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Westside Watch

Singer's Panama Platform Reveals That Santa Monica Zeal

March 10, 1994

Let it never be said that we don't keep track of Westsiders near and far--especially those running for president in foreign countries. And on a platform that seems just right for Santa Monica.

Salsa star and actor Ruben Blades, a former Santa Monica resident, returned to his homeland of Panama to run for president. But the singer, known for spicing his salsa songs with calls for political and social justice, isn't doing too hot in his campaign.

Blades is running third in the polls, far behind front-runner Ernesto Perez Balladares, whose party was affiliated with former dictator Manuel Noriega. That was before American troops brought Noriega to Miami in 1990 for trial on federal drug charges (he's serving a 40-year sentence).

Blades, who has appeared in such films as "The Super," "Predator II" and "The Milagro Beanfield War," last year had been the favorite.

He has sought to win the presidency through a Santa Monica-style political party called Papa Egoro, an Indian term roughly translating to Mother Earth. "We don't think or act as a traditional party," he told The Times last year. Papa Egoro vows to fight unemployment, hunger and drugs by seeking solutions directly from the people.

"So far, by decree, our party reserved 50% of the seats to women. That's an example of our attitude. Just like it's a mistake not to ask pregnant women before signing a maternity law, we want to make sure we ask everybody for opinions on how to solve the country's problems, including children. Consensus is the key," Blades said.

Well, if he doesn't win the May election, we figure there just might be room for Papa Egoro back here.

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NOVELTY ITEMS: If necessity is the mother of invention, politics might be the dad.

That's how it looks in West Hollywood lately, where the election season has produced a flurry of experimental new laws. The trend-setting continued Monday, when council members Paul Koretz and Abbe Land each sponsored novel measures in the midst of rival state Assembly campaigns.

Koretz's measure, which passed 5 to 0, would make West Hollywood the first city in the country to require all new buildings to be equipped with outlets for recharging electric cars.

Developers will have to provide one recharging station for every 10 parking spaces--and foot the bill, estimated at $300 to $1,000 per space.

Koretz trotted out "Baywatch" actress Alexandra Paul, an electric car driver, to provide star quality to his news conference on Monday.

Land had her own newsmaker on the agenda: a package of local measures seeking to keep out new gun shops. The council has endorsed the idea, which would require training and background checks of new dealers and employees, open sales records to the city, and keep shops at least 500 feet from schools. The seven gun stores and pawnshops that sell guns in the city will face relicensing hearings.

In recent months, Land and Koretz have staged media events to propose separate city measures on gun control--moves surely made with an eye on voters in the liberal Assembly district. Eight Democrats are vying for the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Burt Margolin (D-Los Angeles).

Land shrugged off suggestions of election-year gimmickry. "Crime is not an election-year issue," she said. "The question is, do you not do something because it looks like grandstanding, or do you do something?"

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JUDICIAL POLITICS: Veteran political consultant Joe Cerrell believes Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Brentwood) pulled a fast one on him.

In the middle of his campaign for a Superior Court judgeship, Friedman dropped Cerrell, who insiders say used his muscle in the local political arena to dissuade potential candidates, particularly lower court judges, from challenging the lawmaker.

But when the filing period for judicial seats closed last month, Cerrell said he never heard from Friedman again. And when a Cerrell staff member called Friedman's office about the consultant fee for the next phase of the campaign, he was informed that Friedman had decided to manage the campaign himself.

Cerrell, who has handled the campaigns of nearly all winning Los Angeles County judicial candidates for almost two decades, was shocked. "I've never had it happen before in 16 years of doing judicial elections," said Cerrell. "I was surprised and disappointed."

Friedman said he never discussed hiring Cerrell for the entire campaign, in which he is running against Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Schirn and attorney John Moriarity.

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