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Valley, Harbor May Escape Rampart Costs by Seceding

September 07, 2000

LOS ANGELES — New cities that split from Los Angeles may escape liability for the LAPD Rampart Division scandal, which could cost taxpayers $125 million, a consultant said Wednesday.

The analysis, which was immediately challenged by city lawyers, was cited by consultant Craig Hoshijima during a meeting about issues that might emerge if voters approve secession for the San Fernando Valley and the harbor area.

Hoshijima, whose firm was hired by the Local Agency Formation Commission to study the potential impacts of secession, said lawyers were consulted about the question of who would pay the claims stemming from allegations that Rampart Division police officers abused suspects by beating, framing and shooting them.

"One of their analyses is that the new cities may not be liable for the Rampart litigation," said Hoshijima, with the consulting firm Public Financial Management.

But Pete Echeverria, the chief assistant city attorney in charge of civil liability, quickly criticized the conclusion.

"The impression that I've formed is [that] the assets and liabilities are pretty much split, so I would think there would be a split of the Rampart liability as well," Echeverria said after the City Hall meeting.

State law gives LAFCO, which will oversee any breakup, the power to decide whether the Valley and harbor areas were exempt from Rampart costs because the abuses occurred elsewhere. Activists have also undertaken a campaign to break Hollywood away from Los Angeles.

Before a vote on a breakup can occur, LAFCO must conclude that secession will not financially harm either the new cities or the remainder of Los Angeles.

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