Mayor Sam speaks with 2UrbanGirls

indexThe Urban Girl is a regular reader of Los Angeles based political blog titled “Mayor Sam’s Sister City- Home of Los Angeles Politics” and the site is full of interesting tidbits on the political state of the City of Los Angeles.  Many references made throughout this article, are well-known to Mayor Sam’s regular followers, but if you are interested in getting more details as to who they are, feel free to leave a comment and Mayor Sam just might entertain us with a response.  Enjoy!


You are awesome!  You have one of the most entertaining, informative and refreshing political blogs I have ever come across and it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity.

I’m delighted to have the chance to talk with you. You guys are doing amazing work and I am a BIG fan!

How did you get your start critiquing the Los Angeles city council?
I’ve always had an interest in politics, really since I was a kid. In the early-mid 90s, I got involved as a neighborhood activist in my community of North Hollywood, which was beginning its renaissance. I was young and looked up to politicians such as Tom Bradley, Zev Yarovslasky, Yvonne Burke, John Ferraro and others as rock stars. However, the more I got involved and saw how things really worked, the more I got discouraged.
You affectionately call the collective elected the “City Clowncil”, what’s up with the clever candor in your articles?
I forget exactly how that moniker came up but I believe it came from one of our readers. Not long after the blog started, very quickly an in-joke lingua franca developed with clever sayings and nicknames for public figures and situations. I think humor has been a very big part of the blog and yes, we do take satirical shots at local leaders. I’ve often found that humor is the great equalizer and it’s something I rely on often. After all, no one should take themselves too seriously.
Recently Zuma Dogg made impressive strides in curtailing the city council’s treatment of residents attending city council meetings, and the story wasn’t covered by mainstream media, why is that?
I think that for whatever reason the mainstream media has an elitist attitude towards citizen activists. Indeed, some of those activists are more “colorful” than others. But as much as some may show disdain for Zuma Dogg and his ski cap, sunglasses and occasional rapping during public comment, Zuma and others like often are fountains of information, usually years before – if ever – the mainstream press picks it up.
Is this typical of the “Old Gray Hag” on Spring St.?
Yes, I think so – as well as the Daily News, other local papers and even a few blogs. Too many of these writers have become cozy with the electeds and travel in the same circles. More so, over the years, they’ve become lazy practicing “press release journalism” and seldom fact checking city government. There’s a few notable exceptions in the traditional press – Jon Regardie of the Downtown News does great work and I’m a big fan of the news department at KFI as well as Michael Linder of KABC.
As a former mayor, what behavior/actions of the current “Clowncil” do you find most deplorable?
Oh gosh, where do we start? Right now, I think some of the sexual misconduct is on a lot of folks radars. We basically have a bunch of guys acting like it’s still 1955. I also resent the glad-handing, photo mugging, and legislating around sensational issues (such as GMOs) that really aren’t the city’s purview. The antics of Herb Wesson and his socks and how out of control Tom LaBonge is I think is embarrassing. Most recently, I’ve become concerned about where electeds are working with some neighborhood council leaders and other local sycophants to eliminate opposition from stakeholders within the city to various projects and policies. We’ve seen that in my own community of Sunland-Tujunga where “neighborhood leaders” have joined forces with our City Councilman to advance projects not in the area’s best interest and at the same using bullying and other tactics to shut down dissent.
As elected officials grapple with the lack of residents participation in government, what steps can be taken, in theory, to drive more people to the polls?
I think we have to continue to get more and more information out. Yes, it’s a major concern that the Obamacare websites don’t work and it should be dominate much of the news cycle, but for the most part what happens at the Federal and State level has little impact on us on a daily basis. City government makes far more decisions that effect people’s lives yet they’re turned out. Blogs and social media seem to be making some difference but there is a way to go. I also think we need to hold grass roots candidates accountable to run solid campaigns that get out the vote. Too many of these efforts are really vanity campaigns. Indeed, it’s a huge challenge to go up against incumbents with lots of money. But a solid strategy and lots of elbow grease can level the playing field.
You have mentioned holding elections simultaneously with the Presidential cycle, can that work?
It’s an interesting idea that could relieve the “election fatigue” we have with elections about every six months it seems these days. There could be some cost savings as well. On the other hand, those that object to this say that will lead to a long ballot and perhaps folks will drop off after voting for President and Congress. Some conservatives, even moderate Democrats, have also told me that it would vastly swell Democrat voter turnout in local elections and put an end to the chances of moderates and conservatives such as Kevin James or Mitchell Englander.
KPCC recently held a forum on “Where are the women in City Hall”.  With the recent allegations swirling around a current “Clowncil” member, along with the developments in San Diego, are women better off not playing in the “boys” sandbox?
No not at all. I actually think the environment has worsened in recent years and it may be a combination of a dearth of female members and that many of the current members are relatively young compared to the past. Not that long ago, we had 1/3 of the Council Members were females and the average age of the members was in their 50s and 60s. Now due to term limits and the musical chairs of local politics many of these members are in their 40s or younger and may have not matured. I do think women need to push forward and not give up. There were many, many strong, intelligent young women working on campaigns in the last cycle, Zoe Kipping and Felicia Gomez Verdin  come to mind. I see these women and women like them moving up the ranks in the very near future. My friend Monica Rodriguez, who was recently appointed as Vice President of the Board of Public Works, ran a thoughtful and intelligent campaign for Council against Richard Alarcon a few years ago. Sadly, she was told by some that as a mother with young children she had no business running. I haven’t heard anyone tell men such as Barack Obama, Paul Ryan, Gavin Newsom or even Mayor Garcetti that having very young children disqualified them from serving. The only way we will see progress is if women continue to push and push hard.
Do you see community newspapers and blogs, providing better insight and analysis on political news, than mainstream media sources?
Yes absolutely! Its really the only place I think where stakeholders will get this information. Randy Economy does great work at Los Cerritos News, Your blog is a fantastic resource for the community and there are many, many others. Even Patch I think can add a lot and give locals a place to gain and share information. Social media is a big factor too, I’ve lost count of how many community pages my neighborhood has and folks are getting engaged. We no longer have to depend on traditional media to get hyper-local news and analysis, down to the block level!
Will you ever reveal which city you where Mayor?
Haha, I think it’s pronounced “Los Angle-leez.”
If you could wave a magic wand, and change anything about the political landscape, in LA County, what would that be and why?
I would definitely want to increase the number of people engaging and being involved. You get more people at a Clippers game than show up to vote in City Council races. I’d love to see the corruption come to an end too and the power of special interests be eclipsed. I’d even ask for some smarter people to be elected, but I guess I am asking too much.
You make references to “Gorda Boo Boo” and “Mini Amin”.  Do you ever worry about taking your articles too far?
That’s the comic genius of my long time blogging collaborator, Scott Johnson who actually writes most of Mayor Sam these days. There’s no doubt at times we’re over the top, but I’d argue may of the people we have entrusted the well being of the city are going too far too. Again, humor is a big part of our brand and I think it’s why a lot of people read. You’ll often see such hilarity as well from the folks who post comments.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.  I still get a kick out of “…faint whiff of Charlie Sheen and teeth so bright they are blinding…” Where do you come up with this stuff?
Again, a lot of that is Scott’s handiwork and some of it is what comes from contributors, friends, readers and others. Unlike some other blogs, we go the extra mile to not take ourselves too seriously. After all, we’re just bloggers!
Thank you again Mayor Sam for your time and you can follow him on Twitter @mayorsam

One Response so far.

  1. […] I’m gonna miss his political briefs, our twitter chats and I thank him for being one of my first interviews. […]

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