Facing recall, Los Angeles councilman Mike Bonin resorts to gaslighting his constituents

Homelessness is the central issue driving the recall — At the 11th hour of his political career Bonin spins a decade of failure

But people will never forget the night “Bonin turned his back” and a thousand other betrayals

CD 11 residents have seen well how Bonin responds to homelessness. In October 2019, while homeless fires and wildfires were raging statewide, he was captured literally turning his back on a mentally disturbed homeless man in his district as the man started a fire next to a propane tank. Stills from a video by Christopher LeGras

As first reported in the Westside Current, on Wednesday proponents of the campaign to recall Los Angeles city councilman Mike Bonin turned in 39,403 signatures to the City Clerk’s office, representing more than 143% of the number required by city law to trigger the election. Ominously for the councilman, 20% more CD 11 residents signed the recall petition than voted for him in his 2017 reelection. Viewed yet another way, 18% of the entire adult population of the district signed — not 18% of registered voters, 18% of everyone over 18.

It was and is a grassroots effort in every sense of the word, lead by a pair of lifelong Democrats in a district that doesn’t just lean Democrat but positively topples over the left side of things on the vast majority of issues. So much for Bonin’s vast right wing conspiracy.

As the Current described, “The scene that unfolded on Wednesday is true to the grassroots campaign that Ruderman and Schmitt, both lifelong Democrats, have run since taking over the recall campaign this summer. ‘We didn’t have political operatives or consultants working with us,’ said Schmitt. ‘Our community did the work and we got it done.'”

And so, predictably as Groundhog Day, Mike Bonin is blaming his failures on his own constituents while lashing out at them from the safety of social media (Bonin has always been a telephone tough guy).

We’ve seen this same movie many, many times before.

Project much?

As is his wont Bonin has responded with nonsensical attacks against boogeymen in his own fevered imagination. He claimed, without substantiation, that the recall is being funded by “dark money.” Which is quite something coming from an elected official with a track record of betraying his constituents’ trust with millions in dark money of his own (it would be fascinating to see how much he’s received from the likes of Thomas Safran and Aaron Sosnick alone). And he points people to donate via ActBlue, a notoriously shady Leftist fundraising aggregator. RealClearPolitics has reported, “ActBlue’s structure could easily allow illegal donations made online to be broken down into smaller gifts from claimed U.S. sources with little chance of exposure. ActBlue’s design would allow large donors to exceed contribution limits without even triggering the threshold for public reporting.” A psychiatrist might suggest Bonin is projecting a bit by accusing the grassroots recall effort as being floated by dark money: He doth protest too much.

Bonin asserted that the 39,403 residents of CD 11 who want new leadership are actually out to “criminalize” homelessness. Which, again, is quite an assertion given that one of the recall leaders is a social worker with a decade and a half experience working with marginalized people.

Which is where his narrative crashes into the shoals of reality.

Bonin can’t spin his way out of reality

As with so many political falls from grace Bonin’s downward spiral can be traced to a single moment. On the evening of October 15, 2019 he staged a community walk to highlight planned pedestrian and bike features on Centinela Avenue in CD 11’s Del Rey neighborhood (more on Bonin’s anti-car zealotry in a moment). The tour included Bonin, three staffers, and maybe two dozen community members. Halfway through the walk, on the grassy center median on the corner of Culver Boulevard, the group encountered a homeless man trying to start a small fire. He (the homeless man) was clearly mentally impaired, shouting gibberish and laughing as he spilled some kind of accelerant onto the fire and the flames nearly singed his own face.

Mr. Bonin and one of his staffers stood silently, watching the man as he seemed to imitate Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar aflame at Woodstock. After less than 30 seconds Mr. Bonin turned his back and walked away, leaving the man to his fire and propane tank. The punchline, there was an LAPD station directly across the street, 100 feet away. Yet Bonin didn’t so much as send one of his aides to get help. The next day he claimed on social media that he had connected the man with services — a story that residents quickly disproved with a photo of him roaming the area with a huge Bowie knife.

“Bonin turns his back” trended on social media and local news reports. The scene confirmed everything residents had come to believe about their councilman. Some context is important: In the fall of 2019 fire was on everyone’s mind. Homeless fires in CD 11 had become a major concern, with units at Station 62 in Venice routinely handling as many as 10 a day. Meanwhile California was barely 10 months removed from the horrific Camp Fire in Butte County, and the on night of the walk itself the Saddleridge Fire – which would injure eight firefighters and kill one — was reaching its apex in the San Fernando Valley. You could smell the smoke.

Many paths and myriad converged on that grassy median that evening — and Bonin walked away.

Now, at the 11th hour of his political career, he is trying to reframe the conversation. Maybe Mike Bonin really believes he can erase ten years of failure with a few Tweets. Maybe he thinks a few tree giveaways, a few treacly pictures at elder care facility will blight people’s memories, say, of the time he accused his own residents of planting an explosive device at his precious Bridge homeless shelter. Maybe he thinks lashing out at the grassroots neighbors who collected more support for the recall than he mustered in his last election is a winning strategy.

Maybe he thinks voters in CD 11 have extremely short memories. In that case, below are a few snapshots of “Mike Bonin’s Greatest Hits,” from his shameless hoovering of developer money to his staffer’s assault (captured on video) of a local news reporter, to his attempt to buy neighborhood council votes with In ‘n Out, to his routine lashing out at his own constituents.

Never forget, CD 11, this is the kind of individual you are dealing with. The recall organizers have done their part, now it’s time for the voters to do theirs. Remove Mike Bonin before he does any more damage to the communities and neighbors we love.

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