Forward Thinking

L.A.'s Eric Garcetti Dons Kippah for Instagram

By Noah Smith

Getty Images

After a year on the job, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, 43, has enjoyed mostly positive reviews from Angelenos and from observers of City Hall, who have credited his low-key governance style with helping reform the daily operations of the city’s government as well as with moving his “back to basics” initiatives forward in sectors such as job creation, traffic and public safety.

Though critics say that Garcetti has not been bold enough in creating and pursuing his agenda, the mayor can point to victories in securing lowered salaries and benefits for union workers of the Department of Water and Power, as well as to gaining the support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for his ambitious $1 billion proposal to redevelop the L.A. River and its surrounding areas.

The city’s first elected Jewish mayor, Garcetti has also been actively involved with creating more cooperation between L.A. and Israel, most recently in the form of the Los Angeles/Eilat Innovation and Cooperation Task Force, which aims to help Israeli and Southern California-based businesses, universities and not-for-profits work together to solve issues related to water resources, solar energy and other environmental technologies.

In an interview held at his office in Downtown Los Angeles Garcetti and the Forward’s Noah Smith discussed issues related to the Jewish and Israeli communities.

Noah Smith: In light of recent proposals to boycott and/or divest from Israel, on University of California campuses and throughout the country, what are some of the specific ways in which the City of Los Angeles benefits from its cooperation with the State of Israel and its businesses and universities?

Eric Garcetti: Because we have similar land and similar challenges of drought, of energy independence, of economic development, I think we feel a real natural affinity with Israel. With the coast line and mountains, you go to Israel and you feel like you’re in California and vice versa, which I think is why so many Israelis probably settle here so comfortably and there are such close ties. This is not only an important Jewish city, it has now become an important Israeli-American city, I think one of the great cities of Israeli expats in the world.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Eric Garcetti, Israel, Jewish, Los Angeles

31 Jews in Congress

By Nathan Guttman

courtesy of brad sherman
Rep. Brad Sherman

As the election enters its final stretch, the Forward is making some final projections for our congressional scorecard based on the latest polling results.

We now predict at least 31 Jews — 10 in the Senate and 21 in the House of Representatives — will serve in the next Congress, a slight rise from the initial projection of 30.

But the biggest shift doesn’t change the numbers either way. We are now projecting that Rep. Brad Sherman will likely win his intramural fight with fellow Los Angeles Jewish Democratic Rep. Howard Berman.

The race, which ranked as one of the nastiest in the nation, has been seen as close from the beginning when they were thrown together to fight for one seat due to redistricting in the suburban San Fernando Valley. The two even nearly got into a physical altercation during debate. Berman had the backing of Democratic heavyweights, while Sherman held on to a strong ground operation.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: the jewish vote 2 2012, shmuley boteach, shelley berkley, san fernando valley, redistricting, los angeles, lois frankel, jewish, howard berman, debate, david cicilline, congress, brad sherman, brad schneider, adam hasner

Balding Jew Grabs Lead for L.A. Seat

By Nathan Guttman

The Berman-Sherman congressional race in California’s 30th district has been nothing but pure drama.

With millions of dollars pouring into the race, attack ads, and with the two Jewish Democrats, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman’s latest debate making headlines thanks to an unprecedented physical altercation, the entire nation is tuning in to see who will rule San Fernando Valley after November 6.

The Democratic establishment threw its support firmly behind Howard Berman, who has served in Congress since 1983 and in his latest position is the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs committee. Berman has the backing of both California Senators and most of the Democrats on the states congressional delegation. He even got to ride with the President when Obama came to town for a fundraiser.

But polls are beginning to show that support of top Dems might not be enough. Brad Sherman, sans party support but with an elaborate ground operation, is leading in all the latest polls. Last month, a local poll put Sheman way ahead with 45%, compared to 32% of the voters saying they will support Berman and 23% remaining undecided.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: jewish, howard berman, democrat, congress, brad sherman, los angeles

When Balding Jews Attack

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

A startling video posted online Thursday night shows California Rep. Brad Sherman violently grabbing his bitter rival Rep. Howard Berman during a debate.

The confrontation between the two Jewish Democrats fighting for their political lives was shot at a Thursday night debate at Pierce College, according to a report in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Sherman put his right arm around Berman and shook him slightly as the two argued over a federal immigration bill, the paper wrote. Berman looked to the audience, shocked. Sherman let go, then stuck his face in Berman’s as a sheriff’s deputy approached.

“You want to get in my face?” Sherman shouted.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: video, san fernando valley, redistricting, los angeles, howard berman, fight, debate, congress, brad sherman

Jewish Races Among Nastiest in Nation

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

getty images
Howard Berman

Jewish candidates are involved in some of the meanest, dirtiest races of the 2012 election cycle.

There are 435 U.S. House races this fall. Politico picked the ten “nastiest.” Of those, three feature Jewish candidates.

Politico doesn’t divulge its criteria for picking the “nastiest” races. But even an unscientific survey by the wonks at the D.C.-based political website came up with some pretty ugly contests.

Some of the picks are obvious. The California race between Jewish Democratic Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman has been covered heavily in the Forward.

As our Rex Weiner reported last week, things are really heating up in the San Fernando Valley.

The match-up, until now tense but polite, turned into a fracas when the Berman campaign launched a volley of negative TV, internet and direct mail messages charging that Sherman repaid himself for personal loans to his campaign war chest, plus interest, for a profit totaling more than $461,000 over a 17-year period.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: rhode island, randy altschuler, politico, michael grimm, los angeles, howard berman, david cicilline, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, brad sherman, the jewish vote 2 2012, tim bishop

Sh-Berman Heat Wave Grips La La Land

By Rex Weiner

getty images
Rep. Howard Berman poses for photo op with President Obama as he signs bill authorizing cooperation with Israel.

“Almost like in a boxing ring,” exclaimed a breathless local Fox News reporter.

“Sparks flew” gasped the L.A. Times, describing Thursday night’s debate between dueling Jewish congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. But the soporific chin wagging between the two liberal, pro-Israel, balding Democrats, who were tossed by redistricting into a fight for the San Fernando Valley’s new 30th District, didn’t measure up to the campaign’s increasingly hyper hype.

The Jewish Journal, which sponsored the debate, is trying valiantly to stoke reader interest in the race. But the truth is that no matter how many ways the moderators interrogated the candidates, neither Berman nor Sherman would confess to less than 100% commitment to the Jewish state or to any real substantive difference in position on most issues.

L.A. Observed columnist Bill Boyarsky expressed surprise that there was even a single move out of predictable, partisan lockstep. “Amazingly — actually unbelievably — Sherman bragged about his cooperation with Rep. Paul Ryan,” the newly minted GOP vice presidential candidate, Boyarsky noted. Apparently, with the two Dems in need of the Valley’s Independent and Republican votes for November’s general election contest, a little bi-partisan suck-up can’t hurt.

Nasty campaigning is all the rage this summer nationwide. And off the debate stage, the mid-August heat wave in California’s San Fernando Valley has lent a special punk edginess to Sherman-Berman contest.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: san fernando valley, los angeles, democrat, howard berman, challah-fornia, brad sherman




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