The City of Los Angeles is about to select its next mayor. The contrasts between two candidates are profound. Karen Bass, is a liberal former community organizer, three-term Democrat state assemblywoman elected Speaker in 2008. She left Sacramento for Washington with a 2010 election to Congress, and served from 2011 to 2021. While in Congress she was elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and appointed to Chair the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations and the United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. During her political career, Bass has avoided the “in your face” approach to racial justice issues, although frequently shared her view the criminal justice system is systemically racist. In August of 2020, as the the George Floyd riots were winding down, Bass was asked about her thoughts on defunding the police. Bass replied, “I say it a little different. Instead of saying, “defund the police,” I say, “refund the communities. Communities [should] reinvision what public safety is like.” Whatever this means exactly, it still sounds like taking funding from the police and spending it elsewhere.
As a candidate for Mayor, Bass has modified her views, and is now adamant that she never subscribed to the “defund the police” movement. In her editorial in City Watch, Caroline Aguirre, a retired 24-year California police officer, outlines the numerous criminal justice reform policies the state has enacted, beginning with the 2010 corrections reform called “non-revokable parole.” That policy granted early release with no parole supervision to property and drug offenders deemed “non-violent” by the state. Bass supported it. In 2011, the legislature passed AB109, a major restructuring of the criminal justice system which also encouraged early release of offenders with sharply reduced supervision. Bass supported it. Then there was Proposition 47, championed by then San Francisco DA George Gascon and bankrolled by progressive New York billionaire George Soros and the ACLU. Bass supported this so-called “safe neighborhoods and schools Act,” and with the big bucks from Soros, misleading television adds fooled the public into passing it. The initiative decriminalized most thefts and drug transactions, turning major cities into crime-infested open air drug malls. Then in 2016 came Proposition 57…Jerry Brown’s “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act.” With millions of dollars from Soros, the voters were fooled again. This time passing a law that allowed hard-core habitual felons with violent prior convictions, including murder and rape, to gain early release after serving two-thirds to one-half of their sentences. Bass supported it.
As Aguirre notes “how is Karen Bass going to address the homeless issues in our city?…..Bass, during her years as an elected official and even now as a U.S. Representative has failed to address this issue….Also, how is Bass going to address the massive increases in our city’s crime rates? Remember, she supported all of these Criminal Justice Reform Acts which have contributed to an increase in crime.”
Bass’s opponent on November 8th is billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso. Caruso changed his political affiliation from independent to democrat when he decided to run for Mayor. Caruso’s only significant involvement in politics was his 2001 election as President of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. In that role, he led to effort to recruit former New York City police commissioner William Bratton to Chief of the LA Police Department. Chief Bratton implemented polices that contributed to a decade-long drop in crime. As a candidate for Mayor, Caruso is pledging to restore some of those policies, including adding 1,500 officers to the police force, restoring the Crash unit that targets high crime areas, cracking down on gun traffickers, and pushing for reform or repeal of Proposition 47. Caruso pledges to take 30,000 homeless off the streets in the first year, clearing out parks, beaches and sidewalks. He cites his experience as a developer to build and repurpose properties to deliver shelter space at half the current $700,000 per bed housing cost. He has also pledged to expand mental health and drug addiction services to get the 67% of LA homeless who are mentally ill or addicted to drugs into care.
These are ambitious goals, but at least Caruso is squarely facing the city’s major problems.
Bass’s policies on these issues are patterned, in part, after Caruso’s. She pledges to house 15,000 homeless in the first year, end street camping and provide increase services, and housing, and bring the private sector on board. She pledges to increase mental health and addiction treatment. Her approach to crime includes a more racially diverse LAPD and the insistence that “We’ve tried arresting our way out of the problem before – it doesn’t work.” Her solution, invest more in social services, housing and job skills training. Bass believes that zero bail criminalizes poverty, so her answer is to encourage public officials to do a better job. Her answer to theft related crimes, such as smash and grab robberies, is to get state funding for recovery programs to reimburse stores that are regularly cleaned out by thieves. These are the responses of a lifelong liberal politician. More government programs, more spending, less actual enforcement of the law, no effort to fix the bad policies (she supported) that are encouraging crime.
California arrested its way out of high crime in the 1990s and rates remained low until 2010, as Bass was just starting her political career. Recent studies indicate that zero bail encourages more crime. Paying stores who get robbed, without dealing with the thieves is just stupid.
Angelinos who believe that they will be better protected by a Karen Bass should vote for her.
Those who want things to change in Los Angeles might want to consider the private sector guy who has been earning his own paycheck and employing thousands of others, now stepping away from a pretty nice private life to try and save the city he loves.
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