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Postscript

'None of them--I mean, none of them-- are proud of what they did. It's just a shameful part of our city history.'

January 12, 1988|SCOTT HARRIS

For about 10 hours every week, an uncommonly friendly woman clerks inside the cinema bookstore at The Actors Center in Studio City. Anne Finn enjoys her part-time job because of the people she meets--actors, directors, comics. "They all have a dream, the people in that world," she says.

Eighteen months ago, Anne Finn had a dream of her own, though it was a dream born of sadness.

Anne Finn's husband was Los Angeles City Councilman Howard Finn, who represented the Northeast San Fernando Valley for five years before his death on Aug. 12, 1986. A few days later, Anne Finn asked the City Council to appoint her as his successor.

To many, it seemed appropriate. Howard never seemed to venture out in public without Anne at his side. After 45 years of marriage, she was the wife, confidante, adviser. "They were a team, both in social life and official life," said a friend, Councilman Joel Wachs.

But Anne Finn, 71, never got her appointment. Nor did she get the chance to run for her husband's vacant seat.

It might have been different if Howard Finn had not died exactly when he did. The City Council, under court directive, had just redrawn boundaries to create a predominantly Latino district. Under that plan, veteran council member John Ferraro and newcomer Michael Woo would have been forced to run against each other.

New Lines Drawn

But Finn's death served the instincts of political survival. Rejecting protests of Anne Finn and her husband's constituents, the council drew up new lines. Wachs and Ernani Bernardi, against their wishes, were pushed into Finn's old district. Zev Yaroslavksy, Ferraro and Woo each were given slivers of the San Fernando Valley, increasing their exposure. The clash between Ferraro and Woo was averted.

To Anne Finn, only the interests of certain council members were served. The council's arrogance, she said, dishonored her husband's memory and made his constituents political orphans.

"I was so naive . . . I thought they were all my friends and they all thought Howard was terrific and they had great respect for him," she recalled. "I know that they know he would not have approved of what they did. None of them--I mean, none of them-- are proud of what they did. It's just a shameful part of our city history."

Her tone is more matter-of-fact than bitter. Friends like Wachs say Anne Finn has been "remarkably strong" since her husband's death. In semi-retirement, she stays active in public life, serving on the board of the Independent Living Center in Van Nuys, where handicapped people reside in specially designed houses that enable them to be self-dependent, and the Los Angeles Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

But political dreams, she said, probably ended this spring. Anne Finn led a petition drive that sought to repeal the redistricting. It collected about 50,000 signatures, falling far short of the 69,516 needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

"I don't like to see it fade away," she said, "but I guess that's what's happened."

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