Emanuel Alberto Pleitez, candidate running for mayor of Los Angeles, addresses the questions presented by various African American advocacy groups in Los Angeles.
Below are questions from the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce:
1. The mission of the GLAAACC is to advocate and promote on behalf of its members by focusing on the development of business opportunities, business alliances and legislative advocacy. If elected Mayor of Los Angeles, what are you prepared to do to ensure that African American businesses are considered, and receive, a portion of the multi-billion contracts awarded in the city of Los Angeles?
I can promise to encourage an equitable bidding process for city contracts that allows everyone, regardless of ethnicity or size of the company a fair chance to aquire a city contract. I’m not going to pretend to award contracts exclusively to African American business, but I’m also not in league with major developers and can guarantee the process and chances of being awarded a city contract are fair. I’ll also make sure big developers aren’t given priority or advance information about contracts.
I’ll actually make fairness a part of how Los Angeles does business. That also means that I’ll invest in all areas of LA, not just Hollywood or Downtown. There will be more city contracts when I’m Mayor which means more opportunities for African American business to work with the city of Los Angeles
2. GLAAAC advocates for business friendly legislation, public policy, projects, and programs through which government promotes economic growth and development in the greater Los Angeles region. As a Los Angeles City Councilmember, what are key policy initiatives that you would introduce to ensure that businesses are not overly burdened by excessive taxation, government regulations, and other employer costs?
I’m pro business and am the only candidate that comes from the business community. As Mayor, I’ll invest in all of our communities and will create a friendly business environment that will keep business here in Los Angeles while attracting new industries to our city. Los Angeles is typically rated as one of the worst cities in the country in which to do business. There’s too much regulation, too little infrastructure, and the skills employers want are in too short supply. I’ll eliminate the gross-receipts tax - it overburdens companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, and makes it difficult for them to invest and hire in Los Angeles. I’ll also work to remove regulations that make it difficult to start or continue doing business here.
I’ll also support entrepreneurs across LA. I propose creating one “entrepreneurship hub” in each council district within my first year as Mayor. These hubs can support the energy, creativity, and drive of LA’s entrepreneurs with expedited permitting, specialized training, consulting services, and free office space. These hubs can bring great minds together in one space, and our entrepreneurs can learn and work with each other. Combined with the private investors we attract with our impact investing culture, LA can rival Silicon Valley in number of startups.
3. As Mayor, how would you strengthen outreach to increase the number of DBE, EBE and LBP that qualify to do business with the City of Los Angeles and would such a program be used as a long-range management tool to reduce budgetary expenditure for the City of Los Angeles?
Businesses that qualify for Local business Preference, Emerging Business Enterprises, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises are essential to the growth of our economy and would increase the amount of money reinvested into Los Angeles. I support them. Strengthening outreach means making City Hall an available resource for entrepreneurship services, consulting services, and employment matching services that connect the businesses with qualified workers in Los Angeles. It’s not enough to just have the services. We need to be proactive by advertising our free services everywhere and to anyone who has or wants to start a business here.
Below are questions are from the South LA Executive Director’s forum:
The communities in South LA have less access to critical resources and an over-concentration of uses that pose an environmental, health or economic risk due to the lack of thoughtful land use policy and design standards. The 3 community plans have not been updated in over a decade. Five years ago, the city planning department embarked upon an effort to update the three community plans. All three plans are expected to be released this year along with implementing ordinances.
1. Do you have a plan and timeline for ensuring community input and the adoption of the plan and what will you do to ensure the programs identified in the plan are fully implemented?
The only reason South LA communities have less access to critical resources and are exposed to increased environmental, health, and economic risk is because our politicians would rather focus on Hollywood and Downtown. They don’t care. It’s unacceptable. My timeline for the noticeable improvement of South LA is the end of my first term. I want you to decide if I’ve lived up to that and you’ll get the chance at the next election.
My plan to invest in South LA will not only increase affordable housing, but also affordable and healthy food, a more pedestrian friendly community, more transportation options, better jobs, better education, and more positive outlets for our children. I don’t need to update a plan or keep looking over same old solutions. I’ve got a new plan. A plan that actually works.
2. What is your track record for supporting the development of affordable housing in the city and specifically, in South Los Angeles?
I’ve repeatedly supported Affordable housing publically during my campaign as mayor. I’ve been an advocate for the South Los Angeles community and will continue to do so as Mayor.
3. What is your plan to reduce unemployment and stimulate economic development in South LA and what are your thoughts about the proposed plan for an Economic Development entity that is an non-profit organization?
I pledge to invest $1 billion dollars in designated “economic development zones” over the next ten years. One of those areas is South LA where I was born and the majority of my team lives.
Too many of our communities are underdeveloped because our politicians put a premium on building hotels, stadiums, and hi-rises in Hollywood and downtown. Our priority should be making sure there are good paying jobs in the most underdeveloped areas like South LA. It should be about providing education to employment opportunities for young and old so they have the right skills for the job.
As Mayor, I’ll bring an impact investing culture to LA. That means investing in communities where it will have the most impact, do the most good, and put people who are hungry to work back to work. I’ll make sure we have the right transportation and energy infrastructure to support growth and mobility. And we’ll do it, not just with public money, but with private investment as well. With my finance background, I can bring new sources of capital to invest in new businesses in these communities.
We need to encourage and support entrepreneurs in these communities. We can provide tax breaks, consulting services, and office space for new businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. As Mayor, I’ll create an entrepreneurship hub for each council district to help startups get off the ground.
Finally, we need to make sure Angelenos have the right skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We need to make education a 24-hr. priority by increasing learning opportunities outside the classroom. And we need to give adults the chance to learn the skills needed for today’s economy. That meas technology, data, and health care – the fastest growing industries.
Our goal should be to have the best trained workforce in the country. That starts on day one when I’m Mayor.
I’m not opposed to a non-profit taking an active role in economic development, in fact I support and encourage it. I don’t think it should be the responsibility of one independent industry and no matter who is involved in revitalizing South LA, I want to make sure that my office, the Mayor’s office, is leading the way and doing what’s best for our community.
Below are the questions from the National Congress of Black Women -Los Angeles Chapter:
Imagine we are in 2017 and we are at the end of your first term.
1. What does LA look like and what do you feel you will have accomplished for the city and the residents?
My short answer is that LA looks noticeably better. By 2017, our city will be on the path to fiscal solvency, more of our students will be graduating, more of our roads will be paved, travel time on our streets will be lower, more people will be working, and we will be seeing commerce return to the streets of our most underinvested communities like South LA. Our air will be cleaner, our communities will be safer, and people will feel like they have a City Hall that actually listens and cares about them. That’s what I’m fighting for and that’s why I’m running for Mayor.
2. What do you feel is the top priority for the City and how will you work to resolve it?
We have a budget crisis our politicians created by making bad decisions based on numbers they didn’t understand. Let’s get our budget under control by cleaning up after our politicians and their false promises.
We’re running out of money. That means we’re cutting street maintenance, sanitation, and everything else your families depend on. We need to save our retirement security and city services
I’m the only candidate who’s worked in the private sector and on fiscal and economic policy at the national level. That’s why I’m not afraid to make the tough choices. It’s also why I have the best solutions for our city workers.
In addition to adjusting the benefits formula, I propose a buyout plan that gives workers something today instead of nothing tomorrow. The city can’t keep its promise and we need to stop lying to our workers. Without reform, workers will get nothing. That’s the Los Angeles our elected officials have given us. We can fix our budget by resolving pensions in the short term, but we also have to think about the future solvency of our city.
Long term, we need to expand the tax base by getting people back to work. To do that, we need to invest in communities like South LA where it will have the most impact. These areas are underdeveloped because they have been ignored by City Hall for too long. I actually understand our economy, and as Mayor, I will clean up our politicians’ mistakes.
3. In your view what is the primary reason for Los Angeles’ current financial crisis and what do you think could have been done differently?
Short sightedness and a lack of understanding from our politcians are why Los Angeles’ budget is buckling under the weight of a pension plan the city could never afford. I wouldn’t have made the same deal Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, and Controller Wendy Greuel made because I actually understand the math behind it. It was never possible and I wouldn’t have made a promise to works just because it was popular
Below are questions from the Southern California Cease Fire Coalition:
1. How effective has gang intervention been to the City of Los Angeles?
Gang intervention programs like Summer Night Lights have been effective, but as long as our children are still choosing guns over books, we haven’t finished our job. I propose more gang intervention programs that happen all year, not just when it’s warm or when the kids are out of school. I grew up in gang territory and I know how fragile the path to success for our young people can be. We need to start focusing on intervention and prevention instead of incarceration to really make a difference in Los Angeles.
2. What intervention relationships will remain intact with the Mayors Office in 2013 when the new Mayor arrives?
I lost my best friend growing up to gang violence. It’s my opinion that there can never be too many gang intervention programs as long as they are purposeful and effective. I want all of them to be involved with the Mayor’s office when I’m elected. My answer is that they will all remain intact so that I can do my part to help our intervention programs be as efficient and effective as possible. The second part to my answer is that there will be more relationships and I want a specific program for every community because all of our kids deserve the opportunity to succeed which means all of our children deserve our attention.
3. Will the City consider a Cease Fire Curriculum for those who are on the gang injunction? Upon completion of this curriculum can they be removed from the injunction?
Yes and yes. We need to focus on intervention and prevention over incarceration. The old way clearly isn’t working. We still have a disproportionate number minority youth being sent to prison. We have to give people who have made wrong choices the education and opportunity to change their path in life. No one is beyond redemption. Some have done more wrong than others and have a longer road, but I want to make LA a place where turning lives around is possible. I’ve seen it happen, but I want to see it happen more often and in greater numbers.
Below are questions for the Mayoral Forum on behalf of LA African American Women PAC:
1. Regarding economic development what is your position on the city confiscating abandoned buildings under eminent domain and use for commercial enterprises, especially for development of small inner city businesses.
I agree with the confiscation of abandoned buildings under eminent domain. If spaces are unused and abandoned, the city should convert them into a facility that provides direct benefit to the community. I think this is where our neighborhood councils can be extremely helpful and should be given more authority. We need to provide training and resources to our councils so that they can be active on the planning and development side of policy decisions. I also don’t think development should be limited to small business, but should include green spaces, healthcare facilities, and affordable housing locations that can function as wraparound centers for vital community needs.
2. Please state your position on the Crenshaw rail line with regards to a stop at Leimert Park, and underground section by schools and densely populated areas.
I would love to have a Leimert Park stop and an efficient and effective Crenshaw rail line. I don’t want rail developments to come on the backs of our tax payers and at the expense of the comfort or well being of the communities it’s supposed to support. I’d rather focus our efforts on expanding our bus lines, growing our fleet of buses, and making all of our communities more pedestrian friendly. For the financing of the Leimert Park stop and future construction, I will use my experience in the private sector to attract private funds from investors willing to shoulder the risks associated with rail expansion and construction. I put the people of LA first and that means being a leader who is finally willing to stand up to developers and force them, not the tax payers, to be accountable for these grandiose, long term projects.
3. How will you address the issue of the court ordered mandate to release felons back into the community to relieve the prison population, considering that many are concerned about local resources to supervise these people, and the fear that some of these released individuals are not low-level criminals.
We need to address the root cause of why felons are being released in the first place and that means changing our public safety strategy from an incarceration strategy to a prevention and intervention strategy. For felons being released from prison, we need to have strict evaluations of their readiness to return. Violent and habitual criminals need to be heavily scrutinized. It’s a fact that some people released have returned to crime. It is my belief that no one is beyond redemption. That means we need to have transitional services and support for people who are released to help them readjust in a safe, supportive, and effective way. That means counseling, health services, and employment assistance need to be provided to released felons as they return to life outside of prison.
Below are questions from the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce:
1. What efforts will you make as Mayor to secure more state and/or federal funds to build an underground station in Leimert Park for the Crenshaw/LAX Corridor light rail Line?
I’ll apply and lobby for more state and federal funds, but the reason these projects take so long and have been slow to conclude is because our politicians are too content waiting and quite frankly don’t understand how to raise capital in any other way. I’ve raised capital for rail projects professionally and I will use that skill here in Los Angeles. I will attract private capital and investors to the Leimert Park station and other rail projects; however, my focus will be on expanding our mass transit options instead of these grandiose rail projects.
2. Small businesses, in many cases, need incentives and financial assistance to open their doors and to stay in business. What efforts will you make as Mayor to ensure that small businesses survive the economic struggles of the first year or two in business?
I will create an entrepreneurship hub in every council district and will offer free city consultation services through City Hall. I’ll also get rid of the Gross-Receipts Tax which over burdens small and medium sized businesses. Our small businesses are critical to the growth of our economy and making sure LA’s workforce is skilled and trained will also make it that much easier for our businesses to get off the ground and continue to prosper.
3. What is your position on eliminating the business gross receipts tax in the City of Los Angeles? And, how will you replace the lost revenue?
We must repeal the gross receipts tax – it overburdens companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, and makes it difficult for them to invest and hire in Los Angeles. However, that’s just part of the solution – we must also make sure LA has a skilled workforce, fewer regulation, and better infrastructure.
To compensate, we can use a combination of property tax increases, expansion of the tax base through development of neglected areas, and allowing private companies and investors to shoulder some the costs of service provision and investment we currently fund through tax revenue.
Below are questions from the California Democratic Party, African American Caucus – Los Angeles Region:
Many in the African American community, have become very sensitive to the perception that although the vote of the African American community is critical to being elected. Some of our elected leaders have not followed through in their administration, with the same demonstrated sincere sustained commitment.
When elected to the office of Mayor:
1. How would you address a plan to establish a citizen participation structure to get the African American community involved in every aspect of government, business, school districts, labor and the like?
Our neighborhood councils need to be stronger and more active on the development and planning side of policy decisions. To make our councils stronger, City Hall needs to make data and information more accessible not just our council members, but everyone, so that our community members can make informed decisions and offer suggestions to the issues they know best: the issues in their communities. I can promise that I will meet regularly with community leaders and will have an open door policy for concerned community members. I will also record and live-stream meetings to ensure that our whole city has the ability to know what is going on in City Hall and hold me accountable. My administration will be one where people are truly able to be as involved as they choose.
More specifically, what type of effort, will you commit to, in growing the number of African American staff and commissioners during your administration?
I will commit to actively recruiting in the African American community. I want all of our neighborhoods and communities to be represented. The reason I’m running is because they aren’t. Having an open interview and nomination process for city officials, holding job fairs across our city, and making City Hall the HR center for the city via our city website (which I will redesign) will allow everyone to apply and pursue jobs with the city on equal footing. I will make sure information is in the hands of our people, not hiding behind closed doors.
2. Why do think this would be important to the solid future success of the City of Los Angeles?
My campaign is about giving a voice to everyone. We can all see the result of ignoring entire communities and only listening to select voices. The streets are unpaved, the trees aren’t trimmed, and service delivery is quite frankly worse in our ethnic communities. This wouldn’t happen if our elected officials cared about the African-American community, the Latino community, or any other community that doesn’t vote with high frequency.
Below are questions from the National Black MBA Association:
1. What plans do you have to insure that funding for new schools and school upgrades addresses the needs of children in predominantly Black communities equally with children in other communities?
None of our children’s education should be lesser than another. None of our families should feel like their children are ignored. None of our students, young and old, should be left behind by our school system. The City can offer grants to schools per student to ensure technology in the classroom is up to date.
I will ensure that there are qualified health professionals on every campus to attend to the mental and physical needs of our students. I’ll make sure all of our students have the most current textbooks whether that’s purchasing them in bulk, providing grants for the updating of textbooks, attracting private capital, or coordinating the efforts of education-based non-profits. I’ll make sure all of our students have the best possible education regardless of where they go to school.
2. What is the strategy to improve the financial crisis in Los Angeles without raising taxes? What are the plans and incentives to bring businesses back to Los Angeles?
Reforming our pension system is a must if we’re to correct our financial system. That’s the solution on the budgetary side.
On the business side, we need to increase the tax base. Many areas of our city – South LA, for example – suffer from chronic underinvestment and high unemployment. There’s hunger for work in these communities, but we haven’t done a good job fostering growth and development. If we put more people to work in these areas, economic growth – and tax revenue – will grow.
We should also tap in sources of capital in the private sector. That means partnering with venture funds, banks, and foreign capital to fund infrastructure and new businesses. If we combine that with support for budding entrepreneurs – consulting services for start-ups in South LA, for example – we can usher in a new era of growth and opportunity in areas too often ignored by our politicians. With my finance and business experience, I’m the only candidate who knows how to do this.
Bringing business back means creating an environment that businesses want to invest in. That means getting rid of the gross-receipts tax, streamlining the regulatory process, creating a skilled workforce, and improving our infrastructure. I’ll make the business climate in Los Angeles attractive by addressing each of these short comings of our city.
3. There is an increased immigrant population in Los Angeles, how is the Black community affected? What could you do to improve and strengthen the Black community?
Talking to voters, I know there is tension between the black community and immigrant communities. There are concerns over jobs, over schools, over public safety, and many other issues. The reality is that we are all in this together. All of our communities, Black, Latino, recently immigrated and low income areas, have been ignored by our politicians because they also have low voter turnout. My campaign has focused in these areas and I’ve gotten here by talking to our communities. I will invest in these communities. That means I will invest in the Black community. My plan to invest $1 billion in “economic development zones” will directly affect the Black community and will ease tension across the board by making sure everyone has an opportunity for success here in Los Angeles.
Below are questions from the Youth Justice Coalition & Free L.A. High School:
1. How will you assure that youth will be able to give input on decisions that affect youth? Would you consider a youth co-mayor position?
Recently I held the first ever multi-platform discussion in an LA Mayor race. I live-streamed it on Ustream, took questions from twitter, facebook, by email, and phone. I was simultaneously on a google hangout with people around our city and country. I promise to do this regularly and welcome youth input. I will also create a fellowship for young people that will allow them to serve as youth advisors to me as Mayor. Also, I’m not one of your “political parents”. I very much consider myself to be part of a new generation of leaders and that means I care about your voice and am not too set in my ways to make changes where they are needed.
2. There is a missing youth development infrastructure in Los Angeles, how will you ensure that your funding priorities are not going to suppression tactics and going towards youth development? (Just 1% of suppression for LA County could fund 50 youth centers, 500 peace builders and 25,000 summer jobs!!!)
Greater fiscal oversight is necessary across the board. My command of numbers and data makes me best positioned to be able to track and respond to financial mismanagement in real time. I will be vigilant and will devote my time, as I already do, to youth development and advancement, particularly in our underserved communities.
3. How will you bring more youth jobs to South LA? Will you commit to 25,000 jobs for youth every year you are in office?
I will invest $1 Billion in South LA that will bring more jobs and businesses. I’ll also focus on education and training programs that will make it easier for young people to get the jobs that do exist. I won’t commit to 25,000 because I think I can do better. I will promise that there will be more jobs when I’m mayor than any other candidate running.
4. Gang databases and gang injunctions have led to mass incarceration of African American community members, what will you do to protect the community from dangerous tactics like these?
I will focus on prevention and intervention rather than incarceration. That means creating pathways for gang members to reintegrate into society and redeem themselves for past misconduct. Nobody is beyond redemption. Former gang members sometimes make the best advocates for our children to stay on the right path and I don’t want to waste that potential by putting people behind bars that just needed an opportunity to turn their lives around. I lost my best friend growing up to gang violence, I don’t’ want other people to have to go through that or to see a loved one incarcerated. I want to heal our communities with understand, acceptance, and dedication.
Below are questions from the Los Angeles Pan-Hellenic Council:
1. What are your thoughts on the Crenshaw subway?
I would love to have a Crenshaw subway if it had a positive effect on the community and didn’t come at the expense of tax payers. I prefer to focus on other more immediate mass transit options like increasing bike lanes, increasing busses and bus lines, and making our communities more pedestrian friendly.
2. How can we reclaim our youth, L A has one the highest dropout rates in the country?
We need to treat education like a 24 hour responsibility and that means viewing education as family oriented, not exclusively student focused. We need more educational opportunities outside of our schools and we need to make our campuses wraparound centers for not just our students but their families. We also need to have a strong matching program that connects businesses with skilled students. My sister dropped out and didn’t graduate from our high school and half of my freshman class at Wilson High school didn’t finish. We need more positive influences in our students’ lives and I will take the lead as Mayor even if that means getting certified and teaching classes on the weekends myself.
3. What is your definition of "shared sacrifice" as it relates to balancing the City's budget?
If anything, it means asking city workers to contribute more to their pensions and healthcare costs. It does not mean cutting city services to clean up after the mistakes our politicians made because they made bad deals based on numbers they didn’t understand. I’m on the side of our people and don’t care about being popular. We are all in this city together and that means we all have to give a little to make things better, but instead of asking you to give up the services you and your families rely on, I’m asking you to do your part to make Los Angeles a world class city. Drive less, volunteer, start a business, go to work, use less energy, inspire someone. I’ll do my part to make doing any and all of those easy and possible in your community.