Correction. These two are coming. The Hack and the Billionaire. The people who have always been here, scratching one another’s back.
With everything that’s befallen Los Angeles in the past two years, local media allotted exactly one hour for a single mayoral debate and it was not entirely edifying.
Rick Caruso: We need to get people inside.
Karen Bass: Get them in.
Caruso: We need an Ethics czar at City Hall.
Bass: He stole my plan.
Caruso: The City is in crisis.
Bass: I agree. Crisis.
Caruso: Leadership starts with setting the tone.
Bass: We need bold and decisive leadership.
Caruso: The LAPD staffing level should be raised to 11,000.
Bass: It should remain at 9,700
Me: If we’re not arresting people for looting, what difference does it make? If there is no bail for felonious assault, what have we gained?
Caruso: I’ll build 30,000 tiny home pods in the first year.
Bass: I believe we need to work together to get people housed.
Me: We have already imposed Tiny Home compounds in neighborhoods and they are at 30% capacity. Encampments bloom unabated and un-policed on the next block.
At this point, the debate panelists might ask: if there is no enforcement mechanism, no restraining principle, of what tangible use are the billions we have allocated to Shantytown, Inc.? Tis not the nature of L.A. media to ask the obvious, only to curate the boundaries of the narrative, which do not include discomforting those feeding at the giant tit of service provision.
Do I really need to say this? Safety is the first social justice. Los Angeles is coasting on the civilizational assumptions of 2019, and it’s beginning to dawn on us the guardrails we took for granted are no longer in place. A man fires up a meth pipe on the Red Line then assaults a woman and people record it on their phones but no one intervenes. We are backstopped by police, in theory, but we know better.
You can count on one hand the people in this city with the resources, name recognition and institutional standing to break with the Homeless Industrial Complex and tie policy to some kind of enforcement, any kind of stick to offset the innumerable carrots on offer. Rick Caruso, developer of The Grove, is one of them.
Does he make even a gesture in that direction? He does not.
In a truly surreal moment he criticizes Ron DeSantis for sending 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Like it was a bad thing. Like this was his ticket to the Latino vote. Does he actually believe this sort of pandering works on people who commute to work on the Red Line, or is he obeying memos from Aisle 518 Strategies, the progressive firm he hired to advise his campaign?
For two years DeSantis stood on principle against vaccine mandates, school closures and Covid lockdowns and was reviled for it. Murderer, they called him. DeathSantis. To say events have vindicated him would be an understatement. He did right by the people of Florida and pulled the politics of the state in his direction. He’s the most effective politician in America, and beloved of Republican voters, who are 26% of the electorate in L.A. Which is to say, half the Caruso coalition in any victory scenario.
So Caruso’s plan, if we can call it that, is to denounce the hero of the one group without whom he has no chance of winning. Pro tip: don’t do that.
Want to reach Latinos, Rick? I mean, really? Do something for Melanie Ramos’ grieving family. Do something for the next 100 unsuspecting young people who are going to do a fentanyl laced bump in the bathroom cause its Saturday night or pop a tainted Percocet handed to them from a classmate who got it from the open air drug market down the street because L.A. is lawless now. Stop pandering to the people who have an interest in keeping it that way and don’t have daughters in public school.
No one is coming.