SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland on Tuesday denounced newly proposed amendments to her Valley secession bill as a "phony" way for opponents to kill the legislation without accepting responsibility for doing so.
In rejecting amendments put forth Monday by state Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer, Boland said: "I don't have to be a party to giving people an escape valve from voting on democracy. . . . There's no reason for me to let the bill go through as a sick bill."
But Boland, a Granada Hills Republican, stopped short of saying, as she has in the past, that she will withdraw her bill rather than see it altered by amendments.
The measure, which removes the Los Angeles City Council's veto power over secession requests, has been stuck in the Senate Rules Committee for weeks, awaiting a decision by Lockyer.
The Hayward Democrat on Monday offered what he views as a compromise proposal between the bill's supporters and opponents. It calls for a $1.2-million, state-funded Blue Ribbon Commission to study the issue of breaking up cities statewide.
Lockyer also proposed an in-depth study of the economic and environmental impacts of splitting the Valley away from the city. The study would be done by a consultant agreed upon by both sides and could take up to 18 months.
The proposed amendments eliminate the council veto, but call for a citywide vote on whether the Valley--or any other area--could divorce Los Angeles.
Boland insists that Valley voters alone have a right to control their destiny. A commission appointed by politicians is an arm's-length way to kill the bill without accepting responsibility for voting it down, Boland said.
A commission would "do the dirty work of politicians and vote no, so politicians don't have to vote against democracy," Boland said. "This amendment is sure death of the bill.'
Boland said, if the amendments are attached, it will not be with her approval.
Lockyer, however, doesn't need her approval to amend the bill. And, at this juncture, Boland lacks the votes to pass the legislation in its present form.
She conceded Tuesday that her bill has been in peril ever since it landed in the Lockyer-controlled Rules Committee.
"The bill was in trouble then and it's in trouble now," Boland said.
In a related development, Valley VOTE, a group organized in support of Boland's bill, denounced Lockyer's proposed compromise Tuesday and threatened to spread the secession movement to Venice, Hollywood and San Pedro if it passes.
In a news conference, the group's co-chairman, Richard Close, an attorney from Sherman Oaks, explained that an alliance between Valley secessionists and disaffected residents in other areas of the city would give secessionists a powerful edge should Lockyer's plan for a citywide vote come to pass.
"In order for us to get a majority, we will expand beyond the Valley," Close said, adding that many residents in Hollywood, Venice and San Pedro want to break loose from L.A. as well.
Lockyer's call for a citywide vote on secession is "equivalent to veto power," agreed Harry Coleman, president of the North Hills Community Coordinating Council and a Valley VOTE member. If it passes, the group would have no choice but to fight back by broadening the secession effort, he said.
Close and other Valley VOTE members called upon legislators to allow the bill to go before the full Senate as is.
"We ask that the bill not be muddied and clouded with amendments," said Millie Jones, public affairs director for the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors. "It's very important that the merits of the bill stand on their own."
Lockyer said Monday he will send the bill to the Appropriations Committee, probably next week, for a hearing on the proposed amendments. But he has not yet assigned the bill.
Apprised of Boland's apparent rejection of his plan Tuesday, Lockyer issued a warning.
"Those who refuse to consider constructive suggestions might wind up with nothing at all," Lockyer said through a spokesman. "I'm trying to make the bill more fair and more palatable to all the people in Los Angeles. She should work with me."
Lockyer holds a trump card. He could send the bill to Sen. Richard Polanco's Elections Committee because of an amendment Boland had accepted in another committee. On Monday, Lockyer said there was precedent to do just that.
The secession bill's death in the Elections Committee would be swift. Polanco (D-Los Angeles) is among the most vocal critics of the measure and has vowed to kill it.
Boland said she is open to discussing the bill with Lockyer, but urged him to send it to the full Senate for a vote.
Also contributing to this story was special correspondent Jill Leovy.