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Panel Rejects Use of Tobacco Funds for Rampart Suits

March 09, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The City Council's Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday rejected Mayor Richard Riordan's recommendation to issue bonds against future tobacco settlement funds to pay for lawsuits stemming from the Rampart Division police scandal.

The committee, led by Councilman Mike Feuer, called on the council to save $20 million annually from the general fund over the next few years and then consider issuing judgment obligation bonds to help pay for Rampart-related bills.

"At this juncture, I don't think we should be borrowing money until we absolutely need it," City Administrative Officer William Fujioka told the panel.

Councilwoman Rita Walters, who serves on the committee with Feuer and Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, urged her colleagues to follow Fujioka's recommendations.

The mayor's office, however, called on the committee to approve its proposal to swap $300 million in tobacco settlement money expected during the next 25 years for $100 million up front now. Deputy Mayor Jennifer Roth expressed concern that Fujioka's approach would ultimately force the city to cut services.

The full City Council is expected to take up the matter next Wednesday.

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