Mayor Charlotte Spadaro was set to leave for France today to represent Beverly Hills at the Cannes Film Festival where she will take part in ceremonies linking the city with the Riviera resort town.
"I'm looking forward to promoting some good will between our two peoples," she said. "I think some good things will come of it."
Spadaro said she will pay her own way to Cannes, where she will spend the weekend at ceremonial luncheons and other meetings before returning to Beverly Hills on Monday.
Although the decision to join with Cannes in a sister-city relationship came under fire at a City Council meeting last month, Spadaro said the objections were unfounded. Councilman Maxwell Hillary Salter had protested that France refused to allow American planes to fly over its territory on their way to bomb Libya.
In fact, Spadaro said, Cannes Mayor Anne-Marie Dupuy voted to deplore the French refusal in her capacity as a member of the European Parliament. "She's very pro-American," Spadaro said.
When the issue came up again Tuesday night, Salter joined in a vote to adopt a resolution spelling out the conditions under which a self-appointed citizens' committee would develop the sister-city relationship.
The resolution, which was included in an omnibus vote on several routine items, said that the committee would work "to promote culture, tourism, industry, trade, understanding and good will between the two cities."
Although several of its members, including Hollywood Reporter publisher Tichi Wilkerson Kassell, are not Beverly Hills residents, Spadaro said that was not a problem.
"On many city committees we have many people who have an interest but don't live exactly in Beverly Hills," Spadaro said. "It's true of the Chamber of Commerce as well."
Although the Chamber of Commerce has been working to develop a similar relationship with several cities, to be known as the "World-Class Cities" program, the Cannes committee is operating on its own.
Mike Sims, executive vice president of the chamber, said its visitors' bureau was not yet ready to go public with the world-class cities theme.
"Our position is, if the council wants the visitors bureau to develop a relationship with Cannes primarily because of the entertainment and film industry, we'd be happy to do it," he said. "But we'd want to do it under a time-frame and structure we'd feel comfortable with."
The decision to go ahead with the sister-city relationship, which had failed to win approval for three years, was Spadaro's first official act when she took office last month.
Former Mayor Edward I. Brown, who did not run for reelection to the council, said he blocked the idea previously because it would conflict with the proposed Chamber of Commerce program.
Brown said his other objections included a fear that other cities would clamor to join with Beverly Hills, which previously had no such relationship except for a dormant link with Acapulco.
"When you take sister cities in, when you refuse one they get mad at you," Brown said.
He also said he was put off by the sponsoring committee's offer to underwrite the travel costs of 25 Beverly Hills representatives to the Cannes Film Festival, which opens today.
In the end, Spadaro was the only official representative of the city who was scheduled to attend.
According to Councilman Benjamin H. Stansbury Jr., who has been pushing the idea for three years, the relationship is a natural because of Cannes' role as the site of a major film festival and because Beverly Hills is home to many movie people.
He also noted that several up-market businesses have outlets in both cities.
"I don't think that as a business community or as a city government that we have taken proper note of the film industry's importance to Beverly Hills," he said.
"Beyond that, our world reputation brings people here from all over the world, who then stay in our wonderful hotels and shop in our wonderful shops," he said. "The interesting is that you'd find the same thing in Cannes." The new relationship should be beneficial to both cities, he said.