meet the other mayoral candidates: mel wilson
“This is a sham election…we deserve the right to be heard.”
This is part two of a series on excluded mayoral candidates.
Earlier this year Mel Wilson staged a protest in front of an LADWP building in Van Nuys, where he took a hammer to a piggy bank. It was a gesture to the hundreds of millions of dollars the Department has cost taxpayers because of the DWP scandal. At CalState LA last month Wilson called DWP “one of the most corrupt organizations in America,” before declaring it should roll back its rates. He’s been really the only candidate in the race who has talked about the dysfunction that has come out of utility.
“We need a forensic audit and we should have them roll back the rates until they give us an audit to show a full accounting of where our money has gone,” said Wilson. “People are hurting today. Their DWP bill has been rising like it's a rocket and we need to stop it,” said Wilson.
Wilson is a former football player who played a stint with the Kansas City Chiefs and served on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board (Metro). These days he is a realtor. He was once considered one of the cool kids. Wilson’s mayoral announcement got press on local t.v. He was invited to the debate stage once. But not for the final debates put on by Cal State LA and KCRW/LA Times. The university determined, somewhat arbitrarily, that Wilson didn’t get enough media coverage, poll high enough, or secure enough endorsements. Nevermind actually having a plan; that didn’t seem to be a concern of the university. KCRW also barred Wilson from participating during the debate on Friday.
“The station purposefully denied its listeners their rights to hear from certified mayoral candidates whose campaign contacted the station multiple times asking to be invited to participate in a mayoral race debate on the issue of homelessness,” said Wilson’s campaign. “The station excluded Mel Wilson, a forty-year housing and community advocate who lives and has been ingrained in the San Fernando Valley, home of 1.7 million listeners where 40% of Los Angeles voters live.”
Maybe Wilson’s real crime is being the candidate of the San Fernando Valley, that endless suburbia that doesn’t vibe with the purveyors of city cool at KCRW.
“Shame on KCRW for violating the public trust. The public radio station should have their FCC license revoked,” said Wilson.
The following is an edited Q&A:
Corruption hasn’t been this bad in LA in a while. What would you specifically do to address that?
The mayor appoints five commissioners, the mayor appoints the (DWP) general manager. They will get tough scrutiny from me. I will appoint people who are everyday people, not just political insiders. People whose voices have not been heard.
Do you have any thoughts on Sergio Perez, who was recently hired as DWP’s inspector general?
Who? I don't know who he is, but I have thoughts on the process and how DWP should be working.
Sure. Go ahead.
Here's what's what's happening. You have city council members who serve on the Energy Committee. Right? And they're making decisions based on who gave them money. I think they should recuse themselves if they're going to vote on a contract. They should not be allowed to do that, you know, if they’ve gotten political funds from somebody, and now they're going to vote on a contract with that person. So I think we need to change the game to start having people held accountable. And so that's one of the things the council members are not gonna like. But I think it's the right thing to do. I believe that we need to have an inspector general, who's not only going to look at DWP, but we need to have an inspector general who's gonna look at the City Council. Nobody else audits them.
Regarding DWP, one of the issues was this private attorney who Feuer hired. He got all these contracts while getting kickbacks for a collusive lawsuit. Do you have any stance on the city hiring private attorneys? Like, would you have hired a private attorney in a case like this?
I will consider hiring private attorneys, but you need to vet them. Here's what happens. He hires a private attorney. This guy's out of state. Even hiring somebody who doesn't have a license in this state. That just doesn't pass the smell test from the beginning to hire somebody who's not even licensed in the state. And then he hired someone who worked in a law firm who he hires another contractor from that same law firm. The chief litigator was named Thomas Peters. He worked for Kiesel Law.
Right, then he gets Kiesel hired with the city. Um, do you have a favorite restaurant in LA?
In the San Fernando Valley there is an Indian place called the Village Tandoor. I really like it. Downtown I like Phillipe’s.
Ya it’s pretty good.
I like Johnny's Pastrami, right on Crenshaw Boulevard. I like The District. I like Dueling Soul Foods. I like the Coffee Company. It's a good breakfast place. So why do you ask me about food? Because you know I'm a foodie.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Unlike a billionaire or career politicians who are running for mayor, I understand, feel the pain, and will fight vigorously for the poor, the middle class and small businesses. Instead of running expensive commercials to win over voters, I have rolled up my sleeves and pounded the pavement.
Homelessness and housing affordability is L.A.’s biggest challenge. With that being said, the housing industry leaders in Los Angeles and the National Association of Realtors strongly support our campaign. Their support is a testament of their belief that I am best equipped to solve L.A.’s housing crisis.
I am a housing, small business and public transit advocate who has bridged the partisan gap between elected officials, the public, private, nonprofit and faith communities to get the job done. None of the other candidates can claim that.
For forty-years, L.A. regional leaders sought my help because they knew I brought people together, and have a record of working hard and performing at high levels under pressure.
Is marijuana overrated? Underrated or properly rated?
I think it's properly rated. There are lots of medicinal uses for marijuana, as long as you regulate it, and we're making a lot of revenue. It's a part of the process to helping people's distress. I mean, people have been on a lot of stress over the last 50 years. A lot of stress. So to me, marijuana is just another way of de-stressing. I don't believe they should be growing it in your backyard because that's against the law (side bar: it’s not). But I do believe it has a place in our society.
And last question. What's your astrological sign?