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Another Terrace Morning

Manic at Marshall: The CD 4 roadshow rolled into John Marshall High last night and alum Councilman Tom LaBonge immediately flaunted the rules of this Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council candidate forum.

The mousy League of Women Voters reps, who may have seen it all before but never the likes of the avuncular clownish Councilman, were flabbergasted by the hyperactive LaBonge, who wanted to lose the stage's tight moorings and waltz in front of the other candidates while he performed his usual political vaudeville act. The whole subsequent discussion, replete with audience of 150 jeering, was disruptive to the proceedings and left LaBonge looking like the kind of incumbent he currently is: a nervous man wanting too eagerly to distinguish himself through personality, even while challenger candidates Stephen Box and Tomas O'Grady are looking more and more distinguished in the background, especially by noting the fact that they are not yet city councilmen like Tom LaBonge and that districts don't thrive on personality alone.

By now what is said at these fora is de rigueur. O'Grady is far more polished than when he began, and now feels comfortable onstage. It appears Box isn't rehearsing sound-bites as much; he's looking a bit less wonkish, a bit more expectant (he joked with me before the evening began, asking when street-hassle was going to endorse him). And LaBonge keeps using friends as props; after thirty years of City service, he knows everyone's name, so that's the angle he works, even when they no longer can be depended to provide the kind of answer he's looking for.

I heard the people sitting next to me, who had known neither of the two challenger candidates before tonight, say "I like him" of O'Grady and also applaud Box quite a lot. Now that the candidates have spoken to well over a thousand voters in aggregate, this race appears in runoff striking territory, and the real battle is for second, because whichever one gets the nod is certainly going to tear into LaBonge's lead dramatically between now and June.

Clean Sweep should take note: three credible candidates, not six or seven incredible ones, is the perfect dynamic for unseating a councilmember.

Bernard Parks fights back, noting that his Council District is the only one in the City to show an uptick in employment since 2007.

Who couldn't see this coming? Six LAUSD charter schools caught cheating in test prep. Charters will be revoked. It took two Times stories, including one menacing the board, to get the District to see the light. "At Crescendo, according to L.A. Unified's account, Allen ordered principals to have teachers break the seal on the state tests and let students practice with the actual test questions."

Here's something teachers have to contend with that Eli Broad and Bill Gates don't understand: students calling 911 on them for startling them.

A couple of days ago, Kerry Cavanaugh at the Daily News profiled some challenger candidate volunteers. The result was a completely dull story half-filled with the kind of items that the local online audience already knew six months ago. Profile the mechanics of the blogosphere would be far more challenging--and far more interesting. But the Daily News under Carolina Garcia has a terrible relationship to the local blogosphere, only referring to it when someone looks bad in it. The blogosphere has a far more pivotal role in council races--and in determining what stories get read at newspapers--than individual volunteers do.

The LA Times editorializes that "a variance seems reasonable" and would like to give the Getty House, the Mayor's residence, a six-foot-high fence. It took a lot of contorted logic to get to that "reasonable" point.