Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA mayoral race 2013: Jan Perry draws on LA City Council experience in mayoral run

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry in her City Hall office.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Councilwoman Jan Perry jokes with students from KSWG, the student-run radio station at South Regional High School #12.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry poses for a photo with Antoine King of Crenshaw after a candidate forum.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry look on as the honor guard works presents the flags at the ribbon cutting ceremony for South Regional High School #12. Her Ninth district has long been viewed as a seat of black political power.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry speaks with Greig Smith, a Republican and former councilman from the San Fernando Valley. Smith has endorsed Perry in the mayor's race.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Councilwoman Jan Perry looks on at a ribbon cutting ceremony at South Regional High School #12 with campaign aide Helen Sanchez.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry looks over notes for her speech to students at the school's ribbon cutting. The councilwoman used downtown projects to spur economic development in the poorer parts of South Los Angeles.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Councilwoman Jan Perry speaks to students at the ribbon cutting for South Regional High School #12 in South Los Angeles. The school is the first to open in the area in 90 years.

Grant Slater/KPCC

A pamphlet for Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry sits on the lap of an audience member at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in South Los Angles.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry and campaign aide Helen Sanchez ride the elevator down from the top floor of the Wells Fargo building in Downtown Los Angeles where the candidate spoke at meeting of the African American Chamber of Commerce.

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry

Grant Slater/KPCC

Mayoral Candidate Jan Perry prepares to cut the ribbon at South Regional High School #12. Perry has often taken neglected or underutilized sites and turning them into community assets like this school.


Jan Perry's favorite spot in the city is at the corner of Slauson and Compton avenues. It’s the unlikely site of  a seven-acre, man-made wetlands park filled with flora and fauna, including a children’s garden and hiking trails. That’s quite a transformation from its original use as a storage yard for the Department of Water and Power. 

That’s been the storyline of Perry’s 12 years on the Los Angeles City Council: taking neglected or underutilized sites and turning them into community assets. For most of her tenure, Perry’s Ninth District covered downtown and much of South Los Angeles. She’s pro-business and pro-development. Her tenure has overseen the revitalization of downtown, including construction of the L.A. Live complex.

“The thing that L.A. Live embodies is the catalytic, large investment to show to smaller investors [and] small developers [that] downtown is a good place to be," said Perry during an interview in her City Hall office. "We’ve put our stake here and you should follow and that’s why it was important. It’s a foundation upon which to build."

The councilwoman used downtown projects to spur economic development in the poorer parts of South Los Angeles. New construction projects often included affordable housing units. Developers were told to hire construction workers who lived in the district. Opportunities like those will now be few and far between, since the city’s recent redistricting process severed South L.A. from most of downtown.

"The difference that boundaries make is where the dollars can be invested," Perry said. "So now South L.A., the southern part of the former Ninth District, has no middle-income community to leverage for investment in the lower income portion of the district."

Redistricting displayed Perry’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that few other political events had. In the fall of 2011, Perry publicly accused her colleagues of making backroom deals to name a new city council president and skew the redistricting process. Her frankness ended up hurting her. When the new council district lines were approved, Perry — who lives downtown — was drawn out of her own district.

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Let him eat cake: Happy Birthday, Mayor Villaraigosa

Los Angeles City Hall gadfly John Walsh with his cake for the mayor.

City Hall gadfly John Walsh wanted to recognize the mayor's birthday.


Antonio Villaraigosa isn't always a popular figure around Los Angeles City Hall.  But John Walsh nonetheless came Wednesday bearing cake for the mayor. 

Walsh, one of the best-known government gadflies in L.A., had stopped by Hollywood’s Red Ribbon restaurant and grabbed a mocha-flavored cake. The icing read: “Mayor Villaraigosa, Happy 60th Birthday."

“He tries to hide his birthday because he wants people to think he’s younger,” said the always-suspicious Walsh, a 69-year-old retired public school teacher.

Walsh added: “Of course, we invited Charlie Sheen” — a reference to the mayor’s recent photo taken in Baja Mexico with the bad boy actor. Walsh himself is something of a bad boy at City Council and other meetings where he often loudly shouts loudly his criticisms.  Here’s a choice clip from an MTA board meeting.

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House Democrats look for answers to prevent gun violence

Grace Napolitano (D-Los Angeles), foreground, serves on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

House Democrats heard a long list of suggestions Wednesday afternoon from law enforcement and health experts about how to prevent gun violence. Gun owners also weighed in on possible legislation.

Democratic Congressman Mike Thompson of Napa County repeated the line he uses every time he introduces himself as head of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force: "I’m a hunter," he said. "I’m a gun owner and I believe that law-abiding citizens have a Second Amendment right to own firearms."

Thompson invited a pair of fellow gun owners to testify, including James Cummings, a hunter and member of the National Rifle Association. Cummings warned that any gun laws must be both practical and enforceable. He pointed out that since the original assault weapons ban expired, the number of those weapons in America has tripled.

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LA City Council to review airport's public education contracts

LAX Thanksgiving

Ben Bergman

Councilman Dennis Zine, a candidate for city controller, wants to review contracts awarded by LAX to educate the public on delays caused by ongoing construction.

The Los Angeles City council is looking into nearly $4 million in contracts to educate travelers on construction at LAX. 

The Board of Airport Commissioners approved three contracts totaling $3.8 million last week:

  • The Phelps Group, $1. 6 million
  • AdEase, Inc., $1.55 million
  • Nothing Films, Inc., $690,000

Los Angeles World Airport’s Mark Adams told the city council that their purpose is to explain to passengers why the terminals and nearby roadways are under construction and how it'll affect their travel plans. 

“What this is to do is to inform the traveling public, inform locals, inform anybody who would be coming to LAX about the nature of the impacts that they would see at LAX and what is coming to LAX after that construction period,” Adams said.

Councilman Dennis Zine, a candidate for city controller, introduced a motion to review the decision. The board's seven members are appointed by the mayor. The councilman, who represents the third district, said he was particularly concerned that two of the contracts were given to companies based outside the city. (The Phelps Group is Santa Monica-based; AdEase is out of San Diego.)

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Maven's Morning Coffee: DWP's solar program, governor talks community colleges, Beverly Hills publishes employees' salaries

solar plant

LADWP

The Department of Water and Power's solar buyback program is starting up as planned, despite some concerns from the Los Angeles City Council.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Wednesday, Jan. 23, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The Department of Water and Power's solar buyback program will move forward, reports KPCC, despite concerns from the Los Angeles City Council.

Which Way, LA? discusses Gov. Jerry Brown's plans for community colleges.

A Daily News editorial explores why politicians label themselves as outsiders when election season rolls around. "Their implied message: Hey, blame the insiders, not those of us who just happen to have held public office for four or eight or 12 years!"

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