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Los Angeles County, CA March 8, 2005 Election
Smart Voter

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Questions & Answers

By Edward "Ed" Garren

Candidate for Council Member; City of West Hollywood

This information is provided by the candidate
This is the content of the questionaire sent from ADA and my responses to it.
West Hollywood City Council QUESTIONNAIRE Southern California Chapter, Americans for Democratic Action Spring 2005 Primary Election Americans for Democratic Action is an independent progressive political organization that was founded in 1947 by Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter Reuther, John Kenneth Galbraith, Reinhold Neibuhr, Hubert Humphrey, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and other leaders in the progressive political community. Nationally, ADA has about 60,000 members, and the Southern California Chapter has the largest membership and contribution base.

What is your name? Edward G. Garren, MFT

About The Issues + General Topics We are interested in learning more about your view on topical issues that may or may not directly impact your duties as a local government elected official but that help shape public policy. Please respond in 2-3 sentences. What is your position on:

1. The Death Penalty:

I have been opposed to the death penalty all of my life. It is an inhumane act, barbarian, and is discriminatory against people of modest means, minorities, and others who are perceived as "different".

2. "Three Strikes" Law and Returning the Right to Vote to Ex-Prisoners:

Three strikes has some validity IF all three strikes are violent crimes. For people who commit non violent crimes, particularly drug addicts, it is of no value and very expensive to society. Much of my professional career has been spent in offender rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is not only the more humane approach, it is the most cost effective approach as well. As for "Ex-Prisoners", if an offender has "paid their debt to society" and fulfilled all of the conditions of their sentence, then their voting rights (and all other rights) should be re-instated. The "Justice" system is biased against persons of color, the poor, etc, all of whom deserve to be able to vote again after they have completed their sentence.

3. Single Payer Health Care Plans:

The Health Care system in this country in at the verge of collapse. We are the only "modern" nation that does not have some sort of national health insurance. No American should be forced to go without health insurance or not be able to receive quality health care, regardless of their employment or economic circumstances. This especially applies to children.

4. Reproductive Choice:

The government should not interfere with a person's right to choose regarding birth control or pregnancy termination.

5. Privatization of Social Security & Medicare:

I am absolutely against either of these two ideas. It will be a disaster, the rich will make money off of the loss of people who need benefits.

6. Affirmative Action:

Affirmative Action has created the multi cultural society in which there is less racial discrimination, and has opened up opportunities (somewhat) for "minority" persons.

7. School Vouchers:

Another REALLY BAD idea. The foundation of a strong society is free, quality public education. Vouchers will be none of those things.

8. International Trade Agreements (e.g. WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, MAI, etc.):

International trade agreements are only beneficial if the United States has goods and services which are competitive on the world market place. Our industrial position was largely erased under Reagan, who gave tax incentives to corporations to close American factories rather than modernize them for greater competitiveness. Hundreds of thousands of good paying American jobs were sent "off shore". If the government is going to support trade agreements, it also needs to support American technology and manufacturing so that we are competitive in these new global markets.

9. Environmental Protection (e.g. Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, etc.):

Our environment is getting worse because this administration has ignored environmental concerns in favor of quick profits based in petroleum products and consumption. This administration has not encouraged "green" manufacturing, sustainable business practices, or other conservation and environmental technologies which would not only benefit this country, but provide goods for us to sell in other countries.

10. Electoral and Campaign Finance Reform (including Public Campaign Financing):

It is almost impossible for any public official to get elected without a lot of $$. Public campaign financing would provide a more level "playing field". Electoral and Campaign Finance Reform needs to be part of a larger "package" which includes media, and fairness in media, both of which are difficult, if not impossible since the media (FCC) anti-trust laws were erased in the 90s. A comprehensive plan on these issues would help, but would be very hard to get passed.

City Council Topics:

1. Why are you running for City Council? What do you think is the most important issue facing your city and how would you address it?

My candidacy is about protecting the Village and Community of West Hollywood and keeping it from becoming a place that none of us can live in. Skyrocketing property values have fueled the desire of many to exploit our community and "develop" it. The belief that ALL development is good and that more density is inevitable is what has encouraged the current wave of demolitions and the destruction of our Village with "look alike" large condo and commercial buildings that few of the current residents or businesses in the city can afford.

Small business space is also threatened by large corporate development. "Movie Town Plaza" at Fuller and Santa Monica and "Crescent Square" on Crescent Heights and Santa Monica are both threatened by large corporate developers who will demolish existing small business space and replace the small businesses with a corporate business. Unlike the small business, which is a neighbor and part of the community, a Walgreens at Crescent Heights & Santa Monica will be a corporate store with employees who are unlikely to care about the community or be a part of it.

We are witnessing the takeover of West Hollywood by corporations and it is destroying the small business infrastructure, as well as existing affordable and historic buildings.

I am proposing that the city needs to do two things as soon as possible:

1. Draft an Emergency Ordinance which will call for a moratorium on all development related demolitions for a period of at least one year and not to exceed two (by state law). The City Attorney said in a Council meeting on August 16, 2004 that this is possible. The purpose of the moratorium will be to re-examine our zoning ordinances and make them more appropriate for reduction of density, rehabilitation and historic preservation.

2. Zoning codes have been looking at "Historic" in a very piecemeal manner, one building at a time. We need to look at the entire city as a historical site. West Hollywood has the very unique situation of having grown up without any zoning for most of the last century. Few other places have it's richness of architectural diversity. Within our borders exist many examples of virtually every form of Southern California architecture for the last 100 years. There is no other place in the region, perhaps in the United States which has that quality. I believe this is what gives West Hollywood it's "charm", and that we need to look at the entire city as a historical site. Therefore, part of the focus of a revision of our zoning ordinances would be from the perspective of maintaining the integrated "whole" of our city, the diverse textured "patchwork quilt" that makes West Hollywood so distinctive and contributes to our flourishing city.

2. How do you envision your relationship with unions, both in the public and private sector? What is your position with respect to contracting out public services and privatization?

I was a shop steward when I worked for DCFS in Region II. I am a strong believer in responsive unions and organized labor. Privatization of public services is a nightmare, will be a disaster, and will assure poor services to those who need them most. Much of my career was spent in "Privatized" Alcohol & Drug services, contracted out to "non profits" who employed staff far less, and had not retirement plans or other benefits. It is one small niche of public services that were privatized years ago and now those services are desperately underpaid and under funded.

3. What would you do to promote the creation of affordable housing and in particular, how would you help people who are homeless to receive housing?

The city of West Hollywood currently allows developers of properties less than 20 units to "buy out" any affordable housing requirement by paying into the city's affordable housing fund. The amount of the buy out has not been sufficient to create affordable housing, and since most parcels in the city will not support more than 20 units, rarely does affordable housing actually get built. Also, the definition of "affordable" often means units that sell for less, not actually open to low income persons. I think this figure should be changed to 10% of the total residential space in a development being "affordable". These units could be smaller, more modest, when the development is complete, sold to the public management entity (either a non profit, or the city housing authority).

The city is preparing to develop the La Brea corridor. I believe instead of conventional development, the city should create a way to actually develop the properties, with retail units on the street level that can support affordable rents in (at least some) of the living units above that retail use. I believe this can be done, but I don't see this majority on council considering this option. Instead they want a more conventional development.

This majority has failed miserably at requiring developers to actually create any affordable rental housing for low income persons. It instead looks for HUD funding, which will not create any units for current residents, but rather for persons on a national waiting list.

By relying upon HUD funds, and not requiring developer participation, the city has not created any new affordable housing for existing residents. At the same time, demolitions and development often target older more "affordable" buildings, thus removing existing affordable housing from the market.

4. How would you protect Civil Liberties in response to Homeland Security and the Patriot Act?

The Patriot Act should not be renewed, but probably will be extended in some manner under this administration. I am not sure to what extent the city could actually contradict the Patriot Act, but it is not funded sufficiently by the Federal Government, so I don't think the city needs to aggressively fund it at this time.

5. What is your approach to development? Do you support Inclusionary Zoning? Please describe your vision with respect to planning, development, and preservation of open lands. What do you intend to do to increase the number of parks in West Hollywood, as well as creating recreational facilities?

I support the concept of Inclusionary Zoning. I believe the City of West Hollywood needs to "cap" density, and apply for a waiver of the state housing increase "share" due to our high density. I was against the removal of "height averaging" from the zoning code, and believe (as stated earlier) that the entire city has historic significance as an integrated whole. I believe the city's zoning should promote preservation and rehabilitation instead of demolition and replacement. I also believe the bulk of the city should be declared "corporation free" and not allow large corporations to replace our existing small businesses. I am opposed to the development of 1343 N. Laurel ("Tara") into a housing project, giving it away to an entity (WASIT) that is not known to the city. It should be the new city Library, and a cultural center, highlighting it's expansive and heritage landscaping. It is difficult to add park land in the city, which is why existing open space in courtyard buildings needs to be preserved. As for recreational facilities, this is one area where some partnership with private entities might be a good idea. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I think there might be some possibilities. Also, the city should continue to partner with neighboring municipalities with regard to park sharing (I.E. Poinsetta Park in LA, which is across Romaine from the city).

6. How will you address environmental contamination (for example, chromium-6 and perchlorate in the water supply, or air pollution from industrial sources) in the city?

The city has fewer and fewer active industrial sites. The most notable active one is Faith Plating. The owner of the company is in a bind. The company might be interested in moving, but the cost of the clean up of the property is prohibitive in terms of profit from the sale, to finance the cost of the move. The site is in the re-development area, so it might be in the city's best interests to find appropriate funding for the clean up, particularly if the site is to be developed into an alternate use.

7. How would you address the state of transportation, both within the city and as a part of the region? What types of solutions would you propose get more people out of their cars and onto public transportation?

This issue remains difficult. It also relates to access to the city's "Night Life" in that most of the patrons drive in from a distance. A strong connection to the Hollywood/Highland subway station would help. Specific "DASH" lines which serve the subway, or extensions of the "City Line" to serve the subway, particularly relating access to West Hollywood might help.

8. What is your vision for the role of the police in West Hollywood? How do you understand the term `community policing' and how would you put it into practice? How would you resolve the issue of police brutality, and racial disparities in profiling and arrests?

I have been an active Neighborhood Watch Captain for over a decade. Community Policing works when the law enforcement agency views itself as a partner with the community. Generally we have this in West Hollywood, in fact we are a model for other communities in the region. I was also Co-Chair of the Gay & Lesbian Police Advisory Task Force (to the LAPD) in the mid 1980s. The LAPD remains a shining example of what NOT to do with regard to it's "siege mentality" as it relates to the community it serves. The "siege mentality" coupled with the "code of silence" in any law enforcement agency, makes it likely to discriminate and abuse constituents who are perceived as "different". Law enforcement must be accountable to the community it serves. The sheriff in West Hollywood is accountable. The LAPD is not.

9. What can be done to make elected officials less beholden to their political donors? What is your solution for responding to independent expenditures?

I think that contributions over a certain amount (perhaps $200 in West Hollywood) should be published in public notices, as well as the city's web site. That way, constituents have easy access to who is giving how much to whom.

10. Would you support Sheila Kuehl's Single-Payer Health Care bill as a means of saving the city healthcare costs for City Employees? What other ways can West Hollywood provide healthcare for its uninsured population?

I have generally been a supporter of anything Sen. Kuehl has ever proposed, and not even to save the city health care costs. I think the city should investigate the possibility of allowing residents who do not have health insurance (like me) to participate in a group plan, either the city's, or one set up by the city for residents.

11. Do you support Instant Runoff Voting for Cit Elections? Are you willing to consider other alternatives to avoid the Winner-Take-All system and reduce the cost of elections?

I think a run off might be a good thing, but I am not familiar enough with the details of "Instant Runoff Voting" to offer a firm position.

12. Do you support any modification in the 3-Strikes Sentencing Law?

Three strikes incarceration for violent crimes. Three strikes "treatment" for other crimes, for a minimum of a year. It takes at least a year for any behavior change to occur in an out patient treatment situation. For some offenders, residential treatment is the only option. Proposition 36 was a good idea (I was Program Director in a Prop 36 treatment program), but the funding has not been consistent for it, because it has not been funded out of the prison system. The only way treatment funding will ever work is when it is part of the correction system funding and not a "stepchild" in the funding cycle.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

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