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Westside Watch

Despite NAFTA, Harman Gets a Vote of Confidence

July 21, 1994

Last fall, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor tried his best to persuade Rep. Jane Harman (D-Marina del Rey) to support the North American Free Trade Agreement.

And even though President Clinton called her as the vote approached, she never did.

With the pact signed, sealed and delivered, it looks like they've let bygones be bygones. Last week, Kantor was stumping for Harman at a $500-a-plate fund-raiser in downtown Los Angeles.

"There's enthusiasm for the congresswoman to come back," he said after the luncheon. "I wouldn't be here otherwise."

Kantor noted Harman was an early opponent of NAFTA, even during her 1992 election race.

But Harman's opponent, Rancho Palos Verdes Councilwoman Susan Brooks, issued a press release on Kantor's visit, calling it "extremely ironic."

"One person endorsed the pact and supported free trade, the other spearheaded the fight against free trade," Brooks said. "Either Kantor or Harman is very hypocritical."

Harman, however, said it was the pact--not free trade--that she opposed.

"Friends can disagree," Harman said. "My opposition was we should do a better NAFTA, not that we shouldn't have a trade agreement."

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UNNAMED SOURCES: When you are a council member in the second largest city in America, it can be difficult to keep straight the names of all those bureaucrats, constituents and community leaders that you deal with every day.

Just ask Los Angeles Councilman Marvin Braude, who had such trouble during a recent council discussion on a plan by a coalition of churches and synagogues to use city funding for an anti-gang program.

The head of the organization was at the podium when Braude arose.

"Mr. McAllister," he said, getting no response. "Mr. McAllister," Braude said louder, still unable to get the man's attention. "Mr. McAllister, would you please look at me when I'm speaking to you," he said, almost shouting.

"My name is Mr. Fitzgerald," answered Greg Fitzgerald, the director of Hope in Youth, as some observers in the council chamber bit their tongues to keep from laughing.

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WHAT UNITY?: Post-primary Republican Party unity is still proving elusive in the 24th Congressional District, where attorney Richard Sybert got 47% of the vote in June to win the GOP nod to run against U.S. Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills), whose district includes parts of Malibu.

Although more than a month has elapsed since the primary, several of Sybert's GOP peers have yet to lend support for their party's standard-bearer as he prepares to go against Beilenson.

Banking consultant Bob Hammer reaffirmed this week that he will not back Sybert and real estate broker Emery Shane is taking a similar position.

"Don't get me wrong--I'm not supporting Beilenson either," said Shane, who got 8% of the vote. "The big dilemma for me is this: I feel Beilenson is honestly wrong in his politics but Sybert is a guy I can't trust, even though I agree with him on a number of issues."

Hammer, who came in second with 17% of the vote, said of the Sybert campaign: "I acknowledge that they ran a clever campaign, but it was not one designed to unite the party afterwards."

Taking a contrary stance was public relations man Mark Boos Benhard, an aide to former Rep. William Dannemeyer, who scored 12% of the vote in the June 7 primary. Benhard, who allied himself with right-wing Republicans during the race, said he would encourage all Republicans to back the party's nominees in November. "And that includes Sybert," Benhard said this week. On the other hand, Benhard said, no one from Sybert's camp has approached him to help out.

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