Fri, Jun

Score Card for City Council Members.  Not Looking Good.


GELFAND’S WORLD - The phone rang in the late afternoon. It was another campaign call for a local City Council candidate. This was the third or the fourth, but the caller was willing to listen to me, and out of our conversation came one realization.

This is the first time in living memory that there has been an all-out voter revolt against local government officials. We will be getting four or five replacement council members, not to mention whoever ends up replacing Nury Martinez and possibly Kevin de Leon. It's a radical departure from the days when only the termed-out council members got replaced. 

As a thought exercise, I wrote out the last 18 or so City Council members. They are put in the chart in alphabetical order. Next to each name, there are between zero and three asterisks. Look at the list, and I will talk about the asterisks below.



You are probably beginning to guess that the asterisks stand for various problems associated with the different council members. Three asterisks represent a pretty big scandal. The Nury Martinez trio all got a triple asterisk. 

But you can also get a triple asterisk for pleading guilty to a felony or being indicted on one or more felonies. The leader on the board is of course Jose Huizar, with a 41-count indictment. Some of those counts are for alleged racketeering and fraud. 

Mitchell Englander pled guilty to his own felonies and has basically dropped off the radar. Mark Ridley-Thomas always seemed like a gentleman and a leader, but he is in real trouble over the bribery indictment. 

Herb Wesson rated a double asterisk over (1) the allegation that he got his son special treatment (in terms of rent) from a company that he was helping at the zoning level -- a significant misuse of power and (2) that he must have known about the corruption that was going on in the Planning and Land Use committee, the Home of Felonies™. 

David Ryu rates a single asterisk merely for losing his reelection campaign. He always seemed like a nice enough guy, but this was political negligence, or perhaps it signaled this year's electoral bloodshed. Anyway, the asterisk represents failure to connect well enough with one's constituents to gain easy reelection. 

On a similar note, Mitch O'Farrell scores a double for whatever turned two-thirds of the voters against him. Perhaps he is another victim of voter outrage over the collective corruption scandals. 

Joe Buscaino got his asterisk for taking a substantial political donation from the guy who was subsequently convicted of felony bribery in the SeaBreeze scandal. 

Monica Rodriguez scored a single merely for pushing some anti-neighborhood council stuff in the City Council. She may otherwise be OK, but she ought to be a little more careful about these things.                                   

Addendum: Cultural treasures 

On broadcast television, the network that calls itself MeTV+ has a Sunday evening cartoon show. This weekend they ran an early Betty Boop cartoon featuring the classic animated character Koko the Clown. Other good stuff. Worth watching. 

Public Health: We're still losing nearly 400 a day to the Covid, for no good reason. 

Some people have been wondering whether the vaccine against Covid-19 is all it's cracked up to be, but we have some pretty solid evidence that says it is. Scientific American ran an explanatory piece you can read here.  

Going back to March, we are told: 

“Unvaccinated people 12 years and older had 17 times the rate of COVID-associated deaths, compared to people vaccinated with a primary series and a booster dose”. 

Furthermore; “Unvaccinated people had eight times the rate of death as compared to people who only had a primary series". 

Looking at the Johns Hopkins running tally, the U.S. has been well beyond a million dead due to Covid-19 for a long time, but we are still seeing about 400 deaths per day on the average. You would think that people would get the message, considering that this is more than 3 times the death rate from auto accidents. Apparently politics beats rational thought, even when it can kill you. 

One way to think of it: Every time I pull back my sleeve and get a shot, I'm taking some sort of a risk. It's generally a pretty low risk, so low as to be essentially inconsequential. Still, there are some few people who suffer some side effects. Back in the days when smallpox vaccinations were required, there was a known mortality of about one in a million. The effect was recognizable and has been written about. When they were using the live oral polio vaccine, there were a certain number of paralytic cases and even deaths over the course of a whole country. Still, the risk was considered enormously less than the risk from being in an unvaccinated population, where pretty much everybody would be exposed to the live virus carrying full bore polio.


(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected])