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THE HAHN INAUGURAL

Hahn Sworn In as Mayor, Lays Out Course of Action

Government: L.A.'s new leader lists police reform, schools and housing as priorities. He seeks to mend political fences.

July 03, 2001|MATEA GOLD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

James K. Hahn was sworn in as the 40th mayor of Los Angeles Monday, reaching out to those who voted against him and promising a host of nuts-and-bolts solutions to the problems he says confront the city--from its shortage of affordable housing to its threatened breakup.

Dressed in a blue suit and gold tie and smiling in the hot morning sun, Hahn spoke in plain language to the more than 1,000 people who gathered on the south lawn of the newly renovated City Hall. He used his appearance to try to mend fences from a tough mayoral campaign even as he looked ahead to holding an office he has long dreamed of occupying.

"For those who did not support me, I will work every day to make sure you know that I am truly your mayor," Hahn said, standing on a stage decked out in red, white and blue bunting.

"We will make the great city of Los Angeles strong by making the people of this city understand that we're stronger together than if we go our separate ways," he added. "We're going to do this not by scaring or threatening our fellow citizens, but the old-fashioned way: by earning the trust of every single community."

Hahn's address symbolically launched his administration and marked the opening of a new period at City Hall. For 20 years, Democratic Mayor Tom Bradley governed with a generally liberal and Democratic City Council, only to have that hegemony overturned by Richard Riordan, a Republican who won the mayor's office in 1993 after Bradley retired.

With his election, Hahn, a Democrat who was allied with Bradley, turns City Hall from some of the preoccupations of the Riordan years. Hahn's speech, for instance, emphasized reform of the Los Angeles Police Department and his promise to create a $100-million housing trust fund--two ideas that Riordan was sometimes faulted for pursuing without enthusiasm.

Almost a month after he beat opponent Antonio Villaraigosa in a tough, rhetorically sharp campaign, Hahn praised his onetime rival--who was among those in attendance--and attempted to sound an inclusive tone. The new mayor even spoke briefly in carefully enunciated Spanish, a gesture that was greeted warmly by the audience.

Villaraigosa, who sat in the front row during the ceremony, stood up and waved when Hahn called him "someone I truly respect." The former Assembly speaker is recovering from throat surgery and could not speak, but released a statement offering the new mayor "my undivided support."

With the City Council seated behind him, Hahn also promised to work in partnership with his fellow officials. That was not always the case in the 1990s, when the council often was at odds with Riordan, who sat next to Hahn during much of the ceremony Monday, usually with arms crossed but often applauding during the new mayor's speech.

"As mayor, I'm not going to head an isolated, separate branch of government," Hahn said. "I will listen to the city's elected officials because they, too, speak for the people."

Monday's ceremony opened with an ebullient Hahn bounding down the steps of City Hall and into the crowd, where he shook hands and posed for photos. Returning to the stage, he joined his wife, children, mother and sister Janice, who was sworn in as a City Council member. Seven other council members also took the oath Monday, as did City Controller Laura Chick and City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo.

Federal Judge Harry Pregerson, an old friend of the Hahn family, then swore in the new mayor, whose family joined him for the event. Hahn's young son fidgeted impatiently through the event, at one point leaning his elbows on the dais. His aunt, Councilwoman Hahn, gently pulled him back.

"Amen, thanks!" Hahn concluded heartily after taking the oath. He then turned and addressed his constituents.

With his family looking on, Hahn paid homage to his father, the late county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn.

"I've never been more proud of my family's name or more proud of my father's legacy of public service," he said. "But what matters is not just the name my father gave me, but what I learned from him: that politics and public service are about people."

Hahn's speech was packed with references to specific tasks he pledged to take on as mayor, referring in general terms to two of the city's toughest challenges: the efforts to split up Los Angeles, and the ongoing attempts to get to the bottom of police corruption while maintaining morale in the LAPD.

The new mayor made it clear that rehabilitating the Police Department is one of his top priorities, an issue he has emphasized in the weeks since his election. He vowed to implement the federal consent decree that mandates reforms of the department--Hahn and his office helped negotiate that decree--and to stem the attrition that is dwindling the department's ranks.

Hahn has promised to implement a compressed work schedule for police officers within 90 days, a proposal that drew controversy during the election and that is opposed by some council members and others.

The new mayor also pledged to:

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