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Wilson Vetoes Funds to Continue Anti-Gang Programs for 4th Year : Politics: Assemblyman Richard Katz's 1988 law provided $1 million annually in confiscated drug money to Los Angeles County counseling, job training groups.


SACRAMENTO — Gov. Pete Wilson has vetoed a bill that would have set aside $1 million for 14 anti-gang pilot programs, including one in Van Nuys, drawing criticism Thursday from Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar).

Wilson on Wednesday vetoed legislation by Katz to extend for a fourth year an anti-gang project funded with confiscated drug money.

Katz said Wilson's veto would not immediately shut down the Gang Risk Intervention Prevention Program, but it "puts these programs at risk." Enough money has been set aside to keep the programs operating until next June 30, when the current fiscal year ends.

A 1988 law by Katz provides $1 million annually in confiscated drug money to Los Angeles County organizations fighting gangs, including New Directions for Youth in Van Nuys.

In his veto message, Wilson noted that last year he signed another bill by Katz to extend the anti-gang program, which is administered by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. But the governor said that since then an evaluation conducted by the Office of Education "failed to provide sufficient evidence of the success of this project.

"The report also reveals some potentially significant program flaws which must be evaluated before any future funding is provided," Wilson said. The governor rejected the measure late Wednesday, but did not announce the veto until Thursday evening.

Wilson's announcement did not spell out the drawbacks of the program. Officials at the County Office of Education could not be reached for comment.

The governor, however, said that if a new evaluation of the anti-gang program by the state Office of Criminal Justice Planning "identifies areas of success which may not have been evident" to county education authorities, then he may consider appropriating the anti-gang funds next year.

Katz immediately assailed the governor's action as shortsighted.

"I'm disappointed and I'm frankly frustrated and a little angry," Katz said. "Maybe the governor hasn't noticed, but we have a major gang problem in Los Angeles," Katz said.

The program's 14 anti-gang projects are operated jointly by schools, community-based organizations and local police. The programs focus on 2,500 children with a high potential for joining gangs, according to Katz's office, providing individual and family counseling, after-school activities and job placement services.

Katz could not immediately say how much money New Directions receives through the law. The funds are used in anti-graffiti and job placement efforts run by the counseling and job training organization.

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