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L.A. Council election: Parks says his campaign left no stone unturned

March 8, 2011 | 11:21 pm

Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks strolled into his election night party in Leimert Park shortly after 10 p.m. with his wife Bobbie, who was dressed in a bright red pantsuit. After weeks of walking precincts, Parks said he’d spent the day relaxing before a late dinner with his wife at Maverick’s Flat, a historic nightclub on South Crenshaw Boulevard that recently reopened.

“We feel good and we have every reason to feel good,” Parks said when asked about his lead in early returns. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we did everything we could. We left no stone unturned.”

The city’s public employee unions spent more than $1.2 million on behalf of Parks’ chief opponent, Forescee Hogan-Rowles. As the city’s budget committee chairman, Parks has antagonized those groups by repeatedly arguing that the pensions and benefits for city employees have contributed to the city’s budget crisis and the $404-million budget gap.

Parks said if his lead holds: “It should send a message to every elected official that they do not have to be put in a situation where they are bullied by a handful of people.”

The former Los Angeles police chief, who served for nearly four decades in that department before he was elected to the council in 2003, added that it would “send a message that the community speaks about who represents them, not outsiders.”

Hogan-Rowles won support from the labor unions in part because she has said she would not support employee layoffs or furloughs. She has offered few suggestions for addressing the budget deficit.

The mood was celebratory in Leimert Park as supporters waited for results at the Regency West, a concert venue where the DJ blended R&B hits with oldies. Guests began filling up the tables shortly after the polls closed, sipping margaritas and cocktails under a ceiling dotted with orange, blue, red and white helium balloons -– the orange and blue colors intended as a tribute to the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

Flat screen TVs on either side of the stage showed clips from Soul Train (Parks’ favorite TV show) before switching to a montage of snapshots of Parks working in the 8th District, which stretches from the neighborhoods around USC for 18 square miles to Vermont Knolls.

A large poster tilted against the stage bore a photograph of Parks and President Obama and a congratulatory message: “There was no need for change” -– a play on Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan.

Parks’ son, Bernard Parks Jr., told the crowd that the campaign expected “a very good night” before directing them to fill up at the buffet of chicken, pork and beef tacos, refried beans and rice.

“You cannot erase 45 years over a period of a couple of weeks and you can’t erase it with $1.2 million,” Parks Jr. said.


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-- Maeve Reston in Leimert Park