Walter Moore: L.A. mayoral candidate

Since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for expanding the Police Department by at least 1,000 officers, 694 have joined the force. Considering that crime continues to decline in Los Angeles, should the hiring go forward even in the face of dramatic budget shortfalls? Or should hiring stop or be slowed until more revenue is available?

The sun has set each day since Villaraigosa took office, but it was setting each day before he took office too. Likewise, crime rates have been dropping throughout California since the mid-1990s, when the state adopted the three-strikes law. That crime rates continued to drop after he took office, therefore, does not prove he has had any positive impact at all.

What is noteworthy is that since Villaraigosa took office, the crime rate in surrounding cities has dropped twice as much as in the city of L.A. (i.e., 6% vs. 2.5%). The crime rate in our city, moreover, is much higher than the crime rate in surrounding cities. Our murder rate is 51% higher than New York City’s.

Each day in 2009 so far, 70 people who live in L.A. have been victims of violent crimes, and 253 per day are victims of property crimes (e.g., burglary, grand theft auto, etc.). Safer than in the 1950s?

Tell me another one, Pinocchio.

Villaraigosa has increased the size of the police force a mere 6% -- about 500 officers -- but increased his own staff by 32%. [Police Chief William J.] Bratton says we need a force of at least 12,000 officers. Villaraigosa’s goal is a mere 10,300, and he asks you to pat him on the back even though the current force is just 9,800. Are you getting, now, why he’s afraid to debate me?

The LAPD labors under a federal consent decree that arose from years of officer misconduct and scandal. Police disciplinary hearings had historically been open for public review until courts recently ruled that they could be closed under state law. Sen. Gloria Romero has attempted to pass legislation that would reopen misconduct hearings. But police unions strongly oppose it. Do you believe the public has a right to know the names of officers who commit misconduct and the details of their misdeeds? If elected, would you campaign for reopening police misconduct hearings?

You glossed over an important fact: The consent decree was extended by three year because Villaraigosa and Bratton failed to comply with it. That is a major failure for which both share responsibility. In the private sector, they would be terminated. As for the police hearings, they are in the nature of a private personnel matter and should be kept private. If a citizen is dissatisfied with the outcome, that person can always file a lawsuit. But if I’m elected mayor, I’d like them to contact my office first, because I will not allow a few “bad apples” on the police force to tarnish the reputation of the LAPD as a whole.

Who deserves credit for the steady drop in Los Angeles crime -- the mayor, the police chief or someone else?

The premise of your question is flawed: There has not been a “steady drop.” Some months it’s up, some months it’s down. In any event, credit goes to: a) the people who passed the three-strikes law; b) Immigration and Customs Enforcement for taking illegal alien gang members off the street, despite Villaraigosa’s insistence on extending “sanctuary city” protection even to gang members; and c) gang members who intimidate their victims into silence, thereby artificially driving down the statistics and giving the false impression of increased safety.

To what extent is it appropriate for a mayor to control the local school district? How well managed was the attempt by the current mayor to make this happen?

It is unconstitutional under the state Constitution, and therefore inappropriate. Serving as mayor is a full-time job. Anyone who wants to improve the schools should run for the school board.

Mayor Villaraigosa set out to take over all Los Angeles public schools and now oversees a small percentage of them. Do you believe his efforts have been worthwhile? Do you believe it has made a difference in the way children are being educated?

No and no.