Scripted Responses During Debate with Greg Krikorian Fail to Defend Gatto’s Weak Record on Job Creation and Education
Los Angeles, CA 26 October 2012 – After dodging several debates, including one hosted by the Glendale Association of REALTORS earlier this month, State Assemblyman Mike Gatto may now be regretting his decision to attend the Glendale Candidate Forum on Thursday evening. During the debate hosted by the League of Women Voters and Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council, several onlookers noticed Mike Gatto scrambling to read directly from a pre-written script. Even with crafted responses, Mike Gatto provided vacuous explanations regarding his failure to create jobs, reinvest in education, or run a campaign without accepting special interest money, including receiving $75,000 from Indian gaming casinos. On the other hand, Greg Krikorian offered specifics on his various achievements on the Glendale School Board; including Innovative ideas to save money and generate new revenue streams such as piggy back purchasing with other districts to purchase in greater bulk and save money, establishing a working relationship with FilmL.A. to use school sites for movie shoots to generate revenue, and establishing the Glendale Education Foundation to create a partnership between the private sector and public schools.
When it came to education, Mike Gatto referred to the importance of education funding as an initiative “pet project” by “special interests”, while at the same time, touting his voodoo education credentials by claiming he authored and passed legislation that in reality, never reached the Governor’s desk. A bill such as ACA 6, which Gatto explicitly claimed he authored and passed into law, not only failed to pass the legislature, it also contradicts the very essence of Proposition 98; a measure that provides 40% of the general fund budget for education in California. After offering a scripted statement on education, Gatto continued to dodge the truth when his opponent, Greg Krikorian, pointed out the fact that Mike Gatto helped cut $230 million from funding to community colleges (Gatto also raised the cost of education by $10 dollars per semester for community college students – ABX1-32), cut $650 million from the CSU/UC system, and cut $700 million from K-12 education, all while increasing overall state spending by 5%.
Other scripted responses, including Gatto’s defense of his poor record on job creation and small businesses, included porous claims of authoring and passing legislation such as AB 49, which not only failed to streamline the development process for businesses—it was never even passed into law. Once again, Gatto didn’t mention the fact that AB 49 (as well as AB 1500 – Corporation Taxes), like most of the bills the Assemblyman touted during the debate, never made it to the Governor’s desk and certainly did not pass into law. At one point during the debate, Gatto seemed agitated when Krikorian identified the Assemblyman’s failed record on job creation when he pointed out 16 job killer bills passed by Mike Gatto, as identified by the Cal-Chamber, which subsequently gave Gatto an F rating on his record to pass business-friendly legislation. Gatto also failed to provide details on how he planned to bring business back to California. In 2011, 254 businesses left California due to overly burdensome regulations proposed and voted for by Mike Gatto. Gatto’s direct impact on the employment base of the 43rd District is reflected in the fact that under his watch, only two of 23 TV dramas will be filmed in L.A. County next year.
At one point during his closing statement, Gatto erroneously described the office of State Assembly representing the 43rd District as a “statewide office” that represents the whole state of California. While Mike Gatto spent the majority of the evening defending his refusal to reside within the district he represents, his scriptwriters forgot to list the communities that comprise the 43rd District, which do not include the “whole state of California.” Questions of his residency were shrugged off by his statement that “everyone does it” while the fact remains that Assemblymembers Smyth, Blumenfield, Fuentes, Donnelly, and Knight (members of the LA delegation and with children just as young as Mr. Gatto) are a few examples of those who travel back and forth between their Los Angeles area homes and the Capitol weekly.
While the last two years have exposed Mike Gatto’s failure to pass substantive legislation, on Thursday night, his aloofness was on full display when the Assemblyman made it clear that he had spent the majority of his term voting for non-district issues outside the purview of the job he was elected to do. It is no surprise that in September, The Glendale News Press reported that by “sticking with the party agenda on high-profile issues — despite what his constituents back home lobbied for,” Mike Gatto was able to rise to the ranks of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee—a position he used to kill a billthat would have provided the basic regulations for church-run bingos in the 43rd District. In an effort to explain that his voting record did indeed justify his “bipartisan” claims, his own figures suggested that Gatto voted along party lines over 92% of the time.
On the other side of the aisle, Greg Krikorian provided specifics about his record of fiscal responsibility, advocating for students, and his 11 years of service defending the classroom from budget cuts. As the debate closed, Greg Krikorian offered specific ways of partnering local schools in the district with technology to reduce costs, including innovative textbook partnership proposals with Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad. Greg Krikorian’s ‘Entertainment Industry Roundtable,’ which would open the doors for schools to partner with local industry and offer vocational training, brought substantive ideas to the forum, while Gatto stumbled to make sense of the various whoppers contained in his own script by taking cheap shots at his opponent; including the claim that the FPPC is currently investigating Krikorian’s campaign finance reports. Once again, Gatto’s scriptwriters neglected to include the fact that the FPPC cleared Krikorian, in writing, in mid-September of any errors or purported violations relating to campaign finance (which was only reported to be a minor clerical error in reporting donations using a new online system). While Krikorian shrugged off the false attacks by his opponent, reports indicate that Mike Gatto is in fact facing a potential investigation by the FPPC for using taxpayer dollars to create campaign mailers and using his state taxpayer-paid staff for campaign purposes outside of his current district’s purview.
Clearly, it seems as though Mike Gatto’s debate script failed to provide anything beyond empty platitudes, an inability to defend his boorish behavior in the State Assembly, and deceptive attacks against Greg Krikorian, who seems to be surging towards a strong showing on Election Day grounded in the sincerity of a candidate that is driven to reach across the aisle and work towards bipartisan solutions.
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