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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
Questions & Answers
1. What do you think is the single most important issue facing the City of Los Angeles today? As Council Member, what would you do to deal with it?
Far too often City Hall has been an obstacle rather than partner to neighborhood revitalization, building new parks, bringing life to our historic buildings, attracting and retaining jobs and making good use of taxpayer funds. I am running because the taxpayers deserve better City services, deserve a more efficient City Hall and prioritizes customer service and job creation.
Three key issues I will address once elected are:
Bringing Real Customer Service to City Hall + On day one every resident and business in the 4th District will get fantastic, friendly, responsive and effective service from my office and staff. Public service is exactly that but somehow that message has largely been lost within the City bureaucracy. I believe part of implementing Mayor Garcetti's "back to basics" approach to government is assuring that every City employee has been trained in customer service, that every call to City Hall is returned within 24-hours if not within the same day, and that every service from pothole repair to bulky item pick-up has specific performance goals based on data, that performance is tracked and reported and that Department leadership is held responsible for that performance.
Finding Realistic Solutions to Fix Our Infrastructure + Streets, sidewalks, trees, water pipes, power lines, sewer pipes: these are the backbone of City and they are broken, crumbling, exploding and leaking. The good news is there are solutions. My passion is Public Works and I will continue the work I have already done to restore services like tree-trimming, expand street resurfacing through efficiency, partnership and partnering with the County and private-sector to acquire more asphalt and aggregate for less. I will expand ongoing efforts to bring transparency to DWP and will establish a goal and implementation plan to upgrade our water and power infrastructure. I have too much experience helping residents and businesses recover after DWP water pipes, over one-hundred years in age, exploded and spilled water and damage in all directions. Fixing our infrastructure is not just about cost-avoidance, liability and reliability, it is about creating a world-class city that has a solid, stable background where families and businesses can take roots, grow and flourish.
Development and the Ability to Bring Stakeholders Together + I have worked every day and will work every day to find solutions all sides can support but in the real world you often have controversy and passionate disagreement. Whether it is the development of a new hotel, a small restaurant asking for an alcohol license, or the finding the right permit parking solution, I have a track record of bringing folks together, easing tension and finding solutions. My ability to roll-up my sleeves, mediate disputes, and find solutions means projects will move forward fasters, it will mean less expensive litigation and it will mean a more business-friendly Hollywood.
2. The City Administrative Officer has estimated a $300 million budget shortfall for 2015-2016. What steps do you propose to deal with this problem and how much do you estimate each step would reduce the shortfall?
Honesty is a critical factor for why the Chamber should support my candidacy. I will always be honest with you and I think our City budget should reflect that same honesty. I feel it would be dishonest to say we can simply strip away existing pension benefits and liabilities for today's employees. I support the second tier for new employees. I support negotiating greater contributions by employees to their own healthcare costs. I also think that if we are honest we have to acknowledge that despite that pension costs for legacy employees will be an enormous cost and we just have to deal with it + there is no magic solution to make it go away.
To address the structural deficit we have to limit future liabilities, both in terms of pension and healthcare but also trying to reduce the lawsuit buffet that is sidewalk slip and fall, lapd and lafd legal settlements. Most of all however we have to deliver services efficiently and we have to grow. Growth in employment and investment will do much more for improving our budget than yet another round of cuts to public services.
My five priorities for the budget include:
1. Challenging existing service delivery to do more with less + as I mentioned my passion is Public Works. The problem with our streets for example is not just an issue of funding. It is an issue of the equipment used, how the asphalt is purchased, inefficient labor rules and practices, and targeting individual problems rather than systematically upgrading our entire system. We can correct these issues and be able to do more with less.
2. Concentrating on core service delivery + when the economic downfall first hit, the City's response was largely to cut everything, roughly similar amounts and still continue trying to do everything and doing almost everything poorly. Our priorities should be public safety and infrastructure. Given the choice between paving another street or funding a well-intentioned but ephemeral special program the choice is clear, my choice will always be the core service.
3. Invest in and facilitate growth + This means marketing Los Angeles as a place to start a business. This means a permitting system that is rational, predictable and efficient. Changes such as electronic plans a records will save the City and applicants both time and money.
4. Implement the BTAC recommendations + I expect to see consolidation of classes and reduction of top rates to be in any budget I support. Reductions in business tax revenue will be more than offset by increases in sales and property taxes from increased business activity.
5. Use real data to program services and evaluate progress + The City has amazing parks and should provide programs that communities want and need in those parks. Unfortunately we parks programming based not on what surveys reflect or demonstrated need + we deliver programming based on what we did last year and what staff prefers. This is true in every single department. The world has undergone a big data revolution but inside the walls of City Hall decisions are still made based on inertia and oral tradition not hard facts. I expect departments to explain the cost per foot of new sewer pipe in our City versus others and the private sector, I expect us to set goals, meet them and improve year over year.
3. What is the single most important issue facing your Council District today, and how would you deal with it?
I am going to improve the delivery of services to our constituents. On day one every resident and business in the 4th District will get fantastic, friendly, responsive and effective service from my office and staff. I think what is more important is what I want to change about how Department staff treat the public. Public service is exactly that but somehow that message has been largely been lost within the City bureaucracy. I believe part of implementing Mayor Garcetti's "back to basics" approach to government is assuring that every City employee has been trained in customer service, that every call to City Hall is returned within 24-hours if not within the same day, and that every service from pothole repair to bulky item pick-up has specific performance goals based on data, that performance is tracked and reported and that Department leadership is held responsible for that performance.
Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. Candidates' answers are presented as submitted.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: January 10, 2015 14:00
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