Skirball Cultural Center Debates

Bass, Caruso spar over crime, homelessness, other issues

LOS ANGELES (CNS)The two candidates for mayor of Los Angeles agree that the city
is in crisis, and during a debate at the Skir- ball Cultural Center, shared their approaches to dealing homelessness and crime heading to Election Day in November.


Rep. Karen Bass (left), and businessman Rick Caruso.

Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso made their pitches to be the person to fix those problems during the first televised debate on Wednesday night, Sept. 21 ahead of the November election.

Homelessness was the top issue discussed, with both candidates acknowledging the gravity of the homeless- ness crisis in Los Angeles but differing on how to approach it. The latest point-in-time homeless numbers
released this month showed a 1.7 percent increase in the number of unhoused people in Los Angeles since 2020, bringing the total to 41,980.

Caruso said the premise of his plan to address homelessness would be to get people into shelters, noting his goal to build 30,000 new shelter beds in his first year in office.

"We've got to meet people where they are," Caruso said.

Bass said while getting people off the streets is important, "shelters are not the answer."

"What we have done for too long is we have put people in shelters," Bass said. "Now the shelters have become so dangerous, people don't even want to be in the shelters and are choosing to be outside on the street."

Bass called for a more comprehensive approach, prioritizing services, addressing the root cause of homeless- ness and creating permanent housing.

Caruso said he believed shelters ultimately are a better and more efficient way to provide services to unhoused people. He said he supported clearing encampments "at a certain point and time" because of potential crime
and impact to surrounding neighborhoods. He said encampments were "unfair to the community."

Bass responded that "at the end of the day, you can't criminalize poverty."

"If you have them in jail, they'd be there for three days and then right back out on the street," Bass said.

Both candidates said they would support extending Los Angeles' pandemic-era eviction moratorium, though the City Council has signaled potentially adjusting the moratorium after the housing department recommended
ending it by Dec. 31.

Bass said she would extend it while offering support to mom-and-pop landlords, while Caruso would make changes to it, implying that some people were using the moratorium to cheat their way out of paying rent.

Bass and Caruso also both were in favor of loosening regulations for more affordable housing to be built.

Caruso, entered Wednesday's debate trailing Bass by double digits in a recent poll conducted in August by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, described himself as an outsider and attempted to paint Bass,
a House member since 2011 after being an assemblywoman from 2004-2010, as part of the establishment.

Caruso was appointed in 1985 by then-Mayor Tom Bradley to the commission overseeing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He has also served on the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.

Caruso, a billionaire, said he would not take money from special interest groups or Super PACs, to which Bass responded that Caruso was simply spending his wealth on his campaign. Caruso has spent more than $40 million of his own money on his campaign.

"I think that's a different way of going about democracy and an example of a structural problem within our democracy," Bass said.

Bass criticized Carusowho registered as a Democrat in January after previously being a Republican and having "no party preference"for flipping parties. Caruso said he has always been socially liberal and left the
Republican Party in 2019 because it didn't reflect his values, noting his support for Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

"I liked the Democratic Party of 10 years ago and I like the Democratic Party of today," Bass said. "Because the Democratic Party of today is more diversemore diverse politically and diverse in every single way."

Caruso, in perhaps an acknowledgement of most major Democrats endorsing Bass, responded: "It doesn't seem to be accepting me."

The candidates also traded digs at each over controversies involving USC and a recent burglary at Bass' home in which two of her guns were stolen.

When asked to describe the biggest difference between themselves and their opponents, Bass pointed to her history as a "lifelong, pro-choice Democrat," a dig at Caruso for previously donating to anti-abortion politicians.

The mayor of Los Angeles does not have jurisdiction over reproductive rights, though Bass said the issue was important in the mayoral election because it was a "question of values." Caruso responded by stating he was pro-choice and always has been.

Caruso said that to him, Los Angeles has always been "the place where big dreams come true." But now, when he walks around the city, he believes crime is dampening dreams, and that people are scared and worried.

"They're also heartbroken," Caruso said. "They feel like they haven't been heard around the community. I want to change that."

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Luna criticizes Villanueva's record in LA County Sheriff debate

Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna (left) and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and challenger Robert Luna traded barbs during their heated televised debate for sheriff at the Skirball Cultural Center.


Villanueva called Luna a puppet candidate for the Board of Supervisors. Luna said Villanueva was wrong to
investigate his enemies, and criticized the sheriff for not doing enough to address alleged deputy gangs in his department and defying subpoenas from the civilian oversight commission.

Villanueva defended his record from criticism by Luna, the former Long Beach Police Department chief, during the debate Sept. 21. The election for Los Angeles County Sheriff is less than two months away in November.

Since taking office in 2018, Villanueva has drawn criticism for ignoring and dismissing alleged deputy gangs in the sheriff's department, defying subpoenas from the civilian oversight commission and most recently signing off on a search by deputies at the home of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

Luna painted himself as a sheriff who would collaborate with other elected officials. He began criticizing Villanueva from the start of the debate for having what he described as an "us vs. them" mentality. Villanueva has repeatedly clashed with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who collectively endorsed Luna.

"Part of governing is not agreeing with people," Luna said. "It's the way you handle it. I work with people. I don't work for people. That's the contrast between myself and my opponent."


Villanueva accused Luna of being a "puppet" for the Board of Supervisors, which is in charge of the sheriff's budget.

"When you're working with people, that doesn't mean you're a puppet," Luna said. "When you are consistently putting down the people who manage your budget, you're not serving our residents to the best of your ability."

Villanueva defended the search of Kuehl's home in connection with a corruption investigation by claiming his office alerted the FBI and state Attorney General's office and that "the authority of the sheriff is to investigate crime, period."

But Luna said Villanueva was wrong to "investigate your political opponents or enemies," claiming that it has led to the erosion of public trust in the sheriff.

"You can't do this," Luna said.

Villanueva responded by claiming Luna wouldn't touch corruption "with a 10-foot pole because his job as puppet is to look the other way."

Luna rejected that statement, and added that no jury would believe Villanueva during a trial because he "con- sistently gets up in front of a camera and demeans the five" supervisors.


Villanueva also defended his work on eradicating alleged deputy gangs within the department, claiming that he has taken "all the action we could legally" without violating the rights of his employees.

Villanueva challenged Luna to "name a single deputy gang member."


Luna responded: "He doesn't acknowledge they exist. You can't fix a problem you don't know exists.''

Luna said deputy gangs have been one of the top issues he's heard about on the campaign trail. He believed there needed to be federal and state intervention to address the problem. He criticized VIllanueva for defying a
subpoena to testify in front of a civilian oversight commission regarding deputy gangs.

"We have got to show the public that they can trust us and right now, they do not," Luna said.

The most recent poll conducted in August by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies had Luna slightly ahead of Villanueva. Luna served as chief of the Long Beach Police Department from 2014-2021, capping off a 36-year career at the department.

Villanueva, who promised to reform the department in his first campaign, has seen his political base shift during his tenure. He has complained about efforts to "defund" law enforcement, claiming he lacks resources as sheriff.

The two differed over whether they would work with Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón. Villanueva has been critical of Gascón's progressive policies, calling him a "second public defender."

"And that is jeopardizing the safety of every man and woman here in Los Angeles County," Villanueva said.

Villanueva claimed that Gascón wasn't filing cases and that he wasn't going to "play pretend that we're going to work together and have this wonderful relationship."

Luna used the rift as another example of what he described as the sheriff's failures to be collaborative. He said the sheriff had a responsibility to work with those that he didn't get along with.

"This nonsense has got to stop," Luna said. "We've got to start acting like adults and work with people for the benefit of the residents of this county."

Jan Perry: 37th District Congress

Charging Big Horn endorses Jan Perry to represent the 37th Congressional District. Hands down.


There never was any question that Perry has the political moxie, wisdom, and the most experience of any candidate in the race to handle a critical Democratic seat in Congressnotably in face of rogue Republicans in both houses, who have demonstrated that the welfare of a “United” America is not their objective.

We believe Jan Perry has the temperament and force of char-

acter to continue the leadership shown by her previous two predecessors in Congress for Democratic principles that will benefit a multiplicity of needs in diverse neighborhoods ranging from the very affluent to the economically depressedfrom the City of Los Angeles, including South LA, Crenshaw, Bald- win Hills, View Park, Ladera Heights, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robert- ertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista, and Culver City.

Jan Perry is no political neophyte. She served three terms in the Los Angeles City Council from 2001-2013 as the 9th

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Jan Perry

District councilperson representing Downtown, Little Tokyo, and South LA. She oversaw projects that dramatically re-shaped the Downtown area, and she ushered the development of nearly 6,000 units of affordable and supportive housing in her district.


A key aspect of her work as an elected official included extensive analysis of proposed budgets and financial statements. Perry’s leadership over 12 years brought in $15 billion in private investment, $25 million in new tax revenue for the City of Los Angeles, and 90,000 full-time jobs.


She has served Los Angeles for more than 30 years, fueled with a passion for affordable housing, continuum of care for homeless people, urban wetlands development, county parks restoration, and infrastructure.

Perry is the executive director of a nonprofit organization that has distributed a quarter of a billion dollars of non-perishable goods at the forefront of Los Angeles’ response to the homeless crisis since 1985. The organization also serves as a leading consultant on homeless programs and policy, supporting entities like the LA Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), as well as state and local government.

Perry concurrently heads a nonprofit organization that promotes infrastructure development, where she recently led formation of critical union alliances (IBEW, Teamsters). These alliances were essential in developing a $300 million southern California port infrastructure initiative to leverage renewable energy sources.

Additionally, a regional distribution strategy emerged for trans-loading/goods movement, reducing traffic and emissions while increasing the number of jobs.

In 2019 Jan Perry was appointed by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as general manager of the Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development Department (EWDD), leading an agency of 180 employees. EWDD provides a broad range of programs offering assistance to businesses, job seekers and disconnected youth. All of EWDD’s programs are designed to help build local business and strengthen the workforce.

Jan Perry has unique talents in government relations: public-private partnerships; design, funding, legislation, development, and realization of major economic, environmental, and community programs; human and social services; and initiatives for renewable energy, habitat development, natural resources, and environmental stewardship.

The 37th Congressional District needs Jan Perry. Vote “Yes” for Jan Perry on Nov. 3.