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Hayden Gets Support of DWP Chief

April 03, 2001|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tom Hayden has been endorsed for the Los Angeles City Council by Department of Water and Power head S. David Freeman, whose success at keeping electricity on at reasonable rates has made him a popular figure.

But rivals criticized Hayden for voting as a state senator for legislation that deregulated power and contributed to California's energy crisis.

"It is surprising that Freeman endorsed Hayden," said Steve Saltzman, one of 11 candidates in the 5th District race. "It is ill-informed and ill-considered, because Tom Hayden voted for deregulation in the state of California, which has destabilized the economy of the state."

Freeman said Monday that lawmakers in 1996 unanimously passed deregulation legislation, which was designed to reduce customer bills by introducing more competition. The DWP general manager said Hayden played a legislative role in exempting the Los Angeles DWP from deregulation, an act that has so far saved the city from the blackouts and rate hikes that have hit other parts of the state.

"Tom Hayden has been a supporter of conservation and renewable energy, and he played a role in helping me to shut down a nuclear reactor in Sacramento," Freeman said.

A statement from Hayden said he reluctantly had supported deregulation "to save the Los Angeles DWP and public utilities from being included in the privatization scheme, . . . to obtain over $500 million in subsidies and incentives for conservation and renewable resources, and . . . to save consumers in my constituency from rate hikes."

At the time, environmental groups including the National Resources Defense Council, were in favor of the legislation and "Pete Wilson and the private utilities had the upper hand," Hayden said. Hayden said he later signed on for a citizen's ballot initiative, which would have repealed the deregulation law.

Rival candidate Laura Lake also questioned Freeman's action.

"He is very popular, because we don't have skyrocketing power bills," Lake said, "but I'm surprised he endorsed. I did not approach him, because I did not think it is appropriate."

The 5th District extends from Westwood to Van Nuys. Most of the candidates were out walking precincts and calling voters Monday.

Taking advantage of clogged freeways that bring many San Fernando Valley commuters over the Santa Monica Mountains to West Los Angeles, Saltzman stood Monday morning at the corner of Beverly Glen Boulevard and Mulholland Drive, where he passed out 600 fliers offering what he called a solution to the traffic problems.

Saltzman proposed bringing back the traffic plan that was used during the 1984 Olympics. Included are mandatory increases from 5% to 100% in the number of public employees working staggered schedules and a ban on commercial truck deliveries during rush hour.

Lake proposed in a mailer a high-speed bus or light-rail system below ground in the Valley.

Meanwhile, in the West Valley's 3rd District race, candidate Francine Oschin drew criticism Monday for proposing in a mailer that the city "launch random LAPD checkpoints near schools to search vehicles for weapons."

Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Dennis Zine, another candidate in that race, said he does not think officers could legally stop and search cars near schools.

"We do need safe campuses, but we don't need extreme measures that are unconstitutional or illegal," Zine said.

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