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Political Briefing

Zev Stars in Chase Scene, but Riordan Could Use a Writer

September 26, 1997|SHARON BERNSTEIN and HUGO MARTIN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Was it road rage? No, it was Zev the Avenger, chasing down the driver of a car that rear-ended him Tuesday night on the way home from a Hollywood premiere.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was heading south on La Brea Avenue at Hollywood Boulevard when another driver bumped him from behind.

"He got out of his car, and I said, 'What are you doing?' " Yaroslavsky said. "He said, 'Ramming your car.' "

Yaroslavsky suggested pulling over to exchange information. The driver agreed, but instead waited until the supervisor had pulled ahead, then sped up and turned left on Hollywood Boulevard.

"Zev wheeled around and chased him, and then the guy made a left on Orange and then makes a right on Franklin and then hit the Highland traffic and makes a U-turn so he's going west on Franklin again," said Yaroslavsky aide Joel Bellman.

With his wife, Barbara, beside him in their county-provided 1992 Buick Park Avenue, Yaroslavsky stayed on the guy's tail until a traffic jam forced him to stop somewhere on Franklin Avenue.

"Zev pulled up behind him, got out and confronted him," Bellman said.

"I've got your license number," our hero reportedly told the other driver.

Which didn't faze him, apparently, as he made another U-turn and "almost knocked me over," Yaroslavsky said.

At that point, the supervisor said, he called the police.

The next morning, staffers at Yaroslavsky's 3rd District headquarters clamored for details of the chase. The veteran politician obliged them with a full recounting--even diagraming the route on the office blackboard.

Nate as in Late

Last month, when Los Angeles City Council President John Ferraro gave out committee assignments, Councilman Richard Alarcon became chairman of the Transportation Committee, which had for 10 years been headed by Councilman Nate Holden.

The key reason Ferraro took the leadership of the committee away from Holden, according to sources in City Hall, was that he failed to act quickly on motions and legislation put before the panel.

In fact, city records show that under Holden, the panel had a backlog of more than 160 proposals, some of which date back to 1980.

To cut into the backlog, Alarcon has doubled the frequency of panel meetings, from two per month to four.

The backlogged legislation includes the following:

*A 1983 motion by then-councilwoman Pat Russell to support a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Diego.

*A 1986 motion by Ferraro to have police and transportation officials investigate a rash of pedestrian accidents at unmarked crosswalks.

*A 1990 motion by former councilwoman Gloria Molina to use speed bumps to reduce speeding on residential streets.

*A 1991 motion by former councilman Ernani Bernardi to crack down on cruising on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Pacoima.

Some of Holden's own motions have also been bottled up in the committee for years, including a 1988 plan to increase the use of private contractors to improve transportation services.

In fairness to Holden, some of the backlogged items were of little consequence, such as the motion to support a bullet train, which has never been built.

Last Laugh

Mayor Richard Riordan has many friends in the Hollywood community. So why doesn't Hizzoner get a sitcom writer or comic to come up with some fresh jokes?

It's been more than three years since the Northridge earthquake, yet Riordan still relies on an old standby line about the temblor.

This week, Riordan toured five businesses in the northwest San Fernando Valley, where he recited the same earthquake joke at least twice to break the ice with audiences.

The gag goes something like this:

"When the earthquake hit, I had only been in office for a few months and the first thing I thought was, 'What is a mayor supposed to do in an earthquake?'

"I then remembered that on my night stand I had an instruction book for novice mayors. So, I thought maybe that book would have a chapter on earthquakes. But when I looked at the book for the first time, I noticed that it was written by former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono, and I thought, 'This may not help me.' "

. . . AND OTHER HUMOR: Riordan may be having trouble coming up with fresh one-liners but some of his fellow politicians don't have the same problem.

During a meeting Thursday of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich got off a zinger at Riordan's expense during a discussion about the merger of MTA police and the Los Angeles Police Department.

One of the biggest hang-ups with the proposed merger involves pension benefits for the transit police officers. The city charter has to be amended to allow MTA officers to receive pension benefits under an old LAPD plan.

Riordan tried to reassure the MTA members that the pension issue would not be a problem.

"The mayor and chief of police will campaign very strongly for that," said Riordan, who is also chairman of the MTA.

"Will they do a better job than they did with charter reform?" asked Antonovich, referring to Riordan's troubled effort to overhaul the 72-year-old charter that acts as the city's constitution.

After a brief pause, Riordan lamented: "I get no respect."

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