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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ballot Box: Does City Council candidate John Choi deserve credit for new park projects?

The March 5 City Council election is less than six weeks away. That means registered voters in Council District 1 and Council District 13 can expect to be bombarded with campaign mailers, emails and robocalls extolling the track record and virtue of the candidates. The Eastsider will be asking questions and seeking more details about these campaign claims. Got a mailer to share? Email us a copy to hello@theEastsiderLA.com.

A mailer for John Choi, the former Public Works Commissioner running in the crowded Council District 13 race, claims that the city “paved more streets than every before, increased green space, and improved and streamlined city services” under “his leadership on the Public Works Commission.”   The mailer also states that “his initiatives” also “helped build new parks like North Atwater Park and Garvanza Park, speed up restoration of Echo Park Lake, and restore habitat in and improve access to the L.A. River.”

But Choi, who has raised more than $189,000 in campaign contributions, served on the Public Works Commission for less than a year, with his term beginning well after the restoration of Echo Park Lake and the other park and river projects that he describes as “his initiatives” had already been approved and were in progress.  Also,  the Public Works Commission was led by Andrea Alarcon, who recently resigned, during Choi’s tenure.  How does he reconcile these facts with his campaign mailer?

Mike Shimpock, Choi’s campaign consultant, responds:

  • John Choi served on the Public Works Commission, and as such had influence over the prosecution of projects such as we listed. Even though they may have been approved prior to his appointment, his decisions and leadership helped complete them or speed their completion.
  • The Public Works Commission is responsible for overseeing and completing projects funded with Prop. O money, such as the Echo Park Lake restoration, Garvanza Park, and North Atwater park. As a member of the Commission, John was a part of that process and had influence in the completion of these projects.
  • John was the primary liaison to street services regarding street paving. It was his responsibility to oversee this part of the Commission’s mandate.

Choi and 11 other candidates are running to replace Eric Garcetti, who is termed out of  office, to represent Council District 13, which includes Atwater, Echo Park, East Hollywood and Silver Lake.  A  Council District 13 Candidates Forum will be held tonight, Jan. 28, in Silver Lake.  More information in The Eastsider’s L.A. City Council Election Guide.

 

 

 



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34 comments

  1. His mailer also stated that he led an effort in planting 42,000 trees. Exactly how many protected trees on the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists’ Tract were destroyed on Febuary 1st, 2012, “Johnny Appleseed” Choi? An urban forest GONE!!!!!

  2. What???? A Villaraigosa appointee who lies? Simply unheard of……

  3. John Choi can hype up his mailers all he wants. But he has no history here in the 13th City Council District, except for living in his Echo Park apartment for the past 11 months.
    So these parks projects were approved and started before he was even on the Board of Public Works? What did he do in the 10 or 11(?) months that he was there, go around yelling at workers to pick up the pace? Echo Park Lake already had a schedule of completion before John Choi joined the Board of Public Works, and it’s still on time and scheduled to open in May. “Hurry up, guys, work faster so that Echo Park Lake can be re-opened sooner then May, but still in May when it was scheduled to re-open anyways…”

  4. Renee Nahum, Consultant, Mitch O’Farrell for City Council:
    Let’s set the record strait. John Choi is taking credit for the hard work of the community and Mitch O’Farrell. Here are the facts:

    1. Prop O passes in 2004.
    2. Most of 2005: Mitch works with the community to get Echo Park Lake prioritized as a funded project.
    3. Mitch meets with project team in 2006 to define scope of project.
    4. Mitch gets project scope enlarged to include: a)hiring wildlife consultant b)undergrounding the cinder block pump house c)re-designing the stinky, ugly, trash collecting, open air catch basin at North end of the Lake.
    5. Mitch attends dozens of town hall meetings and project team meetings from 2006 to 2011.
    6. Mitch forms an oversight committee made up of any community member who wishes to volunteer to make this project better and less impactful during the design and implementation phase.
    7. 2009/2010: Mitch gets Rec & Parks to agree to the installation of pedestrian scale lighting along the designed path around the Lake with a net increase of 20 additional lights. (The plan was to have tall, utilitarian streetlights).
    8. 2004: Mitch works with Bureau of Engineering to renovate the dock of the boathouse, a new tile roof, and restoration of the tower.
    9. 2007: CD13 works with the State to get prop 40 money ($1.6 million) to completely refurbish the Boathouse.
    10. Mitch meets with Bureau of Engineering to enlarge the scope to include a County Health approved kitchen so we can get a cafe operator in the boathouse.
    11. 2010/2011: Mitch meets with Rec & Parkspushes Rec & Parks to get the Request for Proposals (RFP) process under way in time for a cafe to open in 2013, when the boathouse and lake improvements are dedicated.
    12. 2010: Mitch organizes meetings with Lake restoration team and Boathouse restoration team to callibrate the simultaneous work being done on both projects.
    13. Early in 2011: Contractor for Echo Park Lake project is chosen.
    14. June, 2011: Mitch organizes and facilitates town hall where Boathouse restoration team and Lake restoration team present to the community on exactly what to expect in July, in preparation for the Lake being drained.
    15. 2011-2013 (Over 20 month period, renovations take place, are under budget and on time to open in May, 2013).
    16. Summer of 2011: John Choi is appointed to Board of Public Works by Mayor Villaraigosa at $122,000 per year. Ten months later, Mr. Choi leaves the job to run for Office in Council District 13.

  5. For those that missed John Choi’s introduction at the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, (December 2012,) “enjoy” the encore presentation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9RgCiY2ZTc

  6. Are we still in an era of heralding street pavement as a positive attribute for a candidate? LA is COVERED in cement – I’m much more likely to vote for a candidate that gets rid of some it rather than one who encourages its proliferation.

  7. hello-mitch doesnt live in cd13 he and his partner own a home at glassel park

  8. john choi may live in echo park but his heart is in koreatown

  9. Sounds like a typical “entitled” patriarchal male with a doting mother whose son is unfortunately of the opinion he can simply be elected by lying big enough that no one will notice until after the election. He’s busted.

  10. John Choi has delusions of grandeur and a touch of megalomania. Judy Raskin, another community member of Echo Park, and I, attended many of the meetings of the Prop. O Oversight Committee which determined which projects would receive the funding. That committee made the determination for Echo Park Lake as one of the projects. Not John Choi.
    The outline of the project – and Mitch O’Farrell’s significant involvement as outlined by Renee Nahum – is correct. There are many community members who can testify to his leadership role as we attended the many Echo Park Lake community meetings to guide and voice community concerns on all aspects of the project. John Choi was never at any of those meetings.
    i have been living in Echo Park since October, 1962, have been quite involved with many of the many issues and organizations of Echo Park since then — and have never seen nor heard of this John Choi – until now, when he appears out of nowhere, does not know our issues (see the video of Cindy Ortiz of the Neighborhood Council meeting posted here, for example). Why does he feel he is worthy of our respect, let alone our vote? Arrogance – and delusions of grandeur and megalomania… But that doesn’t get our vote.

  11. Echo Park is a tough, well-informed community – John Choi should have known better.

  12. Look what I found when I Googled ‘Echo Park Lake Restoration’. Pretty neat video. I’m excited to see it open again! I guess others played a bigger roles.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aywp5MYG68U

  13. this is funny!
    its politics!
    Mr. Box tried to claim credit for a park too!

  14. Since Renee Nahum is representing Mitch O’Farrell, perhaps she’d be the best person to highlight the steps that Mr. O’Farrell took to create the wildly successful Silver Lake Meadow.

  15. hey mike taylor i dont like somebody pulling the wool over our eyes, mitch and his partner george braukman bought a house in cd1 address 3842 inglis dr. in a part of glassel park that used to be cd13 but now belongs to ed reyes .his partner has an office in ed reyes office on north broadway,mitch should be running for ed reyes old spot, instead he insists in running here.its going to come out big time.in the meantime everybody is crucifing sigala.

  16. Just fyi… There were no Prop O funds involved in the Garvanza Park project.

  17. Llet’s not get things twisted about Mitch either. He’s been taking credit for what Garcetti has accomplished. Garcetti hasn’t even endorsed him, I think because he was let go from his office???? But back to John Choi, he said he raised over 50 million in Workforce Develeopment? Another lie. I was a memeber when he was in office and never saw him at any WIB meeting. Tired of these guys for taking credit for things they didn’t do…

    • KC- From your response it seems you are not active in the community of CD13. If you were, you would know that Mitch O’Farrell was the one who made Garcetti’s office seem competent. He was always quick to respond to concerns and always followed up to make sure things were done. Mitch is focused on the community he has lived in for many years. Garcetti is all about the “big picture”, meaning what next rung in the political ladder can he climb to. Has anyone in the community noticed how the quality of communication has diminished and responses to issues is almost non-existant now that Mitch is no longer there? That confirms my vote for Mitch and none for Garcetti in the election next month.

      • I second EP4Me’s comment.

        • I third it! Furthermore I found this laughable and infuriating comment some place else. Thanks TS. “From John Choi’s Website: ‘I’m running for city council in District 13 because we need to break our city free of the grip of special interests and make it work for residents again.’ -Yet, more than $77, 000.00 in independent expenditures, FROM SPECIAL INTERESTS outside the 13th District, has been spent to support him! Additionally, 92% of his campaign money comes from outside of the 13th District. He’s lived in the 13th District 1 year and he thinks he’s going to fool us into believing the crap on his website and mailers? I don’t know him personally, but as a politician-wannabe, he has me SEETHING! This man has NO integrity. He is the FACE of special interests, flat out lying on his website! #JohnChoiFail2013″ Is this all true, Johnny, baby?! hahaha You’re a joke, Johnny Boy!!!

    • Garcetti pledged not to endorse in the race before O’Farrell even decided not to run, but don’t be surprised if that doesn’t change for the runoff. He has already said Mitch did a phenomenal job on his staff and I suspect may not stop with that statement.

  18. This is right from John Choi’s Website: “I’m running for city council in District 13 because we need to break our city free of the grip of special interests and make it work for residents again.” -Yet, more than $77, 000.00 in independent expenditures, FROM SPECIAL INTERESTS outside the 13th District, has been spent to support him! Additionally, 92% of his campaign money comes from outside of the 13th District. He’s lived in the 13th District 1 year and he thinks he’s going to fool us into believing the crap on his website and mailers? I don’t know him personally, but as a politician-wannabe, he has me SEETHING! This man has NO integrity. He is the FACE of special interests, flat out lying on his website! #JohnChoiFail2013″ Is this all true, Johnny, baby?! hahaha You’re a joke, Johnny Boy!!!

  19. EP4ME
    Obviously your not very active. We have many issues in surrounding communities that were not resolved and many others ignored. You probably never walked pass your neighborhood. Many streets have pot holes in Atwater by Chevy Chase, side walks are hard to walk on because trees have uprooted them. We need better lighting through parts of Elysian Valley and we’ve had a problem by the Uhaul on Fletcher making uneasy to walk through there, sometimes I dont feel safe. That problem has been going on for years. We still have graffiti through our our neighborhoods. Many residents have said this. I am very active and understand what our needs are.

  20. KC- Actively walking around your neighborhood does not constitute being active in the community.

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