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May 30, 1999

Re "Anger Simmers in His District," May 23: The Times seems obsessed with Mark Ridley-Thomas' popularity and personality. That seems an odd way to measure the performance of a City Council member. The better question is how effective are our elected officials. I don't think any member of the council can rival Ridley-Thomas' record of achievement during his term.

I live in the 8th District, and for nearly 10 years I worked as a legal-aid attorney in the area as well. Ridley-Thomas brought development to a community that had largely been ignored, he made city services accessible to his constituents and he implemented a model of participatory democracy--the Empowerment Congress--that should be adopted citywide.

Certainly there are those who dislike his style, and they are entitled to their opinions. Yet The Times' emphasis on personality over product misses the point. Our elected officials should be held accountable for utilizing their tenure to improve the quality of life in their districts and the city as a whole. By that standard, Ridley-Thomas is a standout.

MARY M. LEE, Los Angeles


As one of the oldest business owners in Leimert Park Village, I would like to comment on the article regarding Ridley-Thomas. I believe it to be misleading in stating that the councilman is disrespected in his district. In fact, the councilman received 75% of the vote in the last City Council election.

No one else, if my memory serves me correctly, has ever reached out to the African American community for a project with the magnitude of the NFL deal. Proof that Ridley-Thomas is not just dealing with the big shots downtown, he hosted a first-class luncheon to inform the community of the opportunities for jobs as well as new business opportunities. He made sure that our community and business owners got more than just the crumbs.

I applaud Ridley-Thomas for his tenacity, brilliance and hard work to bring the NFL to the Los Angeles Coliseum.


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