Without consulting the outraged author, Mayor Tom Bradley has used his clout with the state Senate Democratic leadership to block legislation creating a Los Angeles County transit super-agency.
Bradley called Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) on Monday to ask for a month's delay on a vote on the bill by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda). The mayor said he wants a chance to remove provisions that he and local transit officials oppose.
Roberti agreed and told Katz that he hopes for a final Senate vote on the measure, which has passed the Assembly, when the Legislature returns from summer recess in mid-August.
Katz angrily said in an interview that Bradley's decision to heed local transit officials' objections means he is siding "with the people who created the problems."
Katz said he learned of Bradley's action from Roberti's office, not from the mayor, and declared that he does not "appreciate the mayor showing up at the 11th hour, at 11:59, and slowing up reform."
Bradley's successful maneuver to delay the vote is the most damaging blow to legislation that has been sailing through the Legislature fairly smoothly.
Although his success shows that he has influence with Roberti, a fellow Central Los Angeles liberal, the victory may be short-lived for, in angering Katz, Bradley offended a rising Democratic power in Sacramento who is close to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco). Katz has also built considerable influence in his San Fernando Valley district, the kind of area Bradley must carry to fulfill his hopes of being reelected in 1989.
The legislation was introduced early in the year in the form of similar bills by Katz and Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys). After Katz's bill cleared the Assembly, it was combined with Robbins' measure in the Senate, and the men agreed to work together for passage.
The new agency would take over on March 1, 1988, a date not expected to be changed as a result of Bradley's request to delay action on the legislation.
In general, the measure would create a commission to take over the functions of the two existing transit agencies, the Southern California Rapid Transit District, which operates most buses in the county and is building the Metro Rail transit system, and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which allocates transit funds and is building a light rail line between Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles.
The legislation was prompted by evidence of mismanagement in RTD bus operations and by objections from Katz, Robbins and other critics that the RTD and the commission were duplicating work.
Michael Gage, Bradley's chief of staff, said the mayor objects to these provisions of the bill:
- Reducing from two to one the number of Los Angeles City Council members on the board of the super-agency. Instead of a second council member, the bill provides for an elected official from the San Fernando Valley appointed by legislative officials, a provision viewed as assuring Robbins a seat on the board. The Los Angeles City Council also opposes that.
- Preventing the appointment of top RTD and transportation commission executives as chief executive of the super-agency, a provision aimed at preventing RTD General Manager John Dyer and commission chief Rick Richmond from getting the top job.
- Requiring major RTD and transportation commission contracts approved during the next few months to be approved again by the super-agency board.
The last two provisions are strongly opposed by the existing transit agencies.