House speaker, Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local.”
O’Neill was was a Congressman from Massachusetts who served as the Speaker of the House between 1977-1986. His father served on the Cambridge City Council, and in his own political career, Tip became known as a tireless advocate for regular people who never shied away from his belief that government has to contribute to American lives by standing by those who need it most.
On Tuesday, there will be Municipal elections held across LA and important issues are on the local ballot. County Measure H is a vote to authorize a 1/4 cent sales tax (for 10 years) to help fund homeless housing, outreach, prevention and support services for the county’s 60 point plan. If you support the unified City, State and County push to meaningfully address homelessness, as I do, then vote Yes on H.
If you live in Council District 11, as I do, you are asked to choose between Robin Rudisill, Marc Ryavec and Mike Bonin. Bonin is running for his 2nd term. He won his first election for City Council four years ago, with more than 60% of the vote. He was the fresh face of a new generation in local politics. Today, Bonin is a seasoned City Councilmember who has worked hard to forge meaningful alliances throughout City, County and State politics. He often reminds his constituents when he meets them in-person at countless local events he calls “pop-up office hours”, that he is their closest ally in the City. He is their voice and their first line of input into the policies that affect their lives; and he is there to ensure the quality of their daily lives. He doesn’t shy away from the tough topics. He posits and prods until he finds an inroad to solutions, then he brainstorms with a smart field staff to come up with realistic remedies that don’t smack of pie-in-the-sky, but offer real solutions to difficult issues. He joins with colleagues and cajoles foes to come to the center and talk about what can be done. His significant political capital, won through years of effective problem solving, enables him to continue to build the credibility that benefits his District.
I know this because I’ve worked with him for three of his four years as City Councilmember. In my role as Chair of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness when it was founded, and later the Chair of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, as well as current President of Paul Revere Middle School PTSA and Vice-Chair of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, I’ve gone to him plenty, and I’ve seen him go to work for us. When we needed LAFD to work with us on homelessness, Mike was the first one to pull the levers to start the conversation; when we needed the LAPD to collaborate with us on enforcement, Mike was the one who worked behind the scenes to get the Chief to hear us; when we needed a carve-out for debilitating mansionization ordinances that didn't take the character of our neighborhoods into account, Mike went to bat for us after understanding the nuances of our position; when we asked for STR regulation to be tweaked, when we asked for street vending limits, for overnight parking regulations... and more, Mike would reach out to hear us and if we made sense, he would stand firm against stream for us. I’ve also heard him say, “we won’t see eye to eye on this,” and in those cases I recognize his commitment to the broader district, and I know to try my battle with a different angle.
Council District 11 hosts some of the wealthiest, and some of the poorest residents of our City. Bonin recognizes that these are all his constituents, and he works hard to craft policies that can reconcile these disparate needs.
Measure S - the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative - is a far tougher choice. Aiming to curb development, Measure S is a two year moratorium on commercial development that involves zoning change. Local politicians say although Measure S addresses a few key ills that have to be retooled in City Hall, it stops the good construction along with the bad. Opponents of the measure see it as being tantamount to tying the hands of the politicians we elect to serve us, and taking the matter of over-development into our hands with an over-broad stroke that adversely impacts affordable/homeless housing, parks, business complexes and other positive projects that contribute to the economy.
Proponents of the measure see it as a sorely needed stay on building and development that has run rampant in the city of Los Angeles. Between developers who write their own EIRs, pay fees for spot zoning, skirt outdated community plans and cajole zone changes so they can continue to build in the name of increasing density to make housing affordable, proponents of Measure S are calling for a ‘time-out’. To counterbalance the rushed development we are seeing, they say the measure would allow the City to do the retooling admittedly needs to be done on the development front. A coalition of open space advocates, nature preservationists and protectors of quality of life issues in R1 zones say a “Yes” on S is a no brainier. They are waging a fierce battle with some hefty supporters.
On the School portion of the ballot: for the Community College District Steven Veres, Dallas Denise Fowler and Nanct Perlman for seats 2, 4 and 6 are endorsed by the LA County Democratic Party and the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club.
For the LA Unified Board District 4 seat both the LA County and the West LA Democratic Club endorse Steve Zimmer. The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club endorses Nick Melvoin and the Pacific Palisades Republican Club endorses Allison Holdorff Polhill (who is a Democrat). Allison was the President of the Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees. The High School is a very successful independent Charter (ranked 57th among the top 100 high schools in the state), and Holdorff-Polhill was an effective President who negotiated tough issues in a manner that left staff, teachers, students and parents impressed. Her run has a great deal of local support and her campaign has gotten traction well beyond her home turf. District 4 stretches from Encino and the edge of Sherman Oaks to Topanga, Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, over to Westwood, Mar Vista, Venice, Westchester and Marina Del Rey. A vast district with a mind boggling diversity, Zimmer, who is the School Board President, has had two terms to build support among a disparate constituency that often seems to want a disjointed set of policies that can hardly suit school-goers from end to end of the district. Allison presents the smartest option.
Please vote on March 7th, and engage in local politics. It shapes your life.