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Cardenas Gets Labor Federation's Nod for Council

Politics: The group votes after the assemblyman says he opposes secession of the Valley. Many unions fear job losses if L.A. is broken up.


Assemblyman Tony Cardenas' campaign for the Los Angeles City Council won the coveted endorsement of the county Federation of Labor on Friday after the legislator said he opposes the secession of the San Fernando Valley.

Cardenas, a Democrat from Panorama City, beat out DreamWorks SKG executive Wendy Greuel for the endorsement of the federation's Committee on Political Education after he won more than two-thirds of the vote of the 80 union representatives present.

Secession has become a key issue for many unions, who fear that members will lose quality jobs if Los Angeles is broken into four cities, including one in the harbor area and one in Hollywood.

"A lot of the unions agree that they want someone who will join them in fighting secession," said Miguel Contreras, executive secretary-treasurer of the federation. "It was very clear Tony Cardenas was against secession and he would help us defeat it. Wendy Greuel said she was going to rely on the voters to decide."

The federation is an umbrella group for unions representing 728,000 workers in the county, including about 5,000 in the East Valley's 2nd Council District. The federation sends mail directly to union members in favor of its chosen candidates.

The endorsement is "very important," Cardenas said. "There are a lot of working families of the county federation in the district. My father was a member."

Cardenas said he is against secession but believes Valley residents should get a chance to vote on the question. He criticized the financial studies done so far by the Local Agency Formation Commission.

"The study was dismal. It didn't provide the information we need," Cardenas said. "At this time, based on the information I have, I cannot support secession."

Greuel said she is awaiting the final plan and additional analysis before making up her mind, and wants the voters to be given a chance to decide the issue on its merits.

"We do not have enough information to make that decision at this time," she said. "We should try to keep the city together. But people are looking for someone with an open mind."

Greuel accused Cardenas of changing his position based on the audience, alleging that during a recent candidates forum in North Hollywood he said he needed more information from LAFCO before taking a position and wanted to let the voters decide.

"It's wrong to just say what people want to hear," she said.

Greuel has won the endorsement of Richard Close, chairman of the secession group Valley VOTE, he said.

"I don't know how Tony Cardenas could oppose Valley cityhood when LAFCO hasn't put forward a plan for discussion," Close said. "It seems irresponsible for him to be taking a position at this time. He has sided with labor as opposed to the Valley voters."

LAFCO plans to release a final plan soon before deciding whether to put Valley and harbor cityhood proposals on the November 2002 ballot.

Meanwhile, Greuel has won the endorsement of the Central City Assn., officials said Friday.

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