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They're Out In The Cold : The New Conservative Agenda In Washington Could Spell Trouble For Many Inner City Services And Funding

January 01, 1995|LUCILLE RENWICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"I will have to work very hard, intimidate and do whatever is necessary to make sure that Metro Rail gets funding," Dixon said. "Rapid transit for minorities is a very important issue."

Dixon also successfully pushed for $10 million to be transferred from defense conversion projects to the cash-strapped Los Angeles school system to teach engineering, science and computers in largely minority schools over a three-year period.

Political pundits say Dixon's low-key style and conciliatory talents will help him push legislation that may be initially unpopular to the Republican majority.

"The key to (the House's changed political equation) is having some flexibility," he said. "You don't garner consensus by a very dogmatic approach, you alienate people. Compromise is what keeps government functioning."

*

When she was elected to Congress in 1992, Roybal-Allard set her sights on aggressively promoting the interests of her district, which encompasses East Los Angeles, part of Downtown and the Southeast cities.

She immediately started developing a two-year plan for programs to help her constituents and pushed for key Cabinet members to visit the area.

But the surprise Republican stampede quite possibly trampled her agenda.

"In the past, there have been some Republicans we've been able to work with and get agreement, but so far I don't see that happening right now," she said.

One direct result of the increased number of House Republicans is that Roybal-Allard lost her seat on the Small Business Committee. But she retained her post on the more powerful Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee and hopes to push for economic development programs there.

Roybal-Allard's political history dates back to years of watching the political machinations of her father, the legendary Edward Roybal, who retired in 1992 after 30 years of representing much of East Los Angeles in Congress. No sooner had Roybal retired than his daughter staked her claim to a House seat. Roybal-Allard, 53, swept to victory in 1992 and again in November, when she captured 81% of the vote.

In the House, one of her objectives has been garnering funding for information workshops for constituents. Topics have included obtaining citizenship, managing personal finances and small business assistance. She also worked to get funding for the $1.3-billion rail-and-truck Alameda transportation corridor.

But those projects are not likely priorities with Republicans.

And Roybal-Allard concedes that her plan to reintroduce the issue of the tobacco industry targeting women and minorities probably won't get far with Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.) heading the subcommittee on health and the environment. Bliley hails from one of the nation's major tobacco-growing areas.

Discussing the GOP agenda in general, she said: "I'm hoping it's just rhetoric and (Republicans) will back off once they understand what a devastating impact they're going to have on people's lives."

One facet that works in Roybal-Allard's favor is that more financial institutions are realizing it's good business to invest in areas like those she represents: largely Latino, with burgeoning, enterprising cities such as Bell Gardens and Huntington Park.

Roybal-Allard says Democrats have a simple role: to keep the public apprised of everything the Republicans do and make sure nothing is done behind closed doors.

The harder job for House Democrats will be pulling together and creating a more disciplined caucus after 40 years of operating at diverse and disparate levels.

"It's going to be like trying to discipline a spoiled child," Roybal-Allard said. "There's going to be a lot of tantrums. But we're going to have to pull together as a team, which we've never been able to do in the past."

The Lawmakers at a GlanceJULIAN DIXON

* Party: Democrat

* Age: 60

* District: 32nd--Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw, part of South-Central Los Angeles, Culver City, Palms, Mar Vista.

* District demographics: Pop. 1990: 572,630; 24% white; 40% black; 8% Asian; 30% Latino. Households: 38% married; 18% married with children; 50% college educated. Median household income: $28,332. Per capita income: $14,520. Median gross rent: $592. Median house value: $231,400.

* Committees: \o7 Appropriations:\f7 Defense; District of Columbia (chairman); Military construction. \o7 Intelligence:\f7 Program and Budget Authorization.

* Career: Army, 1957-60. Practicing attorney, 1960-73. California Assembly, 1972-78. Elected to Congress, 1978. Dixon had his biggest moment in the national spotlight in 1989, when as chairman of the House Ethics Committee he had to pass judgment on Speaker Jim Wright, who was ultimately forced to resign. LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD

* Party: Democrat

* Age: 53

* District: 33rd--Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, South Gate, Huntington Park, Maywood, Vernon, Florence, Walnut Park and parts of Downey, Los Angeles and East Los Angeles.

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