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FRIDAY SPECIAL / POLITICAL BRIEFING

Worries Tinged With Age Pit Council Members Against Each Other

October 09, 1998|JILL LEOVY and PHIL WILLON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Were the Los Angeles City Council to perform a musical number, a song they might pick is 'Dueling Banjos.' After all, council meetings have begun to sound a little like that anyway.

This week, for instance, City Councilwoman Laura Chick introduced a motion to establish an "Expert Advisory Task Force on Senior Issues."

Chick, a west San Fernando Valley councilwoman, said she was responding in part to recent headline-grabbing stories about neighbors objecting to senior homes in their midst.

Fair enough. But Chick spread her net still further. She called for the task force to recommend ways to address a broad array of needs of the city's growing aging population.

At which point, City Councilman Joel Wachs could sit still no longer. The East Valley councilman took the floor, delicately pointing out that such a task force had already been formed--at his urging.

Turns out Wachs had requested that the city's Department of Aging do a full "needs assessment" for L.A.'s aging population two years ago.

The study, performed in part by scholars at the UCLA school of public policy, is now nearly complete. The department also formed a task force of professors to discuss aging issues, which has met periodically since last year.

Chick doesn't think her effort duplicates Wachs'. Wachs was gracious enough to suggest that the efforts could be tied together. It's left, then, for the public to sort out the exact difference between what Wachs called a "needs assessment" for seniors, and what Chick called "formulating policies and programs that address and mitigate the anticipated impacts of our rapidly growing senior population."

Hello, Goodbye

The new millennium promises to bring great upheaval and doom to Los Angeles--at least for a few politicians representing the San Fernando Valley.

Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) has only two years left before term limits usher him out of office, creating a vacancy likely to pit two of L.A.'s Democratic heavyweights against each other.

Both Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), the speaker pro tempore, and Assemblyman Wally Knox (D-Los Angeles) live in Hayden's district, which includes Hollywood, Santa Monica, Woodland Hills and Studio City. Both also can serve only two more years in the lower chamber before term limits boot them from the Assembly.

"That could be one of the better races of the year," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant and publisher of the California Target Book, a political report that handicaps congressional and state legislative races. "Both are well-liked and considered rising stars."

Knox said he's interested in Hayden's seat, although neither he nor Kuehl has announced any intention to run. (It would be a bit premature, after all, since both face lesser-known Republican challengers in their Assembly races Nov. 3.)

"Sheila and I get along very well, so I'm not sure what will happen," said Knox, chairman of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee. "Welcome to term limits."

Money From Orbit

Once again, Rep. Brad Sherman's reelection campaign for the 24th Congressional District owes thanks to the business associates of Randy Hoffman, his Republican challenger.

In September, Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) received a second $500 check from Orbital Sciences of Virginia. Orbital is the parent company of Magellan Systems Corp. in San Dimas, the high-tech firm of which Hoffman was president before stepping down to run for office.

It was the second $500 donation Sherman had received from Orbital this year.

"We are grateful for the support," said Peter Loge, Sherman's campaign manager.

The district stretches from Sherman Oaks to Thousand Oaks.

Party Affair

The House vote Thursday to launch an impeachment inquiry of President Clinton split along party lines among members from the San Fernando Valley.

Republican Reps. James Rogan (Glendale) and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (Santa Clarita) voted with the Republican majority in favor of impeachment proceedings.

Although 31 Democrats voted with the GOP, none was from the Valley.

Democratic Reps. Sherman, Howard Berman of Mission Hills and Henry Waxman of Los Angeles all voted against the GOP's proposal for a House inquiry into the allegations of perjury and abuse of power by the president.

Rogan, a freshman Republican who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which will conduct the impeachment hearing, took to the House floor to say Congress has an obligation to investigate when allegations are "serious and credible."

"This Congress must decide whether we, as a nation, will turn a blind eye to allegations respecting both the subversion of the courts and the search for the truth," Rogan said shortly before the vote.

Earlier in the week, Berman chastised members from both parties for turning the matter into a partisan slam dance.

"The only effect of the spinning from either side of the aisle is to cloud thought and to degrade whatever dignity the Congress still has left," Berman told his fellow House Judiciary Committee members shortly before a party-line vote in favor of the impeachment hearings. "This public relations spinning makes me dizzy. Let's seek some common ground."

Strange Bedfellows

Los Angeles City Council seats are officially nonpartisan, but that doesn't mean there's any doubt where people stand. So when Jackie Goldberg, a liberal's liberal, and Hal Bernson, a pro-business Republican, teamed up repeatedly during a lengthy council session last week, Goldberg couldn't let the event pass without comment.

Taking the floor to echo Bernson for a final time in his support for a brush-clearance measure, Goldberg cast an arch glance Bernson's way. Agreeing with Bernson more than once a day was unsettling, she said, adding: "This is getting pretty heavy for all of us, Mr. Bernson."

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