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Griping to the Mayor

May 02, 1999|Ed Leibowitz

It's 10 a.m. on the last Wednesday of the month, time for KFWB radio's "Ask the Mayor." Let the political softballs fly.

"Good morning," host Kathleen Sullivan welcomes. "Please call us here at KFWB News 98, where Mayor Richard Riordan is joining me now."

"Good morning, Kathleen," Riordan smiles. He is wearing a businessman's wingtip and a tycoon's velvet slipper, having broken his toe when he slipped in his dog's, for lack of a better term, pee-pee.

His ease is not feigned: Sullivan, former "CBS This Morning" and CNN anchor, counts herself among his golf partners.

This morning's calls are mostly easy grounders. Complaints about abandoned Hollywood sofas, fractured Tarzana streets, cracked West Covina sidewalks. Then a call about the LAPD suppression of a Venice hip-hop concert interrupts the backyard gripes.

"The videotape [of the incident] doesn't look very good," Sullivan allows.

"No, the videotape, that's show biz!" the mayor says. "And right now we're talking about facts. We're talking about the best-trained, best-disciplined police department in the world, which doesn't mean that they won't make mistakes."

Sullivan, whose hair is refreshingly mussed for an ex-TV anchor, scans her call list and beckons the umpteenth citizen to the mayor's ear. "Dick from West Hills, is that your complaint as well?"

"Hello," Dick says after an interminable pause.

"Hi, Dick," host and guest chorus.

"Is that your complaint as well, about sidewalks with tree roots?" Sullivan asks.

Silence. "Dick?" Sullivan calls out.

"Well, Dick," the mayor says, "great to know a guy named Dick."

Off-mike, the jocularity approaches frat house: "Do they actually pay to have Viagra on," the mayor quips during an ad for the wonder drug, "or do they pay you in kind?" Sullivan warns him of a Sister Mary Gabriel on hold. "I'm scared of the nuns," Riordan says in mock fear, "because they beat me up in school."

Sullivan greets the nun, who tells of a young man who works for her who, despite having attended grade school through college here, must obtain a green card before he can apply for U.S. citizenship.

"So, Sister Mary Gabriel," Sullivan says, pretending shock. "You've hired an illegal?"

"Hey, come on, Kathleen," the mayor guffaws, as he prepares to hit this one out of the park. "You're not going to go to heaven for saying that."

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