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Secession: Interests and Opinions Mesh

October 07, 2002

Re "New Alliance Rises to Fight Secession," Oct. 1: Shame on The Times for writing such a one-sided article. The assumption is that anyone opposed to secession has some self-interest. That couldn't be further from the truth. I am running the Public Safety Coalition campaign because I am a lifelong Valley resident who feels strongly about remaining in Los Angeles. I fought the secession movement in the 1970s as a Valley political activist and have always believed in one Los Angeles. What the article failed to mention is that those in Valley VOTE have spent two years hiding their money sources. Why are they embarrassed? What terrible special-interest money is pushing secession?

Steven Afriat

Sherman Oaks

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The anti-secession fund-raising alliance of L.A. City Council members Jack Weiss, Cindy Miscikowski and Jan Perry with downtown lobbyists who represent a wide array of special interests shows the most callous disregard for the current reform-minded mood of the people of L.A. While our citizenry may or may not agree that Valley secession is the answer, few disagree that a City Hall dominated by lobbyists is a huge part of the problem. Looking at this so-called Public Safety Coalition, it's hard to see how lobbyists for cable companies, developers and landfill operators fit under its umbrella but easy to see how some might view this as a transparent example of special interests banding together to protect their stranglehold on City Hall. For City Council members to depend on lobbyists this way to fund their fight against secession further compromises their objectivity and the people's faith in the system.

The creation of this unholy alliance underscores the urgent need for reform. A good starting point would be the passage of the measure proposed by the Ethics Commission but tabled by the council that would require council members to recuse themselves from votes on issues that involve the political consultants/lobbyists who helped them get elected. This could be an important first step of so much that remains to be done, whether secession passes or not.

Joan H. Leonard

Roy Ulrich

California Common Cause

Los Angeles

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