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Can Bike Activist Box Unseat LaBonge in LA Council Race?



In car centric Los Angeles, just one week after the adoption of a revolutionary bike plan, car-free bike activist Stephen Box is poised to score a huge upset in Tuesday’s City Council elections.

Stephen Box

Box, who has been a huge leader in LA’s tenacious cycling movement, could upset 10 year incumbent and entrenched City Councilman Tom LaBonge, in the race for the City’s 4th Council District seat. The 4th District wraps around West Hollywood from Fairfax to La Brea, extending north to the San Fernando Valley along Laurel Canyon.

Box’s rise to serious City Council contender from political nothing activist is something of a political “rags to riches” story: Box wasn’t political till he was hit by a bus while riding, and local politicos treated his complaints with disdain.

From there, Box went on to serve jump start LA’s transportation blogging movement, co-author the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, spend three years transforming the City’s new bike plan, and bringing LAPD to the table on cycling issues. The passing of LA’s new bike plan is a victory most of all for Box and his closest collaborators, who authored the policy proposal for a Backbone Bikeway Network, a proposal that is now the plan’s centerpiece.

LA City Council District 4

Box’s style of bike activism has changed over the years. In the early days, he mentored young activists and bloggers, showing them the ropes in City Hall, and organizing “Storm The Bastille” rides – mass visits to public meetings where cyclists demanded action.

In recent years, however, Box, the natural politician, has branched out into other topics, delving into the City’s budget crisis and working to improve the Metro Transit Authority’s bus and rail performance. In doing so, Box has shifted styles toward finding bike solutions that are effective but palatable to non-cycling neighborhood leaders. In effect, Box has done the advance work with neighborhoods, so that cycling activists now find neighborhood leaders are receptive to cycling needs.

The passing of a bold bike plan for LA has baffled many: Detroit may be where cars are made, but it is in LA that cars are elevated as objects of worship. But the secret is simple – a scrappy breed of activist, masterful users of social media, and exemplified by Box, are infecting LA with bikeyness, and winning the day.

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  1. armenian neighbor

    March 7, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    what’s this?

    found on another web blog

    ll the while painting himself as a model of fiscal responsibility, Mr. Box failed to disclose the multiple judgments recorded against him that belie this characterization:
    SIX liens in the past ten years, including at least two state and one federal tax lien.
    This is the man to lead our city out of it’s fiscal crisis???

  2. Wesley

    March 7, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Mr. Box has asserted that he can establish payment of all the amounts covered in the SIX liens, including three state and one federal tax lien, recorded against him. Nevertheless, the very existence of all these liens, whether or not released, is evidence
    of lack of financial responsibility in a candidate running on a
    platform of restoring fiscal responsibility to City Hall.

    Character counts and the only candidate you can count on is
    Councilman Tom LaBonge. Operation Clean Sweep, the organization founded by antiunion , conservative activist Ron Kaye to ,”recruit, train and support” candidates for City Council, dropped their first choice , Tomas O’Grady because of his reputation as a bully with a terrible temper, who does not have the temperament required to collaborate with other members of the City Council See www. for details.

  3. brandon ford

    March 8, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    of course labonge supporters and the rest of the city council are going to say whatever they can about tom o’grady…they are afraid of his promise to “drain the swamp”.
    the first thing he wants to do is cut council member’s salaries (that begin at $179,000-more than a u.s. congressman. he also doesn’t believe that each council member and their office should be given the free use of 8 suv’s and all the gas they require. his position is that it’s unnecessary and wasteful. he doesn’t think spending money on things like a ceremony to open a traffic light at an intersection is a good use of funds either.
    i know, i know, it is really scary to think of someone in politics actually employing a little common sense to make decisions on behalf of his constituents and their best interests.
    i was beginning to wonder if his opponents would be able to find something about him that might hurt his chances of winning.
    they obviously didn’t…if the best of his worst is that “operation clean sweep, the organization founded by antiunion, conservative activist ron kaye to ,”recruit, train and support” candidates for city council, dropped their first choice, tomas o’grady because of his reputation as a bully with a terrible temper, who does not have the temperament required to collaborate with other members of the city council”. that says to me (and anyone with the slightest bit of intuition) that because tomas o’grady has a mind of his own and his own vision for the council, or at least his possible seat on it, he was of no use to ron kaye. clearly kaye was looking for someone a bit weaker with a little less spine, someone that he and his organization could…now what was it? oh yeah… “recruit, train, and support”. so naturally, ocs and kaye are now going to blame this on o’grady’s temper and say he’s too hostile to work with the rest of the council (which is presumptuous at best, if not totally libel).
    first of all, here on this planet, in this country, we don’t snatch up someone to “recruit”, and “train”, and then “support” them. no sir, that’s not really how we do things in american politics. i’m sorry, that’s not how we “are supposed” to do things in american politics. that’s not an “endorsement” mr. kaye, that is, i don’t know…it’s creating your own candidate (manchurian maybe?). in fact, i think you’d be more interested, and perhaps even find it a better fit, if you maybe tried on your very own campaign. then you’d be able to bypass the whole recruiting thing. you could train yourself (might not need to since you’d be able to use your own ideas as yours) just imagine-you could actually have some passion for this process, and then support yourself with your own platform to run on without hiding behind someone else.
    as far as box is concerned…come on people. does someone with too many liens against him to even bother counting have ANY business trying to get a job that, at it’s core controls the city’s budget and finances? i have to say that i don’t know anyone ballsy enough to try that. and if he doesn’t get how relevant it is then he definitely doesn’t need to win.

  4. Armenian Neighbor

    March 10, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    The thing that is sort of making me laugh, is that, at first Mr. Box and his campaign staff deny anything. Now, it seems Mr. Box is saying all liens have been paid off. So, in reality, the liens do/did exist! Wow
    What was evident with Stephen Box is that he was under the influence of others. An attorney that lives in Hollywood was/is very involved with anti CRA events, and basically kept feeding Mr. Box with a lot agendas, and scenarios of how defunct the city it, that he became over bearing and unbelievable. Having the balls insult other candidates the way Mr. Box did, turned my stomach,
    When the Armenian community found out that Mr. Box misled them on the Armenian Genocide Memorial Park at Hollywood and Garfield, it was almost like a clean sweep of their own. The armenians pulled all and any Stephen Box campaign signs, and started their own telephone campaign, to vote for LaBonge, and dump the Box.
    What I learned in politics and maybe in life; it is good practice to speak well of others, and work together as a team. Tom LaBonge stuck it out, and in the end, he won! Politics is about diplomacy and working together as a whole. !

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