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Borough Measure for Ballot Rejected

July 17, 2002|SHARON BERNSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Closing a chapter in the secession saga, a divided City Council refused Tuesday to place a measure on the Nov. 5 ballot to decentralize Los Angeles government with a system of boroughs.

The council also rejected competing proposals calling for creation of a largely undefined commission to study ways to improve the structure of city government.

Tuesday's votes ended two months of raucous maneuvering over borough plans that were offered as an alternative to San Fernando Valley and Hollywood secession initiatives.

"We fought a good fight," said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who along with council colleague Janice Hahn had introduced the borough measure.

"I still believe a borough-type system is the way to bring local control to communities," Greuel said.

Jeff Brain, president of the secession group Valley VOTE, said later that the council had squandered "what could be the last opportunity to reform Los Angeles government." Valley VOTE, however, opposed the borough plans, labeling them an attempt to confuse voters.

Brain said with the borough option off the table, the only remaining way to reform the city is for voters to approve the secession measures on the November ballot.

The borough and commission proposals were rejected after a meandering, sometimes passionate debate that said as much about the council as it did about reform.

The proposals were brought by the council's newer members: Greuel was in office just five weeks before she teamed with fellow newcomer Hahn to offer a bare-bones proposal for a ballot referendum. Its approval would have amended the City Charter to require formation of a borough system and establish a commission to work out the details. The plan was rejected 10 to 4 by the council.

City Council President Alex Padilla offered what he termed a compromise proposal--setting up an appointed commission to examine Los Angeles government.

That panel would have faced no deadline in its deliberations and would have had no mandate to focus solely on boroughs or decentralization.

The Padilla proposal failed in a 7-7 vote.

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