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McGrath Levels Attack Over Yaroslavsky Funds

February 05, 1989|ALAN CITRON | Times Staff Writer

Assuming the role of political provocateur in the Los Angeles City Council's sluggish 5th District race, Jack McGrath accused Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky of violating campaign finance laws and dodging debates at a freewheeling press conference Thursday in front of Yaroslavsky's City Hall office.

McGrath, a former Yaroslavsky campaign manager and aide, said the councilman has failed to return $1.8 million collected when he considered running for mayor. McGrath also said Yaroslavsky has yet to repay a $100,000 loan he received when he was promoting Proposition O, the successful citywide ballot measure that outlawed oil drilling in Pacific Palisades.

"Zev has serious financial problems," McGrath said. "Have any of these checks been returned? . . . I think that Zev is in deep doo doo."

Yaroslavsky's office immediately rebutted McGrath's charges. Campaign manager Karin Caves said McGrath is "absolutely off the wall." She said Yaroslavsky has already started returning his mayoral campaign money.

"More than 4,000 checks have to be hand written," Caves said. "That's unprecedented. No one has had to do that before. Everyone has been working on it. We've been working on it for a week, and we're moving as fast as we can."

Ironically, McGrath was one of Yaroslavsky's 4,000 contributors. He has asked that his $500 be forwarded to the Salvation Army, Caves said.

Loan Outstanding

On the matter of Yaroslavsky's $100,000 loan, Caves said the money came from Bill Haber, an entertainment agent who is a longtime supporter.

Caves confirmed that the loan is still outstanding. She said Yaroslavsky intends to repay it out of his "Friends of Yaroslavsky" campaign treasury. Caves would not say how much money Yaroslavsky has on hand, not counting the funds raised for his mayoral bid, but she denied he is in financial trouble.

McGrath, however, said Yaroslavsky needs to be more forthcoming with the voters. He said thecouncilman has ignored invitations to a series of forums.

"Mr. Yaroslavsky has got to come out of the Rose Garden," McGrath said. "Zev has got to come and meet his maker."

McGrath, who ran Yaroslavsky's first campaign, said he was referring to himself as Yaroslavsky's maker. "I made him in 1975," McGrath said. "And I want to tell Zev that it's time for him to return to the private sector."

Once again, however, Caves said McGrath was playing fast and loose with the facts. She said Yaroslavsky has agreed to debate his four opponents whenever he can make the time. "We have priorities, but we do expect to engage in debates whenever Zev's schedule permits it," Caves said.

McGrath, 43, a late entry in the 5th District council race, is seen as a long shot. Yaroslavsky's other opponents include Westwood activist Laura M. Lake, traffic consultant Ryan Snyder and artist Henry Hill.

At his Thursday press conference, McGrath said he has raised about $7,000 so far, most of which has gone to pay for a political advertisement on cable television. The North Hollywood resident, who is on leave from his real estate job during the campaign, said he expects to run a grass-roots campaign.

McGrath said the 5th District has gone to seed under Yaroslavsky. He pledged to slow commercial growth and generally improve the quality of life for 5th District residents who are burdened by heavy traffic congestion and commercial development. McGrath said he would limit himself to two terms.

"My message is obvious," McGrath said. "It's time for a change."

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