The ‘No-Holds Barred’ Battle for the Board
While shunning the politics of his day, the apostle Paul nonetheless acknowledged astute politicians who were his contemporaries. As an attorney by profession, he found himself in the awkward position of being his own client. Representing himself In Pro Per before Governor Felix, Paul said: “I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you’ve been in judging us all these years.” (Acts 24:10, The Message) Later, when before King Agrippa, the faithful apostle said: “I can’t think of anyone, King Agrippa, before whom I’d rather be answering all these Jewish accusations than you, knowing how well you are acquainted with Jewish ways and all our family quarrels.” (Acts 26:1-3; The Message) How do these keen assessments relate to the supervisor race between City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas? Well, only one is said to be “fair-minded” and thoroughly ‘acquainted with our community ways and family quarrels.’
With a seat on the County Board of Supervisors being vacated by Yvonne Burke, coupled with the race heating up as Election Day nears, prospective voters are being bombarded with a phantasmagorical presentation of what each politician wants them to view and digest. How does one separate fact from fiction? Who’s pumping out the propaganda, and who’s telegraphing the truth? Knowing my politically neutral stance, readers of my column asked me to investigate the claims of each candidate and report my findings, as a disinterested third party, in this column. Feeling a sense of duty and responsibility, I felt compelled to oblige their request. Since space won’t allow me to cover all the issues, I’ll deal only with certain hot-button ones.
Martin Luther King Hospital: While the record reflects that Parks fought for retention of the hospital’s sorely needed trauma unit, sentiments expressed by Ridley-Thomas indicate that he was fully against the community consensus to retain the unit. According to the Los Angeles Times, he related these words: “‘It’s about time that the Board of Supervisors faced up to their responsibility, and has chosen to take appropriate action, albeit unpopular,’ he said. ‘There’s no expert in the area of public healthcare worth his or her salt who would deny that Martin Luther King hospital was in need of radical intervention.’”
Parks, on the other hand, petitioned Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to embrace the facility under the UC system, functioning much like UCLA Medical Center or Orange County’s UCI Medical Center. He recently received an encouraging letter from the Governor, who’s seriously entertaining the idea.
Rent Control: Ridley-Thomas has allegedly accused Parks of being against rent control. Parks says he has always been for rent control, as his voting record reflects. However, since the price of materials and services are continuing to escalate, rent control should be balanced, giving property owners an opportunity to meet raising costs. Still, he says, no new landlord should be able to come in and dramatically raise the rent, placing undue hardship on existing tenants. He also is sponsoring a study involving 6,000 units of affordable housing. Although rent is controlled by the city councils of the nine cities in the 2nd district, as supervisor, Parks says he’d have influence over the unincorporated area of the district, implementing rent control in these.
Margaret Mitchell: Parks, when Chief of Police, has been accused of covering up the police shooting that took the life of Margaret Mitchell. For the record, Parks says he felt the shooting was completely out of policy, and that the officer who did it was wrong. However, a police review board took the matter out of his hands, as it were, and found the officer’s action in policy, thereby clearing him.
Living Wage: Ridley-Thomas has accused Parks of being against living wage ordinances. The reality is, Parks’ voting record shows that he has consistently been for living wage provisions, with one exception: the one that violated a mandated law having to do with businesses.
Insofar as endorsements are concerned, Parks has more heavyweights migrating to his camp. Last week Lakers legend and businessman extraordinaire, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, put the full weight of his name and reputation behind Parks, joining a long list of luminaries, not the least of which is the incumbent, Yvonne Burke. And earlier this week the Los Angeles Times joined the Los Angeles Sentinel in endorsing the councilmember. They all see Parks as honest and forthright.
On the other hand, Ridley-Thomas is seen as arrogant and pompous; as one who’ll bend the rules, almost to the point of breaking them. Philosophically speaking, one could illegally steal his child from the custodial parent who’s a cocaine addict, and who regularly puts the child in harms way. The non-custodial parent, though, would be morally and ethically right in doing so. Or, a wealthy landlord could legally raise the rent dramatically where there’s no rent control, putting a large family out on the street. However, he would be morally and ethically wrong in so doing. Parks asserts that Ridley-Thomas is legally, in the technical sense, running his campaign in association with churches and other non-profits, but is unethical in his manner and methodology.
This researcher’s investigation suggests that there may be some validity to this accusation. Of course, we’re all left to believe who we will. So far, with Parks having a commanding lead in the battle for the board, it appears that most people believe him. So be it. Amen.
[NOTE: Please see related article, “Ridley-Thomas Aide Under Police Investigation” on page A-13]
Dr. Firpo Carr n can be reached at 800.501.2713 or