Friday, February 20, 2009

Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate David Saltsburg (Zuma Dogg) Answers Questions For Daily News

The main accomplishment cited by the mayor is the reduction in crime in Los Angeles and the passage of the trash fee to fund the hiring of 1,000 additional officers. Some of you have contested the figures, please explain your thinking. Also, would you continue the trash fee if elected or how would you allocate it on city spending.
When people hear these statistics, I think they say to themselves, "It doesn't feel like crime is down. It feels like we are losing the streets to the criminals, more than ever." And you always have to beware statistics because they can be manipulated in the way you conduct the survey in what types of crimes are counted in the survey and other parameters that can vary the results.
I spoke with District Attorney Steve Cooley today and asked about the crime reductions numbers and expressed my concern that the statistics can be manipulated and I question the validity. Mr. Cooley feels that there is indeed a reduction in crime due to the elevated efforts of ICE agents at the County level since he took office.So that doesn't have anything to do with Villaragiosa. 
Regarding the claims,  I called Steve for an opinion, because he's about the only guy in the county I could feel comfortable believing, so if he says were moving in the right direction (whether it's due to anything the mayor has done, or not), let's just say that although the city may be making strides, I think your average voter tends to get outraged and frustrated when the mayor boasts of a crime reduction and I know that likely voters wants the mayor's office to do much, much more in the way of public safety toward the goal of crime reduction.
It has also been brought to my attention that part of the reason crime numbers are down is because hospitals can do more with technology to save victims, so more people are being saved and are living. So that can make that statistic look lower, but that doesn't mean shootings are down. It just means the hospitals are able to save more people through better technology.
Regarding the Trash Collection Fee. Here's what I know about it. First, the mayor said he was creating the fee and the money would only be used to hire 1000 new cops and the money would be in a lock box, only for the cops. THEN, Controller Laura Chick broke the news to the city, that the money was used for things other than hiring new cops. AND, the mayor has tripled the trash collection fee since he created it. And that really sums up how things work under Villaraigosa's City Hall. Come up with something that sounds good, like hiring 1000 new cops. Then continue to raise the fee and end up using the money for something else. And all of this because the mayor has to cover his wasteful and irresponsible spending habits.
And the money comes out of your DWP bill. So you're only paying it if you are paying a DWP bill. So who do you think this trash collection fee is hurting most? And I have had complaints from senior citizens who only produce a small amount of trash each week, and they are being hammered by this exorbitantly high fee.
Villaraigosa also claims success for a number of environmental programs at the Department of Water and Power and the Port of Los Angeles and the city is considering a proposal, Measure B, to expand solar power in the city. What is your view of his efforts, your position on Measure B and what you would do as mayor regarding environmental issues.
Regarding his claims of success over environmental programs, that's what they are, all right: CLAIMS! He claimed he was going to plant a million trees when he ran the first time because he wanted the endorsement of the Sierra Club. I went to the kick off of "Million Trees LA." These so called "trees" looked like little alfalfa sprouts in a cup with some dirt. I could literally hold the "tree" they gave me in the palm of my hand. And how many have been planted. So he makes these empty exhortations in the media that he filled a million potholes, planted a million trees and turned polluted air into Glade air freshener. And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are bamboozled by the sound bites and believe that Mayor Super Antonio is running around saving the environment. Based on the way he has run this city into a high-density, traffic gridlock nightmare with all of his over development in violation of the Planning Departments zoning laws, I don't think he has helped the environment.
The biggest environmental problem faced by the city and region is the Port of Los Angeles in the San Pedro area of Council Distrtict 15.The area is hammered by pollution from the trucks that are hitting the highway to deliver 40% of U.S. goods to the rest of the country. So we are bearing this toxic, dangerous level of pollution for the rest of the nation, and it is the most unsafe and un-spoken about problem that kids and families and workers face in the city, state and nation, right there in San Perdro.  I promise everyone reading this, as mayor of Los Angeles, I will be calling Barack Obama on the phone personally, to let him know the rest of the United States has to pitch in with Federal funds to mitigate the pollution problem in District 15, that is created because of the L.A. Port truck traffic.
Regarding Measure B, if I have one message to deliver to Los Angeles registered voters, it is vote "no" on Measure B.
Again, like everything else Villaragiosa puts on the ballot, it sounds good to un-educated voters who don't look beyond the headlines. It says it's about solar energy, but this will actually hurt any real solar initiative. DWP is not prepared to take this project on at this time. It's way to big and experimental and there really isn't even a plan, except the talk to accomplish the mission of which there is not method. It will increase your DWP bill at a time when it has already risen and I am here to say, will keep going up, even without this Measure B (boondoggle). They initially told the public it would cost $1.5 billion, but now reports are saying it will cost over $3.5 billion. And we don't even have the actual plan, yet.
I have never seen such widespread frustration and outrage over a community issue and Measure B has united a diverse faction of the community, all coming together to try and alert the masses to please show up on March 3rd and vote, "No on Measure B" even if you don't have an opinion on the other elections.
The real problem DWP needs to be addressing is the aging infrastructure and old transformers. I was contacted by someone who works for DWP, last week, to warn me that the DWP infrastructure is absolutely shot and it is in no condition to accommodate all of the new high density commercial and residential projects that Villaraigosa has jammed down the city's throat. And I am told, one good heatwave this summer, and the entire city will find out exactly how shot it is, with massive brown outs like we have never seen before.

So if nothing else, this fake solar plan will take workers and attention away from the real problem. So as mayor, I would be focusing on the real problem (shot DWP infrastructure/transformers) and on March 4th, the day after Measure B loses, focus on getting a real and meaningful solar energy plan put into motion, because clearly Southern Californians are in favor of more solar energy being produced.
Villaraigosa tried to take over the LAUSD and failed and now has a partnership with the LAUSD to run a number of schools. If you are elected, what would you do with those schools and what is your position on the city relationship with the LAUSD?
First of all, when I started following City Hall as a community advocate/activist, and really try to put on the thinking cap and figure out how to address the biggest problems facing the all leads back to LAUSD at the end of the day. The school system is not producing enough graduates and the drop outs become criminals. The city cannot even find qualified workers for many of the good quality jobs in the city. And then we have to spend money fighting these LAUSD un-success stories the rest of their lives.
So I am here to tell you as candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, until the local school system is dramatically improved (and I don't think they are capable of the task) the city will never be anything more than a sinking ship.  And I have zero confidence in the LAUSD school board and any chances of "fixing" the problem.
Besides the school cluster that they mayor took over, that I will address next, unfortunately, LAUSD is not under the mayor's jurisdiction, but based on my statements above, as mayor of Los Angeles I will do everything humanly possible on a daily basis to help parents and students improve their scholastic personal achievement through a massive education campaign in the media and out of my office. We'll have to look to outside, privately funded programs and non-profits to help kids and parents outside of the classroom.  Because it is not the school's job to raise your kids, either. Teachers are not police officers or babysitters.That's about all that the classrooms have degenerated into, in too many areas; babysitting services where there is too much time spent trying to keep order and no time educating. And all the school board cares about is the $20 billion in construction money to be handed out and spent.
Regarding the mayor's cluster of schools he is meddling with: He sold a great sounding bill of goods to parents, and I have been personally contacted by parents who feel the mayor shut the door on all parental input and left them out in the cold as soon as he took over. As mayor, I will immediately reach out to the parents and teachers in the area, and try and clean up the mess. I can't just walk away. I wouldn't have pushed for this kind of nuttiness on the mayor's part, but left with the situation, I am certainly excited to be able to step up and show everyone the most innovative and empowering leadership at the scholastic level in the history of Los Angeles. My strategy is based on Dr. W. Edwards Deming 14 point management philosophy blueprint. If you don't know about Deming's 14 point plan, please do a search online, because my entire office will be operating under these 14 points (methods for management of quality and productivity). And until LAUSD firmly embraces these principals, the situation will never be allowed to improve, only continue to get worse.
The mayor also claims a number of local accomplishments on traffic and transportation. Among them, filling 1 million potholes, installing left-turn signals at 250 intersections, synchronizing traffic signals and laying the groundwork for future improvements with the voter approval of the Measure R sales tax proposal. What are your thoughts about that, what would you do as mayor to deal with transit?
Regarding the filling of one million potholes, the mayor's office has already admitted it's more like 85,000 potholes. Villaraigosa's problem is he goes around spouting off all these slogans and campaign promises that all sound good, but he may as well just get a job as Santa Claus, cause all he does is ready back a wish list. And the problem with the potholes that are being filled, is that they are not filling them properly, by removing the particles and topping off the seal properly, so they just turn into potholes again, way too quickly. I learned this from someone who read about my Deming 14 point plan. He was an engineer and told me he studied Deming and knew I would appreciate the feedback. Which I did.
Villaraigosa says he installed left-turn signals, but I have learned the left-turn auto sensors installed beneath the roads do not work in everyday traffic conditions. The result, is that only one car has time to make it through the green left-turn arrow before the signal starts turning red, again. So then, only one car makes it through; then two or three other cars roll through the red arrow.
So instead of making the traffic better, these left turn auto sensors the mayor installed just made everything much worse and more unsafe. Pedestrians do not have time to cross the intersection and this is a paramount safety concern.
Meanwhile, think how much time and money will have to now be spent trying to figure out how to fix the problem, then actually fix the problem. Is the mayor even doing anything to fix this process, yet. This is how the city is going bankrupt through the immeasurable waste that must be addressed. It's all happening because of the City of Los Angeles' continued failure to take serious measures to improve quality and efficiency through the 14 points I plan on implementing on day one as mayor.
The synchronized lights work great at 11 at night  or 5 in the morning when the roads are empty. Synchronized lights don't mean squat when your foot is pressed down on the break, anyway, because you are stuck in gridlock traffic because of the mayor's "Smart Growth" (high density) housing plan.
Also, we would welcome any other thoughts you have regarding what you would do as mayor of the city as it relates to balancing the budget, Los Angeles International Airport and quality of life in the city.
Relating to balancing the budget, the first thing that must be done is, once again, addresses the massive fraud, waste and abuse that the city can no longer afford. In the past, maybe there was enough fat to cover all this wasteful spending and in-efficiency. But as Villaragiosa is talking of firings and cuts at libraries and parks and citywide services as he is tripling your trash fees, adding phone taxes, quadrupling the parking meter rates and coming up with all kinds of new fees and taxes to place on the ballot, we must address the immeasurable waste that is not being addressed.

If the city of L.A. under the current mayor were a home that you were trying to heat in the middle of winter; all of the windows would be open, the door would be open, then sliding glass doors would be installed -- then opened. So the home wouldn't be warming up, so you would turn up the heat even more. It will cost more money and waste more fuel and the job still wouldn't be getting done. So you would crank it up some more, then it gets more wasteful and expensive and it's only getting colder. Then you find out the homeowner is friends with the utility company getting paid for the higher heating bill and is paying for it all with someone elses' money (yours)!
So before we discuss all the ways to balance the budget through the accounting department, we must first address the waste and shut the windows in the house (city hall) through this internationally recognized 14 point plan.
And finally, the short answer to how to improve the quality of life in Los Angeles is by representing the spirit and will of the community on all the important issues like housing, public safety, schools and all the local issues specific to each community instead of the vindictive, retaliatory spirit that is going against the grain of the will of the people.

I like to talk and voice my opinion as to what is wrong with the mayor and what I want to do as mayor, and no one has spoken more than I, over the past few years: But the only reason I am able to talk so much, is because I listen five times as much.
So as mayor of Los Angeles, the biggest job will be to reverse the vindictive, retaliatory spirit of the mayor's office; stop throwing roadblocks in front of the Neighborhood Council system and use them as a real gauge on issues because all the right answers are out there in the community, and the city knows it, but they chose to fight it and go against the grain.  And as mayor, I want to let all of the city workers to know that part of the 14 point plan is to help city workers be allowed to do their best job -- by fixing the broken system for them  that causes them to have to do things two, three and four times; over and over again. There is nothing more frustrating to a worker or resident.
More on this candidate at

L.A. Mayoral Candidates Weigh In on "Subway To The Sea" in L.A. Times

Los Angeles mayoral candidates weigh in on the proposed Subway to ...
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg: "Here's another one of those ideas that sounds great conceptually, and who would say 'no' to a magic 'Subway to the Sea?' . ...
By William Nottingham
February 20, 2009
When Los Angeles County voters passed a half-cent sales tax to raise $40 billion for transportation last fall, about $4.1 billion was set aside for the first phase of a subway extension west from downtown Los Angeles.

Times editors have been posing questions about a variety of city issues to the 10 candidates for mayor in the March 3 city primary.

Here are excerpts from the seven contenders who responded to this question:

Do you favor building a Subway to the Sea? What would be your preferred route?

Phil Jennerjahn: "Yes. I foresee a route that goes under Wilshire Boulevard and turns slightly at the intersection with Santa Monica Boulevard and goes under Santa Monica and ends at the Third Street Promenade.

"As a conservative, I hate the idea of the staggering cost, but there are long-term benefits to subways that are difficult to explain to shortsighted individuals. When I was in London, I rode on subway lines that have been in use for over 150 years!

"The initial cost is staggering, but when you calculate the savings from payroll of thousands of bus drivers and the low maintenance cost of not replacing vehicles every few years . . . then the advantages become more clear."

Walter Moore: "The only thing this proposal has going for it is alliteration. It would take too long, cost too much, and span just a few miles along one road in a city comprising 469 square miles.

"Plus, when the Big One hits, who wants to be trapped 30 feet underground where hydrocarbons abound and exits do not?"

Craig X Rubin: "We definitely need more accessible public transit, and it would be nice if our current rail system reached the ocean. I like Pico or Venice Boulevard or along the 10 Freeway -- wherever it will be the most helpful and cause the least amount of traffic building it."

David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg: "Here's another one of those ideas that sounds great conceptually, and who would say 'no' to a magic 'Subway to the Sea?' . . .

"However, let's be realistic. There isn't money [to] get this project done. And it doesn't do any good to have it partially completed. Secondly, there is no plan to move ahead with this besides a bunch of talk and optimism. So at this point, even the supporters of 'Subway to the Sea' say we are talking 25 years before we see this thing. And it always takes longer, so let's just say 25 to 30 years for a project that has not even gotten started and there is no real and tangible way to fund it. So that's a lot of money, time and hope tied up for something that may or may not even happen for 30 years. . . . As mayor, I will be pushing for all the other more practical and realistic traffic congestion solutions."

Antonio Villaraigosa: "A Subway to the Sea was one of my earliest campaign proposals, and under my administration, we have finally laid the foundation for the construction of this long-awaited project. With the passage of Measure R [the half-cent sales tax], we have secured funding that will allow us to build this extension. As chairman of the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority], we took the crucial step of approving the planning study and initiating the environmental impact report.

"Now that we have secured a local source of revenue, I intend to continue my work with officials in Sacramento and Washington to leverage more funding as soon as possible.

"I remain open to any of the routes currently under consideration by the MTA, with an emphasis on connecting the most people to as many jobs as possible."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Los Angeles Times Interview: Mayoral Candidate David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg

Please vote March 3, 2009 and look for your mail-in ballot TODAY!

David 'Zuma Dogg' Saltsburg: L.A. mayoral candidate

February 11, 2009

With the March 3 primary election drawing near, The Times asked all candidates for Los Angeles mayor to respond to questions about key issues facing the nation's second-largest city. Here are the responses from candidate David "Zuma Dogg" Saltsburg:

1) What distinguishes you from the other candidates in the race?

First of all, I consider my extensive training of Dr. W. Edwards Deming's 14-point management philosophy the single most important qualification that distinguishes me from the other candidates.

I am a firm believer that until the city of Los Angeles embraces these 14 points (methods for management of quality and productivity) under the leadership of the mayor's office, the city will continue to trip all over itself and waste immeasurable amounts of money; just when we need to do more with less.

My interpretation of Deming's 14 points was praised by Deming himself and published internationally in Quality Digest. So the fact that I have an actual 14-point plan (method) in which to operate the mayor's office distinguishes me as a candidate. As opposed to just pointing out problems with no method to achieve the goal of improvement.

Secondly, I am the only candidate who actually attends almost all of the City Council meetings (including a six-month-plus stretch without missing a single meeting), reviews each agenda, item by item; then speaks out "on the record" before council on the shadiest items.

So I don't think there is any other candidate on the ballot, including the incumbent, who is as on top of what is going on in the city on a day-to-day operational basis than myself.

And while attending all of these council meetings and other community meetings, I have met thousands of people (who see me on TV) who grab my ear and tell me about what is most important to them in their community. What issue is the city plaguing them with. These are truly heartbreaking stories from the most diverse socioeconomic and demographic crowd on the planet. The truest melting pot in the world is L.A. City Council chambers on any given day.

So I have sure been "schooled" by nearly all factions of the community in nearly all pockets of the city, from Marina del Rey to El Sereno. I am just as recognized in Highland Park and Woodland Hills. I am certain there is no other candidate who has spent more time in the streets and meeting rooms throughout the city, being educated on the most important issues in the city.

But the most important and unintended quality that I have taken on while connecting with so many people across the city is the actual importance of "compassion" in making decisions as mayor. It's easy to take an idealist, "perfect world" stance on citywide issues as a candidate. But then you have to deal with a real situation, with real people, in real time. And I wouldn't be prepared to be mayor of this city without seeing and hearing things from other people's perspective.

Everything I have ever spoken on or written about has been brought to me by a member of the community either by e-mail, phone or in person. And it has only been through this process of meeting thousands of people over the past three years as I attend these meetings that I am now ready to represent the voice and spirit of the community.

And they don't teach you how to run the mayor's office in an Ivy League textbook. So luckily, I have studied Deming's management philosophy extensively and have attended hundreds of council meetings and spoken with thousands of people, so I probably know what is actually going on and what to do about it more than any other candidate.

2) Los Angeles likely will face a deficit of $400 million to $500 million in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, as well as steep shortfalls in the years that follow. If elected, how would you balance the city budget? Specifically, what programs or services would you cut, what taxes or fees would you increase, and what other measures would you take?

I don't want to think about increasing fees and taxes until the city of Los Angeles does much more on its part to reduce the bureaucracy and inefficiency that is wasting much too much of the money in the first place. So by making "waste reduction" the fundamental priority for all projects and services, as mayor, I will be immediately doing as much as possible, right off the bat, at the most basic, fundamental level to help address the deficit.

Because it becomes very expensive when you have to redo everything two or three times. For example, I have heard complaints from city workers of sidewalks being built, only to have to be torn apart immediately and rebuilt again because of some problem no one had the foresight to see in advance. The city has installed left-turn "auto-sensors" all throughout the city that are not timed properly and is making traffic congestion even worse and even more unsafe. Imagine how much actual time and money will have to be spent to "fix" the problem. We could be talking a third of a budget reduction just by reducing this type of "triple effort" waste. And the method to achieve this goal are the 14 points that I will start to implement on my first day in office.

So after we address this unmeasurable waste that must be addressed, I will sit down with all the city department heads and see just how bad the balance sheet looks and if any other measures (like new taxes or fee increases) are really needed. Because as mayor of Los Angeles, any new tax or fee hike should always be the last-resort measure. Not the first thing you run and do to cover all of your wasteful spending.

Regarding what programs or services to be cut, I would go in and evaluate each program and see which programs are not providing the services to the community as initially promised and obviously cut those programs because one of my top two concerns in this economic crisis is the fraud, waste and abuse of federal and state money provided to deliver services to the community. The concern being the money is wasted by front-end loaded management contracts, the community doesn't see the money, the services are not provided, the community falls into further disrepair, then the mayor comes back and asks for more money in the form of higher fees, new taxes and bonds -- after the city just wasted the money that was supposed to provide those community services in the first place.

I know we will be having a serious discussion about these "special event fee waivers" where the city picks up the tab for these private events like the Academy Award and Grammy parties while talking about program and service cuts.

3) To cut costs, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is considering layoffs or offering early retirement to city employees. Do you support either or both of those alternatives? Given the increased need for government assistance in these bad economic times, is now the right time to reduce the number of city employees or cut hours at libraries and city parks?

Of course no one wants to cut library or park hours. But what if you found out that if you didn't cut back library hours, that when you call 911 for the Fire Department they might not be able to show up that day? Or what if we keep the parks open until midnight but the trash will be piling up all over your neighborhood? Given the economic crisis the city is faced with, I don't think we will be asking the question if now is the right time, but what is getting cut. And the job of mayor is to evaluate the entire picture and make the decisions that have to be made from a compassionate standpoint. Any candidate who says nothing will be getting cut in these economic circumstances should be running for Santa Claus, not mayor of Los Angeles.

Regarding layoffs, I think the city under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has gotten pretty fat, with a lot of room for improved efficiency. I would think, through methods of management of quality and productivity, each department would be able to do more with less.

So maybe there will be opportunities to first offer early retirement if that is necessary as a first line of employee reduction. And since I agree that more government assistance will be needed in these bad economic times, I would look to see if there are people in certain "fatter" bureaucratic departments that can be moved into some of these other departments that will be needing more staff.

But we can't just let the city continue to operate so wastefully and inefficiently just because it is providing jobs. I think we have seen the result that philosophy produces. I know where there will be some massive layoffs however, on my first day as mayor: In the mayor's office. I hear there are about 90 extra people on the mayor's roster that I would not need to surround myself with.

4) Do you support Measure B, the city's proposed solar power initiative? Why? How do you believe it will affect Department of Water and Power rates?

Not only do I not support Measure B, if I have one message to get across to voters this election season, it is please vote "No" on Measure B. The measure was rushed onto the ballot without much discussion or input. It will drive up the cost of DWP rates. I think just about everyone in the city would agree that solar energy is good. But this is an extremely risky plan that reports say may cost at least double the initial proposed cost. It's a blank check for an aggressive plan that DWP is not ready to take on. But the worst part is that it is not really about creating a strategic solar plan for the city. There was no competitive bid for the program. Because Villaraigosa already decided this one, single plan must use a certain solar panel company in China and must be installed with the union workers of his choice. This Measure B will shut out private industry in the city from installing these solar panels. So what I think this is about isn't about solar, but helping the mayor secure his re-election by putting this deal together that is too expensive, too risky, noncompetitive, will drive up DWP rates, takes the solar industry out of private hands and requires blank-check spending. So that's a "No" on B for me.

5) Should the city controller have authority to perform both financial audits and performance audits on programs run by the mayor or city attorney?

The city controller should have authority to perform both financial and performance audits on programs run by both offices. However, as a citizen who has thought about this as it was discussed at a council meeting, you do not want the controller to be using the position as a tool to go after your political opponents.

Regarding financial audits, that can be done by the controller's office, because it shouldn't be subjective to interpretation, since you are dealing with numbers that should all be adding up. However, regarding performance audits, that is where there is room for a controller to slam a program's performance for politically motivated reasons. So you need to have an independent agency, even if it is hired by the controller's office, to perform the performance side of the audit to make sure you are getting a completely independent and impartial review.

6) In June, the city's contracts with police and firefighters unions will expire. Should police officers and firefighters be given raises or increased benefits? If so, how would you pay for those, given the city's current financial condition?

Even though I feel police and firefighters should be the last to be cut and the most important workers in the city with the toughest and many times most thankless jobs, I do not see how the city can afford to offer raises and increased benefits when the mayor is talking about firings.

As mayor, the first priority must be to ensure public safety throughout all 15 districts. And although I probably just lost the support of the police and firefighters union, I would hope that all city workers would prefer to remain at current salary and benefit levels, rather than have to fire people in the two most critical city departments.

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