LA ELECTION 2022 - The race for Los Angeles City Attorney is as wide-open affair. There are no incumbents; not even a termed out official seeking a new gig.
So, the question is, who in the pool of candidates is the most open-minded and thoughtful; someone who is not motivated by ideology and who is has been in close touch with the issues facing our city - most importantly, someone who has maintained connections with a wide spectrum of residents over the years.
Kevin James, the former president of the Board of Public Works, a former Assistant U S Attorney and litigator for private area law firms, exceeds these requirements more than his opponents.
Los Angeles is a city beset by corruption. Among the most egregious examples involve three city council members who were either indicted or convicted of criminal activity, and the DWP billing settlement fiasco (which has tainted the reputation of outgoing city attorney Mike Feuer); also, no-bid contracts, the establishment of a trash collection monopoly and the failure to develop affordable housing that does not cost a half-million dollars or more per unit.
The City’s lax acquisition process contributes to corruption by allowing no-bid contracts. James would expand on the existing protections in the Charter, which allow such contracts when the need is urgent or the city lacks the skills in house to perform the service or work. He would insist on clear and full public disclosure for the need. He also prefers having the city maintain a competitive on-call list of vetted vendors who can be contacted when time is of the essence.
Interestingly, a similar approach was suggested by former CAO Miguel Santana when the city was rolling out the consolidation of trash collection services. The vendors would compete for business from apartments and condo associations. Instead, the City Council created the trash monopolies that are in place today, which cost tenants/landlords considerably more
Of particular concern to James is the homelessness crisis. He supports protecting the public right-of-way.
By settling in the Mitchell case, Los Angeles left the door open for adjacent municipalities (who were not parties to the settlement and, therefore, enforce the public right-of-way) to encourage their unhoused to move to our streets
James believes the playing field must be leveled so all cities in the region, if not the entire state, are subject to the same rules. Only then will there be an incentive for all municipalities to cooperate on developing a universal solution; if not, the can gets kicked to Los Angeles City Hall where it stays and rusts. James expressed this view in an article published by Cal Matters.
James has always been in touch with the neighborhood councils and other community organizations. He was a volunteer with the AIDS Project Los Angeles food bank, named to the Board of Directors including two terms as APLA’s Board Co-Chair.
James’ experience with Public Works makes him well suited to serve as a resource for the LA2028 Olympics Committee, providing guidance on contracts involving city services. The complexity of this event cannot be understated, especially when international affairs are in turmoil. We need savvy professionals like James to help LA2028 and city services navigate legal issues.
No other candidate can match his breadth of experience and commitment to the people of Los Angeles.
(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and former NC Valley Village board member and treasurer. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. He can be reached at: [email protected])