DEEGAN ON LA—Political neophyte Kenneth Mejia has been exposed as being so shallow in basic political savvy that he can only aspire to acquire “rookie” status one day. He rode into office as City Controller—the city’s chief accountant and bookkeeper—on a far left progressive wave last November, but it turned out to be like riding a plunging breaker that face planted him into the sand.
The reflection of his ineptitude was the botched nomination of an ethics commissioner. Despite what Mejia may have thought were solid votes for his nominee, Reseda Neighborhood Council President Jamie York, the City Council humiliated Mejia with a shutout 14-0 negative vote. Nithya Raman (CD4) was absent; Raman’s office told CityWatch that the councilmember was in an AQMD meeting that ran long.
Looking backward, when he was running for office, was it obvious to predict that Mejia may be better suited as a bean counter than a nose counter and find a job at one of the Big Four accounting firms instead of City Hall?
Looking forward does Jamie York receive redemption? Will she be renominated? A reconsideration of the negative vote would have had to come at the succeeding council meeting, but no motion was made which brings the matter back to square one of who will make the nomination and who, if not York, will be the nominee?
Does Mejia continue to have a voice in the matter, or will another councilmember school him how it’s done? The two top teachers have weighed in. Both Council President Paul Krekorian and President Pro Tem Marqueece Harris-Dawson addressed his failure, with Krekorian saying “the controller simply made no effort to address any member’s questions or concerns.” And Harris-Dawson saying that “Mejia’s team did not contact this office to discuss his ethics pick”.
Mejia will have certainly learned from his hands-off-the-process mistake of taking his eye off the ball. With all that’s been pre-occupying council members the past couple of weeks, like the purchase of a hotel to house the homeless (a transaction he would have a role in) and the approval of an increase in the LAPD budget (something that is anathema to him: he wants to be signing paychecks for less cops) it’s easy to see why a routine matter, a practically rubber-stamp appointment to a board of volunteers, could slip through the cracks but for more professional and diligent staffing and shepherding of his nominee by him.
Hopefully, it’s a hard lesson learned by the controller, although he’s made no public acknowledgment that he blew it.
The part of politics that is not policy is process, and they overlap to create a Venn diagram where policy and process share a common space. There’s a way to get what you want at City Hall, and that’s the part of politics that Mejia appears not to understand.
When he ran for office, Mejia told us he was “a radical and a revolutionary”, and that he wanted to “defund the LAPD”. Also noted in his campaign rhetoric was that he was pro-Syria and anti-Israel; he got extreme when he defended Syrian president Bashar al-Assad against charges that he gassed his own people. He publicly supported the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.
He never promised voters that he was a politico. Now, we know why.
(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose Deegan on LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appear in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed by Mr. Deegan are his alone and not necessarily those of CityWatch.)