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HARBOR AREA : Riordan's Appointments to Board Draw Criticism


Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan's appointment of two new members to the Harbor Commission this week has fueled criticism that he is turning over the port's huge operation to a five-member panel indifferent to or ignorant of neighboring communities.

This week, Riordan named Jonathon Y. Thomas, board chairman of Saybrook Capital Corp., and Leland Wong, regional director of government relations for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, to the Harbor Commission.

Thomas, appointed to a three-year term, replaces Steven L. Soboroff, who was reassigned to the Recreation and Parks Commission. Wong, who served as president of the Airport Commission under former mayor Tom Bradley, was appointed for five years.

Longtime Wilmington activist Gertrude Schwab, who was considered the strong local voice on the commission, was not reappointed.

"Without her there, I'm not sure that we will have someone to speak out for the community," said Roy Igo, chairman of the Wilmington Community Advisory Committee that Schwab served on before her appointment to the Harbor Commission.

Schwab told The Times that Deputy Mayor Mike Healy called her with the news about 9 p.m. last Friday.

"He offered me a position as a Convention Center commissioner. I'm thinking about it," she said.

Schwab, who served a one-year term, said she is disappointed that she was replaced.

"(The board) is wonderful. I think they fulfilled their job every way and they always told me I was their conscience," she said.

Neither Thomas nor Wong lives near the Port of Los Angeles and their selection drew objections from some in the communities of San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway.

"I'm disappointed in Richard Riordan. There are many people in the harbor area he could have picked," said Joann Wysocki, president of the Wilmington Homeowners' Assn.

Tom Kruesopon, spokesman for Harbor area Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr., said Riordan broke an earlier commitment to keep local representation on the harbor board.

Noelia Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Riordan, said the mayor's selections were based on feedback from City Council members and the ability of appointees to represent the best interests of Los Angeles, not only the port.

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