No bold new vision of the future for Los Angeles was created in Thursday's debate between Mayor Tom Bradley and City Councilman John Ferraro, just as none of the second-string arguments that have masqueraded as issues were demolished. Except for some studied insults, the exchanges were entirely in keeping with the low-key styles of the candidates.
In short, what you had been hearing is what you heard again as the two leading mayoral candidates squared off in the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
So were the voters served? Yes, insofar as debates offer capsule summaries, head to head, of candidates' positions. Yes, because debates allow voters to judge for themselves the degree of command that candidates have of the issues and processes that make the wheels of government go round. But, no, because no commercial or public television stations broadcast what apparently will be the only debate of the mayoral campaign. The people who attended the debate were like the folks who go to Dodger Stadium: They already knew who they were rooting for.
But if you don't have cable television (which, to its credit, carried the debate), or weren't by your radio, what you missed was an hour-long comparison of Bradley's and Ferraro's views on how to finance more police, on whether Metro Rail or light rail is the transportation answer of the future, on why Occidental Petroleum Corp. will be allowed to drill in Pacific Palisades after years of mayoral opposition, and on Bradley's future political plans. There were no surprises.