- Written by Diana L. Chapman
11 Oct 2011
MY TURN - Los Angeles City firefighter Pat McOsker – one of two safety officers running in a jammed race for the only open City Council seat -- contends his labor background makes him the best candidate for the Los Angeles post.
As the president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, he’s grappled intense negotiations between labor and city officials for more than a decade which has prepped him to step into council seat, he said.
He, along with 10 others, are vying for former Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s seat, who left for congress.
“I bring in constituents that no one else has,” said McOsker, a city firefighter since the age of 19 who took a leave from his president position to avoid any conflicts. “I am a labor leader. If I want to get something done, I get it done. The support of labor base is critical in LA as far as getting anything done.”
His contentious job as a union president, McOsker said, trained him on how to deal directly with and understand how City Hall works – in particular its budget. The fireman, who was born in San Pedro, adds that he can stir up the labor strength to get tasks completed – in particular the highest on his list: the Los Angeles Port’s proposed $1.2 billion development called the Bridge to the Breakwater.
The giant, 30 year, 400 acre waterfront project, expected to revive the once thriving seaside San Pedro community, has produced a $14 million fountain perched alongside the cruise ship docks, a giant open space park at 22nd Street , a new Cabrillo Marina, expected to be unveiled within the month, and numerous other projects, said Phil Sanfield, the ports media relations director.
What has stalled, however, is the proposed eight mile walkway from Vincent Thomas Bridge to the Cabrillo Breakwater. The Port plans to coordinate the walkway with the ultimate development of Ports O Call, a retail village that sits along the main harbor. The current Ports O Call lease, held by Jayme Wilson, another candidate for the council job, runs through 2014. However, the port plans to begin the process next year (2012) of reviewing potential retail developers of the site, according to Sanfield.
With labor union backing, McOsker believes he can reinvigorate the walkway project because not only would it rejuvenate San Pedro it would flush in thousands of desperately needed jobs for Los Angeles.
In addition, he vows to bring safety – both police and firefighters – to the top of his list, especially since 18 Los Angeles fire companies, four ambulances and several paramedic supervisors have been eliminated due to budget cuts.
That includes the four member hazardous waste squad at 16th Street and Grand Avenue in San Pedro. That group was specifically designed to help the port with hazardous material. In an incident, such crews have to be brought in from other parts of Los Angles, McOsker said.
“It’s a ghost company there,” McOsker explained. The Los Angeles port “has the greatest potential for spills and death and I did everything I could to prevent it from closing.”
As a councilman, he said, he wants to restore that station and many others along with jobs in both firefighting and police. Los Angeles police officer Joe Buscaino is the other safety officer running in the race stacked with mostly novices and two hardcore politicians, Assembly Warren Furutani, representing the 55th District, and former Los Angeles Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr.
One of his biggest offerings to the public, McOsker explains, is that he follows through with what he promises.
“I will do whatever is necessary to get it done,” he explained. “If someone on my staff isn’t doing their job, they’re gone.”
For example, he explained, he’s got the guts to go after needed projects sweeping across the Harbor region and – understands how Watts currently struggles … especially after residents tried to reopen a closed down gym that has left teenagers on the street. Once in office, he said, he will make every effort to aid the Watts Task Force to do so and added because of his firefighting post he knows practically every corner and street in the district.
Despite a rough and tumble start, McCosker who works at Station 101 in San Pedro on 25th Street, took a leave of absence from his leadership job at the United Firefighters after several firefighters complained that his campaign was a conflict-of-interest with his post.
Complying with those firefighter’s request, he quickly stepped down and soon after received his union’s endorsement. He remained a San Pedro firefighter because a “working man still has to put bread on the table” and will resume the president post if he loses.
Another area he plans to focus on is businesses. He wants businesses in his district to open their doors more quickly – as fast as 30 days -- despite the obstacle course presented by the city – which keeps an array of small businesses from ever opening, he said. Part of his plan, he explained, is monthly meetings in which downtown LA city officials are brought down to district offices to “help walk businesses through the process.”
Like two other candidates, one issue haunting McOsker is that he had to return to the district to run. He moved with his wife, Carla, from Redondo Beach to the Vue apartments downtown San Pedro.
Svorinich and candidate Gordon Teuber, a former Hahn aide, moved from the Palos Verdes Peninsula back to San Pedro. To run, candidates have to live in the council district which serves Wilmington, San Pedro, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway as well as Watts.
Despite the move, McOsker touts his deep roots steeped long in a town that was once considered a small fishing village. His father, Kevin “Mac” and mother, Patricia, raised five boys and a girl in San Pedro. His father became a Los Angeles firefighter in 1962 and worked at Station 101 for 17 years.
The firefighter said it took him 28 years of seniority to gain the privilege to follow his father’s footsteps and work at 101. His brother, Mike, is also are retired Los Angeles firefighter.
McOsker added that he “missed San Pedro everyday of his life” and wouldn’t have moved to Redondo, but his wife’s family also had lived for years in the beach city and “I had to respect that.”
Tags: Pat McOsker, CD15, campaign, election, candidates, Warren Furutani, Joe Buscaino, Rudy Svorinich, San Pedro, Janice Hahn
Vol 9 Issue 81
Pub: Oct 11, 2011