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Opinion: There’s a lot that our readers don’t like about Rick Caruso and Karen Bass

L.A. mayoral candidates Rick Caruso and Karen Bass on election night.
(Los Angeles Times; Associated Press)

If you read The Times’ letters page regularly, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that some supporters of mayoral candidate Rick Caruso do not think he’s getting fair media coverage in his campaign for Los Angeles mayor. To them, journalists have focused too much on his wealth accumulation and property development and not enough on his philanthropy and public service.

Some supporters of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) see this coverage as serving Caruso’s interests. Bass, who will face Caruso in the Nov. 8 runoff, has served in multiple elected offices and even shared a Profile in Courage award for her work on brokering a state budget package as Assembly speaker. But the sharp focus on Caruso gives him the advantage of free media attention, they say; one letter published just after the June 7 primary made that argument.

There’s plenty of time left for the respective sides to make positive statements for their candidate, and as we move further away from June 7, the media bias argument is being made less often. But for now, and as with other elections, much of the focus is on the negative.

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To the editor: I keep hearing that what Los Angeles needs is a successful businessman to fix the mess we’re in. How, by any rational standard, does spending 12 times more than your main opponent put you in second place if you are such a great businessman? Caruso seems to have made the waste part of government an art form.

For someone who has thought so long about running for mayor, shouldn’t Caruso have invested some of his billions in trying to mitigate the homelessness crisis instead of building just high-end developments?

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For all the good his $40 million in campaign spending did him, maybe just half of that amount invested in some proof-of-concept homelessness solution would have carried him further.

Sara R. Nichols, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Your articles on Caruso always seem to mention his billions. What’s wrong with that? I have loved what he did with some of that money from the first time I set foot in the Grove on the day it opened. It may not be a “real” shopping street, but it’s a lot better than an enclosed mall.

And yes, his Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel is expensive, but it is in Montecito, where everything is expensive. It is also low key, and the food and service are exquisite. At least you have to give the man credit for good taste.

And then you love to mention that he was once a Republican. Have you ever watched MSNBC? It is filled with former Republicans such as former RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt. You keep saying Caruso was once a Republican the same way former President Trump keeps saying that he won the 2020 election: Repeat something often enough, and it will stick.

The Times Editorial Board endorsed Bass, which is its right. She is a good person and a good politician. But I personally have questions about politicians who go from job to job. That is no more noble than being a billionaire.

Jerry Otwell Rutledge, Palm Springs

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To the editor: Is it true that as mayor, Caruso would bypass the City Council on homelessness decisions as well as remove its ability to oversee land use?

This kind of power grab would probably require voter-approved changes in the Los Angeles City Charter. I, for one, don’t trust a billionaire developer to be at the helm with this kind of power.

Mary Bonnie Bray, Los Angeles

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To the editor: When I asked a friend of mine, a Democrat, which candidate she was voting for before the June 7 primary, she replied Caruso. Unequivocally.

I knew that spelled trouble for Bass. She may have received more votes than Caruso in the primary, but now that it’s just the two of them, guess who all the Republicans will vote for in the fall? Caruso will get their votes plus the Democratic votes (like my friend’s) that he managed to win over in the primary.

Bass supporters such as myself should not get complacent.

Laura Owen, Pacific Palisades

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To the editor: If Caruso is serious about addressing the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, why didn’t he put the $40 million spent on his campaign into creating a place where unhoused residents could live and access needed help and treatment?

That would help some people and give us a sense of what solving this problem will actually cost. Caruso knows something about building and development. I would be far more impressed by that effort to address this issue than I have been by his empty assertions.

John A. Brock, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Bass speaks in “nuanced terms” about homelessness and sees it as unfixable in four years. Should voters be aware of other problems she sees as unfixable during her tenure?

No thanks. I prefer Caruso’s “simpler message” of responsible leadership with an actual plan for fixing L.A.'s problems.

Tess Lopez, Glendale


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