Few voters, no verdict

first_imgAn election in which just 7 percent of voters cast ballots left Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s effort to reform Los Angeles Unified hanging in the balance, setting the stage for a brutal and costly runoff in May. School board member Jon Lauritzen, a former educator backed by the powerful teachers union, and challenger Tamar Galatzan, who had the mayor’s political and financial backing, will face off May 15 in a head-to-head contest for the District 3 seat. Unofficial elected results released today show Galatzan capturing 44 percent of the vote and Lauritzen 40 percent to represent the San Fernando Valley. Unaffiliated candidate Louis Pugliese came in third with 16 percent. Richard Vladovic, who won the mayor’s endorsement for District 7, won 46 percent of the vote in District 7, and will face a runoff with Neal Kleiner, who received 32 percent. Jesus Escandon finished out of the running with 22 percent of the vote. The seats are critical to Villaraigosa’s efforts to get his allies in four of the district’s seven seats, especially after incumbent Marguerite LaMotte – a vocal opponent of the mayor – handily won re-election to District 1, capturing 66 percent of the vote. “Smart, effective reform is what we’re looking for,” Villaraigosa said as he arrived Tuesday night at Vitello’s restaurant in Studio City, where Galatzan’s supporters had gathered to await election results that trickled in. “I’m not looking for the board to agree with me on every issue but I am looking for a board that has a sense of urgency – the same sense of urgency and passion you see me bring to this issue.” Earlier Tuesday, the mayor reached out to both Lauritzen and LaMotte, reiterating his willingness to work with them in the future. Experts say that indicates that the mayor is laying the groundwork for a possible defeat in the May runoffs. “He needs one of the two big ones to have a majority of support, and he still wants that, but in a sense he’s hedging his bets and that’s smart politics going into a very tough and competitive election whose outcome is unknown at this point,” said Jaime Regalado, director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. In the District 1 race, LaMotte defeated charter-school advocate Johnathan Williams to represent South Los Angeles. Williams got no financial support from Villaraigosa, but was considered a mayoral ally. Yolie Flores Aguilar, another Villaraigosa ally, won 59 percent of the vote in District 5. She defeated Bennett Kayser to fill the seat being vacated by veteran board member David Tokofsky. Lauritzen received about $475,000 from the UTLA, which advocates working within the existing system to rectify the school district’s problems, which include a lagging student test scores and a high dropout rate. At the same time, the mayor’s Partnership for Better Schools contributed about $1.13 million to Galatzan – including more than $210,000 reported Monday. Pugliese ran his campaign with about $7,000, records show. The UTLA also donated $450,000 to LaMotte, while Williams raised more than $837,000 from philanthropists, charter supporters and public-education reformers. The money and attention placed on the school board races far outweighed that spent on the City Council races, in which incumbent Jose Huizar raised the most money at about $315,000. And the high stakes drove a school board election in which more than $4 million was raised by the 11 candidates for a part-time job that pays about $24,500. Villaraigosa has said the school district has been resistant to accept his involvement in schools, driving him to work with the UTLA on a law that gave him a significant role in running the district. Assembly Bill 1381 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor last September. The school board mounted a successful legal challenge, and a Superior Court judge declared the law unconstitutional and barred it from taking effect Jan. 1. The case is currently under appeal. Although the mayor and teachers union collaborated on AB 1381 and agree that reform is needed, they backed different candidates, possibly because of concessions Villaraigosa made to the original bill in order to get it passed. Both the mayor and the union have proposed cutting district bureaucracy and diverting the money to classrooms; creating smaller schools and classrooms; and giving educators greater control over their campus budget and curriculum. Villaraigosa, who has raised more than $1.2 million for three candidates on Tuesday’s ballot, said Monday that the election is not part of a dispute with the UTLA. “They have their candidates and I have mine, but this is not about a battle with the teachers organization,” Villaraigosa said. “I have said 100 times before that I am here because of public schools. naush.boghossian @dailynews.com (818) 713-3722 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

BMW 650i is the ultimate flying machine

first_img“Nope, it’s a BMW,” he said, handing me a key fob with no key. OK, I knew it was a keyless entry and a push-button start. But I spent a good part of that evening snuggled up with the owner’s manual, checking out the most interesting options. One of those is a head-up display ($1,200), which allows you to drive like a fighter pilot with details such as the car’s speed projected onto the windshield. The driver simply selects the information and the brightness via the 650i’s iDrive’s controller located in the center console. The information pops up in color on a 6-by-3-inch field on the windshield, just in line with the end of the hood. With it activated, I didn’t have to glance away from the road to make sure I wasn’t blowing through the speed limit. And the display doesn’t distract from the task at hand – driving. We liked that a lot. Then there is the Night Vision system ($2,200). BMW uses Far Infra-Red technology in a camera below the front bumper. It identifies objects that are hard to see in low-light conditions by using their heat signature. It’s powerful enough to pick up images about 1,000feet ahead of the car. This can be a dicey option to use, though. The information is displayed on a video screen between the driver and passenger, so you have to look away from the road to see what’s coming. The images are projected in gray and white, with white being the hottest. And the view is from such a low angle that when you pull up behind a car, its exhaust system is surprisingly bright. But the system does make humans and animals quite noticeable at night. “BMW Night Vision offers the customer particular benefits when driving over land, down narrow lanes, through gateways leading into courtyards, and into dark underground garages, significantly enhancing driving safety at night,” the company says. BMW also says its system looks out about twice as far as others, and the headlights from oncoming cars don’t interfere with it. The third whiz-bang feature is the park-distance control that comes standard on this model. It uses sonar from sensors in the front and rear bumpers. It activates automatically, and an outline of the car is displayed on the video screen with three distance zones – green, yellow and red – fanning out from the car in a cone. The system beeps as you approach an object and the color band changes. The band turns red, and the beeping turns into a constant tone when you are less than a foot of away from bumping into something. I liked this better than a camera that shows you what’s behind or ahead when parking. Inside the cockpit, there are things that please and frustrate the driver. The adjustable leather seats are firm. (Some drivers I’ve talked to used the words such as hard and uncomfortable.) And the interior is designed for driving, with the dash featuring BMW’s familiar analog gauges with orange night lighting. The steering wheel offers a nice thick grip, too. The iDrive controller is big, but it takes much getting used to. I never did in the week I had with the car. And we had to pull to the side of the road to figure out how to switch from an AM radio channel to a satellite station. This model featured a big glass roof, but the top just popped up and did not slide open. There is a back seat, but it is a better place to put stuff rather than adults. And the trunk is generous, with 13cubic feet of space. (It’s 12.4cubic feet in the convertible model with the top up and 10.6 when it’s down.) Both models have a pass-through opening into the rear seat to handle longer items. We liked the way the car looks with a muscular front that narrows at the passenger cabin. The Web site Edmunds.com refers to this model, and rightly so, as a high-dollar touring coupe. And it notes that there might be prettier options out there, such as the infinitely sleeker Mercedes-Benz CL550 and Jaguar XK/XKR. They are more expensive, though. “And while cost concerns are seldom of primary concern in this segment, when a car strikes that near-perfect compromise between coddling its passengers and thrilling its driver as the 2007 BMW 650i does, such a value proposition is hard to ignore,” Edmunds.com said. [email protected] 818-713-3743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BMW brands its line as the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” Put some wings on the 650i and the German company would have a pretty good flying machine as well. Don’t scoff. This car can interact with a satellite and it has radar. I got that flying impression shifting into sixth gear as we powered north on Highway 101 – the big V-8 providing appropriate traveling music. Title the song “And Away We Go.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre The Beemer quickly scooted up to traffic speed, and a light tap on the accelerator signaled lots of reserve power remained. That’s not surprising, since BMW engineers are speed merchants as well as stylists. And when you pay almost $85,000, including a gas guzzler tax on some models, you expect features galore and the ability to put your troubles in the rear view mirror. The toe-tapping acceleration for this 2007 status gray metallic coupe came from a 4.8-liter, 32-valve V-8 aluminum block engine that could crank out 360horsepower if needed. And the dual exhaust hit sporty notes in all gears. The aviation analogy comes from technological gizmos normally found in jet fighter cockpits. So maybe BMW should include a class for users in the purchase price. When the delivery company dropped off the car at the Daily News, I asked the driver if there was anything special I should know. last_img read more