Inglewood City Councilman Bruce U. Smith has accused fellow Councilman Anthony Scardenzan of trying to establish a "political machine" after campaign disclosure reports showed that Scardenzan loaned $1,000 to one of Smith's opponents in the city's April 7 primary election.
Smith's challenger, Ann Wilk, received 29.7% of the vote to force Smith into a runoff June 16. Smith received 45.2% of the vote.
Scardenzan's loan was part of nearly $70,000 in contributions through March 21 reported by the various candidates and causes in the April 7 election, according to documents filed with the city clerk and county registrar of voters. A final report is due in July.
The filings also showed that Lois Hill Hale, a candidate for the Inglewood school board who is chief deputy to state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), did not file a contributions statement by the March 21 deadline. The registrar has warned Hill Hale that she will be fined $10 for each day the report is late, and that the case will be turned over to the district attorney's office if she fails to file by April 28.
Hill Hale told the registrar's office that she has been unable to file her March statement because her treasurer had to make an emergency trip to New York, according to registrar records.
In her February statement, Hill Hale reported raising $7,909, of which $7,484 were loans from Watson. In an interview, Hill Hale said the statement will be filed this week and will show donations of about $10,000.
Hill Hale's runoff opponent, incumbent William (Tony) Draper, was fined $160 by the registrar for filing his February report 16 days late.
Smith said it is evident that Scardenzan is trying to take control of the council because of his loan to Wilk in the 3rd District and an identical $1,000 loan to Garland Hardeman, who is in a runoff with Ervin (Tony) Thomas in the 4th District. The incumbent in that district, Virgle Benson, did not seek reelection.
Machine Politics Denied
Scardenzan denied that he is trying to set up a machine and said he opposed Smith because Smith declines to take stands on important issues. Wilk said Smith is part of what she called Mayor Edward Vincent's "political machine," the Inglewood Democratic Club. She said she has made no promises to Scardenzan in return for his loan.
Smith, who said he felt hurt by Scardenzan's financial support of Wilk, said Scardenzan is upset because he once made a joke about Scardenzan's Italian accent.
"When some kids were here from our sister city (Pedavena, Italy) we honored them with a community dinner," Smith said. He said that Scardenzan, who came to Inglewood from Pedavena 24 years ago, went "on and on and on" in his introduction of the girl who was to speak on behalf of the children. "When she got up to give her speech, she said, 'I'm so nervous I can hardly talk,' " Smith said. "I said, 'If we can understand Tony, we'll understand you.' He's never forgiven me for that."
Scardenzan said Smith has embarrassed him about his accent on several occasions. He said that while he finds jokes about his accent rude, his only reason for not supporting Smith was his failure to take a position on Proposition 1, which would have raised the mayor's salary from $10,800 to $49,621. The measure failed by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
Warned Two Years Ago
Scardenzan, who opposed the proposition, said he told Smith two years ago he was going to support somebody to run against him because "he's afraid to take positions on controversial issues." Scardenzan said he supported Wilk because she was against Proposition 1.
Smith said he refused to take a stand on the proposition because he did not want to sway voters. After the election, Smith said he had been against it all along.
The councilmen also have clashed over Smith's opposition to spending city funds on the sister city program and expanding the police force by 30 officers, both of which Scardenzan supports.
Smith reported receiving $14,965 and spending $5,297. Contributions to his campaign came from several sources in the city, including Jim Lynch Cadillac, which donated $1,000; Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital, which gave $500; Jerry Buss' California Sports Inc. (owner of The Forum), which donated $250, and Western Waste Disposal, the city's trash collector, which gave $500. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney contributed $125.
Wilk Raised $4,229
Wilk reported raising $4,229, including $2,000 in loans, and spending $2,816.
Vincent endorsed both Smith and Thomas, but neither reported receiving campaign contributions from the mayor or the Democratic Club.