After serving in elected office fornearly 15 continuous years, you’vedecided to not seek re-election inMarch. Why?
I’ve enjoyed every moment of my ser-vice. I’ve met so many wonderful peopleand I’ve worked with so many wonderfulcolleagues, but I feel it’s important forthree reasons:No. 1 is I want to re-focus on my busi-ness and with an emphasis on two newtechnology patents that I have just recentlyacquired that I feel have some excitingpromise. Secondly is although I love thecampaign process—my favorite part waswalking door-to-door meeting people—but I have another wedding for my sonthat is on Feb. 9. I just could not ask Sueto simultaneously run my campaign andput on a beautiful wedding for my son anddaughter-in-law to-be. It would have beentoo burdensome and unfair to her. Thirdly,I’d like to spend more time with Sue anddo some more spontaneous traveling.
Tell us about changes you’ve noticed inhow government and the communityrespond to issues since you were firstelected to the school board as a write-incandidate in 1997.
I think it’s changed dramatically howthe community responds to the issues. Iwelcome the fact that our community is sopassionate about its issues and continuesto be very much involved. However, I dothink with the advent of social media ande-mails, that oftentimes people lose sight of the respect for one another and oftentimeswill send out mass e-blasts or put posts onsocial media outlets like Facebook withouteither knowing all the facts or writing froma very emotional perspective, which youcan never take back, unfortunately. I wishpeople would take a moment before theypush “send” on their e-mail.
How have you changed?
I think I started off as someone whorecognized the need for change and triedto apply it in an environment that was insome ways stuck on autopilot. As a busi-ness owner, one recognizes very quicklythat if you’re stuck on autopilot or para-lyzed in the way you operate, it’s a recipefor failure. When I got on the school board,my campaign was to put a shovel in theground for some bond-measure issues. Myskill set that I was bringing to the schoolboard was that of businessman, who couldhopefully move our bond measure forwardbecause it had been stagnating for so manyyears. Did I have the educational skills atthat time? No, I did not. I spent a lot of time learning and understanding the cur-riculum side of education, which was veryinteresting for me. All in all, utilizing mybusiness skills I think helped transcendsome good decisions to move our districtforward, both from a business perspec-tive and from an academic perspective.In addition, watching my kids grow up inthe school district, I saw firsthand from aparent’s perspective some of the opportu-nities and challenges our kids have goingthrough the educational process.[When I came] onto the council, it was aslower transition than I had hoped. But onething I can say is that all the colleaguesI worked with when I got on the councilhave a deep love for the City. Althoughwe may have had our differences, it wasclear that every councilmember made thedecisions based on what they felt was bestfor the City.
Do you feel that’s not as much the casenow?
I think today with some of the socialmedia influences, people are tending tofind the camera and are oftentimes moreconcerned with public perception versusmaking the very difficult and challeng-ing decisions that at times may not bepopular but may be in the best interestof the City. Case in point, the water ratebills—no one is happy with the water ratebills. However, do we really want the Cityand the taxpayers to be subsidizing thoseabusers of excessive watering, versus hav-ing each household pay their own share of their water usage?You would be surprised and pleased tosee that when our council, now and in thepast, goes into closed session, we all workso extraordinarily well to build consensusand I think the fact that the cameras are noton and the reporters are not sitting in theroom, oftentimes brings out the best in anelected. Does that mean I don’t believe inthe camera? I think having cameras in ouropen session is critically important andsomething I support 100 percent to ensuretransparency. I do wish though that we ascouncilmembers, once elected, would notplay to the camera as much as oftentimeswe 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 afractured council. However, if you look atsome of our major votes, the voting pat-terns and the pairings have been quite ran-dom. For instance, on our latest Roxburyvote and our subway votes, they’ve allbeen 5-0. On the library [renovations], itwas 4-1. On the noise ordinance, it was3-2, with [John] Mirisch and [Willie]Brien voting together, so truly this whole3-2 “majority” versus “reform” council-member commentary is more of a certainpaper’s desire to suggest to the communitythat this council is not united in its goalsfor what’s best for this city on the majorissues.
So you believe the council is united?
I believe we are.
Speaking of the other newspaper inBeverly Hills, the
has not beenparticularly kind to you and WillieBrien 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 favoredprojects or agenda items, that we wouldbe mercilessly punished in the newspaper.Neither Mayor Brien nor I can be bulliedor threatened into voting a certain way. Ithink this was very frustrating for the otherpublisher, so as promised, he amped up thevitriol and tabloid-type headlines. Integrityis everything to both Willie and me and wewould never allow a publisher to controlus, our votes or the council.
’s negative presscontribute to your decision to not seekre-election?
No, it didn’t. Although it was certainlya frustration, with respect to me runningor not running, [Publisher] Clif Smith’spoint-of-view was irrelevant.
Was it hurtful to see the
All the false and fabricated headlineshad less to do with it being hurtful, andmore to do with knowingly deceivingthe community and fabricating the truth,which in my opinion truly compromisedany and all journalistic integrity. For mepersonally, I have a thick skin and nowexpect 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 Metroand Roxbury Park. How did thoseissues factor into this decision?
They were certainly all-consumingissues last year in my last term as mayor,and certainly it was frustrating on allfronts. The subway challenge was morea matter of a styling difference betweenthe council and the school board. Thecouncil 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 mebe very clear: Although it makes for excit-ing headlines to help fracture the council,the council is and always was unanimousin our opposition of the tunneling underthe high school.With respect to Roxbury, Roxbury ParkCommunity Center as it currently standsis in shameful condition. It has been inneed of repair for a long, long time. Ithas become more of a political issue thana practical issue, which only hurts ourseniors and our pre-school kids in thelong run by these delays. I was very proudwhile I was mayor to have assigned theliaison of [then]-Vice Mayor Willie Brienand Councilmember [Julian] Gold to workwith the community, staff and architectsto come up with an acceptable plan. Theycame up with “Plan D” that incorporatedthe much-needed programming opportu-nities while assuring neighborhood sen-sitivity. Now, I kind of have to chuckle,because “Plan D” and “Plan E,” [whichwas ultimately approved], were essen-tially identical in size and scope but justan inverse or a mirror image of one anoth-er. So I didn’t care one way or anotherwhether the multipurpose room was onthe north side of the building or the southside of the building. Plan “D” or Plan “E,”it was the simplest 5-0 vote because theywere essentially identical.
Looking back, tell us about some of thehighlights during your two terms asmayor.
Firstly, it is such a profound honor toserve this community as a councilmember
Beverly Hills Weekly
BARRY’S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
After almost 15 years in public office, two-time MayorBarry Brucker announces he will not seek re-election
By Melanie Anderson
Lauren, Sue, Barry and Richard Brucker