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Woo Campaign Draws Blank in Graffiti Effort


Members of Michael Woo's advance team were on the prowl through the streets of Van Nuys on Wednesday evening, searching for graffiti.

They came not to wipe out this graffiti, but to save it.

At least until Saturday.

That's when their candidate for Los Angeles mayor was scheduled to make a stop on the final weekend of campaigning to show his support for a local graffiti cleanup drive. The advance team was on hand to carefully choose a bit of graffiti that their candidate, paintbrush in hand, could be seen whitewashing as the cameras clicked and whirled.

They made their choice--a stretch of wall outside an apartment house on Erwin Street--and asked the organizers of the anti-graffiti drive to save it for Woo.

But some unknown person beat the candidate to the punch. When event organizers arrived to inspect the chosen spot Thursday, the graffiti already was painted out.

"When it comes to graffiti, there are just no guarantees," said James Cordaro, chairman of the 10th annual Mid San Fernando Valley Clean-Up Day.

Sponsored by the Mid San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, the cleanup day is expected to attract hundreds of local residents to work on several beautification projects, including graffiti removal.

Cordaro--a Richard Riordan supporter who was not overly upset that Woo's forces were having trouble pulling off their photo opportunity--said he was first contacted by campaign advance man Rick Atkins on Saturday afternoon.

"He said they wanted to make an appearance," Cordaro said. "He said they wanted us to save them a wall."

Cordaro said he told Atkins it might not be possible.

"We are starting work at 7 a.m. and planning to get everything done in our areas by noon," Cordaro said.

"This guy was telling me that Woo could not get there until at least 11:15."

Atkins, reached at Woo campaign headquarters, would not comment.

Cordaro, who is an electrical contractor and volunteer worker for the chamber of commerce, said that Atkins was persistent. They arranged to meet in Van Nuys on Wednesday night.

"They wanted me to show them around," he said. "I told them they would not have any trouble finding graffiti if they just look."

Cordaro said he got a message the next day asking him to save the Erwin Street location for the candidate. Cordaro said he would try, but was not happy about it.

"We're going to be busy working," he said. "I'm no baby-sitter."

The Erwin Street location became a moot point Thursday, however, when Cordaro visited the address. "You could see two areas that had been painted over," he said. "The paint was so fresh you could tell it had been done within a day."

Finally exhibiting some sympathy for the politico's plight, Cordaro said he might be able to save a bit of graffiti for the candidate elsewhere.

"Like I said, there is plenty of it out here," Cordaro said. "Maybe we can do something for him."

Riordan's forces probably can chalk up the event as a victory for their side, anyway. Their candidate will not be in Los Angeles on Saturday, but earlier this week his representatives called Cordaro and promised to send 10 to 15 campaign workers to actually participate in the cleanup.

"They contacted me and said they would send volunteers to work the full day," said Cordaro.

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