The downtown Hall of Administration, the seat of Los Angeles County government, was officially renamed on Tuesday in honor of Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who is retiring in December after 40 years on the Board of Supervisors.
Hahn has represented South-Central Los Angeles and neighboring communities since 1952, earning a reputation as a liberal reformer who helped bring to his district badly needed social services, including the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.
Supervisor Ed Edelman authored the motion renaming the Temple Street building the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, saying Hahn's name is "synonymous with county government." Hahn even designed the official county seal and the county flag.
"It's hard to measure the accomplishments because there are so many," Edelman said of Hahn. "And one could have almost every building named for Kenny Hahn because they've all been built by him."
The celebratory mood was nearly ruined when a board gadfly, Peter Baxter, demanded to speak against the motion renaming the building. Board chairman Deane Dana refused the demand and ordered deputies to remove Baxter from the auditorium. Baxter briefly wrestled with three deputies and all three fell to the floor.
Baxter was eventually allowed to speak--at Hahn's request.
Later, Hahn seemed touched by having the Hall of Administration renamed in his honor. "I love the county of Los Angeles like I love my own family," he said.
Hahn has also remained on the board long enough to see the county move from the relative prosperity of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s to the fiscal austerity of the 1990s, when the county faces sharp cuts in many of the programs Hahn helped put into place.
After honoring Hahn on Tuesday, the board heard more than two hours of testimony from two dozen people protesting possible cuts in the Department of Health Services. The hearings were required under a state law that mandates public testimony before health services can be cut.
Health department Director Robert C. Gates has proposed $98 million in cuts, including a $28.4-million reduction in services at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
However, county officials are hoping to avoid most of the cuts by persuading state officials to release more state and federal funds. Irv Cohen, the health department's finance director, testified Tuesday before the California Medical Assistance Commission in Sacramento, but the commission took no action on a request to release $180 million to the Los Angeles County hospital system.
The commission will take up the issue again Dec. 8, county officials said. If state funding is not forthcoming, many of the cuts discussed Tuesday will be inevitable, county officials said.