Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Election of the Century, Part 4: My Endorsement

This is becoming clearer.

For a guy whom others claim is a jerk, Scott Svonkin has an awful lot of support. People with names like David Allgood and Sweet Alice Harris must know something about Svonkin that I don't know. Apparently, I'll never know. They didn't reply to my email.

Then there was the city's League of Conservation Voters. Their own website goes into some detail about how to get an endorsement from them. So I emailed their president, asking him why he endorsed Svonkin and if Svonkin had to run the LALCV's endorsement gauntlet. Never heard back.

One of Svonkin's alleged supporters is Matt Stadtler, a fellow school board member who helped remove Svonkin from his role as vice president of the Board. I emailed him to ask him if he still endorses Svonkin. Never heard back from him, either.

Hardly anyone got back to me. And I must have emailed 40 people. Maybe I should have emailed asking for an actual endorsement. From the looks of Svonkin's website, they're not hard to get.

I got exactly two responses. One was from an influential Realtor who said he's known Svonkin for 20 years and that he'd been very helpful to him while he (Svonkin) was working for Sheriff Lee Baca and City Councilman Paul Koretz. The other reply was from my very own rep on the County Board of Supervisors, Zev Yaroslavsky. (Good ol' Zev seems to have time for everything and everyone. He should make a good mayor someday.) Yaroslavsky's known Svonkin for over 20 years, calls him "able and committed," and that's no doubt part of the reason why he appointed him to the L.A. County Insurance Commission, where he's "served with distinction."

Okay, so Svonkin's one helluva guy. Or maybe he's complex. I don't doubt these testimonials, but still, they don't address the criticisms of Svonkin that I found in the LA Weekly articles. The articles had dozens of follow-up comments from Svonkin supporters, some trashing the Weekly for muckraking, some accusing the paper of showing its anti-union bias, and some suggesting the reporter was an intern. But none of them claimed the stories were untrue. In fact, I found only one source to refute the critcisms.

Scott Svonkin.

In an article on the website for the California Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Svonkin goes point by point on every one of the Weekly's attacks, flatly denying all of them. His biggest admissions are that he's not perfect and that he's chubby.



Some say he's a jerk; some say he's a swell guy. One reporter cites his fiscal irresponsibility; he denies it.


Still hates gay people.


Gee, what swell choices.

On the one hand, I don't want an imperfect chubby guy wasting bond money, which his alliances and history suggest he'll do. On the other hand, I don't want a gay-hater developing policy and approving strategy at our community colleges -- or anywhere else, for that matter.

I have a civic duty to vote, but whom do you pick when you don't like anyone?

I have a standing rule for all elections: Never vote for an incumbent. It only encourages them.

But neither candidate is an incumbent.

I got it. A write-in candidate!

Nope. This is a runoff. We have two choices. That's it.

So what's the answer?

There are two answers.

The first answer is to go to your polling place and follow your conscience. My conscience is yelling at me to write "NEITHER" on the ballot with a thick black marker. A smelly one.

The second answer is to vote two months ago when we had a bunch of other choices, thus keeping these two out of contention.

We're going to blow it today. Next time you see a community college student, apologize to them.

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