A city divided: Election returns from Tuesday's balloting show Richard Riordan rode to victory in the Los Angeles mayor's race in part by breaking apart the historic coalition of Westside liberals and African-American voters that propelled and sustained Tom Bradley in the mayor's office.
Riordan outpolled Councilman Michael Woo in some of the Westside's traditionally liberal areas. Of seven City Council districts that touch the Westside, Riordan captured four districts where Anglos dominate the electorate. Woo won the three council districts that are the more racially diverse, including his own in Hollywood.
Riordan ran strongest in the affluent and overwhelmingly white Westside and San Fernando Valley district long represented by Councilman Marvin Braude. The mayor-elect won nearly two out of three votes cast in the district, which includes his home in Brentwood.
And the Republican businessman carried the districts represented by Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and City Council President John Ferraro. In each of those areas, voter turnout exceeded the 43.4% level recorded citywide.
Turnout was much lighter in the Westside's two council districts with the largest number of black voters. Despite intense efforts by Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas to get out the vote for Woo in the largely African-American precincts in the Crenshaw District and South-Central Los Angeles, only one in three voters in his district went to the polls.
The turnout was better in the Mid-City and Crenshaw areas represented by Councilman Nate Holden.
Woo easily won both districts, drawing more than three out of every four votes cast, but his margin was quickly erased by Riordan's strength elsewhere.
Throughout the bitter campaign, Riordan hammered away at Woo's eight-year stewardship of his Hollywood district, but voters there gave Woo a modest vote of confidence.
Good start: The morning after his victory, Riordan stopped by City Council Chambers. Ferraro, the council president and a key Riordan ally during the campaign, greeted him with a handshake and warm embrace. And following Riordan's brief remarks to the council, he quickly found reason to praise the mayor-elect. "Thanks for making a short speech," said Ferraro, a comment that brought laughs from the other pols, who are not known for their brevity.
No end in sight: Like that indefatigable Energizer bunny, the legal fight between developer Richard K. Ehrlich and Culver City keeps going and going and going.
The dispute dates back to 1989, when Ehrlich tore down his Westside Sports Center, a private athletic club in the 4900 block of Overland Avenue. Citing lost recreational space, the city ordered Ehrlich to replace four tennis courts and placed a $280,000 lien on his property.
Ehrlich, contending the lien was unfair, sued and won--and won and won some more. Four times the city appealed in Los Angeles Superior Court and four times it lost.
Last month, however, the city got a major break when the California Court of Appeal ruled that the city's fees against Ehrlich were, indeed, allowable.
The response at City Hall was one of relief-- understandable in that Culver City, by at least one estimate, has spent as much as $200,000 in legal costs on the matter. "I feel great," crowed City Atty. Norm Herring, who inherited the case when he was hired in November, 1991. "I feel the city has finally been vindicated."
But has it?
On Wednesday, Ehrlich's counsel/daughter, Lisa Ehrlich, said she filed a petition for a rehearing, contending that the appeals court based its ruling on inaccurate data.
Her chief complaint is that the city, in yielding to neighborhood sentiment, refused to let Ehrlich provide alternative recreational facilities on the property, figuring it could just hit him up for the cash instead.
"They gave no flexibility whatsoever," she said.
And Ehrlich's daughter, terming the fees a form of extortion, showed no sign of running low on energy. If need be, she vowed, she'll carry the case to state Supreme Court.
If only batteries lasted this long.
More than their fair share: Harry and Sema Belafsky are good taxpayers. Maybe \o7 too \f7 good.
For years, the tax bills on their apartment building arrived from the city of Los Angeles. For years they paid them--$800 over the past decade alone. But the six-unit building is in West Hollywood, not Los Angeles. They never should have been paying the L.A. business tax.
A city staffer spotted the error this spring when Harry Belafsky trooped to a local senior center to pay the bill at a makeshift City Hall outlet. The couple filed for a refund, but got only $224. Turns out that three years is the limit on refunds.
But the Belafskys want the rest of their money back and an answer to why they got taxed by Los Angeles in the first place.