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Riordan Picks Associate's Wife as Valley Liaison

September 04, 1993|JOHN SCHWADA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mayor Richard Riordan has picked as his Valley liaison the wife of a principal in Riordan & McKinzie, the powerful downtown law firm the mayor founded.

Sherman Oaks resident Cecilia Aguilera, 35, a property management executive, will fill one of the two San Fernando Valley liaison jobs, Deputy Mayor Jadine Neilsen said Friday.

Aguilera, a political unknown, is married to attorney Jeffrey L. Glassman, a principal in the Riordan firm. Riordan divested himself of his interests in the firm upon taking office.

The liaison job proved a steppingstone to higher office for its last incumbent, Richard Alarcon, now a councilman, and those who hold the job work as the mayor's "eyes and ears" in the city's far-flung communities, identifying community problems, solutions and issues.

The job pays $39,806 a year, and Riordan plans to have nine of the field representatives throughout the city. Five of the liaisons have been named so far, but only one from the Valley.

For the past three years, Aguilera, who graduated from UCLA Law School, worked at Tooley & Co., a real estate and development firm where she was known by her married name, Cecilia Glassman.

"She has chosen to use her maiden name for the mayor's office," said Tom LaBonge, who heads the mayor's liaison unit. The woman's brief biography, released by the mayor's office, underscored her Latino heritage.

Aguilera, who worked as a volunteer in Riordan's campaign, said she joined the mayor's staff because of her concern about Los Angeles social and economic well-being. "I was born and raised here and my children are now growing up here and I am very concerned about the city," she said in an interview from her office at Van Nuys City Hall.

Alarcon said he first met Aguilera this week. "It's a key position because you're the mayor's face in the community," said Alarcon, who held the same post under former Mayor Tom Bradley.

Meanwhile, the top candidate for the second Valley liaison job reportedly has been dropped from consideration because of her ties to Councilwoman Laura Chick, who recently upset the Riordan Administration on a key vote.

Georgia Mercer, who has been active in women's and Jewish groups in the Valley for two decades, confirmed that Riordan's office recently told her that she is no longer under consideration for the other liaison job.

"Yes, there was a change of mind," said the 52-year-old Tarzana resident, who declined to comment further on her dealings with Riordan's office.

City Hall sources have speculated that Riordan dropped Mercer from consideration to punish Chick, who two weeks ago angered Riordan by voting against confirmation of Xavier Hermosillo, his controversial appointee to the Fire Commission. Hermosillo ran afoul of council members, including Chick, for using a derogatory term to describe blacks and for his strong views that Latinos will come to dominate Southern California. Mercer ran Chick's lucrative political fund-raising effort in her successful bid last spring to unseat incumbent Joy Picus. Chick, who was Picus' former deputy, managed to virtually match Picus dollar for dollar in fund raising.

Mercer's appointment also was sponsored by Chick. "She introduced Georgia Mercer to me," Neilsen said. "I have great respect for Laura and that's why I was so anxious to meet with Georgia."

But Deputy Mayor Neilsen denied Mercer was dropped because of Chick's vote on the Hermosillo confirmation.

"That's ridiculous," she said. Instead, Mercer was dropped because the mayor's office is rethinking the duties of the job, Neilsen said.

Chick refused to comment on the matter. But according to one source, the mayor's staff signaled Chick that there was "a nexus between Hermosillo and Mercer not getting the job."

During the Hermosillo flap, Chick vividly described the mayor's lobbying efforts in behalf of his Fire Commission appointee as involving arm-twisting. After the vote, Chick also criticized Riordan's office for ignoring her early warnings that Hermosillo's appointment was in jeopardy.

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