Quick Debate Post Mortem in Los Angeles

As predicted, our “debate” was a great recitation of talking points, lots of zingers aimed at the Mayor. It’s hard to say who scored the best zing of the evening – everyone had some clever way to say “Mayor Hahn Sucks!”
Yay. Mayor Hahn sucks. We know that. Thanks Messrs. Parks, Alarcon, Hertzberg and Villaraigosa. But now what?
Still, it was a little entertaining. But what struck me as odd was the choice of moderators for this debate. Now, I have no problem per se with the fine folks who helped moderate this debate, but I had to wonder why, for example, they had an editor from the Los Angeles Daily News asking questions, instead of say, Rick Orlov, the paper’s City Hall reporter, who is considered one of the most knowledgeable journalists covering City Hall these days.
I also wonder why we have to have TV reporters involved in these things – again, there’s nothing wrong with them, but let’s be frank – when has a television reporter in LA’s local television market ever broken a story that didn’t already appear in print somewhere? How many cover the inner workings of City politics on a daily basis?
But back to the participants. I have to say, for a debate that had so much importance placed on it, I didn’t find the exchange to be particularly useful. Bob Hertzberg got some good digs in on the Mayor, to be sure, and his announcement that he’d sign an order banning road construction crews during rush hour got some applause.
(Note to Hertzberg staff: Howard Stern campaigned on this very issue ten years ago in his campaign for Governor. No, I’m not kidding. Look it up. Maybe you can have Bob appear on Stern’s show after the New Year?)
Hertzberg’s site even offered live, realtime spin during the debate. This way people didn’t have to wait until after the debate to get the spin from the campaign. No word on how the other teams were planning their spin, or to whom, if anyone, would be around to listen.
Overall though, with so little time to get much information out there, we were left with the usual cadence these things produce. In fact, using some buzzwords, a few statistics and taking note of the rhythm these guys speak, you could make up your own 1 minute glib responses. Let’s say someone asked you a question like “What will you do about traffic?” you could say:
“I am committed to fixing our traffic mess witha 5-point plan that gets communities involved in the efforts to find ways to get the stakeholders together to move Los Angeles forward, not backward, in this time of crisis. And I really think Mayor Hahn is a stinker.”
Ok, take out that last line – that’s a joke. But you get the idea. Bla bla bla and whatnot, but not a lot of reasons why these guys are running, what makes them think they’re any better than the guy in office, aside from the fact they don’t like Mayor Hahn and think he’s a stinker. For the Mayor, he had to not choke or flinch when enduring one of the zingers aimed his way, and resist the urge to put Bernie Parks in a chokehold when criticized about crime.
(Memo to Parks staffers: No one in their right mind would want Bernie back in as Chief – you may want to go back to defending Wal-Mart instead of attacking the Mayor on this issue.)
I suppose what surprises me the most about our incumbent Mayor, whom we all love to pick on, is his alarming lack of excitement for someone who seems to engage in all sorts of devious political behavior.
Usually people who act like that, for example Ex-Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco, have some sort of forceful, in-your-face personality that fills in the gaps created by ethical questions. Mayor Hahn doesn’t so it is hard to see how he’s going to weather countless hit pieces and television ads paid for by the opposition.
One down, more to go. I’m sure most Angelenos are busily paying attention to each development on the campaign trail for Mayor and City Council. Who cares about the holidays anyway?
UPDATE: Today’s LA Times has a short wrap up which is somewhat interesting. So does the Daily News. LAObserved.com has a wrap up too.
More interesting are the two large, blaring banner ads for Bob Hertzberg, touting his plan to split up the LA Unified School District into “smaller” districts. It almost overwhelms the reader trying to read the story, but at least they’re aggressively putting out their “spin” to the public as fast as they can. Whether it works or not, we won’t know for some time though.
Oddly enough, I a comment on the Hertz-Blog asking a question about this proposed breakup, but it never made it on the site…must have been a techincal glitch of some sort.
For the record, my question was “How does one break up the LAUSD and ensure we don’t end up with a few wealthy districts and many more poor ones that don’t have the money to serve the needs of students?”
Anyone? Anyone?
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

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