January 30, 1997 - From the January, 1997 issue

TPR’s Mayoral Platform Series: Sen. Hayden & Coro’s Tharp

The Planning Report and its sister publication Metro Investment Report are featuring a series of "Mayoral Platform" pieces. We hope that this series of articles by community leaders will provide a framework for debate and inform the dialogue in the months leading to the April, 1997 election of a Mayor for the City of Los Angeles.

Carol Baker-Tharp: “I am glad I won’t have to campaign on the platform that I’m about to propose because… it is work for the long haul… it is grounded in hard reality. It is focused on service.”

By Tom Hayden, California State Senator (D-Santa Monica) 

I am running for Mayor because Richard Riordan wants to Make Los Angeles the biggest city in America, and I want it to be the most livable one… 

In 1993, Richard Riordan may have fit the mood of a city reacting to the worst riot in history. But it is time to move on. Richard Riordan is fixated on a dead vision of growth…  Mayor Riordan has approved a growth plan which will add one-million more people to a city that is already too big and frustrating.

… On my side of town, the Mayor wants to double the traffic at LAX to 100 million passenger flights a year. There goes Westchester and Venice. In my backyard, his fundraising ally Bert Boeckmann dreams of building million-dollar mansions on a ridge line. There goes another mountain top. In Van Nuys, the Mayor has resisted noise controls on corporate jets flying over residential neighborhoods, including the jet that ferries him on vacations. There goes peace and quiet in bedroom communities. In Hollywood, the Mayor's MTA sink­hole has led to a billion dollar lawsuit from property owners. There goes the boulevard.

Then there's the other side of town, the neighborhoods of the working poor where families are supposed to survive on $10,000 a year. The Mayor's growth plan, in its own words, will widen the economic gap between white and non-white families. This other Los Angeles is besieged by drugs and open violence, and undermined by unemployment and poverty.

These two cities, one that is over­developed and congested, the other that is underdeveloped and poor, cannot coexist harmoniously under the complacent control of an establishment in denial. I empathize with all sides of this great drama.

We need a Mayor who can point out that both sides of town are shut out of the decisions that can make their lives better. Richard Riordan does not understand these tensions. We need fewer mergers and acquisitions, and more community-based economic development. We need a Mayor who will fight for the taxpayer, consumer, and renter. 

I want to build a Los Angeles that is more livable, more peaceful, and more just. I want to reform government so that it's on your side. 

In a few days, I will release my [full] platform. Today I want to simply state my vision.

  1. Violence Prevention
  2. Power to the Neighborhoods—Through Charter Reform, we should move to democratically elected, neighborhood-based Councils that take control of zoning, services, and community economic development. The Mayor's office and the City should be re­directed to invest more tax dollars back into resource-starved neighborhoods. It is more important that we have community parks than a sports arena in the middle of a traffic jam downtown.
  3. Full-Service School
  4. Dignity for the Working Poor
  5. The MTA Scandal, Waste and Management Must Be Ended.
  6. Restore and Improve our Degraded Environment.
  7. A River-Front Downtown for the New Los Angeles—a restoration of the Los Angeles River all the way from the Valley through Cahuenga Pass to the industrial wasteland at Taylor Yards. This Riverfront will have bikepaths, park and recreation facilities, outdoor restaurants, and restore the natural environment that was buried by the age of industry and railroads.
  8. A spiritually-grounded politics instead of the corrupt, entrenched, old-boy, special interest networks that threaten the quality of life. 

With a Mayor who leads a renewal movement, we can make Los Angeles the first example of a global city that works. 

Now our civic energy is sapped by a government that is hopelessly centralized, faraway and unresponsive. And yet the possibilities are there, have we forgotten that we are a city of artists, writers, actors, designers and dreamers? Have we not seen the potential of  the Internet to make citizen participation possible? Are we afraid of our crossroads for peace, tolerance and trade in the 21st Century? 


I am running because I do not want us to forget our potential to be buried in bigness, to become a city of ants instead of angels. 

The Mayor's closest advisor says he plans to run a negative campaign attacking my past. I ask Mayor Riordan to join me in civil and dignified public debates on how to transform L.A. from a symbol of things gone wrong to human hope for the 21st Century.


By Carol Baker-Tharp, Executive Director of Coro Southern California, an institute for ethical, effective leadership in the public arena 

I am glad I won't have to campaign on the platform that I'm about to propose because it isn't sexy and it won't be popular. It is work for the long haul, not for the quick fix. It is grounded in hard reality, not popular promises. It is focused on service. I want to talk about the Mayor's role 

in changing the way we think about governing ourselves in this community. 

I say "this community" intentionally. It has become customary in many circles to refer to the "communities" of Los Angeles, and therein lies part of the problem. We Angelenos have lost the vision of ourselves as a united community, and our system of local governance drives us apart rather than bringing us together. The Mayor of Los Angeles should be one who helps bring us together and holds us together during the stresses of modern times. The ''platform" I propose consists of:

  • Building Unity
  • Urging Responsibility
  • Creating Clarity
  • Modeling City "Patriotism"
  • Giving Service

If whoever runs for the office of Mayor of Los Angeles must make promises in a campaign, promise:

  • To be out in the neighborhoods regularly—and not just for ribbon cuttings—to gather input and gather information;
  • To listen to what residents need and want from government, then from these needs, to forge a unified vision for the community;
  • To explain in plain language what's going on in the city and how people can affect decisions that are important to them;
  • To make information available in as many culturally appropriate ways as possible to let the city's people and visitor's know what services are available to them and what responsibilities arc expected of them;
  • To explain what city services cost and what resources are available to pay for them;
  • To be accountable for what the city bureaucracy docs on your watch (rather than blaming them for things that don't work);
  • To admit problems, but also to tell good stories about Los Angeles wherever you find them;
  • To instill a spirit of "servant leadership" in City government, letting the City's 43 thousand employees know clearly what is it expected of them and promising both to support their professionalism and to hold them accountable for delivering the goods.

Then, if you are elected, to do these things with all your might. 


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