Former Dist. Atty. Robert H. Philibosian weighed in Monday on the side of activist attorney Gloria Allred, who staged a sit-in last week in an unsuccessful attempt to arrange a face-to-face meeting on child support issues with Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner, the man who beat Philibosian at the polls last year.
"Any district attorney should welcome Gloria Allred and these mothers as allies in the war to collect child support," said Philibosian, who took a break from his downtown law practice to attend a press conference called by Allred at the Criminal Courts Building.
The issue, as the feminist attorney sees it, is Reiner's insensitivity to the problems of mothers whose husbands have failed to make court-ordered child support payments.
"Instead of using law enforcement to arrest the criminals who fail to support their children, he (Reiner) uses law enforcement to throw the crime victims out of the building," Allred said Monday.
Schuyler Sprowles, the district attorney's press secretary, said Reiner sees the dispute differently.
'A Publicity Stunt'
"If she thinks that conducting a publicity stunt . . . will somehow get her a meeting with Mr. Reiner, she has another think coming," Sprowles said. "When you have a woman who comes in here demanding a meeting with you, always with the news media at her side, it doesn't strike anyone as being sincere."
The tiff began last Wednesday, when Allred and a group of mothers showed up at Reiner's office to discuss Allred's proposal for an amnesty month for parents who are delinquent in making child support payments. Allred had advised local newspapers and television stations that she would be available for comment after the meeting.
Allred said Monday that she had been assured that she and the mothers would have a personal meeting with Reiner. Instead, she was greeted by Cheryl Ward Smith, the deputy district attorney who oversees the office's child support program.
Allred and Smith met for about an hour. Smith said later that she had told Allred that she would handle the meeting.
To protest the meeting with Smith, whom Allred referred to Monday as an "underling," Allred and several mothers sat in Reiner's outer office all day Wednesday. She spent the night on a press room couch and was escorted from the building the next evening. She returned Friday morning and was escorted out of the building again Friday night.
Allred said Monday that she was ending the sit-in, but she vowed to take action in Sacramento and locally to further her proposal, which Sprowles said remains under consideration by the district attorney's office.
In Sacramento later, Undersecretary of Health and Welfare Jim Stockdale announced after a two-hour meeting with Allred that the state Department of Social Services will contact district attorneys around California in the next week and encourage them to adopt pilot amnesty programs and any other proposals that would encourage delinquent parents to pay court-ordered child support.