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Councilmen Map Attacks on Secession

Election: Alex Padilla, Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge say decision to form their own committees isn't a sign of dissatisfaction with Mayor Hahn.

July 16, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With Mayor James K. Hahn's anti-secession media campaign yet to get into gear, three Los Angeles City Council members said Monday that they are forming their own election committees to fight the breakup movement in their San Fernando Valley and Hollywood districts.

Council President Alex Padilla said his committee--One Family, One L.A.--will target the heavily Latino northeast Valley, considered a key area in the Nov. 5 secession election. It will focus on grass-roots campaigning, he said.

Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge said they plan to raise $1 million to mobilize voters against the Hollywood secession measure.

The three council members said their decision to launch the committees does not reflect any dissatisfaction with Hahn's campaign. The mayor has said he intends to raise $5 million for a citywide media blitz against secession.

"I've been working very closely with the mayor, and he is aware of this campaign," Padilla said.

Garcetti said Hahn has laid the right groundwork for the broader media campaign, but more must be done to address the "block-to-block issues" in Hollywood.

"This is in response to people who feel their particular area is being lost in the larger message," he said.

However, sources said there is unhappiness on the council with the negative tone of Hahn's campaign, which is expected to begin buying television and radio spots next month.

Hahn has attacked secession as a "hare-brained" idea and a potential "disaster of biblical proportions." He has said that if the Valley and Hollywood break away, they and the remainder of Los Angeles will go broke.

Kam Kuwata, a political aide to the mayor, said Hahn's remarks about "the very grave risks" of secession have been on target. He also said the mayor is pleased about the council members' committees.

"We encouraged them," Kuwata said. "We will share information with them and try not to bump into each other."

Secession leaders said they look forward to battling the council members neighborhood to neighborhood. They said the committees are likely to function as self-serving vehicles to bolster the lawmakers' reelection prospects.

"It probably gives each of the council members some chance for personal campaigning, for themselves as well as campaigning against secession," said Richard Katz, chairman of the San Fernando Valley Independence Committee.

Later Monday, Valley secession leaders found themselves on the defensive at their regular monthly board meeting. David Fleming, a key financial backer of the movement, explained why he had met with a group of secession opponents, including billionaire Eli Broad, to discuss postponing a vote on secession in exchange for a commitment by the city for a borough system.

Mark Volper, an advertising executive, demanded to know why the Valley secession campaign hasn't been launched.

Gerry Gunster, who introduced himself to the group as its campaign manager, said he had a plan for a campaign, but wouldn't reveal it with the media present.

Also Monday, Hollywood secessionists said they reject any proposal for a borough system of city government as an alternative to secession. They said putting a borough plan on the ballot alongside the secession measures would be "a cynical and subversive attempt to confuse voters."

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