Wednesday, October 26, 2011

By Diana L. Chapman
Ports O' Call leasing manager Jayme Wilson leaped into the jostling pile of 11 candidates in an attempt to snatch an open Los Angeles council seat after becoming frustrated that officials seem to think “we are the ones who work for them.”
The broken sidewalks, untrimmed trees, and cost prohibitive expenses that others pay –items the city should be taking care of in the Harbor Area and Watts – leaves him “disgusted.” Los Angeles is such a mess and seems to focus most of its financial efforts to downtown Los Angeles and affluent areas, such as Bel Air and Brentwood. “Show me the broken sidewalks there,” he fumes.
 “City managers, officials and politicians don’t seem to understand that they work for us,” said Wilson, 59, who lives on his 90 foot boat, Spirit, docked at Ports O’ Call in San Pedro. “We don’t work for them.  The whole problem is they think that we are their servants. “It’s that mentality that permeates the city of Los Angeles. The city has failed us. The city does not work. It needs common sense.”
He has some evidence to prove it, said Wilson, who owns a 16.8  percent interest of Ports O’ Call Restaurant, Spirit Cruises and Ports O Call Village. 
The remaining percentage belongs to other partners, he said. Besides managing the restaurant, Wilson also handles leases for smaller businesses at the sea port village.
Wilson contends that he’s the best candidate to vote for in the Nov. 8 election to  replace former Councilwoman Janice Hahn, due to his understanding of city operations and the large chunk of volunteerism he’s done for the Harbor area. Hahn left the post when she was elected to congress.
The candidate also suggests city employees, such as two candidates in the running, Senior lead police officer Joe Buscaino and Firefighter Pat McOsker, who took a leave from his union post as president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, have no business running. 
They both have conflicts, he charged, and are lining themselves up to get large city pensions and $179,000-a-year job.
If he wins, Wilson said, he will donate back $50,000 each year to non-profits and will not take a dime in matching funds the city offers to candidates running for council seats. He’s using $50,000 of his own money in the race and $75,000 in public donations.
Asked if he too has a conflict with partial ownership at Ports O’ Call which falls under the venue of the Port of Los Angeles --Wilson said if he wins, he either will: immediately hand over those businesses to his children or brother; will liquidate them or put them into a blind trust. If the business remains in his family, he will only need to rescues himself from votes involving Ports O’ Call which are a small part  in “ten miles of waterfront.”
Also, he would relinquish his job as lease manager for smaller businesses at the New England style village that hugs the main harbor. (The port in 2014 plans to go out to bid for a new developer  for the village – which may or may not renew the  Wilson’s contract.)
Calling himself a “newbie” because he didn’t move to San Pedro until 1979, Wilson points out he’s done an enormous amount of work for the community, including helping to start up the Port of Los Angeles Charter High School and where he served as president of the board trustee for three years.
Besides his understanding of city operations, he said, he’s held many posts including: president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce three times; resides as chairman of San Pedro’s Community Redevelopment Agency and has done so for seven years;  remains on the Harbor Area Boys and Girls Club which he’s served for seven years; and is currently vice president of the San Pedro Business Improvement District.
The improvement district is where he learned firsthand, he said, that the public was not only paying, but doing the city’s work. For example, the downtown trees hadn’t been trimmed for years and the sidewalks remained filthy.
His district, determined to attract business to downtown, voted to care for the trees and sidewalks. To do so, the district had to pay the city for an $8,000 a permit to trim the city trees.
Then, Wilson said the city forced them to pay an additional $7,000 to obtain a permit from the city’s Department of Public Transportation department to post no parking signs while the work was done.
“We are the street sweepers,” he said, “We are steam cleaning the sidewalks. We have security 16 hours a day. I have spent my free time as a volunteer improving the community. We must not accept second class service. They don’t have these issues in the Pacific Palisades or Bel Air.”
Also irritating, he added: the plans along the waterfront change each time a new mayor arrives in office, slowing down development and keeping the port  from moving forward. If he wins the council seat, he will work hard to make sure what’s planned now -- happens.
“Let’s just go forward with these plans now,” he said. “we don’t have to stop because we have a new mayor. I’m 100 percent behind the Wilmington and San Pedro water front plans. We don’t need to change anything.”
Should he win, he said, he would turn things around by working closely with the district’s seven neighborhood councils.  The region includes Watts, Lomita, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City, Wilmington and San Pedro.
The councils, working tightly with the city council office, could reshape how the district is treated, Wilson explained. That’s the weapon he plans to use to shore up a district that’s “at the end of a cul-de-sac.”
“If you empower the people, they rise to the occasion,” Wilson said. “I don’t have a blueprint for” the district, he added. That would happen, he said, by designing them with the Neighborhood Councils. That’s where the strength resides, he argued, to make the city more responsive.

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