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October 11, 2012     Beverly Hills Weekly
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October 11, 2012
 

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coverstor3, BARRY'S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT After almost 15 years in public office, two-time Mayor Barry Brucker announces he will not seek re-election By Melanie Anderson After serving in elected office for nearly 15 continuous years, you've decided to not seek re-election in March. Why? I've enjoyed every moment of my ser- vice. I've met so many wonderful people and I've worked with so many wonderful colleagues, but I feel it's important for three reasons: No. 1 is I want to re-focus on my busi- ness and with an emphasis on two new technology patents that I have just recently acquired that I feel have some exciting promise. Secondly is although I love the campaign process--my favorite part was walking door-to-door meeting people-- but I have another wedding for my son that is on Feb. 9. I just could not risk Sue to simultaneously run my campaign and put on a beautiful wedding for my son and daughter-in-law to-be. It would have been too burdensome and unfair to her. Thirdly, I'd like to spend more time with Sue and do some more spontaneous traveling. Tell us about changes you've noticed in how government and the community respond to issues since you were first elected to the school board as a write-in candidate in 1997. I think it's changed dramatically how the community responds to the issues. I welcome the fact that our community is so passionate about its issues and continues to be very much involved. However, I do think with the advent of social media and e-mails, that oftentimes people lose sight of the respect for one another and oftentimes will send out mass e-blasts or put posts on social media outlets like Facebook without either knowing all the facts or writing from a very emotional perspective, which you can never take back, unfortunately. I wish people would take a moment before they push "send" on their e-mail. years. Did I have the educational skills at that time? No, I did not. I spent a lot of time learning and understanding the cur- riculum side of eduCation, which was very interesting for me. All in all, utilizing my business skills I think helped transcend some good decisions to move our district forward, both from a business perspec- tive and from an academic perspective. In addition, watching my kids grow up in the school district, I saw firsthand from a parent's perspective some of the opportu- nities and challenges our kids have going through the educational process. [When I came] onto the council, it was a slower transition than I had hoped. But one thing I can say is that all the colleagues I worked with when I got on the council have a deep love for the City. Although we may have had our differences, it was clear that every councilmember made the decisions based on what they felt was best for the City. Do you feel that's not as much the case now? I think today with some of the social media influences, people are tending to find the camera and are oftentimes more concerned with public perception versus making the very difficult and challeng- ing decisions that at times may not be popular but may be in the best interest of the City. Case" in point, the water rate bills--no one is happy with the water rate bills. However, do we really want the City and the taxpayers to be subsidizing those abusers of excessive watering, versus hav- ing each household pay their own share of their water usage? How have you changed? I think I started off as someone who recognized the need for change and tried to apply it in an environment that was in some ways stuck on autopilot. As a busi- ness owner, one recognizes very quickly that if you're stuck on autopilot or para- lyzed in the way you operate, it's a recipe for failure. When I go t on the school board, my campaign was to put a shovel in the ground for some bond-measure issues. My skill set that I was'bringing to the school board was that of businessman, who could hopefully move our bond measure forward because it had been stagnating for so many Lauren, Sue, Barry and Richard Brucker You would be surprised and pleased to see that when our council, now and in the past, goes into closed session, we all work so extraordinarily well to build consensus and I think the fact that the cameras are not on and the reporters are not sitting in the room, oftentimes brings out the best in an elected. Does that mean I don't believe in the camera? I think having cameras in our open session is critically important and' something I support 100 percent to ensure transparency. I do wish though that we as councilmembers, once elected, would not play to the camera as much as oftentimes we do. Do you think the 3-2 split is legitimate? I think the 3-2 vote is. partly a public- ity stunt to try giving the appearance of a fractured council. However, if you look at some of our major votes, the voting pat- terns and the pairings have been quite ran- dom. For instance, on our latest Roxbury vote and our subway votes, they've all been 5-0. On the library [renovations], it was 4-1. On the noise ordinance, it was 3-2, with [John] Mirisch and [Willie] Brien voting together, so truly this whole 3-2 "majority" versus "reform" council- member commentary is more of a certain paper's desire to suggest to the community that this council is not united in its goals for what's best for :this city on the major issues. So you believe the council is united? I believe we are. Speaking of the other newspaper in Beverly Hills, the Courier has not been particularly kind to you and Willie Brien during your terms as mayor. Why do you think that is? Early on, it was made very clear that if we did not vote for particularly favOred projects or agenda items, that we would be mercilessly punished in the newspaper. Neither Mayor Brien nor I can be bullied or threatened into voting,a certain way. I think this was very frustrating for the other publisher, so as promised, he amped up the vitriol and tabloid-type headlines. Integrity is everything to both Willie and me and we would never allow a publisher to control us, our votes or the council. Did the Courier's negative liress contribute to your decision to not seek re-election? No, it didn't. Although it was certainly a frustration, with respect to me running or not running, [Publisher] Clif Smith's point-of-view was irrelevant. Was it hurtful to see the Courier's negative headlines? All the false and fabricated headlines had less to do with it being hurtful, and more to do with knowingly deceiving the community and fabricating the truth, which in my opinion truly compromised any and all journalistic integrity. For me personally, I have a thick skin and now expect some vitriolic tabloid-type head- lines to scare and confuse this community. But the more I outreach to the community, the more I realize that they find his front- . page news-editorials not credible and gut- terball. You've also had challenges with Metro and Roxbury Park. How did those issues factor into this decision? They were certainly all-consuming issues last year in my last term as mayor, and certainly it was frus.ating on all fronts. The subway challenge was more a matter of a styling difference between the council and the school board. The council tried to take a diplomatic negotiat- ing tact with Metro, whereas in contrast, the school board took a more combative, media, video and pr tactic Unfortunately, both styles were unsuccessful. But let me be very clear: Although it makes for excit- ing headlines to help fracture the council, the council is and always was unanimous in our opposition of the tunneling under the high school. With respect to Roxbury, Roxbury Park Community Center as it currently stands is in shameful condition. It has been in need of repair for a long, long time. It has become more 6f a political issue than a practica ! issue, which only hurts our seniors and our pre-school kids in the long run by these delays. I was-very proud while I was mayor to have assigned the liaison of [then]-Vice Mayor Willie Brien and Councilmember [Julian] Gold to work with the community, staff and architects to come up with an acceptable plan. They came up with "Plan D" that incorporated the much-needed programming opportu- nities while assuring neighborhood sen- sitivity. Now, I kind of have to chuckle, because "Plan D" and "Plan E," [which was ultimately approved], were essen- tially identical in size and scope but just an inverse or a mirror image of one anoth- er. So I didn't care one way or another whether the multipurpose room was on the north side of the building or the south side of the building. Plan "D" or Plan "E," it was the Simplest 5-0 vote because they were essentially identical. Looking back, tell us about some of the highlights during your two terms as mayor. Firstly, it is such a profound honor to serve this community as a councilmember Page 8 Beverly Hills Weekly