City Council (D4): Mike Schaefer

Mike Schaefer, a California native, was previously a city prosecutor; a two-term elected City Councilman of California's second largest city, San Diego; served on the County Board of Public Health there; worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and was a financial investigator and analyst for the Cal State Corporations Commission; and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission financial analyst, clearing proxy material for listed public corporations.

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Top three goals

List the top three things you would seek to accomplish as a city council representative.

Editors’ note: The candidate did not respond to this question.


Is City Hall doing a good job handling development projects? If so, why? If not, how would change it?

NO, it is irresponsible for the City to let things like the excellent Target project not raise eyebrows until it is 80% completed, staff has all it needs to make decisions before the first space of dirt is turned. I would have the city’s preliminary reviews be more meaningful and something developers can ‘bank on’ once cleared.

City Hall power

Do you believe any particular interest – labor, business, or something else — has too much power at City Hall? If so, how would you counteract that power?

Labor because of its huge contributions has excessive influence. I would ask Clerk to have at the podium list of all contributions from persons having any relationship to a particular measure so that the voting Council Members would be in an environment of transparency. Nothing wrong with labor donations, just they must be visible at embarrassing times.

Underserved neighborhoods

Council District 4 includes an unusual array of neighborhoods, from Sherman Oaks to Los Feliz to Hancock Park. Do you believe any parts of the district have been underserved, and if so, how would you rectify that?

Council lines should be redrawn to have better common-area districts, having Sherman Oaks and Korea Town in same district is impractical and appears to be designed to weaken threats to the incumbency by having so many unrelated pools of voters.

District issues

What do you see as the three biggest issues facing CD4, and what concrete proposals would you make to address those issues?

CD4 has the Hollywood development plans requiring intelligent decisions and strong coordination with the State to protect our film and TV industry from leaving the State and City. There are CD4 issues. My main issue is protecting the citizens from their bureaucracy, particular the Parking Administration harassment, the parking office requires to tap into DMV on-line to determine if a registration is current, or not, before releasing PAID UP citizen’s car; instead they force the citizen to travel to a distant tow yard (after l00% payoff), get registration so they can “see” it, come back to PVB offices, THEN get a release, then travel, car-less, back to the Tow yard. I will [put] an end to this lack of respect for citizens, will promote 50% discount on all fines if paid in a week as some cities too, and will always have enforcement give benefit of the doubt to citizen in any situation, today all doubts resolved in favor of a fine.


What three steps would you take to help balance the city budget?

Taking a cue from Jim Newman, would slash council pay by 1/3, reduce 20 person council staffs by 1/3; would seek public support for reasonable pensions, not bloated, excessive, manipulated amounts that may exist in some situations; would seek modest increases in user taxes we get on phone bills, parking, movies, auto registrations.

Bad decisions

Are there any major decisions in CD4 over the past three years that you would have opposed?

Yes, the opening of Hollywood office as it is always unstaffed, phone always “we are [out]o f the office, or out in the field”, it is just for “show” and a waste of space that is valuable. Same with some other branch offices, would prefer the Council Member personally spend half-day in various neighborhoods of the district, using board room in a public library, or fire station or police station, as ‘office’ to meet with any CD4 resident on a sign up arrangement.

Oppose strongly the inattention council gives the public at hearings, see case of Roger Jon Diamond v. City of Los Angeles a few years ago, wherein the Court ordered a rehearing. For shame! Nothing changes unless some unbowed-unbought member like me is there to call “point of order” and see that the Council “listens.”

I have failed in several efforts to get branch office Hollywood field deputy to meet with me on a couple of issues, always “out in the field or on the phone” I would have independent audit of all council office budgets, and examine all credit card charges, and make them available to vigilant media.

Council President Herb Wesson has labeled me “phenomenal.” The best is yet to come.

Standing out

In such a crowded race, what makes you different?

I have neither sought nor received money and [am] conducting a modest campaign, not over $20,000 in the primary. That is all that is needed for an informative mailer, political signs, and community newspaper advertising. Everyone else hires a staff, consultants, secretaries. I ran against Tom LaBonge in his first outing, 2001, he won, I lost. I support the job he has done and support his retirement. I will be less of an insider, we must reject those experienced City Hall candidates; they are part of the problem, I will be the solution.


What steps would you take to address L.A.’s failing pipes and other aging infrastructure, and how would you fund those steps?

The County benefits from enhanced home values, once we repair the broken sidewalks and streets, and should be invited to shoulder 25% of the costs, the property owner 25% and the city 50%. We can do more, quicker, if we all pitch in. A low-cost issue may be the key.

Minimum wage

Do you support increasing the citywide minimum wage, and if so, to what amount and by what year?

I can support existing proposals only if there are sufficient exemptions to permit every business a couple of trainee-employees, and exemptions for students or youth; this will take restless young men off the street, give them some preparation for life, and reduce our jail population, if employers can hire them at trainee discounted wages, many are living at home and have low-maintenance (except for drugs). Working young citizens will be responsible young citizens and have a better future. Our rates should be consistent with neighboring cities. We are a tough place to do business, and proposed minimum wages chase away investors but will support them if the donut shop, the parking lot, as well as Farmers Market, can hire a couple of trainee sub-market wages. We don’t get paid to go to school, we can be paid less for a training job.

Business tax

Do you think the city should reduce or eliminate its gross receipts tax on businesses? If so, how quickly should it do so, and how can the city replace the revenue it provides?

GRT should be eliminated. Its presence adds to our image as being a bad place to invest or to do business. It should “sunset” by 2018.

Replacement revenues: Modest increases in tax on

1. motor vehicle registrations

2. cigarette sales

3. business licenses

The present tax burdens even those operating at a loss and we lose out as a competitor for start-ups and relocations. Our neighboring cities are a much better place to invest and to operate. We need to pay attention to LA 20/20 and invite its sources to work with us.

Ontario airport

Do you support returning control of LA/Ontario International Airport to the city of Ontario? Why or why not? Should the airport be sold or simply be transferred back? If you support a sale, what do you think is an appropriate price?

Council candidates are not competent to suggest an appropriate price. Silly question. I would review appraisals, compare other airport appraisals. And our lawyers should recommend best way to dispose of our interests. We have experts at our world-class Universities, and access to the best minds in real estate in America. Will evaluate their input.

Greek Theatre

Which company do you believe should be awarded the Greek Theatre contract – Nederlander-AEG or Live Nation? Why?

Nederlander-AEG. Because my son is a longtime official of AEG, and before that Nederlander, and I am impressed with their successes. Live Nation is a quality firm too, but they are more “Ticketmaster” in sales of tickets, than in concert management locally. Nederlander and AEG roots are deeper in Los Angeles. Would of course be influenced by my son Derek, but the decision is mine. We’ve not discussed it. View subject to change.