Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Jokes at Los Angeles political roast fizzles, focus on May elections

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Andres Aguila/KPCC

L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge was roasted at the annual political event Thursday evening but aside from a few jokes about pumpkin bread and his habit of asking where everyone went to high school, most of the night's jokes focused on the May 21 election.

Los Angeles Mayor race 2013

The annual political roast to raise money for the American Diabetes Association targeted Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge Thursday evening, but with the two mayoral candidates serving as the roasters, the night had more fizzle than sizzle.

More than 850 people packed into a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton to raise about $500,000 at the 16th annual event hosted by lobbyists Harvey Englander and Arnie Berghoff and Councilman Mitch Englander.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky served as the master of ceremonies. Councilman Mitch Englander introduced him as “the man who wants to tax your rainwater” and “the man who will never be mayor.”

The main event featured roasts from Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti. And while their digs focused more on the mayor’s race than LaBonge, it remained pretty tame.

Greuel told the audience she was honored to be with “so many distinguished public servants and Eric Garcetti.”

“I think he looked dashing as Prince Eric,” Greuel said, a reference to one of her own attack mailers.

The controller also took a whack at Councilman Richard Alarcon, who is facing multiple felony counts for allegedly living outside of his city council district. Greuel asked the audience why Alarcon was absent from the evening’s event?

“They didn’t know which address to send his invitation to,” she said. “Who says I can’t be funny?”

Greuel ended her routine by telling the audience the county Federation of Labor’s Maria Elena Durazo had attached Wendy Greuel bumper stickers to all of the cars at the valet stand.

“She would have put a Garcetti sticker on but nothing sticks to Eric,” Greuel said.

Next up was Garcetti, also known as the “kosher burrito,” according to Yaroslavsky. (The supervisor got in a dig that “his dad blew the OJ trial,” which seemed to be a punch line without a setup.)

The councilman started off by congratulating Pope Francis.

“Finally another Latino with an Italian last name,” Garcetti said.

As for his few knocks against LaBonge, Garcetti said that even though the Fourth District rep started his career by flunking the LAFD test, he “truly hit bottom” when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Garcetti also thanked LaBonge for his annual calendar.

“My coffee table would not be even without them,” he said.

Other highlights:

  • Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his plans for Election Day: “I’m a third generation Angeleno. I’m not voting. Hell, I’m not even registered to vote.”
  • The mayor’s thoughts on Dennis Zine’s second place finish in the controller’s race: “He blows  a cool million dollars and comes in second place to a car salesman. What? It’s not Galpin? Oh that’s right it’s Galperin. My bad.”
  • After giving his speech, Villaraigosa set a Guinness World Record for speed walking out of a ballroom.
  • City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana made a triumphant return to the roast. “Who would have thought three years ago that I would be on this stage?”
  • Councilman Joe Buscaino presented a video where he interviewed tourists, homeless men and characters along Hollywood Boulevard about a fake proposal to sell the Hollywood Sign. The councilman started off the video by impersonating one of City Hall’s most notorious gadflies, John Walsh. Speaking of…
  • LA City Hall gadfly John Walsh attended the roast, sitting in the back of the room with members of the media. At one point, several hotel staff members surrounded him, Then, as he sat quietly with his iPad, Beverly Hills police officers escorted him out of the hotel.

Among the bold face names in attendance: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor Jim Hahn, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Controller Wendy Greuel, county Supervisors Gloria Molina, Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslvasky, L.A. City Councilmen Ed Reyes, Paul Krekorian, Dennis Zine, Paul Koretz, Mitch Englander, Eric Garcetti, Jose Huizar and Joe Buscaino, L.A. City Councilmen-elect Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin and Felipe Fuentes, city council candidates Jose Gardea, Curren Price, John Choi, Gil Cedillo and Nury Martinez, city attorney candidate Mike Feuer, former Councilwoman Rita Walters, Controller candidate Ron Galperin, CAO Miguel Santana, CLA Gerry Miller, former CLA Ron Deaton, LAFD Chief Brian Cummings, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Richard Katz, Chris Essel, Bob Hertzberg.

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