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Holden Says Secession Would Help African Americans

November 02, 2002|Patrick McGreevy and Sue Fox | Times Staff Writers

As the secession campaign entered its final weekend, backers of San Fernando Valley and Hollywood cityhood on Friday landed their first endorsement from a Los Angeles City Council member, while breakup opponents picked up support from two big-name entertainment firms.

Councilman Nate Holden said he will vote for secession on Tuesday's ballot and has recommended in a mailer to his South-Central Los Angeles constituents that they do the same.

"The African American community and the inner city have been misled when they were told they would be a loser in secession," Holden said.

He said a breakup would give African Americans a better chance of winning more council seats in the remainder of Los Angeles and could bring more federal dollars to the city because Los Angeles would then have a higher percentage of impoverished areas qualifying for grants.

Secessionists said they were cheered by Holden's endorsement. Kam Kuwata, who is running Mayor James K. Hahn's anti-secession campaign, said Holden is out of step with the majority of African American leaders, who oppose secession.

The campaigns against secession have topped $7 million in fund-raising with last-minute contributions including $11,000 from Universal Studios and $10,000 from Disney Worldwide Services Inc. The donations were disclosed Friday.

Paramount Pictures Group and Sony Pictures previously contributed $25,000 each to Hahn's effort.

"We've been happy in the city of Los Angeles," said Universal spokeswoman Iris Gelt. "Our contribution reflects that."

However, Valley secession leader Carlos Ferreyra said big companies feel obligated to contribute to the anti-secession campaign because they do not want to alienate City Hall, even though, he said, the city has done a poor job of keeping film production in Los Angeles.

"I don't understand how they can say Los Angeles has been good for the film industry when we have runaway production," Ferreyra said.

Friday began with a rally in Hollywood, where Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti and Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) urged residents to vote against secession.

"Just as you don't edit or cut up a great film, L.A. is a great city that I would not like to see cut up," LaBonge said.

Gene La Pietra, chairman of the Hollywood Independence Committee, said the poorly attended rally was a sign that Measure H, the Hollywood secession proposal, will win. He said voters will hold city officials responsible for Hollywood's blight.

"Hollywood is a terribly underutilized economic resource in Southern California," La Pietra said.

Later, secession supporters and opponents duked it out on a panel at the Valley Industry & Commerce Assn.'s annual conference in Woodland Hills.

"The uncertainty [secession] creates for business is not good at a time when we're trying to bail ourselves out from a recession," said Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President Rusty Hammer, who opposes a breakup.

He said creating new cities would only create new bureaucracies and reduce the region's political clout in Sacramento and Washington.

But former Assemblyman Richard Katz, a leading secessionist, said a Valley city would deliver more local control and lower taxes.

"I will forgive [Hammer] his optimism about the city of Los Angeles' ability to reform itself, because he's only been here a year," Katz said. "Those of us who have been here much longer ... know that the city isn't capable of reforming itself."

Meanwhile, the anti-secession group One Los Angeles called on secessionists to agree to a four-year moratorium on future breakup efforts if the measures lose Tuesday.

"After the voters reject secession, it is time for the secessionists to work with everyone to improve the entire city of Los Angeles, including the San Fernando Valley," said Jeff Daar, co-chairman of Encino-based One Los Angeles.

Ferreyra did not object to such a moratorium, although he said he could not speak for all secession backers.

Also Friday, a poll released by KABC-TV indicated Valley secession is widely opposed citywide but favored in the Valley.

The Survey USA poll, conducted by automated phone calls, found that 38% of voters surveyed citywide favor Valley secession and 60% oppose it. In the Valley, 55% support Valley cityhood and 42% do not. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.3%. To win, secession must get a majority of votes in the breakaway region and citywide.

Some polling experts question the reliability of Survey USA's findings because it does not use live interviewers.

Meanwhile, in response to accusations by the American Civil Liberties Union that city officials violated the 1st Amendment rights of secessionists by excluding them from an Oct. 5 event at the Convention Center, City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo sent a memo to all city departments Friday asking them to provide equal access to both sides for events on public property.

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