If you were involved in political life in the greater Los Angeles area during the last three decades you knew Bill Rosendahl. Before he was a Los Angeles City Councilman from 2005 to 2013, Rosendahl ran a cable company’s local outlet and conducted three public affairs shows on the cable network. While limited in reach, the shows had tremendous impact, not the least of which was bringing together people who often had different points of view to meet and get to know each other in the Green Room before the show.
Rosendahl passed away yesterday from cancer at age 70.
Ironically, the day before Rosendahl died, I met with former Assemblyman Richard Katz, and we happened to talk about how so many people met in Rosendahl’s Green Room preparing to go on his talk show and forged friendships when they might not have crossed paths.
The shows brought together elected officials, reporters, advocates and many involved in state and local politics. Rosendahl also reached beyond California. I accompanied John McCain to meet with Bill when McCain sought the Republican nomination for president in 2000.
Rosendahl offered guests who explained issues and took questions from the host and a panel of political types. Rosendahl usually had four panelists, two who represented the left, two on the right and he succeeded in producing civil discussions around policy issues.
On occasion, post or pre show, I would wander up to Bill’s office on the second floor of the cable company in Santa Monica and we’d discuss the news of the day.
Rosendahl was a passionate supporter of Democratic candidates and liberal causes but he was open to discussion and arguments from all sides. When Governor Gray Davis appointed Rosendahl chairman of the California Commission on Tax Policy in the New Economy (2002-2003), Rosendahl reached out to me and asked that I consult with the committee and offer insights.
Bill Rosendahl’s approach of bringing discordant voices together and offering televised lively, civil political debate on a weekly basis is sorely missing today.
More about Bill Rosendahl’s life at LA Observed here.