I attended the Los Angeles Clean Sweep kickoff rally this Saturday at the Mayflower Club in North Hollywood.
Clean Sweep is a PAC created by former Daily News editor Ron Kaye with the objective of electing responsive (and responsible) candidates to city offices. The even-numbered city council seats – seven in all – are up for re-election next March.
Clean Sweep is as grassroots as you can get. The event reflected just that. It was $20 per person with sandwiches and munchies, plus a cash bar (the cold draft beer was most welcome on this sizzling day). The atmosphere was reminiscent of a few weddings I’ve attended in small east coast towns. In other words, it was not a thousand-dollar a plate affair at the Beverly Wilshire, but the hospitality, congeniality and unity were priceless.
The crowd was around two-hundred, about the maximum occupancy for the venue. That should translate to $4,000 raised. Not enough to spark Tom LaBonge or his peers to ramp up fund-raising, but enough to launch the start of an outreach campaign.
What happens after that depends on momentum.
Momentum directly correlates to personal commitment and sound strategy. If it builds, some money will flow. More importantly, citizen interest and activism will follow. That is what defeated Measure B, not money.
Clean Sweep must capitalize on the strong show of support that was evident at the rally and do so soon…… or falter.
Along that line, there were some sage comments and advice offered by the guest speakers.
Kevin James of KRLA said Clean Sweep is not about partisan politics or ideology. Political strategist John Thomas echoed that later by saying political issues have little or nothing to do with the management of the city.
Indeed, the political leanings of the supporters who were present today are all over the map. I am acquainted with enough of them to make that assertion with confidence.
Demographic diversity will be important: race, ethnicity, vocation.
Shirley Ford, lead organizer for the Parent Revolution and an African-American woman, suggested that the Clean Sweep movement take a road trip to south Los Angeles. The area is a victim from a “crisis of failure.”
In the view of many, it was a crisis of failure that propelled Obama to the White House. We have the same crisis in Los Angeles.
Tezozomec, whose work in creating a community garden in South Central LA was documented in the critically acclaimed documentary “The Garden,” painted a sobering Orwellian view – you will be treated equally when you are perceived to be equals.
As disheartening as that sounds, he offered hope. It is possible “to build power from relationships.” It will not occur overnight, so “take a deep breath.”
He offered his experience of involvement for eighteen years of creating local availability of fresh fruits and produce to under-served communities as an example of the long-term commitment necessary to achieve an objective.
Geraldo Almeida, an organizer with the Southern California District Council of Laborers, emphasized his organization’s opposition to Measure B.
Lydia Grant, an education activist who has carried her message of school reform to Sacramento, emphasized power in numbers.
Former mayor Richard Riordan described the political culture in the city as NIMTOO – “not in my term of office.”
He was referring to the mayor and City Council’s deferral of financial restructuring, especially the growing pension obligation that will grow in excess of a billion annually within two or three years. The city will not have the money.
Walter Moore made the most politically astute comment of the day: “don’t run kooks,” he said.
Doug McIntyre, who was sitting across from me, seemed to appreciate that remark as much as anyone in the room.
Doug also appeared to be pleased with the non-partisan, anti ideology theme of Clean Sweep.
On that point, everyone was in agreement and “everyone” included Republicans, Democrats, labor, management, liberals, conservatives.
They were all represented. Although there needs to broader participation by race and ethnicity, today was a good start.