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October 11, 2012     Beverly Hills Weekly
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October 11, 2012
 

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and especially as their mayor. I always had the good fortune of working with a council that was open minded to letting councilmembers bring forward their proj- ects, all with the hope that we could make this city a better place. Early on, one of my concerns was the fact that retiring councilmembers often- times the very next day were back lobby- ing the staff and the current council for projects for their new clients• I felt that was very confusing, especially for our staff. I was so pleased to have initiated and passed the most aggressive code of ethics ordinance in the state, which was 30 months [before former councilmembers could return to lobby the council]• One of my other areas of great interest was creating a prohibition for smoking in our outdoor dining areas, and we battled big. tobacco and several of our hoteliers and restaurateurs, who said it would kill theirbusiness, especially their internation- al business. They also felt that all the din- ing would go to L.A. or West Hollywood, which didn't have the [outdoor] smoking ordinance• We felt that it was too impor- tant for our cityto not take the lead in this movement. Ipersonally felt it Would actu- ally be good for business because many ardent nonsmokers would then welcome dining outdoors because they didn't have to fear who the person next tO them was. I'm pleased to say that our outdoor dining has never been more robust and that both the [cities] of L.A. and West Hollywood have modeled their new outdoor-dining smoking prohibition after Beverly Hills. The other thing that I was very proud of was the greening of our city. It was always very important to look at not only sustain- able materials for our building codes and having very robust green building stan- dards but by practicing what we preach with our City-owned buildings. We have thousands and thousands of solar panels on City-owned buildings now and have used all of the state-of-the-art technology for controlling temperature and air condi- tioning. We've instituted electric charging stations and are implementing more bike racks. This is a long-term plan that I think has really become a model once again for other cities. I have always been an advocate for safety and security through our CCTV [closed circuit television] camera expan- sion and I believe Beverly Hills is the safest small city in America in part due to our professional staff, first-rate equipment and our commitment to CCTV and ALPR [Automated License Plate Recognition] camera technology, which can spot and track a bad guy, thus making it not a productive place [for criminals] to do business• I'm very proud that in my recent term as mayor, I was able to establish four very successful mayor's task forces: the government efficiency task force, headed up by our current mayor Willie Brien; the small business retention task force headed up by Dr. Julian Gold; our Southeast task force headed up by Vice Mayor John Mirisch; and a finance task force [headed up by] City Treasurer [Eliot Finkel] to look at pensions. It just goes to show that when you can gain a brain trust of commu- nity volunteers and professionals to sit and consult on your task forces, we can" really bring positive momentum to our city. I'm thrilled that we are finally mov- ing forward on Roxbury Park, which is so desperately needed and to hear such positive energy from our seniors and from residents about how important it is to have a park that truly represents our city and offers the City services to our com- munity members is long overdue. It will be a proud moment when that community. center opens. You've, mentioned accomplishments. What about highlights? One highlight 1 would say was being the mayor and working with then-Vice Mayor Willie Brien as the liaison to establish the first Cultural Heritage Commission, which will ensure that we protect our cultural assets so generations to come will enjoy them. will not break us. Are there any decisions or actions you made that you are less proud of and looking back, would have handled differently? One of the decisions that I certainly would have done differently was break- ing [down] Measure P into three different measures rather than combining them, and thus risking all three separate issues los- ing. We took the advice of our consultants to [combine] them together, and that was a significant mistake on our part. I have served on numerous commission selection committees. Without naming names, a couple commissioners who I had supported I think may not have been the best choices. On the school board side, we hired a superintendent [Robert Pellicone] without doing the proper background check and as a result, during my presidency I had the unfortunate task of leading toward his termination. "I've enjoyed every moment of my service. I've met so many wonderful people and I've worked with so many wonderful colleagues." -- Barry Brucker It was one of the most proud moments to pass the baton to Mayor [Frank] Fenton. He has been one of my mentors and I enjoyed every moment working with him. Frank has always been a man of few words but every word is a pearl of wisdom. It was such an honor attending four U.S. Conference of Mayors, where may- ors from around the country would meet together and discuss issues that their cit- ies were facing and given that it was the ultimate non-competitive environment, everyone was quite candid about their successes and their challenges in their city to help a fellow colleague. Representing the City as mayor at the inauguration of President [Barack] Obama was a once-in- a-lifetime experience. Another [highlight] was representing the City in France;China and New York City promoting our busi- ness and travel opportunities. Were there any surprises or unusfaal experiences? There were many but one that comes to mind [involved a woman who came to one of my "Mondays with the Mayor" sessions]. When she handed me a bill for a billion dollars, that was one of my most memorable and surprising moments. • My most memorable moment as mayor was representing our community during the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the open- ing of the [Beverly Hills 9/11] Memorial Garden. That was an inspiring and hum= bling moment and I really could not be more proud of every citizen in Beverly Hills, our police and firemen, and our nation at large for stepping up and sending a clear message that these acts of terrorism Your handpicked successors on the Board of Education, Myra Lurie and Nooshin Meshkaty had a mixed record on the board and Meshkaty was soundly defeated in 2009. Do you regret getting involved in board politics while on the council? Absolutely not. There are quite a few people in the community who are obvi- ously not as intimately involved with the City and school politics as an elected would be and who ask me all the time during election season who 1 feel would best serve this community. I was very proud to support Myra Lurie and Nooshin Meshkaty. I know how hard they work; I know their integrity is impeccable and they are not afraid to make difficult deci- sions, even in light of the political fallout. Unfortunately, Nooshin Meshkaty did not prevail in her re-election and it became one of the most disgusting and dirty elections, where her religion became a whisper campaign against her, which I felt was shameful. With respect to Myra Lurie, I could not be happier that she is now serving our city as [one of our two] newest health and safety commissioner[s]. So I definitely was not disappointed in my support for them. Tell us more about what's next for you. Next for me is focusing on some excit- ing business opportunities, primarily two new technology patents that have recently been issued. I want to stay involved in the City and I'd like to take a stab at .doing some writing as well. That, along with enjoying more free time with my terrific partner and love of my life, Sue. We are blessed with two phenomenal kids and both of them are getting married to equally phenomenal young people. My daughter [Lauren], who is finishing up law school, just got married to her col- lege sweetheart, who is a CPA. My son [Richard], who is a newly minted pedia- trician, is marrying his med-school sweet- heart, who is an internist, in February. Most importantly about my kids is they have a deep sense of compassion and appreciation for the world in which they live and their commitment to public ser- vice at such a young age is Something that Sue and I are very proud of. What does Sue think about your decision? Sue said to me that she would support any decision I made with respect to run- ning or not. I do believe deep down inside, she is pleased that some of the stresses and time commitments necessary to serve as a councilmember will be free and that we will be able to spend more time together. Have you thought about how you might like to gtay involved in the City? Yes; I think there's a wonderful resource available to the city council, which is a group of retired mayors who. get together periodically to discuss City issues. These mayors are as diverse as our community and have a direct understanding of" the strengths and challenges at City Hall and I think collectively we could be a very good advisory sounding board to the City and councils. What are your goals for the remainder of your term? I have a project that may not be com- pleted by the end of my term, but .one of my passions is to find a way to curb the disabled [parking] placard abuses that are running rampant in our city and other metropolitan areas. 'With a parent who is wheelchair bound, it is ever the more offensive to see people putting placards on their cars as they're running to the gym, or running late for an appointment while wearing their 4"-stilettos, which I actually saw. I would like to see a significant and respectful dialogue with Metro to come to a resolution that ensures mass transit while protecting the safety and construc- tion opportunities at our high school. I would like to see Roxbury come to fruition where we could break ground. You think that's possible in the next six months or so? I think it's possible but unlikely. Any chance you'll run for elected office again in the future? I truly love every moment of serving this community and am humbled by being elected to four consecutive terms. The election process of walking door to door was one of my most favorite times. I'm 55; I have a lot of good years left, so I cer- tainly won't close out any options. October 11- October 17, 2012 • Page 9