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A Dinner Along Partisan Lines


The dress was jackets and ties. In addition to wearing red ribbons for AIDS awareness, some guests wore black ribbons in memory of Cesar Chavez.

Other tipoffs that this was a Democratic dinner: When the chairwoman referred to a "puny" $16-billion stimulus plan. When opposition to the Persian Gulf war was enthusiastically applauded. When the mention of Sen. Bob Dole's (R-Kan.) name drew boos. When the hotel workers who served the dinner were lined up so the crowd could applaud them.

This was the 11th-annual Eleanor Roosevelt Awards Dinner, held Sunday night at the L.A. Airport Hyatt by the Southern California chapter of Americans for Democratic Action.

About 400 people showed up for the sit-down dinner, making up a collection of supporters that emcee Bill Press jokingly referred to as "liberals, progressives and radicals." (Having gotten its way in the White House last November, the ADA is now focusing on a national health-care plan similar to the one in place in Canada.)

The honorees, recognized for their commitment to peace and justice, were Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), the Rev. Cecil Murray, actor Edward James Olmos, and television producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Press, new chairman of the California Democratic Party and a commentator on KCOP-Channel 13, received a surprise award and took the opportunity at the mike to deliver a stump speech for L.A. mayoral candidate Michael Woo.

SCADA President Aris Anagnos and dinner chairwoman Lila Garrett greeted guests including actors Markie Post, Beth Broderick, Diane Ladd, Ann Wedgeworth, Ed Asner and Marilu Henner; film director Oliver Stone; LAPD Commissioner Stanley Sheinbaum; City Council candidate Jackie Goldberg, and a raft of politicos that included Gray Davis and Arlo Smith.

Among the pluses were no silent auction, no orchestra, no frills. The approach kept money matters affordable; the top ticket price was $150.

But the evening got off to a tardy start and, because of a few generously padded speeches, went beyond the scheduled running time. Is the President's habit of chronic lateness trickling down to local Democrats?

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