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Familiar foes trade jabs in L.A. City Council race, but only one is on the ballot

Bernard C. Parks, running for reelection in the 8th District, has found himself sparring with his opponent, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, and his former rival, county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

March 07, 2011|By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times

In particular, Parks has faulted Ridley-Thomas and the rest of the City Council for awarding a project known as Marlton Square to a developer with what he called "very suspect credentials." The project ultimately fell apart when the developer and his lender went bankrupt.

The 21-acre abandoned shopping plaza has drawn vandals, squatters and other criminal activity — making it a major issue in the campaign.

The supervisor and Hogan-Rowles contend that the delays in the development of Marlton Square illustrate that Parks is more attentive to his role as the city's budget chairman than the concerns of his constituents. But Parks says his opponents are ignoring the legal entanglements that have blocked development of Marlton Square.

"You can't just take it from them and say, 'Give me the property; we're going to develop it,' " Parks said. "On Marlton — how do you develop it in the middle of foreclosure and bankruptcy?"

Ridley-Thomas said the district needs "someone who will stop giving all these excuses and do the work."

The supervisor believes Hogan-Rowles has a chance to get into a runoff Tuesday because "the sympathy that caused him to be elected in the first instance [in 2003] is no longer here" and because Parks has approached his role as "a bean-counting bureaucrat."

"This district, where I live, deserves someone who will attend to its needs," Ridley-Thomas said.

Parks says that many of the district's problems existed under his predecessor and, indeed, for decades. He cites signs of renewal like the Gateway project near USC and the fact that the 8th District was the only one in the city to post job gains between 2007 and 2009.

When asked what he viewed as Ridley-Thomas' accomplishments as councilman, Parks made a fleeting reference to the structure that houses one of his district offices, which has borne his predecessor's name since a council motion in 2003.

"He named a building after himself," he said.

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