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Legislator Drops Plan to Help Lame Ducks

December 14, 1989|IRENE CHANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DIAMOND BAR — Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier), under heavy criticism for saying he might seek legislation to extend the terms of three City Council members if one of them agrees not to run against him, apparently has dropped the idea, a city official said this week.

Councilman John Forbing said an aide to Hill informed him last Thursday the assemblyman had abandoned plans to sponsor the legislation.

Hill's proposed legislation was the council's last hope of averting a required municipal election in April for council seats held by Councilmen Gary Miller, Gary Werner and Forbing.

Hill and his aides didn't respond to several telephone messages left at his Los Angeles and Sacramento offices this week.

Because of a technicality in state law, the three councilmen--elected in March--can't complete their two-year terms without the special legislation.

So now Diamond Bar officials, already $52,000 in debt to the county for the city's last election, are preparing to set an April 10 election date. The council is expected to vote on the matter at its Jan. 2 meeting.

In the meantime, Diamond Bar City Atty. Andrew Arczynski said he has contacted the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office about Hill's statements, reported last Thursday in The Times.

Hill said in an interview last week he wouldn't introduce legislation to extend the councilmen's terms by one year unless Miller agrees not to run against him for the seat vacated by the resignation of state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights).

Hill has announced plans to seek Campbell's job, and Miller is considering running.

An extended term would help Miller because he wouldn't have to choose between running for the state Senate and City Council. Although state law doesn't prevent him from entering both races in the same year, Miller has said he would give up a council reelection campaign in 1990 if he decides to run for the Senate.

Arczynski said he wanted the district attorney to know about Hill's remarks. "I don't know if it's a crime, but it sounded like a quid pro quo to me: 'I'll do something for the city of Diamond Bar if one of the council members doesn't do something against me,' " Arczynski said Monday.

However, Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney, said no formal complaint has been filed against the assemblyman.

Forbing said he spoke with one of Hill's aides in Sacramento on Thursday and learned the assemblyman had abandoned the proposal "because of the information in the paper."

Earlier, Miller and Forbing had lambasted Hill for saying he would make Miller's candidacy a factor in whether to propose legislation. Miller accused Hill of "letting personal politics get in the way," while Forbing said the assemblyman was "holding us hostage."

Hill responded to the criticism by saying: "It's just practical politics."

The assemblyman made similar comments during a Nov. 30 breakfast meeting in Diamond Bar with Forbing and Werner, Forbing said. "He said, 'I'm not sure (about legislation) because Gary's thinking of running. If Gary decides not to run, I'll submit it,' " Forbing said.

"I was kind of surprised and said (Miller's candidacy) shouldn't make a difference," Forbing continued. "(Hill) said, 'That's politics.' "

City officials had lobbied Hill to sponsor legislation, in the form of an amendment to an existing bill, that would lengthen the terms of Forbing, Miller and Werner.

The three won't be able to serve full two-year terms because of the timing of Diamond Bar's incorporation as a city. Because voters approved cityhood in March, state law requires an April, 1990, municipal election so terms of the council members will be staggered, even if that means shortening the terms of some of them. The three lowest vote-getters in March must run again in April.

Mayor Phyllis Papen and Councilman Paul Horcher, the top finishers in the city's March election, don't face reelection until 1992 and aren't directly affected by the extension controversy.

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