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Nearly 1,000 Attend Rally

Politics: Yaroslavsky, Hahn and Romer are on hand at a Tarzana event organized in support of health care and school initiatives.

October 07, 2002|DAVID PIERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A coalition of church groups, unions and community organizations rallied with political leaders in Tarzana on Sunday to urge voters to pass school and health care initiatives and to defeat secession efforts in next month's elections.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the event, held at Temple Judea and sponsored by L.A. Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a grass-roots organization seeking improved health care and reforms in education and immigration.

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Roy Romer pushed for the approval of a $3.35-billion school construction bond initiative, Measure K.

It would fund 120 new schools, expand 79 existing campuses, end most busing programs and remove portable classrooms from district playgrounds.

"Will you fight for us to get a seat for every one of our children" in school? Romer asked, waving his fists. "Let me hear you!"

Megan Guerrero, an administrator at Esperanza Elementary School in the Pico-Union area, said she was "tired of turning students away" because of overcrowding, and "tired of telling parents their children can't come" to their neighborhood school.

Mayor James K. Hahn said that a city breakup would not result in better services for the Valley and that Los Angeles was committed to building more affordable housing. Hahn was later asked by the principal of Trinity Street Elementary School if he would meet with newly appointed police Chief William Bratton to talk about recent burglaries at the campus in South-Central L.A.

"As soon as he's on board, I want [Bratton] to meet with you," Hahn responded, triggering applause.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the gathering that the county needs money from both the federal and state governments to keep clinics open. He urged the audience to support Measure B, which would provide $168 million to support emergency and trauma services in the county.

"This will save the most critical services and give us some breathing room," he said.

Many at the rally also called for legislation to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. State Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Sylmar) said he would continue to push for such laws, even though one was recently rejected by Gov. Gray Davis.

Natalie Vasquez, a 17-year-old student at L.A. Unified's Bravo Medical Magnet School in East L.A., said immigration laws need to be revised.

She said she had been accepted into Scripps College in Claremont to study medicine, but couldn't find federal or state grants because she is undocumented.

"It makes me feel like everything I've done is worthless," she said.

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