THE EASTSIDER - Tuesday September 6th, was hot and humid. However, it did not stop a crowd of around 200 Angelenos from coming to meet Rick Caruso in person.
Appropriately, the event was held at the Police Museum on York Blvd, over by Figueroa.
Hats off to our own Caroline Aguirre, who bought a lot of side dishes to feed the crowd. She also handled registration. What really surprised me was that the old group who used to handle Northeast LA politics - from Lincoln Heights to El Sereno to Highland Park to Eagle Rock, and Glassell Park they all showed up. This was the group who banded together about a decade ago and pushed the politicians hard, to benefit our communities instead of Gods Gift to the Northeast, Jose Huizar and his camp followers.
Notables, like Maggie Darrett Quiroz, David Hernandez, Art Camirillo, Scott Johnson, and many other recognizable activists from NELA and ELA. . And then there was Bradley of Glassell Park, working collaboratively with Caroline Aguirre and Michael Nogueira ( Yes, that Sir Michael of Eagle Rock) to organize the event, instructing the Youth Core from Glassell Park Schools and Victory Outreach Services behind the scenes serving the food and assisting everyone with a place to sit under umbrellas, not to mention the fact he sent out invitations to a very large group.
However, the ‘Person of the Hour’, was Rick Caruso who was well received promising from day one to deal with crime, homelessness, a 15-0 City Council vote trading system, and most importantly, to rebuild our broken dilapidated communities citywide. Most of the areas in the Northeast and East LA have suffered greatly since the last three cycles of elections, exacerbated by the pandemic, increases in crime and visual blight and nuisance that all Angelenos feel every day burdening their lives and livelihood. We cannot even walk our family member and pets or run on our taxpayer public sidewalks due to the physical blight, obstructions, and nuisances allowed by our elected officials and city street services.
We all know the realities. City services are not delivered, potholes are not filled, our garbage is everywhere, and our neighborhoods quickly deteriorating with the City of Los Angeles reminiscent of ‘Third World’ conditions, thanks to our outgoing Mayor hiding his head in DC trying to become an Ambassador. Sheesh! Have you tried calling My311 to have a fee-based citation issued for visual or physical nuisance/blight or bulky item pickup?
Rick asked the crowd how many of us have taken a ride on Metrolink. Good question, since we live in the area where the Metro goes from downtown LA up to Pasadena, and anyone who’s actually taken a ride on it would have to admit that it leaves a lot to be desired.
In an interesting moment, someone asked Rick why he became a Democrat? His response made sense - as a Pro-Life Republican, he discovered that he could no longer tolerate the direction of the party. Fair enough, but it won’t impress some of the many Lifetime Democrats who have accepted the status-quo of our current elected officials and Mayoral Candidate, Congresswomen Karen Bass. But it was an honest answer.
Yes, he promised to make public safety his priority, by hiring the 10,000 active police officers that has been the Department’s goal forever, while prioritizing and uplifting the needs of the Fire Department. Rick has also promised to increase the Sanitation Dept. by 300 more inspectors and sanitation workers to address Angelenos nuisance and blight concerns. Can he deliver? One way to find out.
The Real Meat
To me the real substance of his campaign has to do with what he calls the difference between a “legislator” and a Chief Executive. Let’s examine that.
Karen Bass, like a lot of the City Council, have spent most of her political life legislating. You know, looking into things, doing subcommittee meetings, looking at policy initiatives, examining proposals, and compromising to find 15 votes on the Council.
A Chief Executive, on the other hand, makes decisions, implements them, and takes the heat if they fail. The Executive may succeed or fail, but they make hard decisions and stand behind them. Here’s the example Rick gave to us, and I think that it makes his point.
Recently, Rick traveled to Las Vegas Nevada, to meet an entrepreneur named Paolo Tiramani who has established a factory that produces Accessory Dwelling Units of almost 400 sq. ft., for a cost of roughly $60,000/unit. That number includes fridge, sink, oven, dishwasher, microwave, cabinets, bathroom, and high ceilings. It even unpacks in an hour.
The company is called Boxabl, and you can find their website here. It’s pretty cool.
As the story goes, Rick discussed the idea of the company moving to Los Angeles, factory and all, hopefully in an area which has seen hard times and could really use the jobs and economic stimulus. Rick said that if they would do this, he would buy the units. It also appears that the company is in the process of being able to deliver ADUs on the order of many per hour, and at a significantly less cost than $60,000.
That’s a Chief Executive as Mayor, not a ‘legislator’. Our call at the ballot box, and why I like Rick Caruso for Mayor.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)