After watching a shockingly hideous Democratic debate last night (What is wrong< with Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous????)…..let’s turn to the local:
Wednesday night I was on Warren Olney’sWhich Way LA? with Councilwoman Janice Hahn (plus LA Gang Czar Jeff Carr, and activist Charlotte Austin-Jordan, a woman who’s lost 2 kids to gang violence), and, in the course of the show, Hahn made an important promise.
The show had to do with the mayor’s gang plan introduced on Monday at the State of the City speech, which came on the heels of last week’s decision by the city council-–after endless turf battles—to move all of LA’s gang intervention and prevention money and programs to the mayor’s office, as had been strongly recommended by City Controller Laura Chick.
Hahn was on the show in particularly to discuss her support of a November ballot measure that would ask LA residents to pay three dollars a person per month toward gang violence prevention and intervention programs, a tax that could generate an additional $30 million a year. (On Monday, Hahn and Councilwomen Jan Perry and Wendy Greuel announced that they’d joined together to form what they are calling Mothers Against Gang Violence in order to push the three-buck a person ballot proposal.)
Certainly, with the city facing a $400 million deficit this year, an additional $30 million more for the desperately needed programs is a great idea- –especially now that we’ve got the beginnings of a coherent gang plan that will be administered under one roof. But, Hahn’s fundraising gambit begged a question: would politics as usual still call the shots should the measure be passed?
In other words: now that the City Council has been boxed into handing over control of the city’s gang money, would Janice Hahn try to yank that new $30 mil into the council’s pocket? Or would she put turf wars aside and hand it all over to the mayor?
Earlier in the week, I’d discussed the issue with one of Hahn’s aides, and he told me that he honestly didn’t know.
So toward the end of the Wednesday night’s show, I brought up the issue and said I hoped that the Councilwoman would do the latter. At that juncture, Warren Olney jumped it and asked her directly.
There was a pause, and then Janice Hahn, to her credit, showed leadership and made the right commitment.
“Absolutely,” she said.
So there you have it. After two years of turf wars over gangs….actual progress.
NOTE: LA City Beat has an interesting interview with Laura Chick about gangs and city hall turf wars.
ALSO, you can listen to the show here.
PS: What kind of person asks a presidential candidate questions like: “Does Jeremiah Wright love America as much as you?”