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Farrell Clarifies Position, Will Now Vote Against His Own L.A. Police Tax Plan

May 16, 1987|SCOTT HARRIS and VICTOR MERINA | Times Staff Writer

No, City Councilman Robert Farrell said Friday, this is not a flip-flop.

"This is a clarification," he said. "This is damage control."

Councilman Farrell, bedeviled by a confusing sequence of proclamations and press conferences of his own doing, thus contritely issued what he insists is his ultimate, absolute and adamant w1869767712police tax initiative on the June 2 ballot.

He is against it.

"I am going to vote no. I urge everybody to vote no," the councilman said.

Farrell's statements Friday came less than 24 hours after a press conference in which the councilman surprisingly said he still planned to vote in favor of the initiative and urged others to do the same. That triggered renewed, sharp criticism from black groups which had long been opposed to the special tax proposal, Proposition 7, which was placed on the ballot through Farrell's sponsorship.

"I take back what I said yesterday," Farrell told reporters Friday. He readily acknowledged that he "blew" his press conference, which also featured Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates urging a "yes" vote.

Farrell's latest comments drew a positive response from Proposition 7 critics.

" We are glad and happy that Councilman Farrell is man enough to admit his mistakes," said Barbara Collins, co-chairperson of the No-on-7 Committee for the South-Central Organizing Committee. "We hope he is committed to kill Proposition 7; that he will work hard to defeat it.

"We don't want to badger the man," she added. "What we're after is the issue. . . . It's Proposition 7 we can't live with."

The initiative, which will still appear on the ballot in South-Central Los Angeles, asks residents there to pay an additional tax to fund up to 300 more police officers for the crime-ridden543257189would place an unjust burden on people who badly need more police protection but are least able to afford it.

The press conference Thursday was supposed to ballyhoo Farrell's role in the new city budget that provides for 250 police officers. On Tuesday, he told reporters that he would abandon the Proposition 7 campaign because of the budgetary victory. The media event was a chance to break bread with constituents who had criticized the initiative. But instead, it served to further exacerbate the criticism.

The 8th District councilman said he apologizes for "confusion" he created for his constituents and the news media.

"You carried an accurate representation of something that was not intended," he said. "It's something I have to assume responsibility for."

Laud Role

Farrell said his mistake was in answering too many questions from the news media--that he had intended to say that the budgetary victory on police strength made Proposition 7 unnecessary, and thus he would abandon his campaign to see it passed. Gates was present to laud Farrell's role in pushing for the police increase in the budget process.

"I should have stopped (the press conference) there," he added.

But Farrell said he does not regret sponsoring Proposition 7, arguing that it led to the council's decision to increase police strength.

"My actions weren't a mistake," he said. "My mistake was how the press conference was handled yesterday by myself or my aides. My mistake was in not clearly and definitively stating that I oppose this tax. . . . The bottom line is: It is over. It is dead. It is moot."

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