Streetsblog Transition Team: Pick the New Transportation Committee Chair
(This is the second part of our “Streetsblog Transition Team” discussions. Earlier we discussed who Eric Garcetti could, or should, appoint to the Metro Board of Directors.)
Ok, so this isn’t something that the Mayor has to do, but rather the City Council President. While Herb Wesson is likely to stay as Council President, Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl will be leaving office. The Transportation Committee Chair has a large role in setting the Council’s transportation agenda.
While hardly omnipotent, witness Rosendahl’s loss on the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes story, the Transportation Committee Chair is one of the most important elected leaders that Streetsblog covers. A lot goes into who chairs what Committees, but here’s a look at all fifteen members and member elects and their odds of being Transportation Committee Chair.
District 1 – Gil Cedillo – A former leader in the Assembly, it’s hard to picture him angling for a role on the Transportation Committee, one of the lower profile Committees on the Council.
District 2 – Paul Krekorian – Krekorian is a veteran legislator who has taken a lead on transportation issues, including fighting the city and state’s speed limit laws. However, he’s been on the City Council for six years and has yet to express interest in being a member of the Transportation Committee.
District 3 – Bob Blumenfeld – Blumenfeld, another Sacramento legislator returning home, could be a dark horse for the position. He pushed transit friendly legislation in Sacramento and, with Rosendahl leaving, is the only member of the 2013-2014 City Council who ever penned an op/ed for Streetsblog.
District 4 – Tom LaBonge – This could be a landing spot for LaBonge, the long-time Vice-Chair of the Committee (dating back at least to when Wendy Greuel chaired). However, the Council Member’s love of the outdoors makes it unlikely that he would seek a new Chairmanship given his long-term chairing of the Recreation, Parks and Aging Committee.
District 5 – Paul Koretz – Koretz has been a Transportation Committee member for the past four years. However, he hasn’t worked to build a transportation legacy, outside of some projects in his district.
District 6 – Special election underway
District 7 – Felipe Fuentes – As an Assembly Member, by this point it should be apparent they are all Assembly Members, Fuentes’ staff was more involved with local transit issues than most, showing up to fight fare increases, testifying at Gold Line hearings, etc. Fuentes is also a favorite of Pacoima Beautiful, and I’ve found that group to be pretty much right about everything. While I don’t know this Council Member-Elect well, he could be another dark horse.
District 8 – Bernard Parks – No offense to the Council Member, who’s always been kind when we’ve met out of chambers and was very involved when there was an LAPD v bicyclist issue; but he barely stays awake in Transportation Committee hearings. I know Herb Wesson and he don’t get along, but an appointment to be in charge of this committee would be cruel.
District 9 – Curren Price – While Price has a distinguished record in Sacramento, he doesn’t seem as ready to lead on local transportation issues as his predecessor, Jan Perry. When asked at a recent MyFigueroa! meeting his thoughts on the project, he would do little more than acknowledge that the project does indeed exist.
District 10 – Herb Wesson – The Council President doesn’t chair committees.
District 11 – Mike Bonin – I woud say Bonin is a favorite for this spot, given his familiarity with LADOT, Metro and Transportation issues from his time as Rosendahl’s Chief of Staff, but I don’t want to seem to eager to have my Council Member on all the important transportation issues.
District 12 – Mitch Englander – The Chair of the Transportation Committee would be a powerful place to push the road bond proposal to bond against a new real estate tax to fix streets that Englander has championed. Englander has also taken a leading position on “getting tough on hit and run offenses.” It’s hard to believe after the Wilbur Avenue debacle in 2011, but Englander might not be a bad choice for this committee.
District 13 – Mitch O’Farrell – O’Farrell could be another contender for this position. Given his relationship with the Mayor-Elect, it makes sense for him to chair a committee that has some visibility but not one of the committees that deals with budget, finance or audits.
District 14 - Jose Huizar – Another strong contender for the spot, Huizar has served on the Metro Board and Transportation Committee the last four years. He’s also had a couple of high-profile transportation issues, including the Spring Street Bike Lane repainting controversy and the battle over new bike lanes in NELA.
District 15 – Joe Buscaino – Buscaino wants to remain chair of Public Works. He will likely stay.