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Tags: los angeles | rick caruso | homelessness
OPINION

Is Liberal Los Angeles Ready for a Conservative Billionaire Mayor?

Is Liberal Los Angeles Ready for a Conservative Billionaire Mayor?
Rick Caruso (Getty Images)

Susan Estrich By Thursday, 24 March 2022 01:06 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Five mayoral candidates were on the "bimah" at a synagogue in the San Fernando Valley last week to discuss the issue of homelessness.

Rep. Karen Bass, a progressive who is leading the pack in the polls, was speaking when the activists shouted her down, calling her a liar. Kevin de Leon got shouted down in Spanish.

The rabbi tried and failed. The candidates packed up and left. It all made the news.

The homeless activists, as is usually the case in these shout downs, did their cause more harm than good. It reminded everyone who read about it or saw it on the news of every bad encounter you've ever had with a homeless person, of the encampment you drive past to get on the freeway, of the disgrace that is the grounds of the Veterans Affairs, of the mess in Venice, of the mess in Echo Park, of the blight of homelessness as much as the plight of the homeless.

And it is the blight of homelessness that may end up shaping the next mayoral election, one to watch in the great game of trying to figure out where we are as a nation politically.

By all rights, a progressive like Bass, a longtime member of Congress with a reputation for getting things done, should win the election. That she is a Black woman at a time when diversity counts should simply seal the deal.

But the deal is far from sealed, and if I were a betting woman, my money would be not on the Black woman progressive but on the white male billionaire developer who is already running ads that he will clean up the city.

Rick Caruso is the megasuccessful developer of destination shopping malls, including the Grove, a Disneyland-esque island in the middle of the city that looks inward and has no homeless people. That it looks nothing like much of Los Angeles is a point of attraction. The little red trolley is very safe.

Los Angeles is a beautiful city facing the sort of quality-of-life issues that led to the Giuliani-community policing-broken-windows cleanup of New York City in the 1990s.

Los Angeles has been headed in the wrong direction. The new Metro, just a few years ago the pride and joy, is beset by crime and disorder, the nice word for homeless people who spend their time riding around on trains.

Venice Beach finally got cleaner when the sheriff embarrassed the LAPD by announcing that he would enforce the law if the police wouldn't, so the homeless moved a few blocks away.

The supposedly temporary "bridge shelter," which has turned into a bridge to nowhere, is still there, even though it occupies one of the most expensive and desirable pieces of undeveloped land in the city.

Meanwhile, the activists manage to disrupt a constructive discussion of how to deal with the plight of the homeless by behaving like the most disturbed of their constituents, reminding everyone — even the good people who go to a synagogue for a candidates' forum on homelessness — of just what a blight the homeless have created in our neighborhoods.

The blight of homelessness may lead a liberal city to look for a conservative solution. If the question is, which candidate will do more to deal with the blight of homelessness, with the threat to this city caused by an army of homeless people — some of them obviously mentally ill and unstable, some of them obviously angry and scary, some of them, many of them, tragic and needy — then it is hard to see any candidate in a better position than the megadeveloper from Pacific Palisades, the very wealthiest section of the city, who previously served as chair of the Police Commission as well as chair of the board of trustees of the University of Southern California.

I've known him for years, and I would never bet against him. Especially not when there's shouting. Stay tuned.

Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.


Estrich
Rick Caruso is the megasuccessful developer of destination shopping malls, including the Grove, a Disneyland-esque island in the middle of the city that looks inward and has no homeless people. That it looks nothing like much of Los Angeles is a point of attraction.
los angeles, rick caruso, homelessness
721
2022-06-24
Thursday, 24 March 2022 01:06 PM
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