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Ousted Chief of Redevelopment Agency Blasts O'Connor, 2 Councilmen

July 22, 1987|NANCY RAY | Times Staff Writer

The day after he was removed as president of the Centre City Development Corp. board, Jan Anton leveled scathing criticism Tuesday at the officials he holds responsible: Mayor Maureen O'Connor and Councilmen William Jones and Mike Gotch.

Anton and Carol Randolph Caplan, appointed to the city's downtown redevelopment agency board in 1984, were unseated during lengthy City Council balloting Monday by two of O'Connor's nominees, builder Pat Kruer and real estate developer Henri Lagatella. At a news conference Tuesday at CCDC's downtown offices, Anton criticized the mayor's "short-sighted tactics and the actions of two lame-duck council members," Jones and Gotch.

"I recognize that the mayor is politically insecure and needs to have her own people on boards and commissions, but this mayor needs to put aside partisan politics," Anton said in a prepared statement. "Proven performance, not party labels, should be the test for the appointment or reappointment to CCDC."

Anton, a Republican and a Deukmejian appointee to the Del Mar Fair Board, supported Councilman Bill Cleator in Cleator's unsuccessful race for mayor against O'Connor, a Democrat. Anton was nominated for reappointment to CCDC by Cleator.

"The mayor's oft-mentioned lack of vision, and her obvious confused sense of direction are in full view; she has traded future promises for votes today; she is a mayor who is concerned more with today's popularity poll than with plans for tomorrow's solutions," Anton said. "If she continues on this path, her legacy to the city will be a legacy of failure."

Mayor O'Connor declined to cross swords with Anton Tuesday, commenting only that she felt the people she nominated were "outstanding candidates" with extensive backgrounds in both commercial and residential development.

Seen as Political Coup

O'Connor has been critical of the CCDC board and Executive Director Gerald Trimble for the lack of market-priced housing developments in the downtown area, and the emphasis the agency has placed on luxury hotels and office buildings.

The mayor's press secretary, Paul Downey, summed up what other City Hall sources have called a political coup by O'Connor, saying: "She appointed her people and she got them in. She has every right to do just that."

In the past, CCDC board members normally were reappointed to a second three-year term with little discussion. Anton and Caplan assumed the presidency and vice presidency of the board earlier this year, conditioned upon their reappointment by the council.

Anton claimed that Jones, who is giving up his council seat to return to college, opposed his reappointment to CCDC "based solely on my support for Marla Marshall to succeed him." Jones has backed Wes Pratt, administrative assistant to county Supervisor Leon Williams, as his successor. However, Pratt failed to obtain the required 200 signatures of district voters and was disqualified.

"The biggest failure in this event is Councilman Mike Gotch," Anton said. "Mike Gotch told both me and Bill Cleator on numerous occasions that he would unequivocally support my reappointment. In late May, he told Bill Cleator and I, (sic) 'For the fifth time, Jan, I'm supporting you for reappointment.'

"He broke his word. He lied," Anton said of Gotch, who also is not running for reelection.

Anton noted that Gotch and O'Connor had talked about Gotch becoming a city lobbyist in Washington.

"It makes one wonder if the prospect of steady employment swayed his support toward the mayor. . . . The city can ill afford people who are willing to break their word for personal gain."

Neither Jones nor Gotch, who were participating in a marathon meeting of the City Council on growth control legislation, could be reached for comment on Anton's statements.

Reappointed to the CCDC board was businessman Phil Blair, and newly appointed to a fourth seat was financier Tom Carter. Both men were nominated by Cleator.

Former CCDC President Howard Busby stepped down after two terms as a director, and Caplan, who is out of the country, served one three-year term.

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