Booker, LA Mayor Talk Environment but Not Endorsement

Los Angeles mayor offers introductions but no endorsement; Booker sidesteps assertions that he either ignored or missed the lead water crisis in Newark when mayor

They projected the youthful vitality of a modern American presidential slate — both Rhodes scholars, Cory Booker, the junior senator from New Jersey and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — but we’ll get to the endorsement in a minute. It is Earth Day, after all, and the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant is an impressive facility that, at its current capacity, reclaims enough wastewater to provide electricity for up to 30,000 homes in Los Angeles. Booker seemed impressed.

“It’s great to be out here; more importantly, to see the kinds of things that this city is doing together. The kind of ideas that are being evidenced at a time that we face a real, pressing, existential environmental crisis, and that crisis is not just seen in the looming challenges of climate change and their current impact — it’s also seen in the areas of outrageous environmental injustice,” Booker said.

Booker talked about toxic Superfund sites not far his home in Newark and the polluted Passaic River that runs along the city’s spine. He said that as president he would encourage more facilities like the one in Los Angeles, where the goal is to recycle 100 percent of wastewater by 2035.

“Not only are they dealing with the energy crisis; not only are they dealing with cleaning the water; not only are they lowering the carbon footprint of this area, but they are creating jobs — good, living-wage jobs — right here,” Booker said.

But this is election season and it is no accident that Booker was in Los Angeles collecting on a political debt. He campaigned for Garcetti in LA’s mayoral election of 2013. So, what about it? Is Garcetti ready to pay him back?

Garcetti walks fine line

“America would be lucky to have Cory Booker as president. He’s a dear friend and I’m personally embarrassed to have a number of great friends in this race. My first responsibility is to be mayor, to make sure that Sen. Booker knows what Los Angeles and, in turn, what America needs, and to get the chance for me to introduce my friend to a city he knows well,” Garcetti said.

So, no. No endorsement, not with Sen. Kamala Harris, another prominent Californian, in the race. As for the prospect of Vice President Joe Biden, the man leading almost every poll of Democrats joining the race, is something expected imminently?

“Right now, we’ve got name recognition for a lot of candidates that have been on the field. Vice President Biden has been vice president. He’s run multiple times. He’s going to poll higher than everybody else, but I think voters are going to give every candidate in this, even if there’s 2,020 candidates in it, they’re going to give every candidate a chance to make their case,” Booker said.

The senator sidestepped assertions from back home that he either ignored, or just plain missed, the lead water crisis in Newark while he was mayor.

“For anybody who’s concerned about their children’s quality of their drinking water, the safety of their air, even the quality of their soil, which in so many cities has become toxic, they can know that there’s somebody that is experienced in this, who showed progress in it,” Booker said.

When Booker leaves Los Angeles, he’ll head to Milwaukee and Texas, before ending his “Justice For All” tour in South Carolina.