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FRIDAY SPECIAL | Political Briefing

LAPD Rank and File's Stamp of Approval for Katz Doesn't Stick

February 27, 1998|This column was written and reported by Times staff writers Hugo Martin, Sharon Bernstein and Evelyn Larrubia

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon got a boost in his bid to be the next state senator from the San Fernando Valley when he was endorsed last week by the union that represents the LAPD's 10,000 rank and file members.

But you would have thought the union had already endorsed someone else by reading a letter that the head of the union wrote to The Times last year.

In a May 19, 1997, letter, Police Protective League President Dave Hepburn spoke in glowing terms about former Assemblyman Richard Katz, who had announced he was considering a run at the job.

The letter, co-signed by Pete Brodie, president of the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, called Katz a "refreshingly straight-talking no-nonsense legislator."

The letter goes on to say: "Hundreds of candidates seek the support of our organizations. For the first time ever, we're recruiting one, Richard Katz for state Senate."

What a difference nine months make. Last week, Hepburn issued a statement, saying the union had endorsed Alarcon because he has shown "an unwavering commitment to public safety."

Katz and Alarcon, both Democrats, are considered the leading candidates to replace state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles), who is being forced out by term limits.

On Thursday, Hepburn explained the union's apparent change of heart by saying he didn't know Alarcon was interested in the state Senate seat when he wrote the letter about Katz. Once Alarcon entered the race, Hepburn said, the union compared the two candidates and decided to support Alarcon over Katz.

"We were in a dilemma because both have been friends of the Police Protective League," he said.

But Katz's campaign staff contradict Hepburn's recollection of the events. Howard Gantman, a spokesman for Katz's campaign, said both Katz and Alarcon were quoted in local newspaper articles expressing interest in the post a week before Hepburn's letter was written.

Gantman suggested the union's decision to support Alarcon has more to do with the fact that Alarcon is a council member who votes on key police contracts.

Housing Matters

Republican state Senate candidate Ollie McCaulley probably won't be winning the endorsement of tenants rights advocates as he battles for the Rosenthal seat.

McCaulley has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against a Sylmar-based landlord for whom McCaulley works.

According to Larry Gross, who heads the Coalition for Economic Survival, McCaulley was involved when an organizer was thrown out of the L.A. Gardens apartment complex in Los Angeles and arrested for trespassing.

According to the lawsuit, the tenant had been the personal guest of a resident of the federally subsidized apartment complex, and was inside an apartment when police, summoned by representatives of the owner, arrested her.

A judge threw out the arrest, but the company that owns the building sued the activist group, saying that they had damaged business.

Aided by the ACLU, Gross' group and several other organizations counter-sued, naming company president Frank De Santis and McCaulley, along with other employees, as cross-defendants.

McCaulley, who serves as governmental relations director for the Community Partnership Development Corp., which owns the building, said he was named in the suit simply because he was an employee of the company. He would not discuss the case or the allegations by Gross, saying he had been advised to keep mum by the nonprofit firm's attorneys.

Campaign Gimmicks

Two years ago when Democrat Brad Sherman was running for the 24th District congressional seat, his gimmick was to pass out combs with his name emblazoned on the side. The joke was that Sherman, a bald, bespectacled CPA, had little use for the combs except to promote himself in the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Anthony Beilenson.

Sherman is now running for reelection and he is still handing out combs.

His challenger Republican Thousand Oaks businessman Randy Hoffman has his own gimmick: Hoffman issues newsletters to supporters on letterhead that reads "Randy Gram."

The latest "Randy Gram" announced that Hoffman had won the endorsement of several prominent Republicans, including Rep. Elton Gallegly, State Treasurer Matt Fong, former Assemblywoman Paula Boland and former state Sen. Ed Davis.

Sherman can't put that kind of information on a comb.

Investing in the Future

Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) introduced legislation that would raise the annual limit on contributions to individual retirement accounts from $2,000 to $5,000.

If passed, the Small Savers Retirement Enhancement Act, introduced to the House of Representatives earlier this month, would affect all types of IRA plans, said Laura Woolfrey, a spokeswoman for Gallegly.

In a statement, Gallegly said the bill would help provide Americans with "a more comfortable future.

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