THE WARREN REPORT: The Political Game and How It’s Played

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By WARREN FURUTANI

Politics, it is what it is.

In one of the popular gangster movies (the “Godfather” trilogy or “Goodfellas”), when a “wise guy” complains to one of his superiors, he is admonished by being reminded that this is the profession “he has chosen.” In other words, don’t “monku” about your fate because you chose to pursue it.

Not that politics is like organized crime, but I chose to be involved and I know it is a double-edged sword. So a friend and colleague, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, appointed me to the Board of Public Works and a friend, colleague and/or supporter of the new mayor, Eric Garcetti, replaced me. This is how the political game is played and I have chosen to be a participant in this game. So no monku-ing on my part, just quiet acceptance of the fate I knew was a distinct possibility when I was appointed.

Of course, one could chose another path relative too appointing commissioners and general managers. But a public works commissioner is the only commission appointment that is full-time and paid; consequently it is a prime political plum and highly sought after. It is a political spoil of war that the victor can hand out to supporters and benefactors.

With the hundreds of other commission appointments, I’m sure that the deciding factor will not be political patronage but an appointee’s qualifications and experience will play an important role. This definitely will be the prime mover when reappointing or appointing new general managers for the various city departments. They are the ones that manage the critical work of the city and are guided by their respective boards (not all departments have oversight boards or commissions) if they have one. Otherwise all are ultimately accountable to the mayor and the City Council, especially if they have to be confirmed.

I know and have heard of most of the new commissioners. I’m sure they’re all very capable and qualified and they will do a fine job for the mayor and the residents of the city.

Public Works plays a critical role in the quality of life for Angelenos. I wish the new commissioners and the mayor much success. The mayor’s mantra about going “back to the basics” to me means making government work for the best interests of its residents. I don’t think the public is that interested in the politics or who gets appointed to what commission. They just want government to work well and that they, the taxpayers, get the best and smartest bang for their buck.

Warren Furutani has served as a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, and the California State Assembly. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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