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Parks in Council District 8

The Los Angeles City Council would have a tough time functioning with 15 members like Bernard C. Parks. But it needs at least one. Parks combines independence, strength and acuity, a rare combination on a council where many members prefer to wish away the city’s problems. The Times endorses Parks for reelection.

That is not to denigrate his principal opponent in the District 8 race. Forescee Hogan-Rowles, who runs a nonprofit, is smart and civic-minded. She understands finance and has served on the board that oversees the city’s Department of Water and Power, giving her insight into the government and how it operates. She is a credible candidate and deserves to be taken seriously by voters.

But even though Hogan-Rowles is running as an outsider, she would add to the council’s status quo. She is backed heavily in this campaign by organized labor, which is making hundreds of thousands of dollars in independent expenditures to defeat Parks. No wonder, given that Parks has been sounding the alarm regarding the city’s workforce — its “addiction,” as he puts it, to personnel. Combined with the downturn in the economy, the city’s propensity to add positions in good times and protect them in bad has created a staggering financial crisis: The city projects a shortfall of more than $350 million next year. Parks, almost alone among his colleagues, has forthrightly argued that significant cutbacks in the workforce are necessary to resolve the city’s difficulties (and even that will take time, as pension and healthcare obligations to retirees will persist for years). Parks may not be right in all his prescriptions, but at least he focuses his colleagues’ attention.

Hogan-Rowles offers no real plan to address any of that, beyond bringing competing interests together in the hope that good intentions will suffice. Her promise not to balance the budget “on the backs of workers” should be regarded as worrisome evidence of her allegiance to those underwriting her quest for office, not as a solution to the city’s difficulties.

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The race’s third candidate, Jabari Jumaane, is a firefighter with an admirable interest in civic affairs, but he is no match for Hogan-Rowles, much less Parks.

We do not agree with Parks on everything. He is, for instance, a persistent critic of the buildup of the police force, while we have regarded that as instrumental in the city’s historic crime reduction. Moreover, Parks can be imperious; if there’s a public official in this region less willing to suffer a fool, we’ve yet to meet him. But he has experience few can match, including five years as chief of the Police Department and two terms on the council, and a refreshing willingness to challenge the conventions of City Hall.


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