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Council Unit Joins Mayor in Urging Cancellation of 1987 Street Scene

July 22, 1987|SCOTT HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

A City Council committee, heeding the warnings of the acting chief of the city's troubled General Services Administration, urged Tuesday that the 1987 Los Angeles Street Scene Festival be canceled.

In making its recommendation, the council's Revenue and Finance Committee disappointed a crowd of about 40 Street Scene supporters, some wearing tags that said "Don't Stop the Music." The committee's action concurred with the recommendation of Mayor Tom Bradley, who last week urged that the 1987 festival be dropped because of a money shortage and the legal troubles plaguing Sylvia Cunliffe, head of the General Services Administration.

The annual late-summer festival featuring music, food and carnival rides--a downtown fixture for the last nine years--attracted an estimated 1 million participants in 1986. Recommendations that this year's event be canceled began over problems with high costs and incidents of violence that occurred last year.

Cunliffe Involved

The festival was organized to large degree by Cunliffe, who is under criminal and administrative investigations for alleged mismanagement, favoritism and misuse of confidential personnel information. Cunliffe is presently on a leave of absence.

"The department is in such disarray," acting general manager John Cotti told the committee. "There are so many vacancies. So many people are disgruntled. . . . I can't muster the morale to put that (festival) on."

Cotti also emphasized that the 1986 Street Scene cost the city $502,000 in police, sanitation, fire and other costs, and generated "potential claims totaling millions of dollars."

Several participants in the 1986 event, including organizers, musicians, songwriters and spectators, spoke in favor of preserving Street Scene. The planned elimination of night-time shows and a de-emphasis of hard-rock music would have eliminated much of the potential for violence, they said. "Last year I witnessed hundreds of thousands of people having a good time," said Jeff Pomerantz, a master of ceremonies at the 1986 festival. "This is something L.A. gives to the people."

But committee Chairman Zev Yaroslavksy suggested that Cunliffe's key role in Street Scene has long been a problem, and without her, "the whole thing implodes." He urged that the 1987 event be canceled--"not because I want to stop the Street Scene, but because I want to see it come back."

Yaroslavsky also asked that the event be "privatized" and separated from the city bureaucracy. "This is not an impresario department," he said. "This is a General Services Department."

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