In one of the more humorous stories about Los Angeles’s CD 14 race, the Los Angeles Times came out with this piece today about Councilman Jose Huizar building lists of friends, foes, and even buildings for priority and being worthy of his political influence within his district. So in using CLARTS funds that are supposed to be used for local amenities to instead augment staff salaries, we get a glimpse of what Council member Huizar’s staff spent time doing: building an elaborate political score card.
In my view, these lists aren’t terribly damning because all elected and appointed officials keep score of those who they can call in for a favor, etc. However, having staff work on these lists and creating an elaborate documentation scheme probably isn’t a good idea. First of all, it makes the councilman appear very insecure and paranoid, and secondly, why would anyone want to maintain a list that could potentially create all kinds of political enemies? Especially if someone who is respected, like Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, only receives a 2 out of 5 on decision making influence according to the political calculation of Jose Huizar and company.
From today’s piece in the Times:
‘Laura Gutierrez, former president of the Glassell Park Improvement Assn., said Huizar’s office staff should have spent more energy delivering services and less time on assessing civic leaders. Gutierrez, whose group serves part of Huizar’s district, described the lists as “hilarious” and said she wasn’t surprised to receive a minus 2 on her degree of support for the councilman.
“If you question Jose Huizar or ask why he’s doing something, you fall out of favor,” she said.
Three council members whose districts border Huizar’s — Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry and Ed Reyes — said they have never used a written ranking system for leaders in their districts. Perry burst out laughing when she was shown a copy of one list. “Wow, this is complicated,” she said.
The Times asked Huizar for copies of his “power analysis” lists on Dec. 20 and was told by his spokesman, Rick Coca, that the state public records law did not require that they be made available. “The public interest served by protecting the council member’s decision-making process clearly outweighs the public interest served by the record’s disclosure,” he wrote.
That response did not surprise Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles nonprofit group that examines the voting patterns and campaign fundraising practices of local elected officials. Stern said releasing the lists would be “embarrassing” both for Huizar and for the people who received disappointing scores.
“Politicians keep lists like this in their heads,” he said. “I don’t think they usually write them down.”‘
What are your thoughts on this? I think that voters should certainly keep a scorecard on electeds according to their needs, but I’m not so sure if staffers receiving a tax payer funded salary should spend so much time with this kind of list building. If it is a list with constituents who are logging a complaint or who have an issue, that’s completely understandable, but “decision making influence” and “political clout” lists are a bit excessive.