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Wilson Pushes Committee to OK Anti-Crime Bills : Politics: The governor holds a campaign-style rally to put pressure on Democrats. Brown accuses her rival of staging a political event at taxpayers expense.

August 09, 1994|CARL INGRAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — Citing the 25th anniversary of the murder of actress Sharon Tate by Manson "family" members, Gov. Pete Wilson demanded Monday that a Democrat-dominated legislative committee approve major bills in his anti-crime package.

"Four members of one committee should not be able to hold 32 million people hostage," Wilson told a campaign-style rally organized by his office and crime victim groups who want dozens of anti-crime bills enacted before the Legislature adjourns at the end of this month.

"We are going to make California a safe and civilized place again," said Wilson, who is campaigning for reelection as a crime-fighter. A crowd of about 1,500 victims, peace officers, legislators of both parties and others attended the sunbaked rally.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider at least seven Wilson-supported measures today.

Joining in the demand for action were Patti Tate, sister of the actress who was slain along with four others 25 years ago today by followers of Charles Manson; Mike Reynolds, chief sponsor of the proposed "three strikes" ballot initiative, and Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas, whose abduction from her bedroom and slaying last fall helped to crystallize crime as the No. 1 issue of concern to Californians.

"It's just as painful today as it was then," Patti Tate said of the day in 1969 when her pregnant sister was killed. "The loss and the pain is so great."

Wilson urged the participants in the rally to lobby throughout the Capitol and demand passage of crime bills, especially by the Public Safety Committee. Seven measures high on his priority list include one that would give rapists and child molesters longer prison sentences and another that would make murder by carjacking a death penalty offense.

Critics contend that the committee is usually a cemetery for anti-crime bills, but defenders contend that it has approved many tough measures, especially during this session. The committee is dominated 5 to 2 by Democrats. It takes at least four votes for the panel to approve legislation.

Aides identified the four Democrats on the committee who Wilson has targeted for heavy lobbying as Tom Bates of Berkeley, Mike Gotch of San Diego, Phillip Isenberg of Sacramento and Barbara Lee of Oakland.

"These four Assembly members have already blocked the will of the people once on our death penalty bill and they could do it again," Wilson said.

The legislators voted against a bill that would have extended the death penalty to drive-by shooters who murdered their victims.

But state Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside), who is carrying crime legislation for Wilson and is winding up a legislative career that has spanned two decades, told the rally that the current Legislature has performed well.

"There's been more progress this year in the Legislature on crime than in any of the 20 years that I've been here," Presley said.

The rally on the Capitol steps outside Wilson's office drew fire from the campaign of Kathleen Brown, Wilson's Democratic opponent.

Brown was in Washington trying to round up votes in the California House delegation for the stalled $33-billion national anti-crime bill.

"Today, Pete Wilson is holding a taxpayer-supported rally, a political rally, on the steps of the Capitol. I'd like to see him get behind this crime bill and work for some of the votes . . . so we can replace the 1,600 cops that are off the streets since Pete Wilson became governor."

In Sacramento, Steve Glazer, senior campaign adviser to Brown, accused Wilson of "grandstanding about crime at public expense" and charged that State Police prohibited Brown supporters from displaying a campaign banner and other signs at the rally.

Glazer said staffers were ordered not to display Brown campaign signs by officers. A State Police spokesman confirmed that such signs were not allowed.

Sgt. Larry Seals said Wilson's office and other rally organizers, who had obtained a rally permit, "did not want any political signs or banners." The officer said police considered Brown's sign-wielding supporters to be holding a separate demonstration without a permit.

Gubernatorial press secretary Sean Walsh denied that the rally was a political event. "It was a bipartisan event to move crime legislation, not an event to move anyone's campaign," he said.

In the Legislature, the Assembly defeated for the second time this session a bill making it a possible felony to illegally carry a concealed firearm. The measure by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar) required 41 votes, but failed, 37-30.

It is now a misdemeanor to carry a concealed gun without a permit. The bill would have empowered authorities to charge offenders with either a misdemeanor or a felony,

Katz claimed that gang members "are driving around armed to the teeth. . . . When we start charging them with felonies instead of misdemeanors, we will start getting them off the streets."

But one opponent, Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills), charged that the bill contained "no guarantee that honest citizens will not be thrown in prison for 10 years."

Times staff writers Jerry Gillam and Daniel M. Weintraub in Sacramento and James Bornemeier in Washington contributed to this report.

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