. Even though his Socialist ideals and goals aren't always in contradiction to mine (we all want more jobs in L.A. and cleaner air) we all have completely different methods for achieving those goals. He trusts the people who created the DMV to create jobs, and I don't. I think it is important to keep business in the community and encourage more film and television production to take place locally.
David H. -- Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez are loving people who have given much of their time to the community as my wife and I have, but the difference between he and I is the fact that he is selling fear and I am talking hope. Much of his speeches are dedicated to creating a sense of fear over the gangs, which are a real problem, but the larger problem is a social problem. I think he would rather lock up young gang members for life, and I'd rather see them get an education, jobs and be productive members of our community.
Walter M. -- He is well-educated, good-looking, articulate and married . . . that is what we have in common. He and his wife are nice people, but somewhat tired of America. They own an apartment building in France and maybe are going to move there if the election doesn't go their way, so they are moving. I have always invested my money in America, so that is something that distinguishes us. He supports what I consider fascist laws that require our LAPD to begin acting like the federal immigration service (that is why Mayor V's people called him "Lyndon LaRouche"). Everyone supports deporting people who are here illegally if they are convicted of a violent crime, but I would not turn our local police into a federal force as they are here to deal with local crimes and cooperate with the FBI on national and federal crimes. In fact, I'll work to end the federal consent decree that burdens our city with 350 full-time officers writing reports at taxpayer's expense rather than patrolling our streets.
Mayor ViagraLaraza -- He loves being on camera and flying all around the country working with the Democrats. As an independent I'll stay here doing the business of the city rather than the work of "my party." Everyone knows the mayor is planning to run for governor, and I realize that I have to really prove myself as mayor before I'll ever get another job in my life. If I do a bad job it would be really difficult for me to get another job, so I have some real pressure to perform for the people of Los Angeles, where the mayor has large sums of money and national name recognition, so he doesn't have to work for the people of L.A. for either their vote (he thinks) or them, if he were to win again. Lastly, as a faithful husband and Bible teacher I would distinguish myself from the mayor in that I think the Ten Commandments are just that, "commandments"; The mayor, in my opinion, doesn't know the Commandments by heart and to him they are just the "10 ancient suggestions." I think the mayor thinks that they don't apply in today's world. If our politicians and business leaders just followed the commandments, our economy wouldn't be in the mess it is, so it is important that we elect leaders who find biblical laws to be truths to live by.
Zuma Dogg -- I like his name, but I have never met him. I am familiar with his videos on the Internet, and he reminds me of a real life "B-Rad" from Jamie Kennedy's "Malibu's Most Wanted." I am not sure why he has not shown up at any forums, neighborhood councils or homeowner's associations, so I have a hard time taking him seriously as a candidate.
I don't know anyone else campaigning (I know there are others running), so . . . that is what distinguishes me from the crowd above.
2) Los Angeles likely will face a deficit of $400 million to $500 million in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, as well as steep shortfalls in the years that follow. If elected, how would you balance the city budget? Specifically, what programs or services would you cut, what taxes or fees would you increase, and what other measures would you take?
Los Angeles doesn't have to face that sort of deficit if it were not for the mayor's lack of management skill. According to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the city of Los Angeles year end June 30, 2007, the mayor had left the city's "contingency reserve" at $0 right when the financial crisis hit. The contingency reserve is used for unanticipated expenditures and budget shortfalls for already approved programs.
In that same CAFR report it says that our city's assets exceed our liabilities by billions of dollars -- in fact the report says that Los Angeles owns $12.2 billion in capital investments. I think if that money is being properly managed we should have no problem coming up with half a billion dollars. My concern is that the mayor is sleeping while technocrats may be running a Bernie Madoff-type scam with our city's assets. I think that a lot of government money is wasted because it can be wasted. I think sometimes people who work for government spend money as if they didn't earn it because they didn't. I would cut budgets of all city services excluding vital ones for a short time while we analyze what is actually there, and then I would begin to keep what is working and cutting what is not. I am for smaller government as a general principle.
3) To cut costs, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is considering layoffs or offering early retirement to city employees. Do you support either or both of those alternatives? Given the increased need for government assistance in these bad economic times, is now the right time to reduce the number of city employees or cut hours at libraries and city parks?
Personally, I don't think the mayor spends enough in the city to know what we need. I think his agenda is handed down to him from the national party and he just goes along with whatever they tell him to do. I think he is willing to be a happy puppet and climb the political ladder rather than deal with the real business of running L.A. I don't think cutting parks or library hours is the way to go, as I stated from my analysis of the CAFR, we are not as bad off as the mayor is making us out to be. I think this is all part of a pitch to get federal funds and commit Los Angeles to federal projects and federal strings that are always attached to money.
4) Do you support Measure B, the city's proposed solar power initiative? Why? How do you believe it will affect Department of Water and Power rates?
a) I am not in favor of this Measure.
b) I think it was rushed through City hall. The measure is flawed because it calls for a contract that is dependent on federal assistance and doesn't have open bidding for different unions. The United States of America currently produces 280 megawatts of solar power. This measure would mandate that the city of Los Angeles produce 400 megawatts of solar power. Currently, DWP customers pay 2 cents per kilowatt-hour of coal-produced electricity and this 400 megawatt system will produce electricity, according to DWP CEO [H. David] Nehai, at a cost of 45 cents per kilowatt-hour.
c) I ask you this, "Who is going to pay for that expensive green electricity?"
I think it will impact the DWP by putting them in the red so deeply that it will force the city to sell the asset and "privatize," which will in the end raise rates for customers. I think I have fully answered the question that I am against it and why. The fact is that I have a better solution that is cheaper. I think the DWP should pay for converters for any individual that chooses to go solar (at their own expense), so they can be tied into the grid and sell their excess electricity back to the grid. My idea benefits the property owner, the investor and the city, encouraging a change of habits without going into debt.
5) Should the city controller have authority to perform both financial audits and performance audits on programs run by the mayor or city attorney?
Here is one of those situations where I have to say I don't have enough information to say firmly. If that is the city controller's job, then I think they should be able to perform their job or they should not have that job. The question you are really asking is how independent is the city controller of the mayor and city attorney's influence. I can safely say this regardless of past relations involving the city controller, that I will remain independent of the auditing process allowing elected officials to perform their duties without improper interference. I am for letting people do the jobs they were hired to do with proper, not obtrusive, oversight. It is important to focus on results.
6) In June, the city's contracts with police and firefighters unions will expire. Should police officers and firefighters be given raises or increased benefits? If so, how would you pay for those, given the city's current financial condition?
As I stated, even though our entire world is whining about being broke, Los Angeles is a wealthy city. Our emergency workers deserve to be compensated for the valuable job they perform. I am going to focus on getting elected between now and June, and when elected I will look at what is fair and do what is right for those valuable city workers.