Water

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How should the City of Los Angeles plan to meet future water needs of a growing population and business?

I would recommend the large scale implementation of a SMURRF-like system (Santa Monica Urban Run-off Recycling Facility) at various points along the river that could remove water for non-potable uses.

I would expand the revised permitting process for simple residential greywater systems. LA should continue to streamline this permitting process as greywater systems enable homeowners to re-use up to 80 percent of this water to irrigate plants and trees within their property, potentially saving up to 50,000 gallons a year.

The City should provide incentives for the use in homes and businesses of an inexpensive leak detection system as huge amounts of water are wasted from old infrastructure.

The City should consider the pros and cons of desalination. As you know, desalination is the process of turning seawater into fresh drinking water. We must find new ways to provide safe water to Los Angeles and the region. Some cities in California are building desalination plants. While I recognize that there are cost concerns related to desalination, and environmental concerns surrounding desalination plants, including energy consumption and potential harm to certain fish and marine life, finding new sources of water is now an absolute necessity and technology in this area is advancing.

As Mayor, I will end the raiding of special revenue funds, including special revenue funds aimed at providing critical infrastructure maintenance. My opponents have raided these funds to pay for salary increases that the City cannot afford and the City’s infrastructure and environment have suffered as a result of this conduct.

Here is a good presentation on water reuse.

Here is a good presentation from the city

As these presentations demonstrate, the City has made progress in a number of areas related to LA’s water supply, including conservation, but the UCLA report entitled Vision 2021 demonstrates that the progress that has been made is overall insufficient. New leadership is needed to end the bureaucratic hassle of implementing environmentally friendly systems and programs.


The Airport

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1. Terminal improvements must be immediately addressed. LAX is the first and last thing visitors see, and it is embarrassing.

2. Ground operations must be addressed. Traffic around the LAX area is unacceptable.

3. LAWA has made a case that the movement of the runway should occur for newer aircraft and for aircraft safety.

4. Having said that, however, I will listen closely to the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses and take those concerns into serious consideration, and will review in detail neighborhood noise, pollution, and safety concerns on the move of the runway roughly the length of one football field. There are some new technologies that may be available for substantial pollution reduction.


The Port

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As Mayor, I will abide by all mandates relating to clean air and water while keeping LA competitive. With the expansion of the Panama Canal slated to open in 2015, if we fail to keep our port competitive tens of thousands of jobs (if not more) will be lost as numerous shippers will permanently go elsewhere.

As I stated during the League’s Mayoral Debate on ABC7, the city should work with Advanced Cleanup Technologies, Inc. and their Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System (AMECS) (www.advancedcleanup.com) which removes criteria pollutants, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) from exhaust gases from auxiliary engines and boilers while ships are hoteling.

On shore barge-based “plug-in” technology discussed by my opponents is not practical for the shippers because the retrofit for the ships is cost prohibitive, shore power is expensive for ships, subject to increasing power rates, and the overall environmental impact is only a fraction of the overall environmental benefit provided by AMECS (e.g., shore power only replaces 50% of the emissions of the ship – of that 50%, 20% is generated using clean sources so you’ve only ended up removing 10% of the dirty sources from the air, yet AMECS removes over 95% of NOx SOx and PM). This is not something that has to wait another four years for the next Mayoral debate. The city can begin implementing this technology immediately.

I would also support the privately funded Green Rail Intelligent Development (GRID) container transport system.

The GRID system would eliminate millions of truck trips each year in moving containers inland from the port. The GRID system and AMECS and ALECS (Advanced Locomotive Emission Control System) will be built and maintained by union workers and will be job creators. In other words, there will be significant net job gains with the implementation of these new technologies. The increased capacity of the port through the implementation of the GRID technology results in an increased demand for port workers.

Once again the city finds itself operating in “near crisis” mode given the increased competition from East Coast ports after the expansion of the Panama Canal. Once we lose shippers to other ports it will be next to impossible to get them back.


Animal Issues

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As the proud guardian of a rescued Dachshund named Lisa-Marie, I have taken an active and vocal role supporting animals for many years. Lisa-Marie's previous guardian dropped her off at a Bakersfield shelter with serious injuries to her head and mouth.

Therefore, she was considered a "special needs" rescue. After a few trips to the vet, plus lots of TLC at home, she has been in excellent health for five years now. I feel lucky that I have often been able to bring her to work with me.

I went through the dog adoption process to obtain Lisa-Marie on-the-air on my KABC radio show. A listener from Thousand Oaks put me in touch with the Dachshund rescue center where I adopted Lisa-Marie. Pets have shared my home my entire life. Lisa-Marie is a very special dog - she seems to have figured out that she's got a pretty good gig.

My record working in the community to help animals in Los Angeles dates back many years when I worked with the PAWS/LA program at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). I served on the all-volunteer board of APLA from 1995 through 2000, and was a volunteer with APLA dating back to the late 1980s. PAWS/ LA was founded in the late 80s in response to the companion animal related crises faced by LA residents who were financially and physically debilitated by HIV/AIDS and who needed assistance in keeping and caring for their pets.

The program recognizes the value of the loving bond between people and their companion animals, and seeks to preserve that bond. The program has now expanded its scope to assist any low-income individual living with a chronic or life-threatening illness who needs assistance with their pet.

As my broadcast career grew in Los Angeles, I used my radio show to raise public awareness of animal issues. I assisted in the pet adoption process by featuring pets that were in need of a home. I also hosted radio segments featuring many non-profit humane organizations working on the pet rescue, adoption and care industry in Los Angeles, including Operation Blankets of Love.

I also used my radio show to assist volunteers seeking to raise money to pay for uniforms for the city's Reserve Animal Control Officers (RACO). RACO officers are volunteer animal control officers that work with the city's full-time animal control officers. Because of city budget cuts, Los Angeles shockingly only has one or two animal control officers on duty on any given night.

During the 2009 Station Fire, I used my radio show to inform the equestrian community of immediate shelter locations to protect their horses. Also, the city must be prepared to address other critical issues facing the equestrian community (e.g., Building and Safety issues on barns and corrals).

I have already voiced my opposition to the use of bull hooks on elephants in our city, and my support of the city ordinance precluding the use of such bull hooks.

My work within Los Angeles on animal issues over the past two decades has prepared me to meet the many challenges the city's Animal Services department (LAAS) currently faces.

There are several issues facing LAAS that I will make a priority as Mayor.

First, LAAS must implement a genuine "no-kill" plan to bring down the killing of animals in our shelters. This is an important humane goal on which almost everyone agrees. Reportedly the recent "No-Kill December" relied heavily on transports and was not "no-kill" at all. We must be honest with Angelenos about the numbers.

Second, LAAS must work harder to reduce the number of homeless animals. With fewer homeless animals, the shelter intake numbers will be reduced. Lower shelter intake obviously results in lower LAAS costs, and less killing. Emphasis should be placed on animals at highest risk: Pit Bulls, Chihuahuas and cats.

Third, LAAS must increase adoptions to the public. This saves animals' lives, and with animals leaving the shelters, LAAS costs go down. LAAS must also develop strategies to help owners keep their companion animals. Educating the public about the wonderful animals for adoption in LAAS shelters is a big part of increasing adoptions, as are more strategic marketing and better customer service. Deep discount adoptions often result in returns, so public education is key in avoiding this problem. Positions supporting New Hope Partners and volunteers should be restored.

Fourth, LAAS must restore spay/neuter as a top priority and enforce the city's ordinances. This is a key remedy to the high number of impounds, high kill rates and high LAAS costs. Enforcement of the city's ordinances will bring revenue which can then be used to provide greater access to more affordable more spay and neuter services.

Fifth, LAAS must work to solve the animal services challenges rather than relying so much on transports. Transported animals are reported to the public as "live release" when in fact many of the animals are simply being moved from LAAS shelter cages to other shelter cages. The actual outcomes of the transported animals are not known. Transports save lives, but such heavy reliance on transports should not enable LAAS to postpone solving its own problems.

Sixth, LAAS must enforce the city's animal license law. This is a significant revenue generator for the city. Conservative estimates put the number of dogs in the city at 750,000, yet only one out of six is licensed. At $20 per license, the unlicensed 625,000 dogs would bring in at least $12.5 million in revenue each year. Having a consistent working knowledge of our dog population through licensing is also a public safety benefit, and an effective licensing program will increase spay/neuter through the license fee structure. Furthermore, animal license fees should not be cost prohibitive.

Seventh, LAAS must enforce anti-cruelty laws which includes working with law enforcement and the offices of the City Attorney and District Attorney. This is a serious humane issue as cruelty, hoarding, tethering, and neglect cannot be tolerated. Many animal advocates are concerned that LAAS has no real anti-cruelty plan in place.

Eighth, LAAS must continue to strengthen and expand its outreach and education. Effective public outreach and education strategies will increase shelter adoptions, increase owner responsibility and owner retention, and bring in new volunteers, fosters, rescuers and community resources. Outreach and volunteer recruitment should be open to all segments of our diverse population. An emphasis needs to be placed on helping the public solve animal issues.

Ninth, LAAS must do a better job at accountability. LAAS leadership should be accountable for achieving real results. The public deserves transparency. Better decisions are made with complete information. There are numerous opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations, private companies and foundations that can all provide much-needed financial resources to the department. However, to be successful in such partnerships, LAAS must operate efficiently and effectively and be responsive to the requirements of these organizations as well as to the public at large.

Tenth, LAAS must demonstrate that it respects appreciates and supports its volunteers and each of the individuals and groups working hard to help companion animals, wildlife and other animals. LAAS cannot succeed without their dedicated life-saving assistance.

Finally, I am also concerned that our city does not have a comprehensive disaster plan for animals.

Our city's emergency preparedness plan needs to include shelters that allow animals when a family or individual is forced to seek shelter assistance because of an emergency or tragedy. Time and time again we have seen individuals or families refuse to go to a shelter if the shelter will not allow their pets. Pets are part of the family and our city government should recognize this fact when planning for emergencies.


Government Reform

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Los Angeles City Council members are the nation's highest paid, at $178,789 per year. The part-time Washington, D.C., council is next at $130,538. New York's part-time council makes $121,725.

The L.A. council costs the most per seat, $1.7 million, employs staff of more than 300, and each member receives a car (with parking meter immunity) and a $100,000 yearly taxpayer-financed slush fund.

Having a part-time council in Los Angeles would benefit city governance. In addition to savings, a part-time council provides access to a more diverse field of professionals. A part-time council takes advantage of talent and experience from outside City Hall - and City Hall could use a daily dose of the real world.

There are examples of successful part-time councils all over L.A. County and the nation. Six of the 10 largest cities in the nation have part-time councils: New York, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas. Of the remaining four with full-time councils, one is in Philadelphia and three are in California - Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose - one of the most mismanaged states in the nation.

As part-time, the L.A. City Council would be transformed from body of full-time politicians looking to benefit personally from high salaries, huge staffs and perks into one that draws significant contributions from its members.

The full-time L.A. council only works part-time anyway. Records obtained through the California Public Records Act show schedules filled with "excused" absences or early leaves. The L.A. council appears to work on a rotation schedule, enabling it to conduct business with the minimum members needed for a quorum while allowing the maximum time off for all of its members.

Has the full-time L.A. council been successful? That's a question political observers are examining.

Joel Kotkin, a professor of urban development, wrote in The Wall Street Journal in July that "Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined ... to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional Athens by the Pacific."

Since 2005 there have been numerous council failures even at the most basic level. In just two examples, council members admitted that they did not know what digital billboards were before unanimously approving them, and they adopted a moratorium on medical marijuana facilities to cap them at 186 - yet the number of dispensaries grew to almost 1,000.
It is the full-time nature of the L.A. council itself that has likely led to its presiding over one of the most corrupt city governments in the country.

Examples of such systemic corruption include a number of scandals at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (a credit card scam, overtime abuse and strip-club visits by employees on the job), free tickets to entertainment events accepted by elected officials, and misdeeds throughout the Animal Services Department (including the illegal sale of stolen shelter animals and a time card scandal). Currently, the Housing Department and Building and Safety are under investigation by the FBI.

At least half of the council members have faced allegations of conflict of interest or other ethical improprieties. More corruption is evidenced by the Center for Governmental Studies' report, "Money and Power in the City of Angels," which found that the L.A. Council votes unanimously more than 99 percent of the time.

"The nearly perfect unanimous voting record of Los Angeles City Council makes it almost impossible to detect linkages between campaign contributions and council legislative decisions. If any relationship does exist, it is hidden behind closed doors," the report notes.

A part-time council would significantly reduce conflicts and other forms of corruption. For example, with a part-time council, it is much more obvious where potential conflicts exist because it will be widely known which industry, business or company each member works with outside of their council capacity. With a full-time council, such conflict lines are not as clearly drawn. Furthermore, part-time council members with other careers will be less inclined, and likely less able, to fall victim to the attraction of the extended taxpayer-funded boondoggle. (Recall NBC4's exposure of council members' extensive travel on the taxpayer dime?)
Finally, a part-time council member who has another career to return to after his or her term ends will be less likely to make decisions based on election to the next higher office than as a full-time council member whose only source of income is from elective office.

Critics argue that there's not enough time to get things done with a part-time council. But there are numerous examples around the country and county of part-time councils effectively and efficiently governing big and complex cities.

For example, Long Beach's part-time council has made significant infrastructure improvements, including extensive street repaving and neighborhood beautification, all while enjoying a business tax burden significantly lower than L.A.'s. New York City's part-time council continues to contribute to its reduction in crime with the recent swearing in of 1,600 new police officers, while L.A. struggles to maintain its current level of police staffing. In a challenging national economy, Dallas' part-time council has seen significant population and job growth in its city, and 85 percent of Dallas' businesses rate the city as a "good" or "excellent" place to do business.

It is the full-time status itself that leads to failure. The high salaries, slush funds, bloated staffs, and attractive perks all come from the council's full-time status. Part-time status removes such poisonous elements and incentives for corruption and promotes a volunteer, civic-minded approach to local governance. And that will attract a different type of candidate with a more diverse base of experience.

http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_18870107

Too Much Time On Their Hands
http://www.city-journal.org/2011/cjc0908kj.html

Putting LA City Council On the Clock
http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2011/sep/12/putting-l-council-clock/?page=2


Transportation

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In addition to better planning of public transportation projects (e.g., the green line to the airport that stops over a mile from the airport), I will balance the needs of the city with the needs of the region by making sure that other communities are heard and given serious consideration.

Connectivity is a big issue in Los Angeles. If public transportation is not efficient or effective, large portions of the public will not use it. At-grade light rail is an example of transit that supports other modes of transit. However, we have failed at connectivity in many areas around the city. The areas around Mission College near Sylmar are just one example. We must complete the public transit connection to LAX – and do so now.

The MTA should re-work their kiosks to make them more user-friendly. The kiosks are now very poorly designed and discourage use (which gives passengers with choices an additional reason to avoid public transportation).

In addition to better planning of public transportation projects and ensuring that public transportation projects progress on time and on budget, I will utilize a number of efforts to alleviate traffic in Los Angeles. I will make it a priority to move traffic more efficiently and effectively on our City's surface streets. We can move traffic by better clearing the right-hand lanes during peak traffic times and keeping the right-hand lanes moving.

This can be done in a number of different ways including; (a) the installation of right hand turn signals which would require pedestrians to wait a brief period of time (e.g., 20 seconds) before entering the crosswalk, which will allow right-hand turners to clear the right-hand lane for traffic prior to having to yield to pedestrians crossing the street; (b) the installation of bus shoulders at bus stops to enable buses to move out of traffic (this will also increase the safety of bus riders) which would also clear the right-hand lane for traffic while buses are loading and unloading passengers; and (c) continued traffic signal synchronization throughout the City and the continued installation of left-hand turn signals at appropriate intersections.

The City recently had hundreds of millions of dollars in the Special Parking Revenue Fund that was planned for the construction of parking facilities to ease on-street parking and provide important traffic relief. Construction of subterranean parking facilities with open space/parks at street-level would provide much-needed open space, much-needed parking facilities (that would be environmentally friendly by eliminating cars circling blocks trying to find parking), and a way to pay for the operation of the parking facility and maintenance of the park through the parking receipts and tax revenues.

The City’s Bike Plan
Another priority would be to accelerate the implementation of the City's bike plan. The more people that ride bikes in LA, the fewer cars that motorists have to deal with. That means traffic moves more rapidly through the City, and there are more parking places available. The benefits of becoming a bike-friendly city are numerous. For local businesses, economic benefits come from cyclists parking near their shops. For neighborhoods and businesses, roads are safer as there will be fewer car-to-car accidents, and cyclists serve as a form of community patrol whether they intend to or not.

Westside Subway
As someone who has worked in Century City for years, I know that a subway stop linking Century City to downtown, to Westwood and eventually to the sea is desperately needed. At a recent debate, I pointed out that Beverly Hills has raised some serious concerns relating to the safety of tunneling under Beverly Hills High.

The one-minute given at the debate did not allow me to fully discuss the issue. On the one side, you have the concerns raised by Beverly Hills relating to the safety of students and teachers and surrounding community. On the other side, you have the fact that the Santa Monica fault runs under Santa Monica Boulevard, and the fact that Constellation and Avenue of the Stars is the center of Century City and that disrupting Santa Monica Blvd for years during construction would represent a tremendous hardship on West L.A.

We need to simultaneously protect our kids while understanding that the environmental benefits of taking cars off the road also benefits all of us. The most important fact relating to the Century City subway stop that I was unable to go into during the one minute debate answer is the fact that the Constellation/Ave of the Stars station has already been selected and approved by Metro. The decision is now out of the political arena and has moved into the legal arena as the sufficiency of the Environmental Impact Report is being challenged by Beverly Hills. Should the approvals be reversed then I will sit down with both sides and work to understand the basis of each concern and how each concern can be balanced against the benefits provided by mass transit.

Disappointment surrounding LA’s transportation options generally, and the subway to the sea specifically, is understandable. Yet even with such frustration among Angelenos (including residents concerned with the planning of the Crenshaw Transit Corridor), our City leaders have failed to deliver efficient and effective transit. In order to turn the corner, we must turn to new leadership. The days of poor planning, shady bidding, irresponsible outreach, failed implementation, cost overruns, construction delays, and the lack of a common sense approach to smart transit must end – and will end with my administration.

Parking Tickets
The City has gone overboard when it comes to its attempt to increase the City's revenues by increasing parking ticket fines. Hounding City residents and customers of our City’s private businesses with annoying and outrageous traffic/parking fines levied as a result of ridiculously confusing and ambiguous parking signs/rules is not a way to increase revenue. I recognize that parking fines are projected to bring in well over $100 million next year, but I also believe that a city can go too far and drive customers away thereby resulting in a net loss in revenues. Parking fines for meter violations and street sweeping violations should be reduced. The high cost of parking tickets also results in more tickets going uncollected.

A workable solution for ending parking pressures in the City is to build more parking facilities. Los Angeles should convert available empty lots that can be converted to parking garages below the ground (following the model of Beverly Hills) with open space utilized as parks at the street- level.


Transparency

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Lack of transparency and government accountability is a serious problem is Los Angeles. We can’t fix LA until we remove the culture of corruption and build a core of confidence. As the only outsider candidate and former prosecutor running for Mayor I promise to lift up the rug in City Hall, find the corruption, expose it, and clean it up.

Kevin James’ Initial Plan to increase transparency in LA:

Increase Transparency and Accessibility: Bi-monthly town halls will take place in various locations constantly throughout the year around the City where City Department heads (one department head per town hall) will sit in an auditorium and explain what each department does and to hear complaints/suggestions in the public forum about their department. Complaints/suggestions will be recorded in a public record to ensure timely follow-up.

Create a Corruption Information Officer (CIO): Using funds saved from a staff reduction in the Mayor’s office, the CIO will be hired by a committee of Neighborhood Council Members, the committee will be chosen by elected by NC Board Officers. The CIO candidates will be required to have some form of law enforcement/investigatory agency experience.

The CIO will have an office outside of City Hall, including an office in the Valley. The CIO will be responsible for taking complaints of corruption/possible corruption from residents on any city department (except the police department that already has a process for such complaints).

The CIO will have a liaison with the City Attorney's Office, and the complaints departments in the DA's office and U.S. Attorney's Office.

The CIO will have a direct line to reporters at the LA Times, Daily News, Downtown News, local papers and leading bloggers.

The CIO will have an easily accessible website and social media platform for the public to interact with.

Create an Independent Discretionary Funds Oversight Officer (DFOO): Using funds saved from a staff reduction in the Mayor’s office, the DFOO’s responsibility is to oversee the "discretionary" spending of any paid elected official in the City (that would include City Councilmembers, Mayor, Controller and City Attorney). It would not include Neighborhood Council Board Members (their discretionary spending is overseen by the City already). The DFOO's jurisdiction would include "officeholder" account spending as well as discretionary fund spending (also known as "street furniture accounts", etc.).

The all-volunteer Ethics Commission should be relieved of any duties in this area and have responsibility handed over to a full-time professional oversight officer. If the Ethics Commission does not want to relinquish its control, the DFOO should still be created to conduct additional oversight. A volunteer commission simply does not have the time to oversee such spending. The DFOO position differs from the CIO because the CIO is responsible for corruption from all city departments (excluding LAPD), the DFOO is for something entirely different - all elected official discretionary spending of taxpayer funds including officeholder accounts. Even though officeholder accounts consist of donated funds, such funds exist due to the public office being held.

The DFOO would be responsible for maintaining a separate website revealing and reporting on all such discretionary spending.

The DFOO would also collect and publish on its website information on all trips taken outside of LA County by elected officials that are paid for in whole or in part by any private company/industry/interest.

The DFOO will have a direct line to prosecutors in the City Attorney's Office, District Attorney's office and US Attorney's office, as well as close contacts with the media (including print, television, radio and blog).

Part Time City Council
http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_18870107

Is LA Stealing City Hall?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/los-angeles-city-hall_b_1398152.html

LA quietly declares fiscal emergency
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/los-angeles-quietly-decla_b_1615913.html

Bad Budgeting
http://www.citywatchla.com/archive/2695-city-hall-continues-to-stick-it-to-la-with-bad-budgeting-and-deceitful-one-off-gimmicks

Mayoral Candidates Avoid First Forum – Force Second Postponement.
Kevin James Challenged Candidates to Submit Ideas and Appear at Forums

Los Angeles, February 23rd – The "Talking About Los Angeles" Series of Mayoral Candidate Conversations [www.talkingaboutla.com] were recently postponed a second time due to the other candidates’ unwillingness to appear on the stage together in a highly anticipated forum series hosted by Cerrell Associates, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Time Warner Cable and Microsoft. The first forum was originally scheduled for February 2, but was postponed to this Thursday, February 23rd. In addition to abandoning their agreement to participate in the forum series, all of the candidates except for Kevin James failed to submit their answers to the PATCH.com questionnaire submitted in preparation for the first discussion.

Mayoral candidate Kevin James is calling on all of the candidates invited to this Series to appear side by side for this public forum. Kevin will appear anywhere and anytime to have a discussion about the important issues that face Los Angeles. The residents of Los Angeles, as well as the entire Southern California region, deserve to hear directly from those seeking to be the next Mayor of Los Angeles.

“Their arrogance and unwillingness to participate in the election process and share their ideas is beyond upsetting, it is appalling. City Hall insiders in this race continue to operate behind closed doors while they rake in cash from special interests,” said James’ strategist John S. Thomas.

Thomas continued, “Kevin James has been the only candidate willing to share his ideas with the people of Los Angeles. Elections should be a competition based on ideas with an open comparison of those ideas, not a hollow showing of who can merely raise the most money from interests with close ties to City business. These City Hall insiders' lack of respect for the voters in Los Angeles, as well as for the excellent sponsors of this Series, is surprising to say the least.”

James publicly released his initial plan to fight corruption several weeks ago. Just last week he was the only candidate to submit his answers to PATCH on their transportation questions.


The Environment

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It is important that the Mayor be an excellent communicator – communication skills are critical to one’s ability to pitch projects, and to guarantee and deliver success. I am the only candidate in this race with over a decade of radio and television experience and have proven my ability to be an effective communicator in this campaign. I will continue to be the candidate that offers new ideas and viable solutions relating to the environment. I will point out to both labor and business that opportunities are endless for improving our environment and those opportunities include both labor and business and a healthier environment benefits everyone. As business leaders recognize that a cleaner environment improves the value of their businesses and makes LA a more attractive place for others to do business, viable plans and the implementation of new technologies become more real.

Being environmentally aware is not an option, it’s a moral imperative, and with proper planning and implementation of new technology, it makes good business sense and can be accomplished with less expense than thought. In addition, the business opportunities for developing, marketing and installing new environmental solutions are significant.

Through my campaign, and as Mayor, I will continue to promote ways to utilize the benefits of available new energy saving technologies such as residential fuel cells (which I discussed at the ABC 7 Mayoral debate), incentives to install geothermal cooling and heating (which I also discussed at the debate), to make sure that we reach our solar capacity the right way and the best way for LA residents, and to find ways to better distribute the generation of power to reduce line loss and increase the health of the power grid. I will work to find new ways to fund incubators for new businesses that offer promising ways for improving the environment, particularly businesses offering new technologies.

Repeating slogans is not going to deliver the success our city needs. Rather, setting a realistic schedule for environmental improvements taking into account the capacity of our current infrastructure, and holding people accountable for the metrics of our plans and for achieving results is what counts. As Mayor, I will ensure that all department heads implement an accountability system for all tasks, including environmental, so progress can be tracked and so people can be held accountable for not getting things done on time and on budget.

As I stated during the Mayoral Debate on ABC7, the city should work with Advanced Cleanup Technologies, Inc. and their Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System (AMECS) (www.advancedcleanup.com) which removes criteria pollutants, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) from exhaust gases from auxiliary engines and boilers while ships are docked. In addition, this company has the same technology for rail/trains called Advanced Locomotive Emissions Control System.

Second, I would also support the privately funded Green Rail Intelligent Development (GRID) container transport system. http://planetforward.org/idea/the-grid-project-green-rail-intelligent-development/
The GRID system would eliminate millions of truck trips each year in moving containers inland from the port. The GRID system and AMECS and ALECS (Advanced Locomotive Emission Control System) will be built and maintained by union workers and will be job creators. In other words, there will be significant net job gains with the implementation of these new technologies. The increased capacity of the port through the implementation of the GRID technology results in an increased demand for port workers.

Third, as Mayor, I will continue to promote ways to utilize the benefits of available new energy saving technologies such as residential fuel cells that now present a promising approach to solving today’s energy needs. These are cost-effective, hyper-efficient fuel cells suited to a range of both commercial and residential applications. These fuel cell systems operate at up to 90% system efficiency in combined heat and power applications, reducing energy costs by up to 50% and carbon emissions by 40%. About the size of a refrigerator, the fuel cell module hooks up to your natural gas supply.

Fourth, I will support incentives to install geothermal cooling and heating. Geothermal energy is recognized by some as the greenest heating and cooling system available for those looking for an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly heating/cooling system. These systems are available in Los Angeles and the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that geothermal energy is more efficient and cost-effective when compared with conventional residential systems.

Fifth, I will work to make sure that we reach our solar capacity the right way and the best way for LA residents, and to find ways to better distribute the generation of power to reduce line loss and increase the health of the power grid.

Finally, I will work to find new ways to fund incubators for new businesses that offer promising ways for improving the environment, particularly businesses offering new technologies.

As Mayor, I will ensure that all department heads implement an accountability system for all tasks, including environmental, so progress can be tracked and so people can be held accountable for not getting things done on time and on budget.


City’s Commission System

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We must end the "rubber stamp" culture that surrounds the City's Commission system. An independent Inspector General's Office should be created to oversee an independent audit of the Commission system (including the nomination and confirmation process for Commissioners), and its findings including any suggested reforms made public, to facilitate improvements to the Commission system.

I would seek individuals with extensive and diverse experience in the respective field covered by the Commission, that bring a passion for both the industry and the agency as well as a sincere desire to serve their community. I would end the current culture of handing out such important appointments to friends, family members, and campaign contributors.

The criteria that I would use include confirmation that the prospective appointees have sufficient time to devote to the board's work, confirmation that the appointees believe in the work and vision of the agency/department. I would confirm that the prospective appointees fully comprehend and understand the legal rules and regulations covering the issues they will face on behalf of the agency/department.

I would confirm that the prospective appointees possess the necessary specialized skills needed by the agency/department, including financial skills, planning skills, and marketing skills, etc. I would ensure that the prospective appointees fully understand the industry within which they will be working, including comprehensive familiarity with state and federal regulatory agencies (including funding sources).

While the City is extremely honored to receive the service of qualified individuals, service on these boards and Commissions is a privilege and should be treated as an active job, and not a passive absentee experience for someone seeking only to build their resume.


Medical Marijuana

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As the former Co-Chair of AIDS Project Los Angeles, for many years I have supported the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes for those patients that have a legitimate medical need as confirmed by a physician, including people suffering from AIDS-related illnesses, cancer, glaucoma, and numerous other illnesses for which marijuana provides real relief from serious ailments. The City Council, however, completely mismanaged the regulation of dispensaries which led to dispensaries opening up all over the City close to schools, parks and churches. Much of the "product" provided in many dispensaries across the City was tested and determined to have come from illegal drug cartels. City leadership allowed the matter to get completely out of control.

As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, I also believe that, ideally, medical marijuana should be prescribed to patients by their doctors and provided by a pharmacist that dispenses the drug at a pharmacy. That, however, is not the way medical marijuana in California is disseminated. Therefore, I would appoint a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee to bring together representatives from the City Attorney's Office, the District Attorney's Office, neighborhood leaders, residents, and medical marijuana collective participants to all work together in creating a solution that works best for the City -- including reaching a maximum number of dispensaries in the City and further regulating the location of such dispensaries so that they will be dispersed throughout the City with an equal number of dispensaries in each of the City's 15 Council Districts. Law enforcement should continue to enforce existing laws regulating who can prescribe medical marijuana as well as the legitimate medical conditions warranting access to the drug.


Neighborhood Councils

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In 2010, as a radio broadcaster covering City issues I launched a Neighborhood Council tour across the City listening to the issues facing NCs and bringing those issues on to my nightly local-issues talk radio show.

Here's a link to the LAObserved blog mentioning my NC tour -
http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2010/06/neighborhood_councils_to.php

As a candidate, I have specific ideas and goals for the Neighborhood Councils.

In my reaction to the Mayor's 2011-2012 budget, I wrote an article on April 29, 2011 on CityWatch stating that I would NOT have cut appropriations to Neighborhood Councils, even from the previous level of $50k.

Here's the quoted excerpt from my piece -

"An example of a cut in the Mayor’s proposed budget I would not have made is the 10% reduction to the annual appropriations to Neighborhood Councils (“NC”). The city’s NC system results in hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours given to the city every year by NC board members. There are well over one thousand NC board members.

Further cuts to their funds (money used to pay for meeting space, rentals, copies, refreshments, and community activities, etc.) only makes it harder for them to do their jobs – as volunteers – and discourages more extended involvement in the NC system."

http://www.citywatchla.com/archive/1861-kevin-james

Use of Neighborhood Council System to Create a Corruption Information Officer (CIO): Using funds saved from a staff reduction in the Mayor’s office, the CIO will be hired by a committee of Neighborhood Council Members, the committee will be chosen by elected by NC Board Officers. The CIO candidates will be required to have some form of law enforcement/investigatory agency experience.

The CIO will have an office outside of City Hall, including an office in the Valley. The CIO will be responsible for taking complaints of corruption/possible corruption from residents on any city department (except the police department that already has a process for such complaints).

The CIO will have a liaison with the City Attorney's Office, and the complaints departments in the DA's office and U.S. Attorney's Office.

The CIO will have a direct line to reporters at the LA Times, Daily News, Downtown News, local papers and leading bloggers.

The CIO will have an easily accessible website and social media platform for the public to interact with.

Neighborhood Council Representation on City Commissions

I have always believed that the Neighborhood Councils should have more influence in City Hall, not less. Therefore, I would ensure that Neighborhood Council board members are placed on many of the city’s most important commissions (including the DWP Commission and Police Commission). This will be accomplished through two methods. First, certain Commissioner appointments will come directly from existing NC board members. Second, certain Commissioner selections will actually be chosen by the city’s NC board members.

Additional Neighborhood Council proposals coming soon.


Planning

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As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, home of the national football powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners, I am a HUGE football fan. Attending high school in a suburb of Dallas, Texas instilled in me a deep love of professional football. I grew up loving the Dallas Cowboys. In other words, I want the NFL to return to Southern California! However, no matter how much I love football, I refuse to put the risks associated with Farmers Field on the backs of LA's taxpayers, particularly at a time when the City's Chief Administrative Officer says the City is on the brink of bankruptcy. Therefore, Farmers Field should not be built with the use of any public money. Besides, last time I checked the NFL has still not provided a team.

Even if Farmers Field was being built without public money (although AEG's environmental impact report proves that significant public funds would be used), I am still against AEG's current proposal for Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles. One of my primary concerns as Mayor is the permanent limitation on the available square footage of the Los Angeles Convention Center. If Farmers Field is built according to current plans, the West Hall of the Convention Center would be destroyed to make room for the stadium. While AEG claims it will refurbish what remains of the Convention Center, the Convention Center will forever be limited to roughly 750,000 square feet. That means LA will never achieve "top tier" status as a leading convention city because we will not have met the milestone of 1 million square feet needed for a convention center to be considered top tier.

For this reason, I recently published in the Huffington Post my proposed alternative plan for the Convention Center, complete with visuals. My plan not only gives the Convention Center 1 million square feet (with the ability to expand to 1.2 million square feet), it connects the Convention Center to the convention hotel, the J.W. Marriott. If Farmers Field is built as planned, convention goers would have to walk around a football stadium in the middle of downtown Los Angeles to get from their convention hotel to the Convention Center. With my Convention Center plan, Los Angeles does not have to wait for the NFL before we can create these construction jobs downtown. Additionally, an improved Convention Center will result in potentially thousands of permanent jobs in the area, plus additional tourism.

Here is a link to my Convention Center plan - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/la-convention-center_b_1386295.html

Another concern I have is that the mere speculation surrounding the possibility of the upcoming construction of Farmers Field is killing our Convention Center business. I recently served a public records request on the Convention Center to determine how many conventions, trade shows, consumer shows and assemblies have been booked at the LA Convention Center since Farmers Field was announced in 2010. The bookings of the LA Convention Center for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are shockingly scarce, while other cities' bookings are extensive.

Over the past several months I have asked numerous questions relating to Farmers Field that local reporters have either ignored or have not thought about. Here are links to two separate articles I have published asking these important questions.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/aegs-stadium-eir_b_1518762.html

http://www.labusinessjournal.com/news/2011/dec/19/dont-punt-hard-questions-nfl-stadium/?page=1&;

After many months of research, asking questions, reviewing the respective environmental impact reports, and considering the competing proposals in the LA area for an NFL stadium, it is absolutely clear that the best deal for Los Angeles is Majestic Realty's Los Angeles Football Stadium at Grand Crossing in the City of Industry. Tourists visiting the NFL stadium in the City of Industry will undoubtedly spend the night in our hotels in downtown Los Angeles, will eat at LA restaurants, will visit Venice Beach, and will visit the attractions in Hollywood. In other words, Los Angeles gets the economic benefit of a professional football stadium without any of the risk.

Finally, the plans for Farmers Field, as well as AEG's environmental impact report for Farmers Field, indicate that AEG made no serious plans for a major part of football culture in America -- tailgating. Indeed, the proposed site for Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles is far from ideal for tailgating. No one wants to tailgate in a parking garage. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Football Stadium at Grand Crossing is a tailgater's dream.


DWP

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There are simple reforms and common sense solutions to increase efficiency and help reduce needless DWP rate hikes. I believe there are relatively easy changes to be made to the DWP that will increase the City’s ability to provide high quality services at a fair cost to its residents.

For Example:

DWP salaries for new hires should be comparable to L.A City salaries for the same jobs in other City departments (Bloomberg News reported that DWP salaries are as much as 40% higher than other departments for the same job).

Giving DWP employees significantly higher wages than other City workers for doing the same job makes about much sense as tearing down the Convention Center and forever limiting its square-footage potential in exchange for a football stadium when the NFL has not even agreed to move a team to LA.

Additional DWP reform proposals coming soon.


Trash Collection

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As a candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles, I stand with numerous independent waste haulers and industry groups opposed to the city’s proposed franchise system for waste haulers that will put numerous companies out of business, cost hundreds of Angelenos their jobs, and further promote preferred "insider-status" for those few companies chosen to be winners by city officials.

The city’s proposed franchise plan will substantially increase costs for owners of apartments and commercial buildings – costs that would certainly be passed on to their tenants, many of whom are already facing financial challenges. And in the case of commercial buildings, such costs would likely be passed on to customers – families who are already struggling to make ends meet in our city.

Cost estimates of the city's proposed franchise plan put the price of the plan at more than $150 million from higher labor rates and benefits, restrictive work rules and more expensive equipment. Our community simply cannot afford such higher (and unnecessary) costs. Furthermore, reports indicate that the city could potentially lose $30 million per year if the city's exclusive franchise plan is adopted. (Daily News 08/27/12). Taxpayers should not be forced to cover those losses.

It is clear that the franchise initiative now on the table is really about making it easier for unions to kick small independent waste-hauling business out of the industry, thereby eliminating competition and leaving only a few haulers to be negotiated with.

I am the only candidate in this race willing to stand up the unions backing this plan and say Los Angeles cannot afford these unnecessary additional costs. Los Angeles cannot afford to throw away more jobs by chasing good companies away, or by forcing them out-of-business.

I agree with the statement released earlier this year by the chief executive of the Central City Association that the proposed franchise plan will "increase the cost for every business, every commercial property owner and thousands of apartment tenants."

I support maintaining the current system in which haulers (both large companies and small businesses) must get a permit from the city, but then can contract with customers with no restrictions. All trucks must be compliant with existing state and local environmental regulations. This kind of competition is by far the best option for the city’s residents.


Public Safety

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There is no magic number of staffing for the City’s police and fire departments. The best way to determine the correct level of police and fire is through measurements and results. We must make sure that the majority of officer time is spent on the streets and policing our communities. Currently, officers spend 2/3 of their time behind the desk. I propose that we flip that number, so that 2/3 of their time is spent in the community - this can be done by eliminating unnecessary paperwork, outdated clerical tasks, and taking advantage of new technology. This allows us to have increased officer time in our communities, without having to hire more police.

To determine adequate staffing for the fire department, we must find a level that allows us to meet national response times and all other safety requirements. In order to do so, we must first be honest with response time data, so that we can determine the appropriate actions.

As Mayor, my goal would be to increase public safety funding, and use those funds to bring technology up to speed in both departments. Doing so will allow both departments to function more efficiently and to better deliver critical services to our residents. To cover the cost, I will advocate for real pension reform, while simultaneously improving LA’s business environment to grow our tax base and overall tax revenue.

Regarding the LAPD, the state legislature's passage of AB109, often called prison realignment, which is more appropriately known as the early release of prisoners, has caused and will continue to cause an increase in crime in our communities. While current budget constraints prevent increasing the size of the LAPD, more efficient use of officer time and implementation of available technologies can take LAPD officers out from behind the desks, doing unnecessary paperwork, and put them back in our communities protecting Los Angeles.

Regarding the LAFD, eleven years ago, back in January 2002, then-Controller Laura Chick audited the Los Angeles Fire Department and sounded the alarm around LAFD response times. Unfortunately, our elected officials who are responsible for providing safe communities were not listening in 2002, and for the next 10 years ignored continuing signs of a crisis until the close proximity of the 2013 mayor's election forced them to respond.

Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry were recently criticized for voting for budget cuts to the LAFD which caused LAFD response times to grow making Los Angeles a more dangerous city. Common sense says that if you close fire stations and move engines away from neighborhoods the chances of harm to residents increases. While the irresponsible actions of Garcetti and Perry warranted their criticism, it is the more recent inaction by Controller Wendy Greuel that should leave Angelenos outraged and concerned for their safety.

It is well-known that an article written by Austin Beutner, a former mayoral candidate, and a "citizen's audit" conducted by Cary Brazeman, who is running for Controller, exposed the fact that the LAFD responds to emergencies in under five minutes less than 60 percent of the time. National standards call for response times of under five minutes 90 percent of the time. Making the response time scandal worse was the fact that LAFD data was discovered to be faulty and misleading.

In order to restore credibility to the LAFD, an embarrassed Mayor Villaraigosa appointed nationally renowned data expert Jeffrey Godown to analyze the faulty data and create an updated system enabling the LAFD to determine the staffing needs necessary to meet the national response time standard. The now-famous fire response time scandal of 2012 would indicate that Controller Chick's call for an updated system 10 years ago was ignored. According to Controller Greuel's website, "performance and operational audits of City departments and programs are mandated by the City Charter, and assess whether government programs or functions are efficiently and effectively achieving their goals." After the most recent response time story broke, Controller Greuel conducted an audit reaching many of the same findings already uncovered in Brazeman's audit.

Clearly, the LAFD goal of responding to emergencies in five minutes or less is not being met. The accounting of LAFD response times has also been a serious failure, making our city more dangerous. The Charter (Sec. 261) empowers Controller Greuel to "take charge" of any problematic accounting functions and to implement new standards and practices within any city department. Despite having a staff of over 130 taxpayer-funded employees with extensive audit, data analysis and accounting experience, Controller Greuel did not act. Rather than using the powers of her office to help solve this important public safety crisis, the Controller sat on the sidelines, deferring to the Mayor and Fire Chief and leaving them to deal with the data catastrophe.

Within weeks of Godown's appointment, Godown publicly, and appropriately, criticized the lack of cooperation he received from the LAFD Chief. Godown told the Los Angeles Times that the LAFD failed to provide him with the resources necessary to do his job. To add insult to injury, Godown stated that right now the data being analyzed is not even accurate which prevents the LAFD from beginning the process of improving emergency response times for Los Angeles residents. Once again Controller Greuel faced an opportunity to lead -- to step in and implement her authority under the Charter to "take charge" of the fledgling LAFD data -- to offer up her staff experienced in audit, data analysis and accounting practices to help solve the crisis. Yet, Greuel again sat it out. Godown just announced that he is leaving his LAFD post after just three months to accept a job at UC San Francisco. Who will replace Godown? According to Mayoral spokesman Peter Sanders "the Fire Department will assign someone internally."

Given the LAFD's prior history of using faulty data, the decision to replace Godown from within the LAFD is causing concern. While that concern is understandable and indeed warranted, I remain optimistic that the LAFD will solve this crisis. Fortunately, newly-appointed Fire Commissioner Alan Skobin is now overseeing the effort which includes a panel of firefighters working with experts from the LAPD and the Rand Corporation. The taxpayer-funded Controller's office is noticeably absent. Greuel's continued absence is not surprising. As former candidate Beutner pointed out in his March 20, 2012 Op Ed in the Huffington Post, as of March 20, not one of Greuel's 49 audits was a performance audit of the fire department. "Public safety doesn't even make her top 50," wrote Beutner.

What is surprising -- indeed shocking -- is that back in 2002, then-Controller Laura Chick, Greuel's predecessor, published an audit finding that: Critical improvements are needed, however, in the area of data analysis. The very data being analyzed cannot be completely validated or verified by the Department or anyone else, because the LAFD uses an outdated, nonverifiable system to track response times. This lack of ability to verify information means that the Department, despite its genuine effort, cannot with total accuracy track and measure performance in the critical area of response time, and cannot use the data accurately as a basis for resource allocation and deployment.

That 2002 conclusion by Controller Chick was the same conclusion reached by Jeffrey Godown. In other words, for 10 long years, our elected officials, including mayoral candidates Greuel, Garcetti and Perry, have known about the response time crisis and allowed it to continue. It is a fact that Angelenos have lost their lives as a direct result of such irresponsible inaction. On September 1, 2009 (just two months after Controller Greuel moved from the City Council to the Controller's office), the LA Times wrote a story with this headline: "3-year-old's drowning underscores L.A. Fire Department budget cuts." Greuel, Garcetti and Perry, all elected officials, allowed the fire response times to grow and to reach crisis levels until the close proximity of the 2013 mayor's election forced them to respond.


Education

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While the Mayor does not have direct control over the LAUSD, some of the reform items I support include District-wide open enrollment, which is also described as school choice, the parent-trigger legislation (as I believe anything that provides an incentive for parents to become more involved in their schools is good for public education). I also support reform measures to deal directly with violence and drug use in our public schools. I met with LAUSD Superintendent Deasy a few weeks ago and confirmed my understanding that the District has the infrastructure in place to move such troubled students into other facilities -- known in the District as "special day," "option" and "continuation" facilities. Moving students into these "high-attention" facilities serves two very important objectives -- (1) the student is transferred to an environment better suited for their individual needs, and (2) the classroom is able to function much more effectively without the distraction of the troubled student. The problem we face District-wide is the requirement that if the student is moved into the alternative facility, the Average Daily Attendance funds attached to the student go with the student to the alternative facility. Thus, teachers and administrators have an incentive to keep the troubled student in the original school even though the troubled student and the classmates around them would be better served by the transfer.

By failing to move these troubled students into available "high-attention" facilities, the District is giving up on them thereby setting them up for the school-to-prison pipeline. Under my proposed reform measure, students transferred to "high-attention" facilities can work their way back into the main stream school through good grades, good attendance and good citizenship.

I would also invite all stakeholders, particularly parents, to have a voice in the reform measures to improve the LAUSD by holding town hall meetings throughout the City in order to inspire, inform, motivate and empower parents and community members to become a more integral part of the education process to bring about these needed reforms.

Given the size and complexity of the LAUSD, I will create within the Mayor's office an Education Information Officer that will serve as a sounding board for parents, students, teachers and administrators. This office will be part of the Mayor's office and completely independent of the LAUSD. In the face of recent LAUSD scandals, including the Miramonte scandal, allegations of the misuse of funds, and fading confidence in our school district, Angelenos need to know that there is a safe place to go outside of the LAUSD to bring their issues and concerns.

The Mayor's office will also create an education liaison that will attend all LAUSD board meetings and will also serve as an education advisor in the Mayor's office. The Mayor's education office will create and operate a user-friendly resource website the will be a one-stop-shop for providing easy access to policies, municipal codes, and state and federal laws that directly relate to school facilities, rules, guidelines, and funds. This resource will also provide information about, and links to, organizations that cover education-related matters such as bullying, gangs, special education needs, drug use, school violence, school safety, and construction and land-use issues.

I will utilize the influence of the Mayor's office, including the power of the podium, to fight cuts to Adult Education Programs, which are critical in providing the training and skills necessary for many of our students to find jobs in today's workforce and to become productive members of society. Additionally, our public schools should reinstate vocational training at the middle school and high school levels. Partnerships with private business and industries will contribute to the cost of these reforms, and provide internships and job placement opportunities.

Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as either protecting teacher seniority or laying off teachers based on who is the lowest-performing. Teachers do not get to pick their students. What we need is a full and comprehensive evaluation system that takes into account certain contributing factors, including class size, language barriers, socio-economic factors, and special needs circumstances of students. Such an evaluation system should also include peer evaluations. We must compare apples to apples in the implementation of the teacher evaluation process. Some students start out at a lower performance level than others and teachers should not be penalized simply because they were assigned a steeper hill to climb based on the student-related factors described above.


Ending Corruption

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Corruption is a serious problem is Los Angeles. We can’t fix LA until we remove the culture of corruption and build a core of confidence. As the only outsider candidate and former prosecutor running for Mayor I promise to lift up the rug in City Hall, find the corruption, expose it, and clean it up.

Kevin James’ Initial Plan to End Corruption in LA:

Create a Corruption Information Officer (CIO): Using funds saved from a staff reduction in the Mayor’s office, the CIO will be hired by a committee of Neighborhood Council Members, the committee will be chosen by elected by NC Board Officers. The CIO candidates will be required to have some form of law enforcement/investigatory agency experience.
The CIO will have an office outside of City Hall, including an office in the Valley. The CIO will be responsible for taking complaints of corruption/possible corruption from residents on any city department (except the police department that already has a process for such complaints).
The CIO will have a liaison with the City Attorney's Office, and the complaints departments in the DA's office and U.S. Attorney's Office.

The CIO will have a direct line to reporters at the LA Times, Daily News, Downtown News, local papers and leading bloggers.

The CIO will have an easily accessible website and social media platform for the public to interact with.

Increase Transparency and Accessibility: Bi-monthly town halls will take place in various locations constantly throughout the year around the City where City Department heads (one department head per town hall) will sit in an auditorium and explain what each department does and to hear complaints/suggestions in the public forum about their department. Complaints/suggestions will be recorded in a public record to ensure timely follow-up.

Create an Independent Discretionary Funds Oversight Officer (DFOO): Using funds saved from a staff reduction in the Mayor’s office, the DFOO’s responsibility is to oversee the "discretionary" spending of any paid elected official in the City (that would include City Councilmembers, Mayor, Controller and City Attorney). It would not include Neighborhood Council Board Members (their discretionary spending is overseen by the City already). The DFOO's jurisdiction would include "officeholder" account spending as well as discretionary fund spending (also known as "street furniture accounts", etc.).

The all volunteer Ethics Commission should be relieved of any duties in this area and have responsibility handed over to a full-time professional oversight officer. If the Ethics Commission does not want to relinquish its control, the DFOO should still be created to conduct additional oversight. A volunteer commission simply does not have the time to oversee such spending. The DFOO position differs from the CIO because the CIO is responsible for corruption from all city departments (excluding LAPD), the DFOO is for something entirely different - all elected official discretionary spending of taxpayer funds including officeholder accounts. Even though officeholder accounts consist of donated funds, such funds exist due to the public office being held.

The DFOO would be responsible for maintaining a separate website revealing and reporting on all such discretionary spending.

The DFOO would also collect and publish on its website information on all trips taken outside of LA County by elected officials that are paid for in whole or in part by any private company/industry/interest.

The DFOO will have a direct line to prosecutors in the City Attorney's Office, District Attorney's office and US Attorney's office, as well as close contacts with the media (including print, television, radio and blog).

Part Time City Council
http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_18870107

Is LA Stealing City Hall?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/los-angeles-city-hall_b_1398152.html


Improving LA’s Infrastructure

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We have a serious problem in Los Angeles where the power lines are holding up the power poles. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Kevin James’ Initial Plan on LA’s Infrastructure:

1. Conduct a Comprehensive DWP Audit. I will order a top to bottom, across the board, comprehensive, independent and complete audit of the DWP. This audit will be conducted by an outside, independent, and well-respected auditing firm that has not received campaign contributions or other related funding from the DWP or any union servicing the DWP. Ratepayers should not be forced to pay significant rate increases without knowing with certainty where their hard-earned money is going. The DWP has not approached the public in a credible and honest way in recent years. For example, they misrepresented the true costs of their "Measure B" solar plan [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/19/local/me-solar19 ] and they played games with the ratepayers regarding the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor surcharge [http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7328427 ]. This mismanagement will end with my election. There are numerous other DWP matters of mismanagement that warrant such a comprehensive audit. And, by the way, I would make sure that copies of the audit are provided to the U.S. Attorney's Office, District Attorney's Office and City Attorney's office.

2. Readjust DWP Surplus Funds Transfer. We must begin the process of weaning the City's General Fund budget off of the DWP Power Revenue Fund "surpluses." This money, paid by DWP ratepayers, should be used to pay for numerous DWP-related infrastructure projects in need (e.g., replacing tens of thousands of power poles and lines, transformers, and 90,000 broken or leaky cast-iron pipes). If there is $300 million every year in "surplus" money, then why has our infrastructure been neglected for so many years? The DWP and existing City Hall leadership want to raise your rates significantly, yet they continue to hand hundreds of millions of dollars in your ratepayer funds over to the City Council to spend through the City's General Fund budget. This process must come to an end - and soon. As we saw in 2009 and 2010, this process enables DWP brass to wield excessive control over decision-making in City Hall. In order to cover for the absence in the General Fund of the DWP surplus funds, we must prioritize a plan for long-term fiscal solvency for the City, including further pension reform.

3. Prioritize street and sidewalk repairs. Our City streets are the second worst in the nation. Shockingly, 63% of all of the City's streets are rated as "poor" by Federal Highway Administration data. The same data shows that the average urban motorist in Los Angeles spends $746 annually in automobile maintenance due to LA's poor roads. The poor condition of our roads also diminishes road safety for drivers, bikers and pedestrians.

The state of the City's sidewalks is not any better. The reported wait for sidewalk repairs varies anywhere from 15 years to 75 years. The City wants to burden homeowners with the cost of sidewalk repairs and to shoulder homeowners with liabilities resulting from damaged sidewalks. I will make sure that homeowners are not burdened with the added responsibility of repairing the City’s sidewalks outside of their homes.

I will make street and sidewalk repairs a top priority. To do so, we must prioritize a plan for long-term fiscal solvency for the City, including collection of a significant portion of the City's more than $500 million in non-tax receivables, hundreds of millions more in tax collections, and other available funding sources that have been ignored by the mismanagement of current City leadership. Furthermore, new technologies enable us to do more in this area with less money. Two technologies that are particularly promising are "full depth reclamation" and "pervious concrete." Full depth reclamation is simply the recycling of roads in place – it is a proven cost saving method of road repair. The City of Santa Ana was recently able to rehabilitate 80 miles of asphalt streets over 3 years at about half the cost by using full depth reclamation compared to the traditional methods of removal and replacement. Pervious concrete is simply concrete that allows water and air to pass through it. Pervious concrete reduces storm water runoff and recharges the underground water supply. One of the most timely benefits of the use of pervious concrete in Los Angeles is the prevention of tree trunk "heaving." Pervious concrete allows the tree trunks to get the water and air they need so the tree trunks will not "heave" through the sidewalks.


Convention Center

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What's missing from politics are good ideas. As a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, I am basing my campaign on good, realistic ideas, and on accountability.

Last September, I presented my plan for Los Angeles to transition to a part-time city council. By doing so we could eliminate waste and corruption, and would be following in the footsteps of New York, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas.

Today, I outline my plan to expand the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) to over one million square feet. A bigger more competitive convention center is something our city desperately needs. Over the coming weeks and months ahead, my campaign will outline a vision for our convention and tourism industry that will propel Los Angeles into the 21st century and stand as an alternative to my opponents' universal support for AEG's Farmers Field.

First, let me make clear that I am a fan of the NFL returning to the Southland -- but we need a plan that focuses on expanding the LACC in a way that is attractive to conventions and trade shows. Unfortunately, Farmers Field is not. Plus the NFL has made it very clear that AEG's proposal will not work for a team or the league.

After reviewing plans released by AEG for the Pico Hall expansion, I believe AEG's project could cause permanent damage to the LACC. Despite reports to the contrary, AEG's proposal will make the LACC smaller and less competitive. This plan also contradicts the city's own consultants who are on record stating that football stadiums do not adequately meet the needs of the convention industry. I believe, and others contend, that we must collaborate on an alternative proposal.

My proposal builds on a previous 1996 agreement between the City of Los Angeles and AEG (at the time L.A. Arena Company) to expand the LACC to one million square feet. This agreement -- established with the development of the STAPLES Center -- calls for an expansion of 250,000 square feet over Chick Hearn Way. This would connect the current West Hall to the convention hotel, which is an ideal design for trade shows and conventions.

My proposal would be paid for without local tax dollars and would eliminate AEG's call for at least$300 million in public money. In fact, my plan would immediately result in a savings of tens of millions of dollars since we would no longer have to demolish the LACC West Hall. My proposal would also maintain existing parking structures that are sufficient as is. Based on AEG's own analysis and their plans for development the city would be forced to pay between $80-100 millionto demolish and build new parking structures.

I believe we can pay for the Chick Hearn expansion by generating new revenues from our hotel industry. Estimates provide that each one percent increase in our city's hotel occupancy tax would generate approximately $11.5 million (based on the LA 2010-11 budget). A convention center of one million square feet or more could generate annual revenues to the city of over $15 million. Simple math would show that my plan to construct new convention space above Chick Hearn Way would cost significantly less than Farmers Field and the revenue from a one percent rate increase would be more than enough to pay the annual debt service. Most importantly, a one million square foot convention center that is connected to the convention hotel will be attractive to all convention planners.

In addition, a Chick Hearn expansion would alleviate conflicts with the convention industry over Farmers Field and its 36-month construction schedule. This schedule has already resulted in the cancellation of the Society of Critical Care Medicine convention and reports indicate that others like E3 and the L.A. Auto Show are threatening to leave town. More telling, there have been no new conventions booked for 2013-14. Future bookings would be impossible to schedule or predict because the NFL season, which starts in August and continues through January, would prevent conventions from being held on Sundays.

The drop in current and future LACC bookings will take its toll on our hotel industry, local restaurants and other businesses that are dependent on tourism.

Under my plan there will be no interruption to current business during construction because the existing convention space will remain. This will be a huge relief to hotels and restaurants that are predicting lost business with Farmers Field.

Los Angeles would also reserve the ability to expand the LACC further in the future. The Pico Hall that is currently being discussed can be added (if needed) to maximize the LACC to over 1.2 million square feet. This will make us even more competitive.

Finally, this expansion plan would create thousands of new jobs. And we could create these jobs now rather than holding out hope for the NFL.

I am calling on our city's hotels, local businesses and concerned citizens to consider my plan and to work with me on creating the most competitive convention center for Los Angeles.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/la-convention-center_b_1386295.html


The City Should Live Within Its Means

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CityWatch columnist, Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council member, and NC Budget Representative Jack Humphreville has set forth an outline for a fiscal reform charter amendment in Los Angeles that he calls the "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment. Mr. Humphreville has called on the four leading Mayoral candidates to review the proposal, and he has consistently called on each of us to publicly support the "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment.
In addition, the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates publicly called on the City Council and Mayor to adopt many of the elements of the proposed "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment during their budget presentation to the City Council in April.

The "Live Within Its Means" Term Sheet was published in CityWatch on May 7 and can be found here.

I have reviewed the proposed outline of the "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment. I have gone through it step by step with Mr. Humphreville, and I have researched questions I had related to the plan.

I support the "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment as proposed in the Term Sheet published in CityWatch on May 7, 2012.

I agree that the City should be required to develop and adhere to a Five Year Financial Plan, to approve two year balanced budgets based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP") as determined by the Government Accounting Standards Board, to properly fund our infrastructure and pension plans, and to have actual funding for any new spending initiatives.

My City Hall opponents have brought the City to the brink of bankruptcy, and have already proven that they are unable to operate the City within its means. Implementing the elements of the "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment will put the City on the road to fiscal recovery.

In addition to my support of the "Live Within Its Means" charter amendment, I am drafting a fiscal solvency plan that contains additional important items of fiscal reform for Los Angeles. I will also be rolling out position papers on numerous other City issues over the coming weeks and months.

http://www.citywatchla.com/4box-left/3249-live-within-its-means-charter-amendment-good-start-in-fiscal-reform-for-la


Parking Fines

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I oppose Mayor Villaraigosa’s proposed increase in parking fines, and his misguided budget "solution" of hiring more parking enforcement officers to, allegedly, increase revenues. I believe that parking fines in Los Angeles are already too high.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the City Council has joined with Mayor Villaraigosa in approving parking ticket fine increases six of the last seven years. The Times calculates that the cost of a neighborhood street-sweeping violation will have risen 73% since 2005, and other parking penalties will have grown by more than 80% since Mayor Villaraigosa took office. This is the second year in a row that the Mayor has proposed hiring additional parking enforcement officers to bolster revenues. I opposed the Mayor’s proposal last year in an article I published in CityWatch on April 29, 2011 stating that:

"Putting more traffic officers on our streets to hound city residents and customers of our city’s private businesses with annoying and outrageous traffic/parking fines levied as a result of ridiculously confusing and ambiguous parking signs/rules is not a way to increase revenue.

It is a way to drive customers out of our city and away from our businesses and into communities that are not so obsessed with abusive traffic/parking fines for nice patrons who are one minute over on the 7 pm deadline on the third Saturday of the fifth month of an odd-numbered year as depicted on the parking sign three blocks away with four different signs (some of which are spray-painted over)."

After reading that statement again in preparing this article, I remember being very frustrated. My frustration continues.

To be clear – parking fine increases will end if I am Mayor.

Such increases in parking fines are bad for business and for our City’s residents. Residents, visitors and tourists are already shocked at the price of parking in Los Angeles. When high parking fines are added, many recipients choose not to pay the fines, stuff the tickets in a drawer, and hope they will simply go away. This trend of ignoring the tickets results in less revenue for the City.

Local businesses in Los Angeles are suffering because customers are being soured by "rip-off" rates that people believe are being used to fund an inept, inefficient and corrupt City government. The higher the parking fines go, the higher the City’s uncollected revenues will go.

The outrageous amount of uncollected revenues in the City proves that parking fines should be lowered. A person receiving a $20 parking ticket is much more likely to pay $20 than a person who receives a $78 parking ticket. People that receive $78 parking tickets are often intimidated by the amount, pay nothing, and then stay away from the area that resulted in the issuance of the ticket.

Many of the parking tickets issued in our neighborhoods are issued on street-sweeping day. However, residents argue that the street-sweepers are rarely seen, but parking enforcement officers are waiting to pounce. If the street is not being swept, tickets should not be issued. This provides another opportunity for City departments to coordinate with one another in order to benefit City residents.

http://citywatchla.com/lead-stories/3177-parking-fine-increases-more-parking-enforcement-officers-is-bad-for-business


Homelessness

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A recent study estimated that 84,000 people in Los Angeles County are homeless on any given night, with a significant portion concentrated in the City of Los Angeles.

LA has not been more effective in combating homelessness because of a lack of priorities on the part of city leadership, including a willingness by the city's elected officials to ignore the homeless in favor of the elite with close connections to City Hall. A stark example of this is the recent move by Councilwoman Jan Perry to funnel $ 1 million of taxpayer money originally slated for programs in Skid Row to the Gensler Architecture Firm so they could decorate their offices in downtown Los Angeles.

To begin the process of solving the city's homelessness problem, we must first clean up the departments assigned to oversee the crisis. All too often, the culture of corruption in City Hall gets in the way of the implementation of important and well-intentioned programs -- and taxpayer money is wasted.

For example, last year a City Housing Authority Commissioner resigned after questions arose as to whether her sons living in affordable housing in Los Angeles were allowed to bypass a years-long wait list of hundreds of families.

There have also been federal indictments related to the theft of millions of taxpayer dollars designated for affordable housing in the city.

As the only former prosecutor in the race, I am best equipped to end the culture of corruption in City Hall by exposing it from the inside.

In recent years, City Councilmembers Garcetti and Perry, former Councilmember Greuel, Supervisor Yaroslavsky and other elected officials were reportedly working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority ("LAHSA") in convening an effort called "Bring LA Home".

According to the Bring LA Home website, it was "convened by elected officials from across Los Angeles County, Bring LA Home is a panel of more than 50 leaders of government, faith-based, social service, advocacy, entertainment, law enforcement, and business organizations, and people who have experienced homelessness." Their goal was to end homelessness in LA County by 2013.

LAHSA coordinates and manages over $70 million dollars annually in Federal, State, County and City funds for programs providing shelter, housing and services to homeless persons in the City and County of Los Angeles.

Unfortunately this admirable effort will not be successful -- 2013 is only six months away.

Homelessness has not been eliminated in LA -- it is getting worse.

While Bring LA Home is an important organization, undoubtedly does great work, and is desperately needed to continue its work, Bring LA Home will never realize the joy in reaching its goal of ending homelessness in LA when the one hand doing the good work (the private industry/philanthropic hand) is being constantly undercut by the other hand (the city government hand) that is corrupt and willing to use the crisis of homelessness to squander taxpayer funds for improper or illegal purposes.

As Co-Chair of AIDS Project Los Angeles (where I served from 1994 through 2000), one of APLA's most critical and successful programs was our housing assistance program. Homelessness among AIDS patients often complicated the already challenging circumstances APLA faced in serving the sophisticated needs of its clients.

APLA is successful in combating homelessness among its clients by assisting clients in locating, acquiring, financing and maintaining affordable and appropriate housing.

APLA assists in the formulation of housing plans, guiding clients through the housing assistance application process, moving clients into housing, and educating them about tenant rights and responsibilities, and acting as an ongoing liaison between clients, property owners and case managers.

While homelessness will always exist to some degree in Los Angeles, we must do everything we can to minimize its existence and reduce the number of people, particularly children, affected by it.

The best thing city government can do is create an environment welcoming to private business -- a job goes a very long way in improving a person's confidence, self-respect, dignity, and economic stability.

Jobs are critical to reducing homelessness. Therefore, my jobs plan is the first step in dealing with homelessness in LA.
I believe our primary goal should be to acclimate our homeless population back into society. In addition to ending the corruption that feeds off of funding targeted toward solving this crisis, I will take the following additional immediate actions as Mayor to deal with the problem.

● We will utilize unused city-owned buildings that are the most fit for conversion into transitional housing and/or shelters. The conversion of available city buildings must include accommodations for couples, families, and people with pets. Many homeless people will stay in the streets if an available shelter does not provide a safe environment for children or does not allow pets.

● I will direct the implementation of financial and performance audits of LAHSA (something the current Controller has failed to do). The results of those audits will detail necessary additional reform measures that I will put in place.

● To enable existing programs to work more efficiently, LAHSA will be reformed to take better advantage of existing volunteer efforts and diverse talent among city residents available through Neighborhood Councils and other community organizations. This will save taxpayer money.

● We must address this crisis as it relates to our Veterans. Studies have found that there are 20,000 homeless Veterans in Los Angeles County -- with most living in the City of L.A. I will use my 10+ years of experience as a member of the media to call out the Federal government, including the Veterans Administration, for their failures, inaction, and abuse of Veterans' rights.

In other words, I am not afraid to use the power of the podium that comes with the Mayor's office to embarrass the Feds into doing what is right for our local Veterans and to get the most out of local Veterans’ services facilities.

My plans, proposals, ideas and solutions are a work-in-progress -- and it is a process that, unlike my opponents, I am willing to have with you in the public eye and with media scrutiny. I am willing to put everything on the table, and not hide it in the back room.


The Entertainment Industry

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One of America's most lucrative exports is entertainment. It wasn't that long ago that LA was the entertainment capital of the world. LA was by far the primary source of entertainment content shipped around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of Angelenos built their careers and their livelihoods filling different roles in the entertainment industry. Hollywood is a key contributor to LA's rich history.

Other states began to recognize that entire economies could be created by attracting entertainment jobs to their communities. LA's local leaders, however, remained complacent -- confident that LA's sunny skies and comfortable climate were enough to keep Hollywood in Hollywood.

LA's elected leaders ignored repeated warnings year in and year out telling them that other states were recruiting local jobs away from us -- right under their noses. In fact, LA's leaders were so callous toward keeping local entertainment jobs here that other cities and states were buying television ads in LA to recruit the jobs away from LA. Our elected leaders seemed to do nothing. They refused to fight to keep these jobs here.

What used to be the healthy and lucrative exportation of movies and television shows from LA has now become the painful and devastating exportation of entertainment jobs from LA.

LA's elected leaders have turned Hollywood upside down. It used to be that television shows and movies that were set in faraway places like New York City ("I love Lucy"), Miami ("Golden Girls"), or the South (“Gone with the Wind”), were all shot in Southern California. Now, television shows and movies that are set in Los Angeles are shot in faraway places ("Battle LA" was shot in Louisiana).

Lack of a vision for Los Angeles' future by current city leadership has led to the destruction of a local industry. For those that would argue that it is not fair to blame current city leadership for outsourcing tens of thousands of entertainment jobs, one does not have to look further than FilmLA's own statistics -- "The amount of on-location movie production in L.A. has plummeted 60% since it peaked 15 years ago."

City Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry were both elected over 11 years ago, while Controller Wendy Greuel was elected to the City Council 10 years ago. Those three elected officials have presided over the largest departure of jobs from LA in the history of the entertainment industry.

According to FilmLA, in 2005 (when Garcetti, Greuel and Perry were well into their first terms), "82% of new TV pilots were made in Los Angeles. By 2011, only 51% were filmed here. "

I have worked as an attorney in the entertainment industry since 1993 and have had many clients affected by Hollywood outsourcing. An often unreported but potentially devastating hardship caused by the outsourcing of entertainment jobs is the separation of families.

When film and television production goes to another state, employees on those shoots must also go to another state, oftentimes leaving a spouse and children behind. There is no doubt such a circumstance can cause severe strain on the family.

My plan to bring Hollywood home will include a fair and equitable across-the-board reduction in our business tax burden and simplification of our business tax structure. The Los Angeles business tax will finally be brought in line with the most business-friendly cities in the region in order to make LA competitive again.

Los Angeles is unique in its ability to bring lost jobs back. Because of our geographic location, our climate, our pool of talent, and the fact that every major movie studio is either located in the LA city limits or borders LA, we can bring Hollywood home.

While I will work to grow a city film and television incentive program, I will also use the power of the Mayoral podium to be a strong advocate in Sacramento to ensure that our State Legislature makes local filming a priority. If the City Council will not cooperate in the growth of the city's film incentive program, I will go around the City Council and obtain the signatures necessary to put it on the ballot for the public to implement.

According to the California Film Commission, in four years, film and TV projects shooting in California due to California's film incentive program spent $3.9 billion in the state.

I will create an environment for the entertainment industry that provides relief from the city's current obstructionist stream of permitting red-tape which can force businesses through an unnecessary and impossible maze of up to 15 city departments.

This will be done by creating a Permit Center which will accelerate previous progress made through the city's Case Management Series office, and will bring in representatives from the key city departments needed to implement effective improvements in permitting. A model to consider is the City of Dallas’ Permit Center.

Dallas was recently determined by 85 percent of the city's businesses to be a "good" or "excellent" place to do business.

Bringing Hollywood home will result in numerous collateral economic benefits. The California Film Commission reports that a single medium budget movie ($30-$75 million) will purchase goods and services from 485 unique vendors.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation states that a single $175 million movie sustains 2,400 jobs and generates $27 million in state and local tax revenue.

According to the LAEDC, 92 percent of all goods and services purchased by California-based film or TV production are locally sourced in the state.

We cannot wait any longer to take swift and bold action to fight for our entertainment jobs. The health of many other industries is directly related to a vibrant entertainment job base, including tourism, technology, and small business. Join me in bringing Hollywood back home.

http://www.citywatchla.com/lead-stories/3747-heres-how-to-stop-outsourcing-hollywood-billions-leaving-la-economy


Pension Reform

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In response to questions asked by the LA Times regarding pension reform, Kevin provided the following answers:

1. How did we get to this point?

The Executive Employee Relations Committee entered into contracts, year after year, that the city could not afford, and the City Council gladly rubber-stamped their actions. Neither the EERC nor the Council can legitimately feign ignorance, or blame the bad decisions on an "unknown" recession -- numerous community members, bloggers and radio broadcasters (including myself) warned the Council and the EERC that we could not afford the overly-lucrative contracts they were about to enter into. These same Councilmembers regularly received huge financial support for their campaigns from the very employee unions that benefitted from the employee contracts.

Whatever the unions wanted, the unions received - even in crisis. Whether it was ERIP (Early Retirement Incentive Program), "transferring" general fund employees over to the DWP budget to avoid laying them off, or "shifting" costs to future years to make the budget appear balanced, the unions got what they wanted.

In addition to the questionable planning referenced above, overly-optimistic investment forecasts have also contributed to the crisis. Current forecasts of 7% to 8% are no longer realistic (if they ever really were). As you know, CalPERS just reported a 1% return at the state level for the year ending June 30. As you also know, anything below the fund's discount rate of 7.5% (which most public pensions in the U.S. use as their rate) forces the taxpayer to cover the difference.

2. What if anything would you do as Mayor to control retirement costs?

I would implement real pension reform. If the Council will not agree, I would go around them and, as Mayor, work to get pension reform put on the ballot.

My ideas for pension reform include the following:

First, pension reform has to include all of the city unions, including the DWP.

Second, we must raise the retirement age. I agree with the proposal to raise the retirement age for civilian employees to 67. As for public safety employees (as well as civilian jobs that require a certain level of physical exertion), we should move those employees to other needed positions requiring less physical strain during later years of their employment if the situation warrants it.

Third, we cannot maintain the current discount rates of 7.5% to 8% - that rate must come down to reality.

Fourth, we must raise the contribution rates that employees contribute to their own pension and health insurance costs. I know some of the unions have agreed to this already, but more is needed.

Fifth, we must further cap an employee's pension collections. This can be done a couple of ways, by capping the amount an employee can receive, or by limiting how much the city contributes each year -- all while recognizing that it might have to be further limited depending on the city's ability to move out of the current financial crisis.

Sixth, limiting pension calculations to an employee's base salary.

Seventh, we must also do something to stop the abuses of the pension system. For example, we should ignore an employee's last year of compensation when calculating pension benefits. That is when you see more abuse of the system.

Two of the more sweeping pension reform proposals that are now being put on the table I believe also deserve consideration. The first proposal is the elimination of the defined benefit pension in exchange for a 401(k)-style individual investment plan. The second (which was floated in the recent story about Riordan's meeting with Mayor Villaraigosa) returns power over the pensions to the voters.

Real pension reform is not an ideological issue, it is an actuarial issue - we simply do not have a choice.

Finally, I have a feeling that I am the only Mayoral candidate that has looked into recent developments in California case law concerning the vested-rights doctrine. Not to get too "in the weeds", but the courts appear to be on a trend toward easing the definition of what constitutes vested rights. That will give future city officials more leeway in renegotiating prior obligations -- especially city officials willing to battle it out in court in the name of saving city services and I am willing to have that battle


3. Without new labor agreements, will city services further diminish, and if so how would you prioritize cuts?

Without new labor agreements, further reduction in city services will unfortunately be unavoidable. Prioritization of cuts would be based on common sense relating to the importance to the city of the service. In other words, all such cuts will be painful. The only cuts that will not be painful will be the phasing out of the significant waste, fraud and abuse in this city government. Recognizing that simply saying "waste, fraud and abuse" is not enough, choices will have to be made.

Another way to characterize what gets cut, is by stating what gets preserved.

First of all, the potential for bankruptcy in the City of Los Angeles presents a new type of leverage the new Mayor will have to negotiate further concessions from unions. If the reality/threat of bankruptcy is not enough and cuts have to be made throughout the city, after a public battle between my office as Mayor and our city's union leaders over salary freezes and potential reductions in pay, here is how I envision preservation prioritization:

Initially, every department will be requested to suggest on its own 3% cuts across-the-board. After that, recognizing that arguments for the importance of every department can be made, here is how I see their priority in groups (my suggested sequence is of course subject to revision after department-head presentations fighting for their own funds) (please also note that there is certainly room available for departmental consolidation as well (e.g., Commission for children, youth and their families, and Commission of the Status of Women consolidated into Community Development Dept.)):

High priority: Public safety gets first priority in avoiding cuts, Police Dept., Fire Dept., Building and Safety Dept., Chief Administrative Officer's Dept., City Attorney, Controller, Emergency Preparedness Dept., Office of Finance, Housing Dept., Planning Dept., Personnel Dept., Public Works Dept., Transportation Dept., Office of the Treasurer.

Mid-level priority in avoiding cuts: Dept. of Aging, Animal Services, City Clerk, City Ethics Commission, Dept. on Disability, Employee Relations Board, Environmental Affairs Dept, General Services Dept., Housing Authority, Information Technology Agency, Los Angeles Public Library, Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment, Dept. of Recreation and Parks

Lower-level priority in avoiding cuts: Commission for children, youth and their families, Commission on the status of women, Convention Center Dept., Community Development Dept., Cultural Affairs Dept., El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historical Monument Authority Dept., Human Relations Commission, Zoo Dept.

Another alternative: Public/Private Partnerships: People often ask why Los Angeles is not better at public/private partnerships given all of the talent, knowledge and business diversity that exists in the region. I believe that the city's reputation as a corrupt city government - which it has earned - harms the city's ability to attract professionals from private industry to partner with. By cleaning up corruption, we significantly increase our chances at developing new and thriving partnerships with incredible private industry partners existing in the region.

Departments worth reviewing for public/private partnerships are all of the departments that could face the earliest round of cuts.

As Mayor, my office budget and my salary will be cut by comparable levels.

Finally, as a lawyer for almost 25 years with extensive experience in negotiating high-level agreements, I believe there are certain things that can be done to level the field when negotiating contracts with our city employee unions. For example, if all employee contracts are redesigned to expire at the same time, city officials (tasked with representing the taxpayer) will be better able to work out new agreements without one union having the deal points previously agreed to by another union as their starting point.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-mayoral-candidates-discuss-city-employee-retirement-costs-20120821,0,2567951.story?page=1


Balancing the Budget

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Bad Budgeting

The Los Angeles Times calls it “Villaraigosa’s $100-million cost shift.” A brief description of the latest trickery by City officials to promote the ruse of a “balanced” budget was put best by the Times: “Working in sync with the City Council, Villaraigosa has delayed paying for such obligations as police overtime, unused sick time, contractually agreed-upon wage hikes and an early retirement program that gave 2,400 employees full pensions five years ahead of schedule.” Who comes up with such budgetary games? Our City leadership does – regularly.
Such irresponsible tactics constitute bad budgeting, bad business, and bad precedent. They harm our future fiscal outlook and create even more uncertainty surrounding the City’s volatile fiscal condition. The Times even wrote that Mayoral candidates “Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry both voted for the strategy as City Council members, and candidate Austin Beutner served as a top Villaraigosa deputy when the complex policy was hatched.”

Controller Greuel once again neglected to expose such corrupt accounting – choosing instead to follow the media’s lead (perhaps with the hope they wouldn’t notice).

As simple as it may sound, the first step in truly balancing the City budget and solving the fiscal crisis created by current leadership is being honest with the taxpayers. This latest expose by the Times’ David Zahniser demonstrates the complex lengths the City Hall insiders are willing to go to in order to create the “image” of a balanced budget to protect their own political careers, while merely hoping the budget will fix itself.

The budget will not fix itself. The crisis created by out of control increases in employee compensation, health benefits, and contributions to pensions, compounded by the billions needed to repair and maintain our infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, curbs, parks, sewers, drainage systems, power lines, facilities, hardware, etc.), will not be solved by electing someone willing to implement such a crafty and deceitful budgetary tool as this “cost-shifting.”

As I wrote in CityWatch back on April 29 – our City leaders continue to use the Visa card to pay the Discover card bill.

Solving our budget crisis will take a combination of cuts in unnecessary spending, increases in government efficiency (including exposing corruption in order to end corruption) and an increase in revenues. Increasing revenues, however, does not have to mean raising taxes and fees (especially when the voters will vote down such attempts at tax hikes).

As I’ve maintained throughout this campaign, we can increase our general fund revenues without raising taxes and fees. A fair and equitable across-the-board reduction in our business tax burden and simplification of our business tax structure would make operating a business easier for our existing businesses (small, medium and large) and encourage new businesses to come.

The increase in volume (i.e., the number of entities doing business in the city) will cause an increase in business tax revenue, sales tax revenue, utility users’ tax revenue, parking users’ tax revenue, and even revenue from licenses, permits, fees and fines. In other words, we would see an increase in revenues from five sources of general fund revenue. Very recent studies have supported this conclusion.

Let me be clear, we can solve this crisis. We have the local talent, industry diversity, geographic advantage, and entrepreneurial spirit to – together – put Los Angeles back on track.

http://www.citywatchla.com/archive/2695-city-hall-continues-to-stick-it-to-la-with-bad-budgeting-and-deceitful-one-off-gimmicks

LA quietly declares fiscal emergency
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-james/los-angeles-quietly-decla_b_1615913.html

City Faces Idea Deficit
http://citywatchla.com/archive/1861-kevin-james


The LA Riots 20 Years Ago: Where Were You?

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That was one of the first questions I was asked by Dr. Fernando Guerra, the Director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, during the Center's Urban Lecture Series that took place recently. On April 29, 1992, I was sitting in the United States Attorney's office in Los Angeles reviewing details of a number of existing cases when a call came in about the potential for violence in our City's streets. Employees in the U.S. Attorney's office, housed in the Federal Courthouse downtown, were released early that day. There were a few prosecutors that remained in the office into the evening, only to find the building under attack by rioters that night.

Like so many of you, I watched the images on television in disbelief while responding to concerned calls from friends and family around the country. The riots claimed more than 50 lives, 2,000 suffered injuries,1,100 buildings were damaged, over 3,000 fires were set, stores' shelves were looted completely bare, and property damage estimates exceeded $1 billion.

While we all remember where we were during the 1992 L.A. riots, on this day 20 years later I believe it is important to look at where we have come as a City.

While a recent poll published by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles found that many L.A. residents believe the City is safer and believe the City has better race relations than in 1992, sadly the City's economic situation is surprisingly similar to what we faced in 1992. According to a recent L.A. Weekly report, the California Economic Development Department ("CEDD") painted a bleak picture of L.A.'s 1992 "labor market as 'experiencing one of the most severe recessions of the postwar era.'" The Weekly reported that the CEDD found that between April 1991 and April 1992, 108,000 local jobs vanished and that "Black and Latino communities were hard hit, with a combined 29.7 percent in poverty and more than 13 percent unemployed."

The same news report states that "in the Los Angeles area, unemployment for Latinos and Blacks is worse than in 1992. In 2010, 13.4 percent of Latinos and 19.5 percent of African-Americans were without work." The City's 2012 reported overall unemployment rate sits at 13.3 percent. The Los Angeles Business Journal recently reported that the Los Angeles area has lost 400,000 jobs since December 2007.

While the survey from the Center for the Study of Los Angeles provides reasons for optimism, Los Angeles is undoubtedly experiencing a decade of decline. Urban Development professor Joel Kotkin writing in the Wall Street Journal correctly placed significant blame squarely in the laps of current City leadership.

The entire nation knows that L.A. has been mismanaged. I am running against the City's managers. We face a jobs crisis, budget crisis, infrastructure crisis, public education crisis, and transportation crisis. Public safety challenges will emerge due to the State's prison realignment legislation; add the culture of corruption and the desperate need for City Hall reform could not be more pronounced.

Los Angeles can get back on track -- citywide. The entertainment industry is still headquartered here. We have prestigious universities, the best health care facilities, and the Port of L.A. We remain the most diverse City in the country, with a world class workforce and unmatched talent in technology. We need new leadership in City Hall.
Join me in making L.A. great again!


Early Priorities

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My top three priorities for the City of Los Angeles are:

1. I will bring jobs back to Los Angeles by finally making LA a business-friendly City again.

2. I will implement a long-term fiscal solvency plan that balances the City budget with long-term structural solutions rather than short-term one-year gimmicks.

3. I will use the power of the Mayoral podium to promote reform in our public schools to improve public education throughout the City.

The very first actions I will take as Mayor include:

1. I will begin the reform of City government through the appointment of certain new department heads and new City Commissioners, as well as the creation new positions within the Mayor's office, including a Corruption Information Officer and Discretionary Funds Oversight Officer. I will seek individuals with extensive and diverse experience in the various departments and areas in which they will serve, that bring a passion for both the department and the industry as well as a sincere desire to serve their community.

2. In order to end what was stated in an article in the Wall Street Journal to be LA's "decade of decline", I will immediately send a "business improvement package" to the City Council for approval that includes business tax reform and the creation of a permitting department that is a one-stop shop for business. If the Council fails to approve the business improvement package within a reasonable time, I will take such reforms directly to the voters by obtaining the signatures necessary to put them on the ballot.

3. According to federal highway data, LA has the second worst roads in the nation (behind only San Jose) -- 63% of LA's roads are rated "poor". Not only do we have potholes that mirror small lunar craters (the same federal highway study showed that Angelenos spend over $700 annually on automobile repairs due to our rough roads), but LA actually creates its own potholes by skimping when it comes to road repairs, including working around the City's numerous manholes. Since driving on LA roads can be a jarring experience, one of the first actions I will take as Mayor is to search for a City engineer that knows how to make a manhole cover level with the street.


Bring Jobs and Opportunity Back to LA

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There have been countless complaints from the public that our elected officials lack direction. Community leaders, editorial writers, and even a prominent former candidate have made numerous requests that the candidates for Mayor offer detailed solutions to our City's many problems. In fact, Angelenos should be demanding honesty in pinpointing the problems, realistic and detailed solutions, and a plan to implement those solutions. In the coming weeks, I will be publishing my detailed plan to make LA great again.

Many details of my plan will be published here and through other outlets. The Downtown News acknowledged this about my campaign: "he regularly puts out statements and has released more detailed plans and position papers than his established competitors, City Council members Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel."

In addition to a fiscal solvency plan for the City, topics I will address include homelessness, education, medical marijuana, the environment, transportation, the entertainment industry, public/private partnerships, development issues, animal services, and the NFL stadium.

I am opening my series now with an introduction to my jobs plan.

It was admitted in the Mayor's most recent State of the City address that the City's unemployment rate is now over 13%, a number which does not include those that have stopped looking for work or the underemployed.

To grow employment in Los Angeles, I will take a "business improvement package" directly to the voters if necessary. In order to obtain business tax reform I will be presenting a business improvement package to the City Council immediately upon taking office. It will contain two primary parts: (1) business tax reform; and (2) streamlining the permitting process.

The business improvement package will include the elimination of the burdensome "gross receipts" method of calculating the City's business tax and a complete revision of the way the business tax is formulated. The City's most recent Business Tax Advisory Committee has done a good job of demonstrating how burdensome the City's business tax has become. But while the Council "ponders" ways to implement BTAC's recommendations, businesses continue to leave our City. The time for real reform, not simply window-dressing, is long overdue.

My plan will contain a fair and equitable across-the-board reduction in our business tax burden and simplification of our business tax structure. The Los Angeles business tax will finally be brought in line with the most business-friendly cities in the region in order to make LA competitive again.

Unlike other big cities in America that have suffered a mass exodus of jobs, Los Angeles is unique in its ability to bring lost jobs back. Because of our geographic location, our climate, our port, and our pool of talent, our potential for growth in a number of sectors remains strong -- in trade, technology, transportation, entertainment, manufacturing, and small business.

I will create an environment for private business that provides relief from the City's current obstructionist stream of permitting red-tape which can force businesses through an unnecessary and impossible maze of up to 15 City departments. This will be done by creating a Permit Center which will accelerate previous progress made through the City's Case Management Series office, and will bring in representatives from the key City departments needed to implement effective improvements in permitting. A model to consider is the City of Dallas’ Permit Center. Dallas was recently determined by 85 percent of the City's businesses to be a "good" or "excellent" place to do business.

While I will vastly improve the permitting process, I recognize its importance and the direct relationship it has to public safety. The community must and will have an important say in development decisions and the opportunity to be heard and respected when new projects are proposed. The current practice in City Hall has been to ignore the community in favor of well-connected insiders. I will also expand the City's current program of contracting with businesses that are located within City limits.

The City Council's previous attempts at business tax reform have failed. While the City is flirting with it again, the Council is showing signs of backing off because of potential opposition from a majority of the Council. If the Council fails to approve the business improvement package I present, I will take these reforms directly to the voters by obtaining the signatures to put them on the ballot, and will use my ten years of media experience to get them passed.

A fair and equitable across-the-board reduction in our business tax and simplification of its structure will make operating any business easier and encourage new businesses to come. The increase in volume will cause an increase in business tax revenue, sales tax revenue, utility users’ tax revenue, parking users’ tax revenue, and even revenue from licenses, permits, fees and fines. In other words, we will see an increase from numerous sources of general fund revenue.

My opponents' new-found warmth for the private sector is hollow. They each have built careers in chasing the private sector away. Even the LA Times noted this in a recent front-page story. For example, the Hollywood district recently lost its largest single employer when LegalZoom moved to Glendale.

Furthermore, my opponents have also proven that even when the federal government gave them over $100 million of taxpayer funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earmarked for job creation, their policies still drove jobs away.

My plans, proposals, ideas and solutions are a work-in-progress -- and it is a process that, unlike my opponents, I am willing to have with you in the public eye and with media scrutiny. I am willing to put everything on the table, and not hide it in the back room. I welcome your input. Putting LA back on track is a team effort. And you know and I know that we need new team members.

http://www.citywatchla.com/lead-stories/3318-a-detailed-plan-to-make-los-angeles-great-again


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