L.A.’s Boys’ Club

Posted on March 15, 2013 by

Can you imagine a future U.S. Supreme Court comprised only of men?  Or the president’s cabinet?  Or even the California Coastal Commission?

That would be a throwback to an era long gone, you would think?

And yet, it’s likely to happen to the 15-member Los Angeles City Council after the May runoff election.

In fact, if underdog Ana Cubas doesn’t take Council District 9, L.A. City’s governing body will become an exclusive boys’ club for the first time in decades.

Though the council will remain relatively ethnically and racially diverse after the runoff, this appalling gender imbalance has L.A.’s political observers mystified.

The issue could make a difference in the mayoral contest between two solid liberals, Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.

Faced with an all-male (or a 93 percent male) council, voters might decide that electing a woman to city government’s top job is the only way to compensate for this embarrassing situation.

Comments (3)


  1. victor griego says:

    what about the outcome of the cindy montanez and nury martinez race for cd 6? isnt that a gauranteed Latina (woman) on the council? does that winner qualify as a female on the LA council?

  2. joseph says:

    There’s no mystery to it at all. It’s because of the stranglehold male-dominated unions have on LA.

    LA’s top money unions, of course, are all heavy-duty patriarchies–the DWP’s IBEW, Police/PPL, United Firefighters. They expect much from a candidate, and want relations to be fraternal, often in the worst sense. Worse, these glorified-boys-on-the-loose clubs often get carried away and hire vicious operatives.

    Women in the clubhouse, with their nettlesome concerns for “comparative worth,” aren’t a good fit for this. In fact, women typically stand up to it. Jan Perry certainly did.

    The patriarchal, man-culture unions in town often expect much more than a dignified woman with a good career going is willing to give. In these rough-and-tumble races, the dignity that derives from nurture, even playground nurture, drives many would-be women councilmembers away.

    I know my wife often sees the kind of stuff I am subjected to as a political writer–a peripheral figure who should be insulated from political attacks–and is stunned by it. So often something comes my way that she considers beneath our dignity. Local politics generally turn her stomach, in fact. For women involved in their own races, the hazing can be far worse.

    Our three most recent Councilwomen were both considerable exceptions. Take a look…

    Jan Perry, as it happened, I think by virtue of life experience, was simply the most brusque figure, male or female, on Council for the whole past decade. She stood up to the male-dominated unions and always paid a big price for that.

    These patriarchal unions have never bothered Wendy Greuel–whom I don’t have a high opinion of at all–of course–and it’s not a wonder NOW has endorsed Garcetti instead of the Valley Greuel. As Perry’s campaign reminded me, Greuel has always been “bought and paid for by almost all the rich male power brokers in the city.” That would include the kind of studio heads to whom we most owe runaway production.

    And Janice Hahn already came from supercharged local and historic political family and was fairly inured to sliming even early on, especially in the early days when her brother happened to hold top city offices.

    Also, the patriarchy-oriented unions that turn male-friendly candidates into big-money candidates time after time are typically represented by one particular political consultant, John Shallman, who used to describe his political views as “very liberal” and his religious views as “very Orthodox.” It’s the orthodoxy that may be predisposed to the paternalistic, of course.

    Shallman, some others, and their powerful unions aside, there aren’t a lot of female political consultants in top LA races either, of course. I almost never deal with any. Once a couple of years back, Jose Huizar named one–a straw figure, after his real consultant Mike Trujillo blew up–Trujillo still ran the campaign from the penalty box.

    A few times, I have seen a longshot woman candidate for Council meet with a male consultant or two–and then decide to run her own race, which never works.

Leave a Reply