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One City Hall, One City : A timeout, please, in South Los Angeles-Valley bickering over scarce dollars

November 02, 1994

Things have been ugly in the chambers of the Los Angeles City Council. We mean more so than usual.

Here are some examples.

October: San Fernando Valley and South Los Angeles lawmakers lock horns over a relatively small, $1.6-million study on transit planning and economic development that would exclude the Valley. When Councilman Hal Bernson, a Valley representative, suggests the inclusion of five Valley Metrolink stations, Councilman Mike Hernandez responds, "You had an earthquake on Jan. 17 and now you know what it's like to have needs." One Valley station ends up being included in the study.

September: Three Valley members of the council recommend increasing the Valley's share of another small, $2.2-million federal grant to help senior citizens recover from the quake . . . at the expense of seniors in South and South-Central Los Angeles. Lawmakers from those areas protest in a voice that can be heard on Mt. Wilson. (Fortunately, a compromise eventually is reached.)

August: There is disagreement between South Los Angeles lawmakers and Valley representatives over affordable-housing money. The Valley wins a bigger share, but in the midst of the dispute when Valley Councilwoman Laura Chick suggests dividing the money evenly she is scolded by Valley colleagues.

Enough already. Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg said it best: "I'm increasingly disturbed by the notion that there has to be a 'we' and 'they' in our disaster recovery plan. I think that shows a real failure of leadership."

It's time that Valley legislators remember that the city's woes did not begin Jan. 17. And the folks in South Los Angeles must stop looking at the Valley as that greedy and unneedy appendage to the north.

The city's problems are the culmination of the recession, the riots, cutbacks in defense spending, bankruptcies and business departures, high unemployment . . . and a succession of natural disasters that included an earthquake that was the costliest disaster in U.S. history.

Even the street gangs know how to fashion a truce. The council can, too, for the sake of the recovery of all of Los Angeles, not just part of it.

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