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Ed Buck For Council, '07
Feb. 22, 2007 - Ed Buck, West Hollywood
Activist Ed Buck.
Activist Ed Buck.
Each candidate was given extensive space in WeHoNews to make their case for re-election directly and openly to the electorate. We publish their responses here.
Running for public office requires extensive communication with voters, and the traditional method of reaching them - mailings - has by no means sufficient space available to delve with detail into a candidates' positions.
Therefore, WeHoNews has arranged with the candidates sufficient space to do just that - make themselves known to those who may have little familiarity with them.
We requested a biography of each candidate, as well as a campaign essay explaining their impetus for running and what they plan to accomplish once elected. We also asked five questions of all the campaigns so that they could "debate" the major issues of the day in print for your convenience.
All ten candidate's views, at least the views they care to share with the voters, will be contained here, four this week, three next week and another three the following week (March 1).
Ed Buck at a recent campaign forum. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
Here is what Ed Buck thought you should know about him.
Biography - A founding member of Save West Hollywood!, WEHONA and Save Tara, Ed Buck continues his leadership in these organizations.
The youngest of four children, Ed Buck was born in Steubenville, Ohio and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He became interested in politics as a child, and at the age of 17 he joined the Youth International Party to protest the reelection of Richard Nixon. He was graduated with honors from Phoenix College. Buck was the top recipient of the Experiment in International Living Scholarship, and was sent as an exchange student to Yugoslavia.
Over the next five years, he lived throughout Europe working as a fashion model. Upon his return to Arizona, Buck began working for an insurance information service. He bought the company, and sold it a few years later, enabling him to retire at the age of thirty.
In the early 80's, Ed Buck helped establish the first AIDS education organization in the state of Arizona, Mobilization Against AIDS. In 1987, Buck started and led the largest grassroots movement in Arizona history, leading to the successful recall of Evan Mecham, the state's openly anti-gay and racist governor. He was featured on many national news programs including "60 Minutes" and "Nightline," propelling Ed Buck to national prominence.
In 1991, he moved to California, settling in the City of West Hollywood. Buck has worked to elect candidates with strong stands on human rights issues. Though retired from business, Buck is a full time, unpaid volunteer in animal rescue. He has fostered over 50 dogs, taking care of their rehabilitation and recovery, and placing them in loving homes.
In addition to his leadership in WEHONA and Save Tara, Ed Buck is a member of TakeBackWEHO, a grassroots organization dedicated to the promotion of Ethics in West Hollywood city government. He is also working to create a West Hollywood Ethics Commission.
Campaign statement - URBAN VILLAGE OR URBAN JUNGLE?
Everyone who lives in West Hollywood gets it. Things have gotten much worse. Many of you have spoken with me over these last few years, and what I heard from you was that you felt that this city has lost its way.
You said that you felt development was out of control, parking and traffic were impossible and that your quality of life is vanishing while your neighbors are being evicted for McCondos. The local businesses are disappearing, replaced by Starbucks, Subway, and soon Walgreen's. All of you told me that the illegal and unethical fundraising by current council members disgusted you. I agree with you.
This current council has promoted policies that have lead to these problems. Traffic here is among the worst in the nation. Parking is increasingly scarce. Hundreds of our neighbors have been evicted. Over development is turning our urban village into an urban jungle to satisfy the greed of speculators engaging in drive-by development.
Against this backdrop, the group that is suppose to protect us, the City Council, is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaigns from the corporations, and their lobbyists that are ruining our village and threatening our homes. We all agree on what the problems are. But expecting the incumbents to fix the problems that they have helped create, is like asking Donald Rumsfeld to win the war in Iraq.
It doesn't have to be like this. There's an election March 6th. You have an opportunity to change course, to Save West Hollywood.
That's why I am running for City Council, to Save West Hollywood. Along with Heavenly Wilson and Steve Martin, we will stand up for you against the big developers who have bought City Hall. With you help, we can return West Hollywood to its original vision of a "small town in a big city", a place where you still matter. A place where the decisions made at city hall, are for your benefit, not for the bottom line of any corporation, or to favor any political donor.
We have a clear plan that will Save West Hollywood. It promotes slow-growth on a human scale, and places the protection of your home above the profit of any corporation. The Save West Hollywood slate of candidates offers a clear plan that will:
We oppose city-supported developments that are destroying our community, creating gridlock and parking problems, and displacing neighborhood businesses. We cannot allow Starbucks, Subway, The GAP, and Walgreen's, to replace Buzz Coffee, Eatwell, Marcos, and Capitol Drugs. We will foster Slow-Growth development that will bring back the character that is West Hollywood.
Our plan will change city policies that encourage the destruction of homes. Too many of our neighbors have lost their homes in West Hollywood because this council has a policy of "developer incentives" that have made destruction of our homes more profitable than preservation. We will make the preservation of your homes a priority. To do this, we will end the corporate welfare program that they call "developer incentives". We will establish a city program to purchase existing buildings and keep them as affordable, allowing you to stay in your home, and reducing the cost of housing by half!
The WEHONA slate, Ed Buck on the right with Heavenly Wilson and Steve Martin. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
PRESERVE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
We will protect our historic buildings and encourage human scale development; create real park space for seniors, children and our pets. We must require every new project to contribute to a park fund that will acquire land for parks in West Hollywood. This council has decided that "pocket parks" no bigger than your apartment are the best we can do. We can and will do better.
SAVE OUR URBAN VILLAGE
Let's enhance our "small town in a big city" feel by fostering local businesses that are neighborhood friendly. The future of West Hollywood should look more like Larchmont Village than the West side Corridor.
RESTORE YOUR VOICE IN OUR CITY'S FUTURE
After 22 years of cityhood, the council is arrogant and out of touch. We need a new team that will listen to you, the residents of West Hollywood. Consider the words of Sal Guarriello himself: "Every eight years a city Council member should step down and view government from the outside........Eight years is enough for anyone." That's from his ballot statement in support of term limits in 1997. Sal has been there for 16 years.
Out of town developers are deciding our future with mega-contributions. We will end the culture of corruption in City Hall. There is a reason that it is illegal in the State of California for a lobbyist to donate to a candidate for state office. It amounts to influence peddling. But in West Hollywood, over half of all the registered lobbyists have donated to Heilman, Land and Guarriello.
WEHONA stands firmly against over development. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
A lobbyist runs the reelection campaigns of two of our council members. Council members accept checks from developers even as they are voting on their projects. As one council member was voting on development issues, she acknowledged that campaign contributions were "coming from some of the developers in the room this evening".
Another council member has even used city hall to solicit campaign contributions. All council members, the city attorney, clerk, and manager all received a complaint and did nothing. Only after the LA County District Attorney's Office was brought in did the practice change. (Case # 06-0264, Public Integrity Division). We deserve better.
The Save West Hollywood slate, Heavenly Wilson, Steve Martin and Ed Buck, will adopt reforms that will end the culture of corruption at City Hall. The LA City Ethics Commission has a roadmap of what needs to be done, we'll start there. Strict Ethics guidelines with enforcement and penalties will give us back control.
Vote on March 6th to take back your future and elect a new team for City Council, Wilson, Martin and Buck. Vote to Save West Hollywood.
1) The biggest question facing the city is development. Would you encourage or discourage development? What kinds of development do you seek?
Let's remember that we are city because we wanted to take control of our future growth, both in scale and in style. I will do just that. So let's first bust the myth that we have any obligation to "absorb future growth". No one but the developers and their lobbyists have an interest in this lie. Developers who don't live here are promoting this, they don't care about the impact that over development has on our city.
Ed Buck. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
We can and must rely on our own self-determination to decide the pace of growth. Slow growth policies should replace the explosive growth policies of this current City Council. Next, we must encourage development that provides benefits to the residents of West Hollywood, not just profit for a few.
First, be sure the project does no harm. A 10-story building, even an 8 story building, will attract swarms of cars, and traffic and parking are bad enough now. We cannot allow our homes to be lost to big box development and McCondos, or to accept gridlock as a result.
Second is to encourage development that will serve the residents, providing entertainment other than bars, small independent shops, rather than "The GAP", and great restaurants.
In order to accomplish this, I will act quickly to end the "corporate welfare" disguised by this council as "developer incentives". It's clear that the lust for money will keep the developers coming to build here. We should not be giving them reduced parking requirements, height bonuses, density bonuses, and other perks. My vision for West Hollywood looks more like Larchmont Village than the Wilshire Corridor. And I will never allow your home to be sacrificed for any developers project.
2) Business drives the city's economic success, yet business owners complain of a wide variety of impediments to their success (signage, parking, and hours). What would you do to address these issues of concern to the business community?
Over the last 5 years, the number of small businesses owned by West Hollywood residents, has gone from 12%, to 7%.* Nearly half of those small businesses that make West Hollywood a community are gone, empty and waiting for the likes of Walgreen's and The GAP.
Photo by Ryan Gierach.
The most frequent complaint from the business community and their customers is the availability and cost of parking. It keeps businesses from expanding and new business from opening. For over 20 years, this council has promised and failed to provide sufficient parking. I will move quickly to secure sites and build parking structures with 2 hours free parking so that local businesses can grow and prosper.
The tax revenue generated by the business community can and must be used to support our local business community. City financed parking structures are an important first step in that process. Beverly Hills and Santa Monica are great examples of how to handle the parking problems facing us. Additionally, we must encourage small, unique shops and businesses that compliment the character of West Hollywood.
Our planning must include more "main street" projects that encourage us to get out our cars and walk from theaters to restaurants to shops and give life to our storied Boulevards. We have to consider how any new project will support and compliment the existing business. Much of our business community was forced to endure a years long reconstruction that promised a new vibrant Santa Monica Boulevard. Let's make it happen.
* The West Hollywood Community Study, Sara Kocher Consulting and Cathryn Berger Kaye Consulting, 2006
3) Campaign finance reform has become an issue in the city. Would you change campaign finance rules, and if so, how? If not, why not?
In 1999, this City Council acknowledged the problem of money in City politics. They said "It is the City Council's intent to address the perception that unregulated campaign contributions lead to improper influence over elected officials...." .**
They went on to pass a very weak ordinance with no enforcement teeth and no provisions for penalties. They even went on to say that this ordinance was stop gap, say that it was "..pending the preparation and enactment of a more comprehensive campaign reform ordinance." ** Eight years and numerous violations later, we have nothing from them.
The need for campaign finance reform became painfully clear in the recent assembly race. One council member raised over $800.000.00, much of it from parties with business before the council, violating every ethical standard in the process. Several members of this council have accepted contributions exceeding the legal limit. Fundraising was conducted from city hall by another. I had to seek intervention by the LA County District Atty. to put an end to the practice.*** Developers and lobbyists fund, and actually run the campaigns of current council members!
Reform is clearly needed. I will adopt rules similar to those of the LA City Ethics Commission that will remove the obvious loopholes that have led to abuses, and provide the oversight and enforcement that is currently lacking. These include not voting on any issue if you have accepted a contribution from that party in the last 12 months. I will ban contributions by lobbyists entirely, and from any party with business before the council.
West Hollywood should consider public financing of campaigns. In Arizona, the reform has increased the number of women in office, and raised voter turnout by 20%. We have to have to return influence in our City to the residents
** West Hollywood Municipal Code 2.76.010, passed in 1999.
***LA County District Atty., Public Integrity Division, Case # 06-0264
4) Providing Social Services have long been among the city's highest priorities. Do you see that changing, and if so, how?
Our Social Services programs provide excellent and much needed help to many. I will refocus those services to provide services primarily to West Hollywood residents. If we try to do it all for everyone, our residents will not get the services that they need.
New parking meters on the Sunset Strip have gotten accolades for their ease of use. Photo by Ryan Gierach.
5) Parking is another of those seemingly intractable problems. What are your plans, if elected, to ameliorate the problem?
Many policies of this City Council have created a parking nightmare for residents and businesses alike. Until I retained an attorney and stopped them in 2004, the City of West Hollywood was illegally impounding hundreds towed vehicles,**** violating their own West Hollywood Municipal Code.
They have allowed the construction of huge 4 story buildings with only one tandem space for each 3 bedroom unit. This floods the streets with additional cars, robbing longtime residents of their parking. Businesses like Pinkberry have been allowed to suck the parking from surrounding businesses, causing existing businesses financial loses. After 22 years on the job, they have made the parking situation worse.
To address and resolve the parking crisis, I will first scale back development so that existing residential parking is preserved. Any additional residential development must provide one parking space per bedroom, and at least one onsite guest space for every 3 units. Every new commercial project must provide sufficient customer and employee parking.
But the city must use business tax revenue and parking revenue to build parking structures with 2 hour free parking to support the small business that provide so much of the character of West Hollywood. We have all paid more than our share for permits and parking tickets. I will see to it that a fixed percentage of every dollar collected from parking meters, parking tickets and parking permits, is used to solve the parking problems.