INGLEWOOD — In a move that has stunned Mayor Edward Vincent and other city officials, Assemblyman Curtis R. Tucker has come out in staunch opposition to the reelection of City Councilman Daniel K. Tabor and school board member Caroline Coleman, and has leveled ringing denunciations at Vincent himself.
Tucker, an Inglewood Democrat who has long been a dominant political force in the city, has been aligned with the three in the past.
In interviews with The Times this week, Tucker accused Vincent of trying to control the city and the school board and said that in 1983 Vincent attempted to force appointment of a friend as principal at an Inglewood elementary school.
"He (Vincent) is out of his mind if he thinks he can control the city and the school board," Tucker said.
While Tucker vehemently denounced Vincent and Coleman, he said his main objection to Tabor is his close alliance with Vincent.
"I don't think Vincent's exactly the best mayor Inglewood's ever had," he said, "and I think anyone supporting him on the council should step down. They've had things their way long enough.
"They (the council) are doing their own little thing down there. They're not concerned about input from the community. I stood by for a long time and didn't say anything, but I've had it with them."
Tabor said he was surprised at Tucker's remarks, saying he had asked Tucker in November for an endorsement and had not heard from him since.
"I really don't understand why he wouldn't support me," Tabor said, "but he has his agenda and I have mine. I'm sure it will cost me some support among voters, but I don't know what can be done about it."
Accused of Falsity
Tucker also accused Vincent of working with Coleman in her 1982 bid for city clerk and in issuing campaign material that falsely stated Tucker's endorsement of Coleman.
"Iris Crochet (the current city clerk) is a very dear friend of mine," Tucker said. "They (Vincent and Coleman) came out saying I had endorsed Coleman over Iris for city clerk. I called them before that letter went out and told them not to send it, that they knew it was wrong. They sent it out anyway They were dishonest going in and I'm concerned that they will be dishonest again."
Of primary concern to him, Tucker stressed, was that Vincent in the past had told him he would run Coleman for city clerk again if Crochet resigned, and that if Coleman should lose, he would push to make the city clerk's position a part-time post.
Vincent denied Tucker's accusation, retorting that it was Tucker who had said he wanted the support of the City Council for the possible candidacy of his administrative assistant, Anita Harris.
'Astonished' at Attacks
Vincent said he was "astonished," and didn't "understand these attacks" by Tucker.
"I don't want to run the school board," he said, "I just want to lend a helping hand where that's possible." Vincent also denied that he ever tried to force appointment of political allies as principals or that he had any part in literature falsely stating Tucker's support of Coleman.
"I thought Curtis Tucker was my friend," Vincent said. "I can't believe it. I've always supported him, and I know Caroline has walked precincts for him and actively worked for him. This is incredible." Vincent is not up for reelection until next year.
In her current bid for reelection, Coleman last month mailed literature that includes a picture of herself with Tucker at a political function. The photo caption reads in part that Coleman "is being honored by . . . Assemblyman Curtis Tucker . . . for her leadership role in legislation to keep children in school and curb gang violence on campus."
Tucker said he had "no problems taking pictures with people, but when they turn around and use them for political purposes without my consent, that, in my mind, implies an endorsement that definitely is not there. That is a practice I deplore."
The legislator also said he believed Coleman "should have shown a little class and resigned over the misuse-of-funds allegation." Coleman is being investigated by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office for alleged misuse of public funds in connection with a New Orleans education conference last November. Coleman has been accused by school board President William (Tony) Draper of failing to attend the conference after accepting more than $1,200 in expenses. Coleman has since returned the money.
Tucker said he has endorsed and will actively work toward the election of Karen Bonner Gill for the school board and will support candidate Yvonne Mitchell against Tabor in the District 1 council race. In addition to personal appearances and speeches, he said, he plans to donate $500 to $1,000 to both Gill and Mitchell and will mail literature to his constituents urging them to vote for the pair.
Coleman 'Had No Idea'
Coleman said she was "surprised" at Tucker's endorsement of Gill, and "had no idea he was displeased with me."
Of the picture, she said, "I never said he was endorsing me. After checking with the Fair Political Practices Commission, I believe that any time you take a public picture you can use it without the permission of the people in it. I think it's an ethical and legitimate use."
As to the investigation, she said that Tucker "can have his opinion, but I don't feel that I should resign. I'm innocent until proven guilty, and actually I'm innocent, period."