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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Los Angeles Council District 4 Race Heating Up

Neighbors to our west and south will have a passing of the guard election in the spring as they will choose a successor to Councilman Labonge, who was in many ways a spiritual as well as historical successor to John Ferraro, who served on the LA City Council since time immemorial.  The election will be a big change...

The field as LA council races tend to be is vast.  Here are the PLAYERS so far and their dough:


Wally Knox   

Joan Pelico   

David E Ryu   

Steve Veres   


And now for the word on the STREET.

Teddy Davis has sent out a lot of emails with clear attempts to engender Kennedyesque images in the readers' minds.  He has also worked the district pretty hard.  A chance to make the runoff as he has ties in the community but has to fight the dilettant label.

Wally Knox was a Member of the State Assembly for years but his district was considerably farther west.   If he won, he would be the 8th member of the council, a majority, who were in the state government.  Kind of an odd run people say, but certainly a favorite of some oldsters on the westside.

Tomas O'grady is a charming and good looking Irishman, who made lots of money and now spends lots of time doing things like community gardens and other improvements at "eastside" schools.  He almost forced Labonge into a runoff last time but the question is whether he can run a professional campaign.  He has major cred in Silverlake and Los Feliz.

Joan Pelico works for Paul Koretz and Koretz is savvy and operational and wants to empire build.  She will put together city hall money and has a great base in Sherman Oaks but most people do not consider her a runoff contender.

Carolyn Ramsay is the establishment candidate to the extent by establishment you mean Councilman Labonge since she serves as his staff chief.  She's put together serious money, has a base in Hancock Park and points east, and most people expect her to be fighting for 1 of the 2 slots in the runoff.

David Ryu has put together a crap-ton of money from the Korean community but it remains to be seen whether he can run a campaign showing community ties.  The API community certainly wants a councilmember in LA but the candidates in recent memory have not been great.  Paging Mike Woo.

Steve Veres works for State Senate Speaker Kevin Deleon and it would be a huge embarrassment to Deleon if Veres didn't kick butt and take names.  Veres has put together money but no one in the community I talk to seems to know him or what he stands for.

If you analyze the race geographically you assume that Pelico and Knox compete for the western portion of the district and cause MAD.  You assume that Ryu doesn't quite have enough to make the runoff.  That leaves Veres, O'grady, Davis, and Ramsay.  Assume that Veres doesn't make it because of a lack of deep longtime community supporters in the very parochial district.  Assume that O'grady doesn't have appeal outside the eastern half and doesn't run the most expert campaign.  That leaves a potential runoff of Ramsay against Davis.

As noted before another Sacramento pol Adrin Nazarian is widely thought to be considering a run.  He hasn't done much of anything in state government and folks say he doesn't play nice in the sandbox.  We've also heard from some that he is actively polling and likely seeking a deal with Veres, like, Veres heads to the assembly if Nazarian wins but the question is what fool would take that deal since another person might very well take the Assembly seat and Veres would need to back out of his council run before he even knew if Nazarian could win the council seat.  If Nazarian gets in to CD4 race he would have to get in soon and we don't even think he makes the runoff.  Pelico, Davis, and others would take away Sherman Oaks votes from him and after that, it's not like Silverlake or Hancock Park goes for him.

There aren't too many interesting races this fall what with the Governor ahead in the polls by like 30 points.  Expect this one to heat up and get very interesting even for those of us who are mere spectators!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

News Tidbits

With elections in Burbank coming again in February 2015, two new candidates have already declared for council.  No silly, not Anthony Portantino.  Craig Sherwood has the story here.

Whoever is elected to council will have some additional budget headaches, thanks to a $1.4million settlement handed to a BPD officer for wrongful termination.

In our neighbor to the east, intrigue continues over who will be appointed to the GUSD School Board to fill the post by the beloved Mary Boger who has moved away.  Another excellent board member, Joylene Wagner offers her thoughts.

Now it is time for yours!  It has been fairly quiet about local school board elections for example.  Below feel free to discuss!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Is This Possible? Less People Using Burbank Airport!

Maybe the lack of charging stations for cell phones has finally gotten to people.  The number of passengers at Burbank "Locals Never Call It 'Bob Hope'"Airport dipped by almost 1% in June compared to a year ago, according to the latest available figures.  That followed a 3.43% decrease in passengers in May compared to May 2013.

For the first six months of this year, the airport has handled just under 2 million passengers, a 1.45% decrease from the same time period last year.

Some might say this is due to a general decrease in flyers due to expensive flights and a still not recovered overall economy.  However, passenger tallies were on the rise at other airports in the region in June, generally speaking.  The number of passengers at LAX rose by 6.7%, while there was a 5.8% spike at Ontario Airport and a 1.2% rise at John Wayne in the OC.

Now don't be mistaken, the bloggers here survived the airport wars of the 1980s and 1990s and do not want to repeat them nor do we want the extra traffic both vehicular and airborne in our little burg, and nor do we love the air and noise pollution.  But the airport is a huge engine for our little city and we maintain with pride that Burbank airport remains the most convenient and homey of all the airports in the U. S. of A.

So, is it the lack of outlet plugs???  Your thoughts on why traffic is down at our home field...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fundraising, Politicking Continued, Instead Of Water Bond Help

On Wednesday, August 13th, 2014, most state and local elected officials were knee deep in water, and we're not talking a flooded basement.  That day almost all state legislators were furiusly negotiating the specs of the new Water Bond in order to make sure their districts and regions came out fairly.  Similarly local officials and chamber heads visited the state capitol to do right for their regions.  Mayor Eric Garcetti led a delegation of local mayors to the capitol that day for example.  In the middle of this horrendous drought, this was the entire focus that day for almost every elected official up and down the state.

However there were two exceptions to this rule.  Outside the statehouse Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and Senate wannabe Anthony Portantino instead decided that meeting with powerful lobbyists at a steakhouse, enjoying juicy cuts and bottomless drinks, was a more valuable use of their time....

The couple also found time to hold an additional political powwow which reportedly covered various topics including who they were going to try to screw over and how, according to those who overheard bits and pieces.

 "I think I'll have the 26 ounce porterhouse today.  I'm watching my figure."

These low level bit player cogs in a broken machine, waiting on the beck and call of powerful lobbyists, while critical water bond discussions happened without them, provided another rather pitiful example of a broken system at work.

The Portantino Nazarian coitus after the lobbyists got their jollies at the joint fundraiser, explains a lot more than just how irresponsible the two are, and explains more than just how their endless campaigning takes priority, instead of working on the issues we care about.  It explains alot.

Local Democratic activists and members of DPSFV have long struggled to explain the hostility Portantino and Nazarian showed toward Burbank Assemblyman Mike Gatto when Gatto declared for office.  Portantino and Gatto are both of Italian heritage, so one might assume that Portantino would support him as he supported other Italian causes and uses his heritage as schtick any time he can.  Nazarian and Gatto were both staffers of Congressman Brad Sherman as well as being active young democrats.

Yet both Portantino and Nazarian tried to brutalize Gatto, raising money for the most crazy nasty independent expenditures folks had seen in years, and continuing well documented, well known nasty attacks and whispering campaigns to this day.

Yet it all comes into focus when you consider that Portantino and Nazarian are typical politicians who as John Wildermuth sagely noted just "want to run for office, any office."  Such pols think ahead when it comes to their careers and try to bulldoze anyone who gets in their way.   There are two rumours making the rounds of what might be Gatto's future, even if he has stayed mum.  One rumour says he runs for State Senate for Carol Liu's seat, one rumour says he runs for LA City Council for Tim LaBonge's seat. 

Who else wants to run for State Senate for the Liu seat?  None other than Anthony Portantino.  Who wants to run for the LaBonge seat?  None other than Adrin Nazarian.  Both apparently are not than confident should a credible rival enter the race.

Thus, this not-so dynamic duo plot, and engage in deception and negative campaigning even on days where the hard working people of our state really need them to be engaged on the critical issues, like, I don't know, this huge friggin' drought.   Plus our local Assemblymember gets bogus attack after bogus attack, whether in the form of astroturf blogs or planted stories.  A sad reflection of a broken political system.  What, did you think Anthony Portantino actually gave a hoot about transparency?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bill Strengthening California Voting Rights Act Headed to Governor Brown

A bill that would strengthen the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) is on its way to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for consideration.  The bill won final legislative approval last week  in the State Senate.  SB 1365 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) would expand the CVRA by explicitly prohibiting school boards, cities, and counties from gerrymandering district boundaries in a manner that would weaken the ability of a racial or language minority to influence the outcome of an election. 

“With today’s vote, we are one step closer to strengthening voting rights in Californian,” said Senator Alex Padilla.  “As our state becomes increasingly diverse we must ensure that the rights of all voters are protected,” added Padilla.

In 2002, Governor Davis signed the CVRA, which expanded upon the federal Voting Rights Act by requiring that at-large elections not have the effect of diluting or denying the political representation of minority groups.  The CVRA has been used to successfully protect voting rights throughout our state.  When at-large elections are found to violate the CVRA, the most common remedy is to transition to district elections.  In fact, 147 local government bodies have been challenged and have transitioned from at-large elections to district elections in California.  

However, moving to district elections does not, in and of itself, guarantee that the new districts will be drawn in a way that protects the rights of minority voters.  SB 1365 addresses this by extending the CVRA’s protections to district elections and empowering the courts to determine appropriate remedies to address voting rights violations. 

On June 25, 2013,  the United States Supreme Court ruling in the case of Shelby County v. Holder weakened important protections of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act of 1964.  In the wake of the Shelby decision, a broad coalition of civil rights organizations came together to strengthen voting rights in California. Working with the ACLU, MALDEF, NAACP, NALEO, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and others, Senator Padilla introduced SB 1365.

This vote is a step against the grain as several states have weakened instead of strengthened similar protections in recent years.  Voting rights activists hailed the vote as a major step in the right direction.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ending Endless Campaigning

To make a difference in our country, two things must be improved.  The good ol' U.S. of A. needs campaign finance reform, and we need to get rid of the vicious cycle of endless campaigning. 

The punditocracy often ranks finance reform as slightly more important, but us regular folks rank the endless campaigning as the worse problem-o.  Members of Congress barely win election when they are start running again!  Politicians seem like they would rather go out and shake hands, grinning on the Rubber Chicken circuit, than solve the tough problems that we face.

Locally we have a "poster boy" for endless campaigns, and thine name is Anthony Portantino.  Portantino didn't do much except vacuum up burgers and bourbon during his time in the legislature, oh yes and he attacked Democrats with some very Karl Rovian tactics, which continue now, but, we digress.

Anyhoo, this is a cut and paste from an email that is making the rounds.  We've added some links to spice it up.

Top 10 Offices Anthony Portantino Should Run For

1.  Election to the State Assembly in 2010.  Doh!  He's already done THAT.

2.  Election to Congress against David Dreier in 2012.  Doh!  He's already done THAT.  Backstory: Portantino told locals that he had "inside knowledge" about where the new district lines would go, and that he knew they would head west and include his home. He raised money from the poor saps and feigned surprise when the lines instead moved east, just like every demographer had said they would.

3.  Election to Congress against female Democratic incumbent Judy Chu in 2012.  Doh!  He's already done THAT.   
Backstory: After raising all that money, Portantino looked for a place to land, because of course working was out of the question!  So he briefly made a run against Judy Chu.  He wants you to forget it.  Congressmember Chu has not.

4.  Election to the State Senate against female Democratic incumbent Carol Liu in 2012.  Doh!  He's already done THAT.   
Backstory: With no Congressional race in the offing, Portantino needed someone else to pick on, so he next "declared" against his mentor Carol Liu in 2012.  Because nothing can get in the way of political ambition!  Now Portantino extorted some deals in exchange for dropping out, but more on this, er, um, cough! perfectly legal cough! deal later, including how the deal actually changed several of Portantino's votes, which is of course, cough! totally legal.

5.  Election to the State Senate in District 21.   Doh!  He's already done THAT.   
Backstory: Endless campaigning begets endless fundraising, and Portantino needed a place to park not just his ample behind but also his money.  So he filed a Declaration of Intent to run in Senate District 21 (Lancaster-Palmdale), currently held by Steve Knight.  
Editor's Note: Just look at that impressive list of committees!

6.  Election to the State Senate in District 25.   Doh!  He's already doing THAT.   
Backstory: By 2016, Portantino will have been on the campaign trail for 4 full years.  This is longer than any presidential campaign and will set a record for a local legislative race.  Locals often mention the pitiable Portantino, puttering around local chicken dinners, looking for love.  It's become quite the running joke.  As have the frank coversations local officials have had with him.  One says that Portantino told him that serving in the Legislature is great, "because you don't have to work."

6 different offices in 4 years, but this is a Top-10 list, so here are 4 more.

7.  Take on Adam Schiff sometime after 2016 - assumes, cough!, a victory in senate, so BIG IF!  Portantino has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to take on the democratic establishment and his homies, so Schiff beware!  Give Portantino an overlapping senate district larger than a congressional district, a platform on which to grandstand, a pulpit in which to preach, and a free run at Congress?  Portan-greed-o will certainly try to take a yard!  You can guarantee that when things get hot in Cowtown, Portantino will run for Congress, certainly by 2024.

8.  Run for dogcatcher in Lodi.  Because, why not?

9.  Run for 7th grade class president in Weehawken, New Jersey.  Because there is a clearly a need to be loved here that is a little pathological.  Who wants to wager that it involves a chubby little 7th grader?  Maybe a rebirth and a second chance would do some good here, just sayin'.

10.  Run for/at/against some windmills.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

John Chiang and Jeff Prang to Speak at BDC!

The Burbank Democratic Club has worked hard during the primary season, and there's still lots to do before the November election.  So while members continue to discuss pressing issues for local progressives and discuss which campaigns need (wo)manpower, here's notice of a great upcoming meeting.

Please join State Controller and soon to be State Treasurer John Chiang, and soon to be LA County Assessor Jeffrey Prang for a good old fashioned ice cream social. The August BDC monthly meeting will be on Thursday, August 28th, 7pm at Baskin Robbins 1201 S. Victory Blvd. Burbank 91502. Start your Memorial Day Weekend off right with some scoops from the freezer and, maybe the campaign trail. Spend some time with your friends and our endorsed candidates in a location where the only waffling will be the cones holding your rocky road. There may even be a surprise guest or two.

For more information, visit:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Geeks (and Robots) Welcomed Back to Burbank!



The Burbank International Film Festival will be hosting an exclusive screening of 1956’s classic sci-fi film “Forbidden Planet” as part of the Festival’s “History of Cinema Program” on Saturday, September 6th at 5:00 PM at the AMC Town Center 6 Theaters. Fans dressed as their favorite robot will gain free entry to the screening and all attendees will get a chance to take photographs with a life-sized talking replica of the famous “Robby the Robot.” Fans are also encouraged to submit photos in their  robot costumes ( for possible inclusion on the website.  

Before the screening, "Forbidden Planet" composer Bebe Barron will be honored for the legendary score of the film that featured the unusual instrument known as the theremin and was the very first all electronic musical score in the history of film. A demonstration of the theremin’s unique sound will also be part of the pre-screening festivities. After the screening 
fans will have a chance to meet a member of the Barron family, Magic Castle magician David Neubauer.

In addition to being the BIFF President and Festival Director, Jeff Rector is also the official spokesman for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Rector had this to say, "As a huge horror and sci-fi fan growing up, I was inspired by authors like Ray Bradbury, Gene Roddenberry, Rod Serling, Stephen King and Michael Crichton. Their 
creative imagination and awe-inspiring storytelling opened up a whole new world, and led me to write, direct and  produce genre films of my own. We are proud to be presenting this landmark classic as part of our "History of Cinema" program, to entertain and inspire other generations as well."

“Forbidden Planet” is the first science fiction film in which humans are depicted traveling in a starship of their own creation and is also the very first science fiction film set entirely on another world in interstellar space, far away from the planet Earth. “Forbidden Planet” is considered one of the great science fiction films of the 1950s, a precursor of what was to come for the science fiction film genre in the decades that followed.

“Forbidden Planet” was entered into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2013, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film features special effects which were nominated for an Academy Award, and features the first groundbreaking use of an entirely electronic musical score by Louis and Bebe Barron who will be honored with a Special Music Award at the screening.

For questions about the event and the festival, check out http:/