Call it the once and future debate.
This past Monday night, David Vahedi and
Paul Koretz — the candidates running to replace Jack Weiss as council
person representing L.A.’s 5th Council District — met in a
debate on the UCLA campus.
Hosted by the appropriately named Bruins
for Traffic Relief, the event was co-sponsored by ABC7 and Manatt Phelps &
Philips, LLC, with an assist from the League of Women Voters, and mediated by
ABC7’s Adrienne Alpert.
To say it started slowly would be an
The two candidates seemed more like boxers
clinching in the ring for much of the event, They finally began swinging away
towards the end of the hour-long debate, as Koretz accused Vahedi of accepting
donations from a developer, despite his insistence to the contrary.
The gloves came off again briefly when the
two questioned whether it would be possible to put the planned Expo Line
crossing at Overland Avenue below grade; both favored it, noting the heavy
traffic and a nearby elementary school. However, Koretz questioned whether it
would be possible due to increased costs, while Vahedi insisted it could be
done, noting that it was the council member’s job to protect local residents.
Both candidates disagreed with current
proposals to raise revenues by outsourcing operations of various city
functions, such as privatizing parking meters. Vahedi suggested that the city
should focus on cutting waste instead, such as a recent multi-million dollar
expenditure to replace what he characterized as “perfectly good” trash cans.
Meanwhile, Koretz noted that construction
crews usually end the day with excess cement, which invariably goes to waste.
He recommended reaching an agreement with private firms to use that excess
cement to patch city sidewalks, saying that it could help them solve a waste
disposal problem while saving the city millions of dollars, and fix sidewalks
that might otherwise take years to repair.
Vahedi called for a Metro Park and Ride
system that would travel down the 405, connecting Valley residents to job sites
in Century City and along the Wilshire corridor, as well as city-owned parking
facilities near other major transit lines. Koretz recommended an overhaul of
the city transportation plan, saying that instead of spending billions to build
subways, the city should look into innovative above-ground options, such as an
advanced personalized rapid transit system — something Alpert
characterized as a fantasy plan, drawing the biggest laugh of the night.
Alpert asked both candidates for their top
three priorities for spending stimulus funds; Koretz listed transportation,
infrastructure and affordable housing. Vahedi suggested sufficient hospitals,
mass transit and schools, as well as funding additional scholarship programs.
The debate will be televised on ABC7 this
May, on a date to be determined.