On the Best of Downtown ballot, the Los Angeles Downtown News asked readers to detail a few of their favorite local personalities. In particular, we wanted to know who at the Downtown poker table is the best player, who should leave the game, who is the political ace, and who is the joker.
Love him, hate him, love him, hate him: Readers couldn't make up their minds as to how they feel about former Mayor Jim Hahn. Photo by Gary Leonard.
Some of the same names appeared multiple times in each category. From the mayor's office (present and past) to the City Council and beyond, the variety of responses proves that no matter how high your polls, you can't please everyone. Like the adage about trash and treasure, one reader's Downtown Los Angeles hero is another reader's clown.
Without further ado, here are some of the reader responses.
Q: You're at the poker table: Who is Downtown's best player?
A: Answers were all over the place. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appeared on many ballots, with reader Glen Creason observing that he "won the pot with a total bluff." Then again, several voters said Villaraigosa's vanquished rival, Mayor Jim Hahn, plays the best game in town.
Effusive City Councilman Tom LaBonge got multiple nods, as did equally effusive developer Tom Gilmore. Whitman Lam punned that the Old Bank District pioneer is "revitalizing," while Thomas Pease observed, "Anyone who could gamble and win on the idea that people would pay top dollar to live in lofts in Downtown is someone I'd want to take gambling tips from."
Others who received votes included Cardinal Roger Mahony, County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, developer Goodwin Gaw, homeless services agency Chrysalis and Sparks star Lisa Leslie. Reader Stu Lebowitz picked Lakers owner Jerry Buss, arguing that he has a "flush full of diamonds even before the cards are dealt."
Of course there were those who couldn't resist a bit of self-promotion when it came to naming the best player: Reader Carlos Hernandez wrote "Me."
Q: Which player should leave the Downtown table?
A: Proving that there's nothing like kicking a man when he's down, the most votes, by far, went to Mayor Hahn. "His luck ran out," wrote reader Tom Lintini. Interestingly, one respondent picked another former mayor, Richard Riordan.
Others who received votes were third place mayoral finisher Bob Hertzberg, controversial developer Richard Meruelo, Police Chief William Bratton, "anyone who owns a parking lot," Shaquille O'Neal (who already left Downtown) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who's rarely here). Reader Susan Tanaka, who may be the nicest person in the community, said "No one" should leave the Downtown table, while crafty Dennis Smith picked Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Most interesting response for who should leave the table: Victor Franco's carefully reasoned, "Some of the homeless and housing 'advocates': I believe that some of the policies that are suggested by some groups and individuals are only hurting the very people they are intending to help."
Q: Who is Downtown's political ace?
A: Once again on the everyone-loves-a-winner front, Mayor Villaraigosa appeared on multiple ballots. Lam described him as a "Latino Superman" and Don Garza observed, "challenging an incumbent mayor is a pretty good trick."
Also making strong showings were First District City Councilman Ed Reyes and Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry. Eighth District Councilman Bernard Parks, whose territory includes Exposition Park, made a few ballots as well.
Others who received votes were former Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, Bob Hertzberg, Mayor Hahn and Laker-turned-businessman Magic Johnson.
Most interesting response for who is the political ace: Reader Laine Wagenseller's "City Controller Laura Chick - keep those audits coming!"
Q: Who is the joker of Downtown?
A: Readers spread their barbs far and wide. A number of past and present politicians were cited, including Mayor Hahn, Mayor Riordan, ex-Councilman Nate Holden, LaBonge and "the mayor who thinks he can do something about the schools."
Laker affiliates made a few ballots, though no one picked Kobe Bryant. Instead, there were votes for Jerry Buss, Shaquille O'Neal and even front row fan Jack Nicholson.
Other people, or places, receiving votes included artist Gottfried Helnwein, Pershing Square, the Standard rooftop bar and "the clowns who ruined $2 Tuesdays at Dodger Stadium."
Second most interesting response to who is the joker of Downtown: Reader Pease wrote, "The person who decided that the worst thing happening in this city is that the newspaper kiosks are all different shapes and colors. Our schools are underfunded, people are sleeping in the streets, but the thing to focus on is the fact that The Times, the Daily News and the Downtown News' kiosks clash. Riiiiiiight."
Most interesting response to who is the joker of Downtown: Reader Daniel Miranda wrote "Daniel Miranda."