Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Bill Rosendahl tells LA City Council he'll finish term and keep fighting

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It wasn’t quite his swan song, but Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl took to the council floor Tuesday to make it official: he won't run for a third term as had been planned. Rosendahl's wide-ranging speech concluded with an endorsement of his chief of staff as his successor.

The decision was made just in the past few days, though there had been ongoing discussions since Rosendahl’s cancer diagnosis at the end of July, according to Mike Bonin, who will run for his boss’ seat next spring. When he learned of the cancer, doctors told Rosendahl the disease was already in stage four. The councilman believes the cancer may have gone undetected for more than a year.

“I’ve never given up on hope," Rosendahl said. "I always believe that if you can go forward in a positive spirit, you might, with the Lord’s help, make a difference with your soul and with yourself.” 

In a 20-minute speech to his colleagues and an interview with reporters, Rosendahl reviewed his accomplishments from the past seven years. The Westside councilman focused on LAX, medical marijuana, land use, and the needs of veterans. He also let loose on other politicians, calling former President Bill Clinton an “idiot” for signing the Defense of Marriage Act and former President George W. Bush a "bad guy" for invading Iraq. The members of Congress are “gutless punks,” Rosendahl said.

Rosendahl also called for the legalization of marijuana. (The councilman has admitted to being a long-time user of medical marijuana.) 

“Frankly, I feel so bad for these actresses, like this [Lindsay] Lohan lady. Making her a criminal. For what?”

The councilman started in politics back in the 1960s, doing philanthropic work with John D. Rockefeller III and working on the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. 

“Three times a week, John and I would have lunch in the Rainbow Room,” Rosendahl said. “We would talk about ways to bring young people and the establishment together.”

When Rosendahl's term ends on June 30, he hopes to return to media. Prior to running for office, Rosendahl was a cable TV executive who also produced and hosted a public affairs program.

“I made more money — triple what this money is,” Rosendahl said. L.A. City Council members make $178,000 a year.

Bonin, Rosendahl's chief of staff, is joining a field that already includes candidates Odysseus Bostick and Frederick Sutton. Current council members Jan Perry, Ed Reyes and Mitch Englander were all chiefs of staffs for their predecessors. Councilman Tom LaBonge was also a longtime aide to his predecessor, John Ferraro. 

When the new term starts on July 1, 2013, there will likely be seven new faces on the 15-member L.A. City Council.

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