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Decision '93 / Los Angeles County Elections : L.A. MAYOR : Riordan and Woo: Their Records, Views on 4 Key Issues

May 30, 1993

Here are the views of Los Angeles mayoral candidates Richard Riordan and Michael Woo on four major issues facing the city, including some analysis by Times staff writer Richard Simon.

THE ECONOMY

Riordan: Would sell government bonds to provide capital to attract high-tech firms to Los Angeles. Would limit the council's right to intervene in the process of issuing permits. Would require that environmental impact reviews of new projects be completed within one year.

Analysis: The mayor cannot unilaterally limit the City Council's power. Mayor Tom Bradley in 1990 proposed reducing the environmental review process to one year. Work is under way to find a way to implement the proposal.

Woo: Would hire an economic czar to oversee the city's economic development programs and consolidate all offices involved in economic development under one department. Would create a special unit within the city attorney's office to prosecute workers' compensation fraud.

Analysis: Consolidation of city agencies involved in economic development has been proposed for months. It has yet to be voted upon by the City Council, of which Woo is a member.

CRIME/POLICE

Riordan: Would deploy an additional 3,000 police officers, funded by leasing Los Angeles International Airport to a private operator, and create a civilian patrol equipped with cellular phones and video cameras. Would get more officers on the street quickly through lateral transfers from other law enforcement agencies, expansion of reserve forces and additional funding for overtime.

Analysis: Riordan's proposal to add 3,000 officers within four years by pushing a fast-track lease of the airport to a private operator rests on a shifting foundation of financial guesswork and conflicting opinions about whether the plan is legal. Some authorities say a change in federal law is necessary before funds from the municipal airport could be used outside the facility's boundaries. Even if the legal obstacles can be overcome, there is debate over how much money the airport would generate.

Woo: Would build a 10,000-officer force in four years through cuts in other spending, budgetary shifts and the reassignment of civilian City Hall employees to free desk-bound officers. Would change state law to allow the use of City Redevelopment Agency funds to pay for police services in CRA project areas. Would ban inexpensive handguns called Saturday night specials. Would send students who take guns to school to county-run boot camps. Would change state law to make it a felony to possess a handgun or to sell one to a minor, and would implement a student-parent education program about the dangers and penalties of taking guns to schools.

Analysis: Some of Woo's figures are questionable, the prospect of City Council approval appears dim and even Woo aides concede that threatened state budget cuts could hamper the proposal. Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky has estimated that Woo's proposal would require about 1,000 layoffs--an action contrary to the prevailing political will at City Hall. City lawyers have cast doubt on whether the city has the authority to ban handguns. Woo's proposal to allocate redevelopment funds for police would require state legislation; a bill to provide the necessary authority was defeated last year.

SCHOOLS

Riordan: Favors school district breakup. Advocates dividing it into districts of no more than 25 schools each. Favors implementation of the LEARN initiative. Favors setting performance standards--such as test scores--within each school.

Analysis: The city has no power over the schools, which are governed by an independent Board of Education, although the mayor can use his office as a bully pulpit to lobby for educational reforms.

Woo: Against the school district breakup. Says he would be an advocate on behalf of school reforms and would provide services that supplement those of the school system. Supports implementation of LEARN's recommendations for decentralization and greater local control over schools. Would expand funding for after-school programs that provide supervised activities for children. Also would push for English-language literacy programs and job training for 16- to 18-year-old students.

Analysis: The city has no power over the schools, which are governed by an independent Board of Education, although the mayor can use his office as a bully pulpit to lobby for educational reforms. Threatened state budget cuts could hamper a proposal to expand funding for after-school programs.

RACE RELATIONS

Riordan: Would appoint a diverse staff and commissioners who are representative of the city at large but declines to specify ethnic breakdown. Would work hard to ensure that every citizen receives equal justice.

Woo: Would appoint a diverse staff but refuses to specify ethnic breakdown and will not set quotas for staff. Would appoint a gay man or lesbian to the Police Commission. Would form urban peace corps to bring young volunteers into needy neighborhoods.

RECORD/RESUME

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