Posted by Daryl Osswald, Site Director
UPDATE 8-25-11 VICA Luncheon: Pictures and Questions asked at the event.
2011 Local Officeholders Luncheon Questions
VICA Chair Daymond Rice: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
It pays to be chair of VICA. Since I am leading this off, let’s go over to the table of our presenting sponsor JP Morgan Chase to the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa for the first question. So, Mr. Mayor, have you been in the news lately? Maybe about changing Prop 13?
VICA 1st Vice Chair David Adelman: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy:
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is sitting with the Daily News, the next question is for you. You were hired as superintendent for a district with a shrinking budget and growing student population, in a county with a population larger than 40 states. Are you the superman of documentary legend that we have been waiting for?
Daymond: Councilmember Paul Krekorian:
Going over to the Paul Hastings table, one of our co-sponsors, we have Councilmember Paul Krekorian. The council voted unanimously to approve the Memorandum of Understanding
with AEG for construction of Farmers Field, the first step to bringing football back to Los Angeles. You started out as a skeptic of the project, yet voted for the MOU. What changed during the process to garner your support and what will need to happen to maintain it?
DAVID: Calabasas Mayor James Bozajian:
At the California Apartment Association table is Calabasas Mayor James Bozajian. As of July 1, the City of Calabasas joined several other cities and the County of Los Angeles in banning plastic bags in supermarkets and retailers. Did you support the ban and what impact do you think it will have on commerce in Calabasas?
Daymond: Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky:
Moving over to the Plastic Food Service Packaging Group table, let’s ask L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky about transportation. You have been a long time leader in transportation in the county, serving as an outspoken voice on the Metro Board of Directors and the herald of Carmageddeon—a term you fashioned and we all graciously borrowed. The Valley has more than $1 billion in Measure R funding and about a billion potholes to match. What project or projects should be the Valley’s priority?
DAVID: Councilmember Jan Perry:
Heading over to another co-sponsor, Vons and Councilmember Jan Perry. Since you’ve being elected, downtownL.A.has seen a renaissance. Investment in retail, luxury housing and entertainment has boomed with the expansion of L.A. Live and upcoming construction of Farmer’s Field. How can we spread this good fortune throughout the city?
Daymond: Controller Wendy Greuel:
At the Fresh and Easy table, LA Controller Wendy Greuel. VICA applauds the transparency you have brought to city government through your audit scorecards that include recommendations. Yet, of the nearly 30 reports included on your past three scorecards, only 4 have reached 90 percent implementation and 12 have yet to see any action on implementation. What is the hold-up?
DAVID: LAUSD Board member Tamar Galatzan:
LAUSD Board Member Tamar Galatzan is at the Pacific Federal table. A major issue for LAUSD is social promotion, the unspoken practice of
advancing students despite not meeting academic criteria to progress to the next grade level. What can the district do to end this kink in the system and improve implementation of standards-based promotion?
Daymond: San Fernando Mayor Mario Hernandez:
Mayor of the City of San Fernando Mario Hernandez is at the Community Financial Services Association table. This summer, your city replaced 500 High-Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide street lights with LED lighting. Is the cost of installation worth the environmental impact savings?
DAVID: Councilmember Mitch Englander:
I’m here at the Boeing table, a co-sponsor of today’s event with our newest Councilmember, but a longtime friend of VICA’s, Mitch Englander. As the second largest city in the country, L.A. purchases a lot. Yet out of all of its purchases, only 20 percent come from Los Angeles-based vendors, resulting in lost commerce and tax payments to other districts. To VICA, this seems synonymous to shooting yourself in the foot. How can we fix this?
DAVID: Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich:
Southern California Gas Company has our other County Supervisor here today, Mike Antonovich. The Governor announced earlier this year that he would push realignment in an effort to balance the state budget, placing greater social service control and responsibility on the counties without additional funding. How will the county adapt to these greater obligations without a larger slice of the pie?
Daymond: Agoura Hills Councilmember William Koehler:
Agoura Hills Councilmember William Koehler is at the Kaiser table. Last week, the Agoura Hills City Council voted unanimously to lift the ban on construction of cell phone towers in areas other than business parks. How did the city incorporate resident aesthetic concerns with their cellular coverage needs?
Daymond: Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich:
Let’s go over to NBCUniversal’s table now, and talk to Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. VICA aggressively advocates preventing unfair ordinances from being approved, but once enacted, we can only play defense. Even a seemingly innocuous ordinance can be twisted to affect the city’s industries. As the top interpreter and enforcer of city ordinances, what are you doing to prevent unnecessary ramifications on businesses?
DAVID: Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian:
We are now going to the Manpower table to talk to Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian. Recently, the Glendale City Council banned hookah lounges. This decision builds on Glendale’s 2008 Fresh Air Ordinance and the state’s indoor smoking prohibitions. How do you think the restriction will impact restaurant patronage?
Daymond: Los Angeles Councilmember Dennis Zine:
Councilmember Dennis Zine is sitting with our friend’s from Microsoft. You are leading the charge on Building & Safety reform, including a series of motions concerning sanctions against developers violating zoning law. While VICA supports prosecution of fraudulent developers, we are worried that the restrictions may impact law-abiding firms and slow the zoning process even further. How will you prevent these increased regulations from going too far?
DAVID: LACCD Board member Nancy Pearlman:
Community colleges provide occupational skills training and certificate programs that are a direct line to an effective workforce in the state. How is the district helping students to receive their education and enter the workforce in the most efficient manner and timeframe possible?
Daymond: Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar:
At the Fiona Hutton and Associates table is Councilmember Jose Huizar. The historic Broadway corridor in downtown Los Angeles was once the heart of live and cinematic entertainment. Yet today, ground floor merchants are facing 15 to 20 percent vacancy rates and upper floors are completely vacant, a total of more than one million square feet. Your ten-year initiative, Bringing Back Broadway, hopes to revitalize this district through private-public partnerships. With the city facing a massive budget deficit and its redevelopment agency under ransom by the state, can this dream still become a reality?
DAVID: County of Los Angeles Assessor John Noguez:
Allied Waste has our newly elected County of Los Angeles Assessor John Noguez. You heard Mayor Villaraigosa, what do you think about taxing businesses at a different rate?
Daymond: Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean:
Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean is sitting at the US Bank table. The Santa Clarita Valley Film Office recorded 878 film days and 341 film permits for Fiscal Year 2010-2011, the best film year since the city began issuing permits in 2003. What is the city doing to attract production?
DAVID: Councilmember Richard Alarcon:
Vulcan has Councilmember Richard Alarcon at their table. Richard, as we just heard from Santa Clarita, the film industry is a critical component of the city’s economy. You have been a leading supporter of local filming. As a major proponent of the Film Works initiative and author of the Film Friendly L.A. incentive program, what can the city do to better support productions in the city?
Daymond: Calabasas Councilmember Fred Gaines:
Let’s go over to another co-sponsor of today’s event, the Wells Fargo table and talk with our very own VICA Past Chair and Calabasas Councilmember Fred Gaines. You have long been an advocate for reform of the California Environmental Quality Act. How can the system be reformed to support business growth in Calabasas and throughout the region?
DAVID: Councilmember Paul Koretz:
We are now going to the BNSF table, also a co-sponsor, to hear from Councilmember Paul Koretz. VICA has been a major supporter of the Restaurant and Hospitality Express Program. You recently authored a motion directing city staff to assess the program as a model for more comprehensive development reform. How would you like to see expansion of the program implemented?
Daymond: LAUSD Board member Steve Zimmer:
LAUSD Board member Steve Zimmer is at the Loeb & Loeb sponsored table. High school drop rates in the district have reached more than 52 percent of entering ninth graders, creating a growing population of undereducated, unemployed teenagers and young adults in Los Angeles. What strategies is the district using to stop students from dropping out and help those that do leave to return to school and earn their diploma?
DAVID: Councilmember Tom LaBonge:
At the Alston & Bird table is Councilmember Tom LaBonge. The council voted last Friday to accept applications for private management of the Los Angeles Zoo. You described the proposal as the only model available. With the city facing a budget crisis, should the city consider private management of other public-owned properties?
Daymond: LAUSD Boardmember Nury Martinez:
LAUSD Boardmember NuryMartinez. The district is facing unprecedented federal and state funding cuts, due to tax revenue shortfalls and decreased enrollment. How is the district adapting to the cuts and what changes will need to be made?
More information and pictures will be coming soon regarding the VICA luncheon, but here’s a quick rundown and a couple of bad camera pictures.
The VICA Luncheon was held at the Beverly Garland Holiday Hotel. At 11:30am the crowd of suits and dresses started showing up, checking in at the tables and retrieving their badges.
The Politics were abound and conversations were about local business and the school system. Soon after the crowd was herded inside to their assigned tables. In a room full of politicians, its difficult to get them all to stop talking and to sit down for their meal. Calls over the loud system beckoned for the patrons to return to their seats. After a few more minutes of dialogue, they finally retreated to their eight-top tables.
JP Morgan Chase was the first speaker to take on the pedestal.
The first dish served was a small garden salad that was followed by a chicken plate, vegetables, and garlic mashed potatoes, accompanied by a role. The dessert was a pyramid shaped chocolate cheesecake contraption that was fairly delicious, two bites was enough.
Following the speaker were questions and answers. Two individuals walked the grounds with microphones, alternating with their questions and answers. One microphone would be given to the speaker after the question was given and the speaker would have two minutes to discuss the topic. Mayor Villaraigosa was the first one to go with an extremely broad question about Prop 13 and the answer that followed, to my recollection, had no reference to Prop 13.
Following the Mayor there were about 14 or so other questions and answers. Coming in the next article will be the questions asked and the speakers that answered. Stay tuned.
The luncheon was set to finish at 1:30pm, as one could imagine with a room full of politicians, the luncheon went over by about 20 minutes. Maybe if they had offered wine, the majority of people that left early would have stayed.
All in all the cast of crowd that attended was fairly star studded in the form of politics and the subject of discussion by the questions and answers was very warranted. Most of the talk was about the local business economy and the school system, both of which need much more attention than they have now.
One point made by the last speaker, of whom I will mention in the next article, and this comment almost put me off my chair, “California spends more money per inmate then they do on per pupal.” In other words, we spend way more money on the people we have in our penitentiaries then we do on our children in our schools. This comment was made by Nury Martinez, LAUSD Board Member.