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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK : Pomona Debates Come Out Lacking Spirit and Sparkle

September 02, 1990|MIKE WARD

Not-so-great Debates: No one expected Lincoln-Douglas, but the Pomona City Council campaign debate series is off to a clumsy start even by modern-day municipal standards.

First, the city employee unions invited the candidates to appear before them at the Elks Lodge. Bob Dahms and Nancy Lopez said they thought they were going to an open, public debate with the third candidate, Boyd Bredenkamp, but instead were escorted one at a time into separate, private interviews.

Dahms said he was given the third-degree under a glaring light while seated on an uncomfortable chair before a semicircle of employees. Lopez said she thought she was facing a military court-martial. Or worse. "It was like a firing squad," she said.

The third candidate, Bredenkamp, had no complaint about his treatment. Incidentally, he won the unions' endorsement.

Then the Central Business District, a business promotion group that is headed by Dahms and includes Bredenkamp on its board, tried to stage a debate Aug. 23 at Munchies Restaurant. Lopez bowed out because of a scheduling conflict and Bredenkamp sent an emissary, who passed out a press release denouncing the "debate" as a scheme to promote the candidacy of Dahms.

Finally, last week, all three candidates appeared before the Pomona Chamber of Commerce. The format, in which each candidate answered the same questions, produced a polite exchange of similar views, but not a spirited debate.

The candidates will have a final chance to confront each other on a program at 8 p.m. Wednesday, produced by Continental Cablevision, Pomona's cable company.

Steve Perry, community programming director, said the candidates will answer questions from a panel of reporters. Perry said a proposal to take questions by phone from the cable audience was scrubbed because the cable company doesn't have the technical ability during a live broadcast to bleep out tasteless or slanderous remarks.

Love of Labor: Assemblyman Charles Bader (R-Pomona) has picked up a significant labor endorsement in his bid to unseat State Sen. Ruben S. Ayala (D-Chino).

The San Bernardino Public Employees Assn., which has 8,200 members employed by the county, cities and other government agencies, usually backs Democrats and had endorsed Ayala in every Senate election since 1974. But it is supporting Bader this time.

Union General Manager Bob Elliott said that the group believes Ayala at 68 is "getting on in years" and that Bader, who is 50, could provide more aggressive representation.

Ben Harrison, a spokesman for the American Assn. of Retired Persons, scoffed at that notion. He said that 68 is "prime time" and that "the age of a candidate shouldn't be an issue. The issue should be ability and qualifications."

Good Morning, Vietnam: U.S. Rep. David Dreier (R-La Verne), back from a seven-country, 13-day journey through the Far East, thinks that a new day is dawning--economically, at least--in Vietnam.

Dreier, chairman of the House Republican Task Force on Foreign Policy, visited Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

When he was in Hanoi four years ago, Dreier said, the city was empty at night. Now, he said, it is jampacked with people, and there is a lively market for Western goods. He said one high Vietnamese official told him that Vietnam instituted economic reforms after discovering "how fouled up the whole system was."

Dreier said Vietnamese leaders are now reading works by economists, such as Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman.

The congressman presented Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach with a copy of John Naisbitt's "Megatrends 2000."

Signing Off: Meanwhile, back on the Pomona political scene, property owner Oakley Davis Jr. wishes the city would spend a little less time thwarting his development plans, and a little more pursuing the politicos who perennially litter his vacant lot with their campaign signs.

The city on Aug. 6 ordered Davis, who lives in Arcadia, to clear weeds and haul away tattered sofas, worn mattresses and other junk from his lot on Pomona's Towne Avenue.

"It is residents of your city and close neighbors who repeatedly litter the property, including all the political candidates who vie for power positions in your city. . . . There is a valid anti-litter law in California: Why do your officials ignore it?" Davis scolded in an Aug. 21 letter to city officials.

But Davis, who is sore because the city has objected to his plans to construct industrial buildings on the site, may be fighting a losing battle. After he took the signs down, supporters of at least one candidate--Dahms--put theirs back up.

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