Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Unions Are Trying to Buy an L.A. County Supervisor’s Job for Ridley-Thomas
By Joe Bowers
Published October 30, 2008

Its About Time the Media Started Reporting Tht the Unions Are Trying to Buy an L.A.County Supervisor's Job for Ridel-Thomas

If you live in the second district of Los Angeles County, an area that spans from Culver City to Carson and includes the 8th and 10th LA city council districts, you should be familiar with the candidates running for Supervisor – Bernard Parks and Mark Ridley-Thomas. They are running to replace Supervisor Yvonne Burke who is retiring.

According to "revelations" provided in TV ads and campaign flyers from Ridley-Thomas' campaign, Parks who Ridley-Thomas enthusiastically supported to replace him on the city council and who has been an effective councilman for 6 years is not worthy of elected office now that they are opponents for the Supervisor's job. Now, if this sort of campaigning seems familiar to you, it's because George Bush did it to become President. It's called "swift boating" and when a lot of money is spent on putting out misleading stories about your opponent it's how elections are bought,

In this Supervisor's race, Parks is the candidate that has executive experience and the ability to use the office to improve the quality of life for the community. His campaign is focused on the qualifications for the job and solving community issues. Ridley-Thomas lacks his opponent's qualifications so he is running a negative campaign to keep him in contention for the job. It's a deceptive strategy but it works because many voters think the statements they hear or read must be true if it's on TV or in a flyer. Most voters don't know that the First Amendment allows candidates to say just about anything about their opponent including lie. There is no federal truth-in-advertising law for political ads.

 While the media has reported on the smear tactics Ridley-Thomas' campaign are using against "brother" Parks, it has not seriously reported on why the unions are spending at least $8.5 million in independent expenditures to try to get Ridley-Thomas elected. Their focus has been on exposing union corruption and the unions have been careful to keep their campaign activities within the law. Consequently, there has been very little public debate about union spending to influence the election. As we get closer to Election Day more facts and concerns about how the union is trying to buy the Supervisor's seat for Ridley-Thomas are being reported. According to an LA Times October 26 story the unions are outspending their own candidate $9 to $1 in this election. But, the stakes are high for the unions in this race and they want to win because $2 billion in contracts are up for negotiation during the term of the next supervisor. It's worth millions of dollars to them to put someone in a supervisor's seat to look out for their interests. Because the media failed to raise concerns to voters earlier about their significant involvement in the election, their campaign has been able to have momentum despite the shortcoming of their candidate. The dynamics of this close race would be very different if more district residents were aware that the unions are running the campaign of one of the candidates. It was reported in LA Weekly on October 17, that a union boss acknowledged Ridley-Thomas was "recruited" by him to run. The consequences of what the unions are attempting are already being talked about. In a LA Times story, Supervisor Gloria Molina predicts that she would be the next target of union independent expenditures when she comes up for reelection in 2010.

They say you get the government you deserve. When a special interest group spends more money behind a local candidate than they have ever done except for a governor's race, then the motives for why they are doing it have to be investigated and the public needs to know about it. When a candidate is willing to use the campaign tactics that Bush used to get elected it raises questions about whether that candidate should be trusted with the responsibility of the office he is trying to win. Of course, these kinds of campaigns are not always successful. Money does not always buy elections. In the 2nd District many voters already know the records and personalities of the candidates. The Supervisor is an executive elected to manage the budget for the county. It's a job that requires someone experienced in delivering critical services to the community and knows how to oversee the work done by a large staff of county employees. One candidate has the experience for the job and the other doesn't. You can't fault Ridley-Thomas and the unions for trying to buy an election using proven Bush negative campaign tactics. It's not against the law and the unions have a lot to gain. By failing to adequately report about union influence in this election and inform the voters, the local political media missed an opportunity to serve the best interests of the community. Vote November 4.

Joe Bowers



Categories: Op-Ed

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