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ELECTION / CITY COUNCIL : Yaroslavsky Makes Strong Debate Showing


A newly confident Barbara Yaroslavsky hit her stride at a Westside campaign forum Tuesday night, finally finding the authoritative tone and speaking style that has eluded her throughout her campaign to succeed her husband, Zev, on the Los Angeles City Council.

"I have to give it to her," said Sunny Foss, a homeowner in the Beverly Glen area who supports Yaroslavsky opponent Mike Feuer. "She was strong and presented well."

The forum, one of dozens held in the politically active 5th District, was a joint effort of three homeowners groups: the Roscomare Valley Assn., the Glenridge Homeowners Assn. and Residents of Beverly Glen.

The groups represent hillside communities in the Westside part of a district that pairs Westwood, Cheviot Hills and the Fairfax area with Sherman Oaks and parts of Studio City, Van Nuys and North Hollywood.

KABC-TV anchor Paul Dandridge, past president of the Roscomare Valley group, moderated the low-key discussion before an audience of about 100.

Foss was not alone in remarking on the change in Barbara Yaroslavsky since her early primary appearances.

Robert H. Collins, president of the Glenridge Homeowners Assn., said Yaroslavsky is no longer tentative and noncommittal as she was in the beginning of the race.

"Now she's thinking for herself," Collins said. For example, she opposed a Department of Water and Power proposal to build a water filtration plant at the Stone Canyon Reservoir west of Beverly Glen.

With less than a week to go before the general election, the question is whether Yaroslavsky's newfound self-assurance has come too late for her to catch up with Feuer, who outpolled her 39% to 26% in the primary and has shown no sign of letting up.

Feuer, an attorney who ran the legal services clinic Bet Tzedek, has won support by offering himself as a fresh leader with the vision and energy needed to govern troubled Los Angeles.

A polished stump speaker from Day 1 of the campaign, Feuer was no less so Tuesday night. He artfully dodged an attack on one of his mailers, and drew hearty applause by saying: "I know you care about issues and you don't want negativism. . . . Let's not be distracted by a desperate [Yaroslavsky] campaign."

The mailer in question, signed by two board members of a group called Democrats for Israel, implies that the group has endorsed Feuer when it has not, Yaroslavsky charged. Furthermore, she said, the letter was meant to be deceptive because it used letterhead that looked as if it was from the group but was not.

Feuer denied that the mailer is misleading.

The Feuer campaign was also on the offensive Tuesday. In a letter to the city Ethics Commission, Feuer consultant Larry Levine accused the Yaroslavsky campaign of failing to report various expenses for campaign literature as well as underreporting campaign contributions on her latest financial disclosure forms.

By making it appear that she raised less and spent less, Yaroslavsky hoped to avoid scrutiny of her fund raising and spending, Levine said.

"You don't pay bills until you receive them" responded Yaroslavsky. As for the contributions, Yaroslavsky said, her staff is processing the checks as fast as they can. "I don't know if Mike Feuer has as many checks as we do," she said.

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