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Bustamante Backs Hollywood Secession

Cityhood: The lieutenant governor opposes Valley breakaway bid as too harmful to rest of L.A.


Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante said Monday he supports Hollywood secession but opposes a breakaway bid by the San Fernando Valley because it would harm the rest of Los Angeles.

Bustamante, who is from the Fresno area, is the highest-ranking elected official to weigh in on the secession campaign so far.

The lieutenant governor said he had decided to back Hollywood independence at the request of Gene La Pietra, the leader of the secession drive.

La Pietra has been Bustamante's friend and political supporter for five years.

"I support Hollywood secession and not Valley secession," Bustamante said.

"I just think there is a dramatic difference. Hollywood is a small community. It has its own identity."

The loss of Hollywood and its roughly 160,000 residents would not hurt the finances of the remainder of Los Angeles nearly as much as Valley secession would, Bustamante said. The Valley is home to 1.35 million people.

"Having the Valley secede would almost destroy Los Angeles," Bustamante said.

Both cityhood proposals are on the Nov. 5 ballot.

La Pietra said Bustamante's backing would give the Hollywood campaign a big boost, especially among Latino voters.

"It's terrific," La Pietra said.

About 35% of Hollywood residents are Latino, and secessionists have stepped up efforts to win over Latino voters.

La Pietra, a nightclub owner, said he has given a total of $5,000 in political contributions to Bustamante over the years, most recently in 2000.

Bustamante said the contributions did not influence his decision to back Hollywood secession.

Kam Kuwata, who is managing Mayor James K. Hahn's campaign against secession, said he was surprised by Bustamante's announcement.

"He's not from here and the local leaders, the lion's share of them, are going to oppose secession," Kuwata said.

"Cruz usually does not want to be associated with losing ventures, but I guess he's changing."

Kuwata noted that former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council President Alex Padilla are campaigning against secession.

Gov. Gray Davis has not taken a position.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Council is scheduled today to formally ask the Local Agency Formation Commission to reconsider its decision putting Hollywood secession on the ballot.

A resolution before the council says the LAFCO decision was "neither lawful nor based on adequate fiscal analyses."

The council has filed a similar request for reconsideration of the Valley secession measure.

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