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Los Angeles Government

March 21, 1993

I have watched with interest as one candidate for municipal office after another demonstrates ignorance of the fundamental structure of Los Angeles city government--and the reasons for that structure. Chief among these is the reference to "15 separate fiefdoms," by one mayoral candidate (March 10).

The municipal government of Los Angeles was purposely structured so that a mayor can lead the city, but if the mayor fails to lead or is otherwise distracted, the city can continue to function under the plural government of the City Council.

The diffusion of power between the mayor and the council also gives the local communities of Los Angeles a more direct say in its government. While the 15 districts of the City Council have grown to almost a quarter-million inhabitants each, the voice of a single person, or a local neighborhood, is far more easily heard in a local district office of a council member than in the "corner pocket" of the mayor's office in City Hall. It is not bad government to have the opinions of single residents, or of local neighborhoods, expressed with the power of public office on the council floor. Indeed, it is good government to have every opinion brought forward to be tested by the individual member and, finally, by vote of the whole.

It is left to the judgment of each member how those voices and opinions must be balanced with the task of governing the entire city. It is the Charter task of the mayor to achieve that balance through leadership. The council can govern us. We need a mayor to lead us. Each is necessary.

ARTHUR K. SNYDER

Member of the City Council

14th District, 1967-1985

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