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Ethnic Mix, Valley Clout Mark Riordan Appointees : Politics: Mayor's choices for citizen panels include six Latinos, five African-Americans, four Asian-Americans.

July 17, 1993|JAMES RAINEY and MARC LACEY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS; Times staff writer Elaine Tassy contributed to this story

In a sweeping set of appointments that are critical to implementing his proposals, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan on Friday filled five citizen commissions with representatives from all the city's major ethnic groups and gave a strong nod of recognition to his supporters in the San Fernando Valley.

In appointing Ted Stein of Encino as a commissioner and senior policy adviser, Riordan acknowledged the heavy support the area gave him in his victory last month over City Councilman Michael Woo. He also appointed eight other Valley residents to posts on each of the five citizen commissions.

"I think it's clear that the San Fernando Valley will play the same kind of role in his Administration that the Westside did in the previous one," one prominent City Hall lobbyist said. "He clearly understands who supported him and he is clearly moving a lot of power out there."

Riordan's choices for the citizen boards that oversee the airport, Community Redevelopment Agency, Department of Water and Power, Planning Department and Fire Department, and for seats on the countywide Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are an ethnically mixed group. Thirteen are white, six Latino, five African-American and four Asian-American. Exactly half of the 28 appointees are women.

Although the San Fernando Valley is represented by at least one member on each of the five city panels and the county transit agency, South-Central Los Angeles did not fare as well. Only two commissioners appointed Friday live south of the Santa Monica Freeway, and neither lives in South-Central.

At least one commissioner will have to move into the city to qualify for service. Leslie Song Winner, designated for the Fire Commission, lives in Beverly Hills but said she plans to move to downtown Los Angeles next week.

An earlier Riordan appointee to the Police Commission, Enrique Hernandez, had been criticized because he moved to downtown Los Angeles from San Marino shortly before he was selected.

With Stein as its leading light, the Valley's political star appears on the rise at City Hall.

The former city planning commissioner, lawyer and developer will serve as a top adviser to Riordan as well as joining the Airport Commission--a plum assignment because the mayor has said he plans to turn five city-owned airports into profit machines for the city. Riordan hopes to use the money to hire more police officers.

If Riordan's selections are confirmed by the City Council, joining Stein on the Airport Commission will be Dan Garcia, an executive at Warner Bros. Studios who was a commissioner under Mayor Tom Bradley; Martha Brown Hicks, president of the nonprofit Skid Row Development Corp.; Patricia Mary Schnegg, a downtown lawyer who founded the Committee on the Status of Women Lawyers, and Warren Valdry, a housing developer and founder of the philanthropic group 100 Black Men.

Nearly one-third of Friday's appointees live in the San Fernando Valley, home to 35% of the city's population. Fewer than 20% of Bradley's commissioners came from the Valley.

Another demonstration of the Valley's clout is on the newly formed commission of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Former U.S. Rep. Bobbi Fiedler of Northridge will join downtown garment mogul and Studio City resident Stanley Hirsch in delivering a powerful voice for the region on the board, which controls a yearly budget of about $500 million.

Fiedler is a Republican who cut her political teeth as a virulent opponent of busing in the Los Angeles school district. Hirsch is one of the largest political contributors to Democratic politicians in the nation--giving $300,000 over a recent five-year period.

Fiedler complained loudly in the past that downtown Los Angeles has benefited disproportionately from redevelopment.

"My primary concern is that there be a distribution of resources to other parts of the city," Fiedler said. "That includes, in the Valley, places like Arleta and Pacoima, and also South-Central Los Angeles."

But Fiedler will face at least some opposition during her confirmation hearings.

"It's a disastrous appointment," said Councilwoman Rita Walters. "She is a person who has spent a great deal of her life drawing divisions between people that I think were based on color."

Walters, who is black, and Fiedler, who is white, were bitter opponents--principally on the issue of busing students for racial integration--when both served on the Los Angeles school board.

Walters supported school busing while Fiedler led efforts to end it.

"I am just sorry that (Walters) chooses to attack people, rather than attack the city's problems," Fiedler said.

Hirsch's appointment could also become controversial because he is a prominent landlord in downtown Los Angeles, where much of the CRA's business is centered.

"I would think that just about any vote he would cast on downtown redevelopment could hold the seeds of a conflict of interest," said one lobbyist familiar with redevelopment.

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