Council District 15: When Warren met Joe...
At the Times editorial board's meeting with City Council candidate Joe Buscaino, we asked him what he thought of his opponent, Warren Furutani, above. Here's his answer, together with his recollection of meeting Furutani 20 years ago. Click below to hear the audio, or read the excerpt, or both:
"Well-respected political figure, well-loved. Big labor guy. At every opportunity he has to support labor he has, civil rights activist. Great story of his family, his Japanese American family. Twenty years ago -– I have a story to tell you about Warren -– 20 years ago I was senior class president at San Pedro High School and back then they were giving teachers pink slips. So I called for a huge rally to save our teachers. We called on the school board member at the time, school board member Warren Furutani. I invited him to come speak.
"We had a teacher, Mr. Buono, was a stage crew teacher, hairy Italian teacher. We dressed him in a pink slip. We brought him out and said this is what a teacher looks like in a pink slip. Not a pretty sight. And Warren, the Assembly member, might share that story with you.
"But the sad thing is 20 years later we’re still making cuts in education. Do I, we, blame that on Warren? No. But you know, being a decision maker, as a school board member, sitting on the Community College District Board, being in the state Legislature…. We’re having the same issues. And again where has this experience today led us? To the same issues, 20 years later."
"He’s a young guy. He’s home-grown from San Pedro. If that’s your only concern in the 15th District.
"He’s not ready to be a city councilman. I think he’s got great potential. He’s got a great family from what I’ve met. I think his heart’s in the right place.
"We need to get a person who’s going to hit the ground running. Knows how to get things done, knows how to bring people together. Knows the other elected officials and systems at the state level, federal level, other local-level entities. So that’s why I think I’m better prepared than Joe, clear and away."
What does Furutani believe Buscaino would say is the best thing about him?
"I think Joe will say that I have integrity and that I’ve worked as a public servant. He’s told me this from the time he was president of San Pedro High School and he invited me as a school board member to come to their rally about cuts in teachers. That I’m concerned about the community. Engaged. But I think he will say that I have integrity."
Photos: Top, Then-school board member Warren Furutani criticizes Proposition 187 at a Nov. 9, 1994, news conference. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press. Bottom, Joe Buscaino campaigns in San Pedro on Dec. 11, 2011. Credit: Robert Greene / Los Angeles Times