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Ad Blitz Against Secession Launched

Cityhood: Hahn's campaign plans to hammer the spots on broadcast and cable stations until Nov. 5.

October 09, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mayor James K. Hahn's anti-secession campaign began a multimillion-dollar television ad blitz Tuesday with a casino-themed spot that labels the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood breakup measures "a gamble that's not worth taking."

The spots say secession could lead to higher taxes, fewer police officers on the street, increased utility rates and the end of rent controls. Leaders of the breakup campaigns immediately blasted the commercials as lies.

"They are absolutely false," said Carlos Ferreyra, co-chairman of the Valley Independence Committee.

Ferreyra said the state commission that approved the secession measures for the Nov. 5 ballot determined that Valley and Hollywood cities could provide the same level of municipal services as Los Angeles now does, without higher taxes or utility rates.

About 90% of the candidates seeking offices in the proposed cities also have signed pledges to enact Los Angeles-style rent controls if the breakup measures win, the secessionists said.

In defending the ads' message, the Hahn campaign cited a mix of anti-secession reports by the unions that represent Los Angeles police officers and firefighters, the city's consultants on the breakup proposals, and the League of Women Voters.

The 30- and 15-second spots debuted a day after the Valley Independence Committee began running its first commercial on Valley cable TV systems. That ad contends City Hall ignores the Valley. The Hollywood secessionists are also running cable spots.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League has launched its own anti-secession TV campaign, part of the union's $366,000 effort to defeat the measures.

Hahn's commercials, however, will dominate the airwaves. Flush with more than $4.78 million, the mayor's campaign intends to run the commercials on every broadcast station in Los Angeles and on many cable stations--several times a day--until the election, said Kam Kuwata, a political advisor to Hahn.

"I guarantee you that every voter in Los Angeles is going to see this numerous times," Kuwata said.

In the 30-second ad, a narrator says, "Secession is a gamble that's not worth taking." The spot cuts to a spinning roulette wheel as the narrator says, "Round and round it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows.

"The odds are secession could mean higher taxes and cuts in vital services ... fewer cops and more crime," the narrator continues.

The ad also contends that secession "could mean disaster relief won't be there when you need it," and "could mean higher DWP rates and no rent control." There are also two 15-second versions of the ad.

Ferreyra said even with the qualifying "could," the ad misleads because the state's Local Agency Formation Commission concluded after an exhaustive study that Valley and Hollywood cities would be financially viable, at current levels of service, and would have a reasonable reserve fund to cover emergencies.

"There won't be fewer cops," Ferreyra said. "The budget that was prepared shows we can keep the same tax base and improve services."

As for the higher taxes claim, Ferreyra said many secession candidates support cutting the business tax. He also said LAFCO has required the Department of Water and Power to serve Valley and Hollywood cities at rates no higher than those charged in the rest of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the Valley campaign on Tuesday released its list of financial donors, which showed that most of the $546,000 it has raised came in big checks from Valley industry leaders and business groups.

Among the largest contributions were $100,000 from Studio City attorney David Fleming, $40,000 from Galpin Motors President Bert Boeckmann, $25,000 from the Southland Regional Assn. of Realtors, and $20,000 each from the California Assn. of Realtors and Cal State Auto Parts.

Boeckmann's car company contributed another $2,500 and his relatives pitched in $11,000. Some had expected the multimillionaire auto dealer and longtime secession supporter to give more. Boeckmann, who is also an L.A. police commissioner, did not return a phone call for comment.

Hollywood secession leader Gene La Pietra contributed more to the Valley campaign--$50,000--than Boeckmann. La Pietra and his company have donated $508,000 of the $585,326 collected by the Hollywood campaign.

The campaign finance reports released Tuesday also showed the Valley effort is $102,000 in debt, including $38,487 owed to the political consulting firm Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli, which resigned recently, in part because its bills were not being paid.

The Valley report indicated that the firm wrote off $18,000 it was owed for July services.

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Fund-Raising Difficult for Secessionists

The campaign committee backing San Fernando Valley secession has fallen far short of its fundraising goals. The San Fernando Valley Independence Committee reported Tuesday that it received contributions of less than half a million dollars during the summer quarter. At the end of September, the group had $222,370 on hand to wage their campaign.

Spent -- $471,369

Raised -- $420,641

Cash on hand -- $222,370

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Top Contributors

Attorney David Fleming -- $100,000

Bert Boeckmann, L.A. Police Commissioner, President, Galpin Ford -- $40,000

Southland Regional Association of Realtors -- $25,000

California Assocation of Realtors -- $20,000

Cal-State Auto Parts -- $20,000

Ford Auto Body Inc. -- $15,000

Dale Ma, North Hollywood Restaurants, Inc. -- $11,000

Frank A. Visco, former state GOP chairman -- $10,000

Sam Bamieh, investor, San Mateo -- $10,000

Team-One Staffing Services -- $10,000

Boething Treeland Farms -- $10,000

Edward H. Fleming Jr. -- $10,000

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Note: Contributions received July 1 to Sept. 30.

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Source: Campaign contribution reports

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Times staff writer Jeffrey Rabin contributed to this report.

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