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Political Briefing

Robbins Anything but Welcome in Old Political Neighborhood

March 11, 1994|CYNTHIA H. CRAFT and JOHN SCHWADA and HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

KNOCK, KNOCK: Former state Sen. Alan Robbins just happened to be in the neighborhood of the 20th Senate District office in Van Nuys so he decided to drop by. And why not? After all, Robbins carried the flag for the district for nearly two decades while voters returned him time and again to Sacramento.

On this recent day, however, Robbins was on leave from the halfway house in Hollywood where he has been staying since his release from federal prison in Lompoc. And the folks in the 20th District office were not crazy about seeing him.

You see, the current occupant of the Senate seat, Democrat David A. Roberti, is busily fighting a recall attempt. And the last thing Roberti needs is for Robbins--convicted on political corruption and tax evasion charges--to try to renew an old friendship.

Roberti's challengers are already trying to make an issue out of Robbins, and the fact that Roberti had tapped him many years ago to chair the Senate Insurance Committee. During his tenure as committee chairman, Robbins got himself into trouble by extorting money from people in exchange for legislative favors.

"Either he (Roberti) knew about it and was corrupt, or he didn't know about it and was inept," said Dolores White, a GOP candidate trying to unseat Roberti.

Roberti maintains he was disappointed and disgusted by his former colleague's lawlessness.

It was against this backdrop that Robbins showed up the other day.

"The senator doesn't want to have anything to do with him," said Staci Walters, Roberti's campaign communications director. "He feels like he was deceived."

*

FAILED ATTACK: Peter Repovich, the LAPD officer seeking the Republican nomination for the state Assembly seat formerly held by Pat Nolan, bombed Wednesday night when he attacked his chief Republican adversary, Municipal Judge James Rogan, before a crowd of some 250 GOP stalwarts.

Speaking to a mini-convention of Glendale and Burbank Republicans, Repovich denounced Rogan as a Johnny-come-lately convert to the GOP who in fact had been a top activist in the Democratic Party during the Ronald Reagan years.

True, Rogan only joined the GOP in 1988. True, he had been a member of the California Democratic Party Central Committee.

But none of that bothered the Glendale-Burbank Republicans who eagerly lapped up the judge's fire-and-brimstone rhetoric Wednesday about Democratic lawmakers who despise "moral absolutes" and mollycoddle criminals.

Anticipating Repovich's flanking attack, Rogan produced a handwritten 1989 letter from former President Reagan, praising him for his new-found GOP allegiance.

If that wasn't enough, one Republican conventioneer jumped up to wave a copy of a voter registration document showing that Repovich had been a Democrat himself before joining the GOP in 1984.

Peter Musurlian, an aide to U.S. Rep. Carlos Moorhead, another candidate for the Nolan seat, also berated Repovich, who reportedly has raised $350,000 for his campaign and hired a New York-based consultant.

"Peter, you're paying an awful lot of money for bad advice to take shots at a guy who has served his community very well," Musurlian told an approving crowd after Repovich attacked Rogan.

Finally, the numbers told the story: Rogan got 65 of 78 votes cast by the official delegates to the mini-convention and Repovich got none.

Despite the debacle, Repovich was undeterred. "The 43rd District is bigger than this convention," he said afterward. As for Musurlian, he said he would bow out for unity's sake.

*

SAY WHAT? Mayor Richard Riordan, this city's most often quoted speaker-in-training, has once again found himself explaining comments that he says were misinterpreted. The problem is that this time he may have to explain the explanation.

While in Reseda on a tour of Councilwoman Laura Chick's 3rd District, the mayor stopped by her district office to chat with city employees and answer questions of business leaders, school supervisors and others.

One of the first questions came from a city employee who wanted to know if they can expect a raise next year. The mayor said it would be unlikely, considering the city's financial problems and his plan to add more police officers. But he said he was committed to protecting city jobs.

That's when another employee--obviously dissatisfied with his answer--jumped in. "Wasn't there an article in the paper yesterday where you were quoted as saying we get paid too much?" she asked.

Riordan hesitated, then launched his explanation. "Uh . . . you get paid . . . I don't know . . . That was done in a very informal setting where they got that and let me just say this: That's not what I said. What I said is that city employees get significantly more than the private sector and that is one reason why your jobs should be protected because you couldn't maintain your standard of living in the private sector."

Excuse me?

*

CLOSING RANKS: The Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. this week obliquely supported state Sen. David Roberti in his bid to beat back a recall campaign.

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