Why I Am Voting for Wendy Greuel

(Note: To help Streetsblog readers decide how best to cast their vote in the election, we asked two regular writers not on staff to write their recommendations in the election. Today, Founding Board Member Emeritus and our 2011 Streetsie Writer of the Year Dana Gabbard writes about his decision to back Wendy Greuel. Tomorrow, current Board Member and 2009 Streetsie Writer of the Year Joel Epstein takes his turn writing about his support for Eric Garcetti. Update: Here is Joel’s piece on Garcetti.)

I am a fairly simple person. When I wrote a commentary in favor of the passage of the bullet train bonds I offered just two reasons why to vote for it. Now I can also add to its virtues its assistance in funding the Regional Connector and Union Station Run-through tracks (aka the Southern California Regional Interconnector Project). Plus all those pesky hidden fees the airlines sock you with has made a fast intra-state network of bullet trains suddenly a lot more appealing vision than it was even back in 2008 when the bonds passed.

OK, so what does a simple guy like me do when faced with the complicated question of who I should vote for in the runoff on May 21st between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, the top two finishers in the March 5 primary, to be Mayor of Los Angeles? Sam Lubell’s recent excellent critique of our civic culture in the city of Los Angeles and the need to reform/streamline city government plus the rather scathing management audit of the L.A. Dept. of Transportation by the Controller’s Office illustrate the magnitude of challenges the next Mayor faces regarding livability and transportation issues.

So while there isn’t a lot of substantive difference between the candidates (which accounts for why the campaign has devolved into a rather mean grudge match replete with mud-slinging and low blow accusations) style does matter when one has to make a choice among two fairly equal choices.

I choose Wendy Greuel. She isn’t flashy. OK, to be honest an excess of charisma isn’t a problem for her. But she is sober and willing to tackle the systemic problems that our city government faces. I respect her and believe she could grow in the job into being a great Mayor.

Why not vote for Eric Garcetti? I’ll concede he is flashy, engaging and appealing. But there is a dark side to Garcetti, one that when he doesn’t think we are paying attention peeks out. This is the empty suit, lack of vision aspect of Garcetti that I find deeply troubling as exemplified by his loathsome grandstanding before the Studio City Neighbnorhood Council in January 2012 where he declared the Wilshire bus lanes “a failure” because of the gaps in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and near Westwood.

And where was Garcetti when some of us fought against the gaps, especially in the Condo Canyon? AWOL AFAIK. Isn’t that the epitome of what Thomas Paine termed the summer soldier? Garcetti is now four-square for the bus lanes in the bright glare of the TV cameras but 17 months ago to pander to San Fernando Valley car-addicted homeowners he was stabbing the project in the back. :-(

Nay to Mr. Flash! Hooray for Ms. Substance and Integrity! I urge the readers of this commentary to join me and help make Wendy Greuel the next Mayor of Los Angeles. I am confident she’ll do a great job.

  • Marino

    Greuel is not flashy because she is business as usual. ie grow the city bureaucracy and fatten the city employees benefits and pensions with no specific plan in mind. I’m not anti union, I’m a union member myself but I don’t think government employees should buy the government solely for their own benefit and purposes. When they start advocating for the good of ALL workers like universal healthcare I’ll be more sympathetic to them.

    Garcetti seems to have a vision for this city. He’s more inspiring. He’s the only one talking about walkable, bikeable streets and using schools as community centers. I can’t think of one idea that Greuel has brought to the table other than the generic “I’ll fight waste”.

  • That was one of the most uninspiring endorsements I’ve come across; I do understand the lack of excitement that either candidate arouses in voters but ultimately disagree with your conclusion.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a little sad that in a city of 4 million, with an incredible diversity of people and economy, the political system performs so poorly that it generates two candidates who are so close that there’s an overwhelming consensus that the race doesn’t really matter. The difference between Greuel and Garcetti boils down to magnitude of support for the Wilshire bus lanes? Yawn.

  • The three previous commenters missed Dana’s point, I think.

    What’s the better behavior of a Mayor? To not get involved in the decision-making for a major project that has to do with improved mobility for a significant number of residents … or waiting until the cameras are handy before pointing out the project’s shortcomings (which, by the way, were known at the time, if he had been paying attention)?

    Dana used the Wilshire bus lanes as an example, not as a specific reason to vote one way or the other. We need a Mayor who works on the important issues and projects (in all categories, not just transportation) even when the cameras are off.

    Visions are nice, and they make for good sound bites on the 6:00 news. The real question the voters need to ask is which candidate is going to be able to find the funding for the visions, not which one articulates the visions best.

    And remember this: Even the most charismatic Mayor in our city’s history — Antonio Villaraigosa — couldn’t achieve all the visions he put forward when he ran, because that same political system which generates candidates with no real differences on what they feel needs to be done also generates City Council members who fight with each other (and with the Mayor) over whose vision is the one to be funded.

    Ask yourself which one can navigate the politics better and that’s the person you should vote for.

  • Joe B

    Why is that sad? This is just the runoff election. Most of the field was eliminated in the primary; now we’re just fine-tuning.

    I think it’s awesome that we get to choose between two pretty good candidates. I much prefer that to the usual, which is holding my nose and voting for a mediocre candidate because his opponent terrifies me.

  • wendy? really? ha!

    Wow, that is a great reason to vote for Wendy — she has no personality and Eric did not support one of your causes. Extremely thoughtful. Why not vote for Wendy for all of the other compelling reasons: she repeatedly lies about her record (every major publication debunked her claim that she found $160m of fraud, waste and abuse); she failed to disclose her material conflict of interest when she fought to keep a Home Depot out of a neighborhood where her family owned a competing store; she listens religiously to her cynical campaign staff which has told her to attack Eric with false ads (the list is too long for this, but my favorite is her accusing him of causing cancer in children because he owns an incredibly tiny piece of an oil well — which give him about $20/year); she audited the DWP’s $7b budget several times and found NO waste — no wonder they are spending over $4m on her campaign. Yes, I think voting for a politician who is bought and sold before the election, rather than after, is a good idea — at least you know who owns her.

  • I’m a bit confused – how is it loathsome to point out that partial bus lanes will be much, much less effective than full ones? I suppose the problem would be that he didn’t fight to complete the lanes through Condo Canyon, or try to convince the BH and SM city councils to support their parts. Did Wendy Greuel fight for any of those parts?

    I’ll agree with you that Greuel’s lack of charisma is definitely not a good reason to vote against her. She generally seems to be a good public servant, though not especially effective speaking publicly as a politician.

  • VoteNOforWendy

    I have the best reason not to vote for Wendy: her people keeps calling our home day and day, very sick, stop calling!!!

  • Neto63SS

    What I find interesting is, what did Wendy do when she was on the City Council? What was her record? Besides what someone so poignantely pointed out voting against that home depot. People seem to forget she was a Councilmember in her life before she was Controller. Also, her decision to become Controller wasn’t a coincidence. It’s much easier to point out what everyone else is doing wrong than having to make difficult decisions that will undoubtedly make you unpopular, piss off friends, piss of residents and sometimes make some people happy. Definitely makes it easier to run for Mayor doesn’t it?

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