Los Angeles City Atty. James Hahn will become Mayor James Hahn on Monday. In 16 years as L.A.'s top lawyer, he defended the city from its detractors and prosecuted its foes. Now some of his foes and detractors--along with plenty of his friends--present their wish lists for action. It's a politician's sorry fate: Unsolicited advice, widely broadcast. But here it is, Mayor. And good luck.
* Noelia Rodriguez, press secretary to First Lady Laura Bush and former deputy mayor for communications to Mayor Richard Riordan
You certainly know how to navigate the corridors of 200 N. Spring St., and that will stand you in good stead. In the end, however, your leadership will be measured not by what you do inside City Hall, but by what you accomplish outside the halls of power, where real Angelenos live.
Keep in mind that there are more bridges in Los Angeles than the Vincent Thomas. Make your way across the bridges to Boyle Heights and Lincoln Park. Go to the Valley. Visit the neighbors of LAX. Ride the Red Line from El Pueblo to Hollywood.
While you enjoyed strong support from south of First Street, you were elected to serve all Angelenos. Reach out to those who voted for Antonio. Make believers of them.
Get to know the people who don't expect you to show up on their block. Ask questions of the merchants, the retirees, the workers, the young people who make up this great city and find answers to their questions, address their concerns, remind them that they have a role in improving their neighborhoods. Filling potholes is fundamental; fulfilling expectations is crucial. And don't forget the city employees who will be your ambassadors of goodwill, co-workers in your duties of service.
As mayor, yours will be the voice of this wacky, far-flung place. Now it's your turn to trumpet the wonders of America's second-largest city. Congratulations and Godspeed. And remember, always listen to your press secretary.
* John McCormick, screenwriter
I'd like to offer one word: trees. The idea is simple. During your tenure as mayor, you plant as many trees on the streets of Los Angeles as possible. Then, for years to come, Los Angeles reaps the benefits.
In the past, Los Angeles mayors aspired to blanket our streets with mini-malls. Please don't get me wrong. I love the fact that there is a Starbucks every two blocks. But just think if you were to reclaim barren sidewalks throughout the city and festoon them with trees. It would change the entire complexion of the city.
When visitors come to Los Angeles, they are overwhelmed by its size. Envision a Los Angeles where visitors were overwhelmed by its foliage. Instead of driving through the harsh, reflected light of a treeless street, they would cruise beneath a restorative arbor.
Are trees costly? Do they consume water? Do they need maintenance? Do they produce refuse? Yes, yes, yes and yes. But compared to the far more formidable problems you face, this tree idea is a walk in the park. Let me make the tree equation even simpler. More trees, cooler city, better air, happier population, reelection.
* Connie Rice, attorney
My specialty is suing the bureaucracies in Los Angeles. When you sue someone, it's a bit like a shotgun marriage--you get to know the person even if you didn't want to. With the LAPD, the problem is a matter of will: They don't want to change. With L.A. Unified, it's a matter of their inability to change. With the DWP, a culture of engineers, they can only really understand things said by engineers. We need a mayor with enough vision to overcome the inertia of all the entrenched bureaucracies. We need a mayor who can for the first time give us a plan for our city that brings the power of capital, industry and enterprise together in a mission of economic development that can actually reach down to communities that are completely off the playing field right now.
We have never had a plan for how capitalism can be linked to government and the academic sector to close the wealth and income gaps that have grown so wide in this city. I always thought Riordan should be able to do it: here is a guy who knows capitalism. But he never got over his discomfort with government.
Mayor Hahn, you respect government, which is good, but you need to get out of your bureaucratic box and reach out to the world. Start by calling a conference of all the great economic thinkers, from the libertarian, unfettered market people to those with socialist democratic ideas. We can't limit ourselves to one end of the spectrum or other; we have to have a new synthesis for today. Lester Thurow at MIT as well as Noam Chomsky have talked about a new economy; J. Eugene Grigsby III at UCLA and James Head of the National Economic Development and Law Center have studied communities where there is no economy except drugs and guns, and auto theft. Most bureaucrats don't have at hand the writings of Joel Kotkin at Pepperdine, Jane Pisano at USC, Joel Rogers at the University of Wisconsin, about how to attract low-polluting companies that will bring high-paying jobs.
Our city is now fourth behind Calcutta in its income gap between rich and poor. Why should you worry about these gaps? Because without a viable middle class, without a viable working class, no city-state can really function as a democracy.
* Norman Corwin, writer, director and adjunct professor, USC School of Journalism
In the spirit of Stan Freberg, who once produced on radio the sound of a 10-ton maraschino cherry being dropped by a Canadian Air Force plane onto Lake Michigan after the lake had been drained and refilled with whipped cream, I propose an agenda for the Hahn administration that would also involve sound. It would center on an ordinance, sponsored by the mayor, affecting the many restaurants in Los Angeles that pride themselves on being so noisy a diner must literally shout to the person sitting alongside to be heard. Under this rule, the restaurateur would be required to equip each customer, on entrance, with a microphone-cable-earphone assembly so that normal conversation is feasible; and it would provide that violators of the ordinance be sentenced, for each offense, to four hours of forced listening at close range to a sustained montage of leafblowers, pneumatic drills and jet plane takeoffs.
Such an ordinance would certainly stimulate dinner conversation, and when (audible) word of it got around, it could boost the mayor's prospects for going on to the governorship of California, and ultimately to the White House. This sort of progression has occurred before--and for less constructive achievements than the one proposed here.
* Officer Ed Mahaffey, LAPD, Metro Division
As mayor, you should know that morale in the LAPD is very, very low. The chief says it's an individual thing, but if every individual says his or her morale is low, it's no longer individual. People are leaving the department in droves. The chief's response is that they are not leaving because of low morale. I'd suggest you call Hollywood Division and ask why are they down 40 officers. The reason is you can leave and go to other departments and make just as much or more, and here, we have to pay retirement out of our own pocket. Right now, our retirement plan is that if you work 30 years, you get 70%. The city has offered us a new deal where you'd get 90% if you work 33 years. Other jurisdictions get that 90% rate after 30 years. We've got to have a compressed work schedule. I don't care what it is--if 3/12 won't work, then 4/10. Why do you think arrests are down? When you come to work and you're not happy, you don't work well. Every time you go out, they're filming you. Every time you turn around, breathe or sneeze wrong, they're writing you up. Some guys were speeding and did a U-turn to go into an alley where they saw some gang members, and they were written up. Imagine, they went out of their way to stop gang activity and got written up. With the way the department is now, there is no common ground.
* Gloria Ohland, Surface Transportation Policy Project
Your predecessor was right about one thing: Follow his example and support Rapid Bus, the high-tech express buses used currently along two heavily traveled routes and one of L.A.'s few real public transit success stories. The demonstration project has shown Rapid Bus to be one-third faster than regular buses, with a high quality of service that attracts new riders--a third of Rapid Bus users didn't use public transit before its inception. Coordination between the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is key, and who better to wield influence in both arenas than you? Go ahead, expand Rapid Bus citywide.
And then up the ante. Set aside $50 million to improve pedestrian safety in residential neighborhoods. L.A. has always been one of California's most dangerous counties--one-third of the state's pedestrian deaths and injuries happen here. Latinos, African Americans, seniors and children are most at risk because they often walk--to school, to the bus stop, to the grocery store. Relatively affluent cities like Burbank and Santa Monica have widened sidewalks, marked crosswalks more clearly, put in street trees and landscaping and installed other "traffic calming" measures that narrow streets and intersections, thus slowing traffic. Empower residents of our poorer neighborhoods by giving them the authority to make these small-scale neighborhood improvements on their own. And they just may vote for you a second time around.
* Arianna Huffington, columnist
You spent a good deal of time and energy during the campaign painting yourself as a crime-fighting crusader. The section on your Web site dealing with drug policy is filled with get-tough rhetoric touting your accomplishments as a drug warrior--users prosecuted, assets seized, crack houses shut down. But now that you've won and are preparing to take office, I'd like to see you tone down the bellicose bromides and put a little more of your focus on the demand side of the problem.
As mayor, you control the purse strings of the city--and help set the law enforcement agenda. Let's stop throwing good money after bad on failed prevention programs, failed interdiction efforts and failed prisons. It's a crime that at this late date in the drug war, police are still kicking in doors in search of a $10 bag of crack. Far better to follow the trend established by Proposition 36 of decriminalizing nonviolent drug use and making treatment readily available. But there's no need for you or the city to be limited by the confines of Proposition 36. I urge you to be bold and exercise real leadership by working to make treatment on request available to all the people of Los Angeles, so someone doesn't have to get arrested to qualify for drug treatment.
* Ladies of the Downtown Women's Center
There is an appalling situation existing in the area of skid row. Although there are many facilities and resources available to men, women lack similar facilities and resources. We can no longer tolerate this. Women replenish the Earth. If it weren't for a woman, you wouldn't be here.
As women living on skid row, we feel that when we fall on hard times, there should be enough emergency facilities available to us, just as many as there are for men. We don't understand why these forms of neglect toward women are still allowed in this new millennium.
Many times, we find ourselves without housing, and the majority of us have children. We feel that our children living on skid row deserve an adequate education as well. Some of us do not have children or drug or alcohol problems. We feel that low-cost, safe and clean housing should be available, both for emergencies and on a permanent basis, for all the women and children living on skid row.
We are aware of many abandoned buildings that have been empty for the last four years. We believe that these hotels could be renovated, leased and subsidized by the government to help the many women living on skid row. If this were to happen, many of us would no longer live in hotels that are infested with drug dealers, both inside and outside. In sum, there should be a crisis center for women on skid row.
These thoughts were composed by participants in a literacy class at the Downtown Women's Center
* Maureen Kindel, president, Rose & Kindel, and former president, Los Angeles Board of Public Works
One piece of advice: As president John Adams did, always tell the truth. We can take it.
* Gronk, artist
Artists have been instrumental in revitalizing our downtown and other neglected areas by moving into vacant commercial buildings. We have been in the forefront of urban renewal by investing in these vacant buildings and bringing life, culture, tourism and business to formerly untended places. Now, artists are being evicted from these same neighborhoods we have helped gentrify. I would like the mayor to enact legislation to protect the housing rights of artists by revising the rent-control and artist-in-residence ordinances.
* Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., attorney
Perhaps most important in your new position as mayor will be how you reach out to, as it's said in the book of Matthew, "the least of these." Just as your father was a stalwart supporter of the poor, the disenfranchised and the downtrodden, you, too, have to respond to the needs of all people. Those who are less fortunate tend to go unheard; but, as your father understood, where attention is paid, it often pays off.
Our city's police department has a troubled legacy. Perhaps your focus on organizational, operational and simple human relations matters can usher in a new era of departmental change and better police-community relations. And don't be afraid to reach out to Chief Bernard Parks: He can be an effective ally in this endeavor.
Finally, all of the communities of this city have a newfound opportunity to unite for the common welfare of all residents. Los Angeles is a growing metropolis with a steadily increasing multi-ethnic face. During your father's lengthy tenure, he never abandoned people of color--not as a consummate politician, not even as a neighbor. I am confident this view of "people as people" has been ingrained in your being and will be applied in your governing.
* Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, Valley Beth Shalom
On witnessing the diversity of the constituents of the city, the Talmudic sages composed a prayer blessing the One who discerns secrets: For the mind of each is different as the face of each is different from the other. Our city is blessed and challenged by many different minds and different faces that bring spiritual density and enrichment to our city. The challenge of your office is to provide the sacred glue that knits together the abrasive edges that inevitably attend our open and democratic society.
Artistic governance of a pluralistic society can create unity within diversity and overcome the threats of depersonalization and alienation. With the loss of neighborhoods, people retreat into lives of privatism and loneliness. Bring us together, mayor. Call upon us, the citizens of mosque, synagogue, church and secular center, to form neighborhoods of earnest conversation. Encourage us to include and transcend the unique genius of our origins and the commonality of our aspirations. While the formal institutions of church and state are not to be entangled, the ethical and spiritual concerns of faith and government remain inextricably bound. In a marvelously polyglot society, let the city provide incentives for dialogue among its citizens so that they will come to appreciate the common fate and purpose we share. Let us be guided by the wisdom of the philosopher Martin Buber who wrote: "All real life is meeting."
* Harry Shearer, writer and satirist
I would like to urge you to use what little power your new office confers upon you to campaign publicly, and tirelessly, for an increase in the two Ps: parks and police (notice, I urge no increase in the number of police named Parks).
Now, at a time when crime is decreasing or flat-lining, it might be politically possible to press for a nondemagogic answer to our endemic problem with the LAPD: It is woefully undermanned. Only when we approach the cop-per-capita average of other major cities will the department be able to drop its stance of occupying army and become a sane, humane and effective organization. Of course, you could just appoint another commission that would spend two years coming up with the same old recommendations, but a radical admission--that we'll never get the police force we demand and deserve unless we're willing to pay for the number of officers it takes--would be so much more refreshing.
More popular, but equally necessary, is a crusade for more city parks. While the Mountains Conservancy is doing a fine job of increasing the amount of hillside parkland, L.A. continues to have a serious deficit of parks in the flatlands where most people live. I propose you hector, pressure and bully developers into buying and donating park land whenever they want to build something big, ugly and stupid (which should give us plenty of new parks). You could also lend your voice to the movement to restore the river, which would bring parkland to the parts of town that need it most.
Not a bad heritage to look back on in four--or eight--years' time: You gave the city a police department it can finally be proud of and an endowment of parks that it desperately needs.
Or we could spend all that money and land on a new football stadium. What do you say?
* Kent Wong, director, UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education
I hope that we can count on your leadership to address the serious problems of urban poverty and the working poor. Los Angeles has the largest gap between rich and poor of any major city in the country. While the problems facing the homeless and unemployed are vast, the majority of those in poverty are the working poor. Los Angeles has the largest concentration of manufacturing workers in the country, yet these jobs in heavy industries are no longer paying union wages. Instead, Los Angeles has become the sweatshop capital, home to the nation's largest garment industry. Minimum wage and other basic labor laws are routinely violated.
We need to improve the conditions of the working poor. This includes defending the rights of workers to join unions. Workers in Los Angeles face threats and intimidation when they attempt to organize unions and improve their working conditions. The city should establish a special commission on labor rights to monitor and document violations of workers rights.
* Stephen B. Sample, president, University of Southern California
What thousands of citizens of Los Angeles want most are good jobs. Job creation should be job one for your administration. I have an idea in that regard: biomedical technology.
Los Angeles trails other cities in developing a viable biotech industry even though we command a large share of the academic research centers--UCLA, Caltech and USC--that pump the lifeblood into biotechnology. We have medical schools, research institutes, hospitals and the like to support a healthy biotech community, but many of our marketable ideas create jobs not in Los Angeles, but in other cities.
USC supports a biotech park for East Los Angeles, which sorely needs new jobs. Underutilized land is available, most of it county-owned. Technical and scientific resources are close at hand. What's more, the future of biotechnology is great. Already a $400-billion industry in the U.S., it will grow rapidly as the fruits of cutting edge research in the biological and medical sciences come to the fore.
* Ida Smart, UPS clerk and waitress
If you can do what your father did, great, but you have big shoes to fill. Your father provided summer programs, free swimming, summer jobs for kids. You have your work cut out for you, too. We need to get the schools straightened out, get more students in school.
But most of all you need to straighten up our police department. Their intentions are good, but they have to go to extremes, outside the law. It's a tough situation. You have to work with Chief Parks to break through their code of secrecy. If you can get in and find out what's really going on, great. If you're on the outside, you will not learn anything.
* Mark Rosenbaum, Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Southern California
It has been a long time since a mayor of Los Angeles has genuinely touched the lives within our community. We need a leader who by deeds, not just words, can arouse in all of us a commitment of shared responsibility for the disparities that result from greed, indifference and ignorance. If the ideal of politics is morality in practice, then the touchstone of your agenda must be that our collective consciences catch up with our reality.
Campaigns in Los Angeles always call for a celebration of our diversity. But feel-good rhetoric will not change lives. Elected officials like yourself must be unafraid to peel away the glitzy epidermis of Los Angeles to reveal the city's severe lack of affordable housing, quality health care, jobs with living wages, humane police protection, and, most damaging to our city's soul, first-rate schools and after-school programs. Our city can only be lifted by a mayor who forthrightly tells all of Los Angeles what too many in Los Angeles already know: that principal institutions of local government fail to afford all residents equal opportunity and equal dignity.
I hope in your first few months you will open up a spirited dialogue across our communities by laying out what you believe is required to end the imbalances and inferiorities in our public programs. We need a mayor who tells us what he thinks and then listens, deepens his understanding and involves us in the work of enriching our communities. We need a mayor who will take on the issues that define our lives.
* Steven A. Soto, President and CEO of the Mexican American Grocers Association
You need to focus on the basics, like education, safety and jobs: The things people need, want and believe in, things you promised during your campaign. We've talked with you about creating a retail task force to examine issues affecting grocery stores in ethnic areas. You need to use your influence as mayor to sit down and talk with manufacturers about providing both quality products and competitive prices to small, independent markets. Right now the more you purchase the better discount you can get, which means the independents pay far more than the chains. But with 60,000 ethnic grocers in the state of California, and 18,000 in the city of L.A., that's a lot of purchasing power. You can't force the wholesalers and manufacturers to restructure their pricing, Mayor Hahn, but you certainly have a lot more clout than, say, the owner of La Guadalapana in South Central. We'd appreciate your help.
* Stan Freberg, radio and television humorist
Congratulations, Mayor Hahn! I like to think my vote put you over the top, but whatever. You never called me about making a television commercial for you. If you had, I did have a line I was kicking around, considering your main opponent. Here it is: "Jimmy Hahn: A name you can pronounce!"
Your father, Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, was a legend in helping run Los Angeles, and let's hope his gene pool kicks in as you step up to the City Hall Plate. You have a lot to live up to, but I'm sure you'll do it your own way, and by the way that's the only way. You have your own flag to run up the flagpole, and it should simply say "Mayor Jimmy Hahn." Period.
A young actor once asked the great film star Spencer Tracy if he had any advice for him. Tracy said, "Yes. Learn your lines and try not to bump into the furniture." The kid said, "Anything else?" Tracy said, "Not that I can think of."
However, Mayor Hahn, I would add three things:
1. Follow your instincts
2. Try to get the city to budget more portable toilets for outdoor events.
3. Stay out of the Komodo dragon cage at the L.A. Zoo.
* Lewis MacAdams, chairman of the board, Friends of the Los Angeles River
While some people still see it as an eyesore or a storm drain, the Los Angeles River increasingly appears to central city residents and workers as a place of immense promise. Until now, most of the restoration projects along the Los Angeles have been the work of the county and the state. A Hahn administration could move the city into a leadership role in the river's transformation, and we look forward to working with you to make that happen.
When Gov. Gray Davis signs his next budget, it will include funds for a state park in the old Cornfield railroad yard between Chinatown and the river. Now, FoLAR and the neighborhood groups and youth soccer organizations working to create a 100-acre park with two miles of riverfront at the old Taylor Railroad Yard need your help in achieving a green outcome for Cypress and Glassell Parks as well.
Planning is already underway to create a park at the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and the Los Angeles River just north of downtown. The city can make an immense contribution to that effort by moving its trash truck maintenance facility and converting that land into park. The city should also begin planning now for the park conversion of Union Pacific's "stack-train" facility which stretches for a mile along the river's east bank. Finally, it is time to begin studying the most fundamental improvement of them all: putting the railroad tracks that line both sides of the river through the central city underground and extending the Los Angeles River Greenway along the eastern edge of downtown.
* Lee Baca, Sheriff, Los Angeles County
I look forward to joining forces with you on a number of issues, but particularly in identifying innovative solutions to the serious issues of the homeless and mentally ill that populate our streets. It is unacceptable for Americans to be sleeping on sidewalks in the city of Los Angeles. My office, in conjunction with others, is currently working on something I'm calling the Public Safety Center for the Homeless, which would offer temporary, safe housing to homeless people with nowhere else to go. We are also working on ways to treat rather than jail mentally ill homeless misdemeanants. But the solution can't be achieved by the sheriff-or for that matter the mayor-alone. By bringing our collective resources to bear on this issue, I do believe a solution will be revealed.
* Debra H. Suh, executive director, Center for the Pacific-Asian Family and president, Korean American Bar Association
Los Angeles' amazing diversity is the quality I have most came to appreciate over my 20 plus years of living here. Many of our residents have left the familiarity of their own countries in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. These courageous, risk-takers, like my parents, contribute every day to making L.A. a much more dynamic place to live in.
Yet immigrants have often been less than welcome, and even scapegoated during contentious times like the 1992 riots. Due to language and cultural barriers, they are often hampered from receiving essential services, like police protection, that no one should go without. I encourage you, Mayor Hahn, to invest resources to ensure that all groups have access to necessary public and social services so that we can build a stronger, healthier and safer multicultural community.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor
In the closing scene of the movie "The Candidate" the senator-elect turns to his campaign manager and asks, "Now what do we do?"
That's not a question you, our new mayor, will need to ask. You know you have an incredible city under your watch. During the campaign, you promised to seek more resources for after-school programs like LA's BEST. A recent Times article quoted you telling school officials to "count on me." Well, I am counting on you and so are hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles kids. You gave your word that kids will be a priority. I'm even willing to help you take this case to Sacramento and Washington.
Through my work as national chairman of the Inner-City Games Foundation I have seen children discover hope as we teach them discipline, determination and motivation through athletic and academic growth. I know that students who participate in after-school activities are achievers who set higher expectations for themselves. And every moment an inner-city child is in a safe environment with tutoring, athletics and mentoring is one less moment spent in harm's way.
We have a chance, now, to go even further in helping our inner-city youth. It will require leadership and the mayor's bully pulpit. Together we can offer a new generation of Americans the same opportunities and chances I had when I came to this great city 33 years ago.
It is time to lead. I know you genuinely care about children, and I am certain that you are up to the task.
* Jeremy Strick, MOCA
In recent years Los Angeles has witnessed a renaissance of the visual arts that has made this one of the leading contemporary art centers in the world. We owe this above all to the extraordinary artists who, by working here, transform the cultural landscape of our city. The resurgence also depends, however, on the support of strong cultural organizations, which provide resources for artists and bring their work to the attention of audiences locally and internationally.
I encourage you and your new administration to recognize the contributions of contemporary artists and to make a firm commitment to them. The city profits from the arts in tangible ways--revitalization of neighborhoods, business expansion cultural tourism.
Other American cities undrestand this dynamic and offer much more financial support to the arts. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs annual budget last year was approximately $125 million: the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs budget was only $12.03 million. Those cities that do more to support the arts and arts institutions reap commensurately greater rewards. They succeed particularly in attracting cultural tourism, as well as luring new businesses. The world in recent years has focused on Los Angeles as a center of contemporary art production, yet the city appears not to recognize the potential of this development. Contemporary art is vital to the strength of Los Angeles and must be recognized as a source for creativity and a cornerstone of economic development.
* Eddie Little, self-described ex-con, ex-dope-fiend and author of "Another Day in Paradise"
Here's what you do: Issue an edict to the LAPD and all local judges not to pursue cases involving victimless crimes like drugs and prostitution. This will save a whole gang of money, which you take and put into education, rehab and job training for children and adults involved in destructive alternative lifestyles--gangs, drugs, crime, whatever. I'm not saying don't go after criminals. You quit pursuing the working girls and the kids turning tricks on Santa Monica, but you do go after the guy who turns the chick out. Bust him. If you put the cops on real criminals and the money you save into helping people who need it, then everybody lives happily ever after.
* Jan Breidenbach, executive director of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and Housing L.A.
Los Angeles has a housing crisis. Too many of us can't afford to buy homes or even pay the monthly rent. The city has been producing more jobs--and higher wages--but we haven't been building enough homes. The pressure has caused rents and home prices to skyrocket.
Higher housing costs result in more congestion, as middle income people are forced to commute from outlying towns, and more slums, as low-income families double and triple up in small apartments.
Housing LA, a broad-based coalition led by labor, religious, environmental, tenant and, yes, even business groups, is calling for a permanent, annual, dedication of $100 million into a housing trust fund. (To put this in context, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuiliani recently launched a $265-million affordable-housing initiative for 2001. Los Angeles this year has budgeted only $10 million to housing). Tapping the expertise of the city's affordable-housing community, this fund would produce up to 2,000 apartments and homes each year. That translates into affordable homes for dental and medical assistants, nannies, custodians, grade school teachers, security officers, garment workers and bank tellers. It means secure shelter for the elderly, the disabled and the homeless.
We applauded your campaign pledge to support a $100-million housing trust fund. Too many of our citizens only dream of a place to call home. We have the opportunity--and responsibility--to make that dream come true.
* Jerry Stahl, author of "Permanent Midnight" and "Perv: A Love Story"
I admit, I was a tad sour on politicians after the creepy Republi-coup that put our current president in power. But, thanks to the stand-up, integrity-packed, all-around elevated tone of your campaign, all that's changed. Particularly inspiring, for me, was the famous "crack-pipe" ad that implied, without actually saying it, that putting Antonio Villaraigosa in power would somehow thrust our city into the grasp of a rabid, crack-addled, gang-friendly Latino madman.
Some, of course, have called such tactics the sort of paranoid, sub-Nixonian overkill to be expected from a man whose greatest accomplishment is having been born to a famous father, but not me. My advice, your honor, is don't back down! For too long now Los Angeles has had the kind of sleepy, laissez-faire chief exec who seems to fade into the background and let the ship of state (ship of city?) lumber forward all by itself. But, thank God, you've changed all that.
My sincere hope, Mr. Mayor, is that you keep the flame of hate and fear you ignited in your campaign burning brightly as you serve your time in office. Don't be afraid to keep lowering the hammer. By doing so, you may drive a whole new generation of terminally dissed and disaffected Angelenos to step into the political arena.
And if they do, my advice is duck.
* Ilse Metchek, executive director, California Fashion Association:
You've got to give the fashion industry the respect it's due. We're one of the largest industries in L.A., but we're treated as if we're some dirty little business on the corner. We have the same glamour as the sizzle industries, and the same social problems, but the focus is always on the problems. Our industry employs 150,000 workers, and they're not just sewing. They are in sales, textile production, design and transportation. Fewer than 50,000 work in factories, and only one-fourth of those in entry-level jobs. We do not condone sweatshop conditions whether they're in the apparel industry, at the race track or in restaurants. You need to use your office to applaud the industry while at same time, supporting the fair treatment of all workers.
Our fashion industry is bigger than New York's, but in New York, Mayor Giuliani is at every one of those runway shows. With the past City Council we have not been able to achieve any interest in marketing our city as a style trendsetter. For example, we have five fashion weeks a year, in which buyers from all over the world come to purchase our goods. How about helping us to celebrate them? We need to utilize the glamour of Los Angeles to celebrate our industry. The mayor's responsibility is to provide focus. Now that the glamour is off the high-tech industry, let's put the focus on an industry that puts more people to work--with ladders for upward mobility--than any other in the city.
* Roy Romer, superintendent, Los Angeles City Schools
For three brief days in June, the city of Los Angeles was unified in its pride and happiness over the Lakers' triumph. But athletic fame is ephemeral. Society requires more substantive accomplishments to improve the lives of its citizens in long-lasting, meaningful ways. A good public education system, along with stable families and safe neighborhoods, is central to that goal because it transforms today's curious, eager-to-learn children into tomorrow's competent, productive adults.
In your mayoral campaign, you stressed education as one of the essential keys to the city's future. All Angelenos--political leaders, educators, parents, business people and the children themselves--will have to work together to make this educational system the best it can be. The Los Angeles Unified School District has already embarked on a far-reaching program of improvement and expansion to better serve its 720,000 students. We are overhauling our instructional programs even as we are adding and modernizing classrooms.
I look forward to working with you as we continue to improve the performance of our public education system.
* Sandra Serrano Sewell, Executive Director, Centro de Ninos, Inc.
As a long-time child advocate, I look for programs that improve the quality of life for children and their families, for programs that are "equalizers," as the public schools used to be. Children need programs where it doesn't matter what part of the city you come from or how much money your family has. There don't seem to be many programs like that left.
That's why the Department of Recreation and Parks, with its programs that serve kids across class and ethnic lines, is so important. The public has been very supportive of our parks, passing numerous bonds for improvement. Yet, when I look at the parks I see dirty unsafe bathrooms, play equipment that needs to be repaired, gang graffiti, trash bins that have not been emptied, baseball and soccer fields that have not been groomed and lights that are not working. In inner-city parks, the list of items needing attention is just too long, and the lack of green space is a tragedy.
I have called the Department. They say they are sorely understaffed. They are so short of staff they cannot even spend funds that have been earmarked for repairs, improvements and general upkeep. I suggest you take a long, hard look at our parks and the slow rate at which funds are being spent. It's time that we give the department the human resources it needs to get the job done.
* Chi Mui, senior field deputy to Sen. Richard Polanco (D-L.A.) and president of Friends of Castelar School in Chinatown:
You have a chance to transform both Chinatown and the city of Los Angeles. First, I'd urge you to keep careful watch on the expected $40 to $45 million in state funds to build a state park at the old Cornfield property along the L.A. River in Chinatown. Chinatown has no parks. It's a community of families, many of them working-class or elderly. The park would be within walking distance of some 30,000 residents.
We don't have a middle school in Chinatown. Please add your influential voice in favor of establishing one, preferably along the riverbank and integrated into the park. We have a shortage of affordable housing, particularly for senior citizens, and we think that could be built on eight acres on the bluff overlooking the park. The Chinatown business district needs parking. Chinatown should have $3 million to $4 million accumulated in a parking-meter fund, and we would like to see you facilitate using the money and other funds to build underground parking with a hotel on top. The project might involve reviving Little Joe's restaurant. It would be right next to the light-rail station. But the main thing is the Cornfield. It could be the Central Park of Los Angeles.
* Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmet, co-creators and co-hosts of Comedy Central's "The Man Show"; Carolla also co-hosts the radio show "Loveline"
First, you need to fire all the guys known as garbage men and hire guys who aren't afraid to get out of the truck and actually pick up some garbage. Is it too much to drag those green Hefty bags out to the curb at night and expect them to be picked up in the morning without having the dumpster exactly aligned with the robotic arm? We would also like the Clippers seized from Donald Sterling: just taken away like a coup in a foreign country. If he has no intention of winning, we'd like the team turned over to us. And then there are tickets: Jaywalking tickets, traffic violations, anything short of abducting a bus and leading the cops on high-speed pursuit should be eliminated. We would all pay a flat fee at the end of the year to cover, say, 3.5 parking tickets, 2.5 speeding tickets, and let's get on with life.
We would like to see you move some criminal elements into Burbank so the police there have something to do. And merge the next Lakers championship parade with the gay pride parade; Shaq in chaps, a great combination. Another fashion note: We'd like to see you discontinue wearing a hard hat at groundbreakings. What, you're afraid the silver shovel's going to take out your cranium? In fact, no one in a suit should be allowed to wear a hard hat. And if you throw out the first pitch, you have to work at least three innings; you can't just walk back to the dugout. We don't want to see you on any of those photo-op ride-alongs, out there driving a nail with Jimmy Carter or shuffling along at the breast cancer Walk. We'd like to see pictures of you at your desk working. That should be a good start for your first year, then check back with us.
* Dan Stormer, civil rights lawyer
Has a single person in LAPD management been punished for the Rampart scandal? Or for any of the large verdicts against the LAPD? No. For any meaningful change to occur, Chief Bernard Parks has to go, and you have to start a civilian police-review board with legitimate oversight authority over management that will not be a rubber-stamp for police cover-ups. Your office for years defended all of these cops, as if you hadn't heard of any of this. You have to recognize and admit that the system is not working. You can't have a Rampart unless you have a department with rampant misconduct. People are fed up with police management: They really want more accountability, and you're going to have to address these matters. Ultimately, it's going to be a political issue. If the police continue to act way they are, there will be more scandals, and ultimately that will be laid at the feet of the mayor.
* Pamela McDuffie, Pico-Aliso projects community activist
Don't forget about East L.A. just because we were Villaraigosa supporters. We need preventive programs and we need money over here. There is too much violence. Since 1995, in a two-block radius of where I live, I've seen four children under 13 murdered. You name another community in the United States that has lost that many children to murder. I know you like gang injunctions, but an injunction is not going to help anything. You take the kid off this block and put him on another block. A gang injunction doesn't encourage a kid to go back to school and build some self-esteem. You've got to get with a kid and work with him. You've got to find out what you can do to help him that will change him for life. I've seen that happen through youth programs and job programs. We have a new gym now. We have after-school programs that include basketball, soccer, baseball, dance and Junior Troopers, where the kids are tutored and are taken on trips. I see a reduction in gang recruitment as a direct result of such activities. But a lot of our programs run on grants: When the grants run out, so do the programs. We have to keep the money flowing. We also need opportunities to find jobs for high-risk kids. We need to have some money to continue the work at Homeboy Industries, where enemies work side by side, where kids are getting trained not just for jobs but careers. I'd like to see more money come into the community to work with teen mothers, to help them accomplish their goals, finish school and get on with life. We have child care but not where you can take infants. Finally, we need community-based policing. It's not that the police don't work with us when an incident occurs, but we want to be able to work with them to prevent violence. We need law enforcement to understand the people here are not all bad.
* Celes King III, bail bondsman and state chairman of the Congress on Racial Equality
If you don't think racism is still the No. 1 issue of our time, I have one thing to say to you: racial profiling. I grew up in this community, on Central Avenue, and I have seen racial profiling everywhere. I once owned a Porsche, and I received many tickets that were really just race tickets. This has to be addressed. We need to start early. We need to teach children before racism becomes a part of their whole psyches. We expect, Mr. Hahn, you will make significant moves in this direction.
* Eric Thierman, homeless, temporary resident of Los Angeles Men's Project
The main thing the mayor needs to do is help the homeless. I talk to homeless people, and they don't want to live on the streets. In the past the mayor has wanted people to get off the streets, but there haven't been any alternatives provided. We need to have facilities where people can stay, rather than on the streets as they're doing downtown. I hope you will set up a commission to work with the homeless and also expand work programs for us.
* Bill Daniels, president, Screen Actors Guild
The most important legislative issue confronting SAG, and I believe our whole industry, is the issue of runaway production--the flight of film production to foreign countries that provide more favorable tax treatment and economic subsidies. An estimated $15 billion will be lost to America this year alone because of runaway production, and Los Angeles, the center of entertainment production, will be the biggest loser.
The Screen Actors Guild, and I'm sure the other workers in our industry, are ready to work with you to develop solutions to runaway production and to keep film and TV jobs in America. We need your help both locally and as an advocate in Sacramento and Washington. I urge you to lead and pledge the cooperation of the 55,000 area members of SAG if you do.
* Theodore R. Mitchell, president, Occidental College
At several campaign stops this spring, you recalled your father as "the pothole guy," a man who built a reputation for doing the simple, unglamorous things that improved his constituents' lives. As the father of school-age children, you know that today the children of Los Angeles face large "potholes" in their path toward a productive future.
The LAUSD is in the process of wrenching reform. Superintendent Roy Romer has begun to focus the district's resources where they belong, on instruction. He needs your counsel and support against those who would retard that progress.
Children need more safe and supportive environments after school. Your proposal to expand after-school programs is not just good; it is essential. Using your authority to bring together the Recreation and Parks Department with the district and private organizations like LA's BEST and the Boys and Girls Clubs, L.A. can become a model for urban partnerships on behalf of our children.
We desperately need new schools, and your proposal to create a joint city-LAUSD agency to identify and acquire school sites is promising. More broadly, the city and the district need to work together in Sacramento to eliminate the drag of needless or outdated regulation in order to make new kinds of property available for school facilities. Our children are counting on you.
* Nick Patsaouras, engineer, and Doug Suisman, architect
There are moments in the life of every city that call for a new urban vision. This is one of those moments here. We propose you start in the neighborhoods--all of them. Local schools, parks, plazas and libraries, instead of standing alone surrounded by parking, should be physically connected and operated together to form true multipurpose social centers. Each cluster of neighborhoods needs its own small downtown--a main street where residents can buy groceries, meet friends, exchange neighborhood news. Modest investments in these social spaces can pay high dividends.
We must balance these far-flung, smaller projects with a few key projects on a citywide scale. Don't be afraid to think big, for a mayor must dare. Dare to reject visions that can only see the cash on the table, like the ill-advised plan to line our freeways with billboards. Dare to recognize that public safety, by itself, never made a great city; it only makes a great city possible. Dare to lift our eyes to a vision that may seem beyond our grasp, a vision of a mountain-rimmed coastal metropolis that is compact, connected, efficient, green, vital, safe and proud.
* Barbara Lott-Holland, Bus Riders Union member
I would ask you to keep your campaign promise to support the consent decree with the MTA to improve the bus system, one element, of course, being the purchase of 350 new buses. We have to put buses first, not rail. Not only will it reduce bus overcrowding but provide more jobs, because they will need more drivers to operate the new buses. Right now the MTA is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the consent decree; we'd urge you to ask the MTA to stop its appeals. I would also like to see bus service expand. I work in Torrance and live near USC, and I must take three buses from three different municipalities to get from home to work. I would like to see bus service extended so it doesn't take young people who live in Watts 2 1/2 hours to get to UCLA. We need buses that have wheelchair lifts that work; we need more buses that run on compressed natural gas for less pollution. We're also asking for the bus fare to be reduced to a $20 monthly pass and a 50-cent one-way fare. Now it's $1.35, $42 for the monthly pass, and there are no family passes. The majority of people riding the bus are poor--day laborers and such who don't work a complete month. If these families are making $1,000 a month, for a family of five to buy passes for everybody costs more than $200 out of the monthly income, and that's too much. We also need a $10 student pass. You have 6-year-old kid who gets on the bus, she has to pay $1.35, and that's ridiculous."
* Linda Griego, entrepreneur and former deputy mayor for Tom Bradley
High school dropout rates have reached epidemic proportions in Los Angeles for Latinos, the fastest growing segment of the city's population. If this situation is not reversed soon, Los Angeles will be the home to an ever-increasing population of future workers who will be stuck in bottom-rung jobs for the rest of their lives. Some 26% of Latinas and 31% of Latino males leave school without a diploma.
How about creating paid internships that include an educational component leading to credits towards graduation? Supplement the programs with a mentor-support hotline. Create an awards program honoring outstanding small-business owners, corporate citizens, artists, teachers and others who participate in the Mayor's programs. Perhaps you could consider city tax incentives for businesses that hire at-risk high school students.
I leave you with one of my 92-year-old grandmother's favorite sayings: " El que adelante no mira, atras se queda " -"He who does not look forward will be left behind." Thousands of Latino dropouts and thousands more to come will be left behind if they have no future.