From the city's massive debt to its crumbling streets, Los Angeles' problems are so severe that at least one City Council candidate from the San Fernando Valley has concluded it's crazy to think a fix can be found.
Frustrated that Los Angeles' problems appear overwhelming, West Hills businessman Scott Schreiber said this week he has decided to drop out of the race for the West Valley's 3rd District seat on the City Council.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 23, 2000 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Zones Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Scott Wildman--The reason for Scott Wildman's upcoming departure from the Assembly was incorrect in Thursday's Political Briefing column. The Los Angeles Democrat chose to give up his seat to run for state Senate--a race he lost in the March primary. He was not forced out by term limits.
"It's a race I'm not sure I would want to win," Schreiber said. "I have concerns about the future of Los Angeles. I'm not sure any individual can fix it."
In particular, Schreiber said the city's neglect of its streets, sidewalks and buildings has created a crumbling infrastructure that will cost a fortune to fix, at a time when the city is already deep in debt.
He also cited crime problems and the ongoing Rampart police scandal.
Things are so discouraging that Schreiber said he probably will now support the movement to break up Los Angeles and create a Valley city.
Back in November, Schreiber was the first person to file papers to run for the 3rd District seat, being vacated by Councilwoman Laura Chick because of term limits. Chick is running for city controller.
Having raised $30,000 as of June 30, Schreiber was in a position to be competitive in a race featuring six other candidates.
Schreiber's departure from the race leaves some strong candidates still contending.
The other two candidates who each raised more than $30,000 are Francine Oschin and Judith Hirshberg, both of whom have experience at City Hall as aides to council members.
"It changes the dynamics of the race," said Oschin, who has raised the most, $56,000. "It opens the race up. [Schreiber] was in it very early."
PREROGATIVES OF POWER: Assemblyman Scott Wildman (D-Los Angeles) has tried to keep a high profile as he prepares to run for the Los Angeles City Council.
But Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks) removed Wildman from the audit committee last week after Wildman scheduled a hearing on corruption in Hawaiian Gardens against Hertzberg's wishes.
Wildman, who leaves office Dec. 4 because of term limits, said he does not believe Hertzberg can legally remove him from the committee, which he has chaired the past four years. On Sept. 1, Wildman agreed to pass the chairmanship to someone else.
The state statute, Wildman asserted, holds that committee vacancies are only deemed to be created when a member is not reelected in a general election.
"My opinion is that I am still a member, although it is rather academic," Wildman said. "I don't believe he has the authority to remove me."
Wildman said he will ask the Assembly Rules Committee and legislative counsel to clarify how audit committee members can be removed, for the benefit of future legislators.
Hertzberg is confident he acted within the authority of the speakership, said Paul Hefner, a Hertzberg spokesman.
"It has always been the prerogative of the leadership in both houses to name committee members," Hefner said.
Despite the disagreement over the speaker's authority, Wildman said he is not upset with Hertzberg and believes the audit panel will carry out his work looking at Hawaiian Gardens.
"There is no bad blood," said Wildman, who has filed papers to run for the 13th District seat on the Los Angeles City Council.
RETURN APPEARANCE: After two months away from City Hall because of cancer treatment, City Council President John Ferraro made a brief appearance during Tuesday's council meeting, and was greeted by a musical fanfare and applause from his colleagues.
Ferraro, whose district includes parts of North Hollywood and Studio City, entered the council chambers supported by a cane, addressing his colleagues in a weak and reedy voice, but demonstrating he still has his sense of humor.
"The 5 1/2 weeks I was in the hospital--I can only think of one thing worse and that would be on the City Council," Ferraro joked.
Ferraro plans to gradually work back into his role on the council.
DRUMMING UP CASH: In his bid for mayor, Councilman Joel Wachs has enlisted the help of a well-known Democratic insider who has led fund-raising efforts for the presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Peter D. Kelly III, a prominent attorney and former state chairman of the California Democratic Party, will serve as Wachs' finance chairman.
Kelly, 52, served as statewide chair for the Democrats in 1983-85 and 1987-89. He was also Southern California Democratic chairman in 1981-83 and 1985-87.
Drumming up cash is Kelly's expertise. He was a California finance chairman for Carter, campaign manager for former Assemblyman's Richard Katz's mayoral race in 1993 and was on the national finance board for Clinton.
The Golden State, it seems, is an apt name for the donations that flood California.
"It was a rock solid Republican state until 1988," Kelly mused. "Now the Republicans write it off. It is an unbelievable sea change in national politics."
Several weeks ago a Wachs finance committee was formed with the goal of raising an additional $1 million. The Wachs war chest, Kelly said, already contains more than $1 million, with pledges for another $700,000.
And what's a key selling point for Wachs?
"Enthusiasm in the Jewish community is tremendous," Kelly said. "I know that the possibility of having a Jewish mayor has excited those in the community to give money."
One item was not in the Wachs press release about Kelly: he also served as legal counsel to Maria Hsia, who helped organize the controversial Gore fund-raiser at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights in 1996. Kelly also represented the temple during the federal probe.
Hsia, a Los Angeles immigration consultant and longtime Gore fund-raiser, was convicted earlier this year of illegally disguising donations from the temple.