Councilman Dennis Zine of the third council district, which includes Tarzana, spoke in front of meeting of SOHA (Sherman Oaks Homeowners Asssociation) Wednesday night at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks.
Zine is currently campaigning for the job of City Controller, a position in which he can impact what he sees as the wasteful spending habits of the city.
"We have a budget of $7 billion in the City of Los Angeles. But we can't balance the budget. How do you take $7 billion and not balance the budget?"
"As your next City Controller," he stated, "I'll be an independent fighter who will eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and protect the taxpayers and residents of Los Angeles."
He then expounded on the multitude of ways he could save money for the city by being a proactive Controller, from changing "skyrocketing pension plans" to eliminating tree-trimming and other services.
He insisted, however, that if trees became a hindrance to emergency vehicles, that "the city will find a way to get them trimmed."
He emphasized his own personal frugality by mentioning, more than once, that he drives "a car no longer even made, a Mercury Mountaineer, with 170,000 miles on it."
He also mentioned plans to make many city sites, like the L.A. Zoo, a private enterprise.
He spoke about how he personally objected to the million-dollar outlay of funds for a thousand policemen to secure the Michael Jackson memorial at the Staples Center following the singer's death.
"That cost us $1 million. I told them, gentlemen, this is going to be a memorial, not a riot. But they did not listen.
"I kept after AEG, who owns Staples, and I'm proud to say I got them to repay the million dollars. That is $1 million back into the coffers of the city."
A former police officer, Zine answered questions that revealed his longtime knowledge of police methodology.
When asked, for example, why a fire engine is sent along with an ambulance every time, he answered, "I know this from personal experience, having been there. It takes more than two people to help someone who is having a heart attack.
"Two paramedics come with an ambulance, and they immediately start livesaving techniques on the spot. And to do that properly, you need at least four people. So a fire engine is sent."
"Well," an audience member asked, "why send the extra men in a fire engine? Why not in a chase car?"
"Because we don't have chase cars. We have ambulances and fire engines, that's all we have to deal with."
Asked to explain if the proposed football stadium project for downtown was going through, Zine said not to bet on it.
"It's probably 50-50 at this point. The NFL doesn't like the spot. Until the NFL approves a team (for Los Angeles), it won't happen."
Before Councilman Zine spoke, Sherman Oaks Police Officer Trent Berry addressed the crowd, urging all concerned residents to call him anytime they had issues to discuss.
He warned about a rash of "distraction burglaries" in the area.
"These occur during daytime hours, between 9 am and 2 pm, and mostly victimize the elderly," he explained.
"What happens is a guy comes to your door, says he's with the DWP or some organization, and needs to measure in your backyard.
"While residents then lead this man into their backyard, his partner enters the house from the front and robs whatever he can, quickly.
"So if anyone comes to your home wanting to go into your yard, do not let them. Close your door. And call us. Do not engage with these people."