The mourning after another low voter turnout in LA
By Doug McIntyre, Los Angeles Daily News
Election Day in Los Angeles happened to coincide with National Pancake Day.
Parked in a booth at an IHOP on Sunset I anxiously awaited my free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. Every year the International House of Pancakes teams up with the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals for a big fundraiser on National Pancake Day. If you make a donation you get a free short stack. This, however, being Los Angeles, and Pancake Day being Election Day, shenanigans were in play.
When Dottie brought over my stack I pointed out that three pancakes isn’t much of a stack. That’s when Dottie pointed out that “Rules are rules, Honey. If you don’t like it you can take your bellyaching to Denny’s.” I told her who I was — the powerful and influential columnist for this newspaper and a radio gasbag of note — amazingly she seemed even less impressed. But when I dangled the possibility of an extra special tip, presto-change-o, I got a pancake variance and my short stack grew 10 flapjacks taller. You have to know how to work the system.
And the system worked flawlessly in L.A. on Election Day.
Eric Garcetti will serve as mayor of Los Angeles for another term or until he’s elected governor of California, whichever comes first. And Measure S, the anti-big development measure, went down in flames. So pile on the pancakes, boys! L.A. is open for business as usual.
The mayor was re-elected with 80 percent of the vote, arguably the biggest win in the history of the city of Los Angeles, despite what may turn out to be the lowest voter turnout in the city’s history. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan predicts the final turnout might creep up to 16 percent once all the provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are counted. Still, while Eric Garcetti is King of the hill, he’s King of a molehill.
But a win’s a win — just ask Trump — and the mayor’s on a roll.
Last November Eric Garcetti went all in for Measure M, the transportation sales tax hike. He won bigly. Last Tuesday every candidate backed by Garcetti won, with School Board President Steve Zimmer in a May runoff. Measure H, the quarter cent homeless tax, appears to have narrowly passed, another Garcetti win along with the defeat of S, which the mayor strongly opposed. Add it up and the mayor of Los Angeles has become a formidable contender to be California’s next governor.
Frankly, he should run.
Gavin Newsome? Antonio Villaraigosa? Gas up the wood-paneled station wagon, the Garcettis are going to Sac Town!
Every City Council incumbent won another term, including Curren Price, who rode a pathetic 3,900 votes to victory in a district with the same population as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
City Controller Ron Galperin and City Attorney Mike Feuer were re-elected with 100 percent of the vote. The same margin of victory Saddam Hussein once enjoyed. Both ran unopposed.
L.A.’s gadfly brigade skipped the undercard and went for the big prize, Mayor of Los Angeles, with Mitchell Schwartz leading the pack at around 8 percent. Perennial Republican candidate David Hernandez placed third; the rapping Granny, Pinky Harman, finished fourth; and Channel 35 public comments star, David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg, finished fourth. Bringing up the rear was the love candidate, Paul Amori, with a little over .5 percent of the vote. None of Garcetti’s 10 challengers ever stood a chance but at least they added a measure of interest along with plenty of local color. And there was always the chance enough voters would decide to mess with the establishment and bleed votes away from Garcetti.
In 2009, grassroots candidate Walter Moore kept Antonio Villaraigosa’s vote total below 60 percent and you could see his 2010 gubernatorial hopes deflate quicker than a Tom Brady football.
• 700,000 Angelinos filled the streets of L.A. protesting President Trump.
• Only 300,000 bothered to vote in their own city’s election.
In an post-election email, Zuma Dogg said it best, “Democracy has become a spectator sport.”
And a national embarrassment.
Headline stories about apathy in L.A. have appeared on the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and even the big TV Networks, as well as this paper and that other paper.
Something has to be done. And it’s been done.
Last Tuesday’s miniscule turnout will be the last gasp for voter apathy in L.A. stories. Not because we have suddenly become passionate about local affairs, rather because the system figured out a way to hide our indifference from the rest of the country.
L.A. elections will once again be lumped in with all the big state and national races we get worked up about. Maybe that will raise our awareness of city council and school board races, but what’s more likely is longer lines at your polling station as we’re asked to sift through ballots as thick as phone books — for those of you old enough to remember phone books.
Pancakes aren’t the only things stacked in L.A.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10 on AM 790 KABC. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.