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Mayor Won't Address Valley Business Leaders

Hahn says a scheduling conflict prevents annual speech. Group's vice chairman calls it a snub of members for their support of secession.

October 15, 2002|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn has decided not to deliver the keynote speech at an annual San Fernando Valley business conference, breaking a nine-year mayoral tradition and drawing complaints from its sponsors that Hahn is snubbing them for supporting secession.

Word of Hahn's decision came as several entertainment industry unions announced their opposition to secession Monday.

Leaders held a rally against secession Monday, saying that splitting up the city would hurt efforts to halt runaway production and result in reduced arts funding in Los Angeles.

Hahn cited a scheduling conflict in bowing out of the "State of the Valley" speech at the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn.'s Business Forecast Conference on Nov. 1.

The group recently went against the mayor's wishes and endorsed San Fernando Valley cityhood.

"I think it's an intentional snub, not just to VICA but to the Valley," said Robert Scott, the group's vice chairman. "It's a little childish for the mayor to take this posture when this is such an important event."

Chairman Fred Gaines said the mayor would miss a great opportunity to make his case against the breakup to 500 Valley business leaders just four days before the election on Valley and Hollywood secession.

"We are disappointed he cannot be with us," Gaines said.

He said the group had asked the mayor's staff in January to put the event on his schedule.

The group later sent out fliers with the mayor's picture to promote his participation.

Kam Kuwata, a political advisor to the mayor, said Hahn never confirmed that he would attend the conference.

"It was a scheduling conflict, and the mayor offered a couple of other dates instead," Kuwata said. He said he did not know where Hahn will be during the conference. Valley VOTE President Jeff Brain said Hahn's treatment of the business group indicates that the mayor, even after the election, will hold a grudge against some secession supporters.

Hahn has agreed to outline his vision for Hollywood on Oct. 22 at a luncheon given by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which opposes secession.

Meanwhile, entertainment industry unions held a small anti-secession rally in Studio City on Monday.

"The central reason for people in the entertainment industry [to oppose secession] is it creates a mass of uncertainty when we really need a united response to globalization and runaway production," said John Connolly, president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

The unions released a study that says the entertainment industry accounts for 185,000 jobs in Los Angeles County.

The study was funded by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. and the County Federation of Labor and conducted by a research arm of the federation. Both are supporting Hahn's anti-secession campaign.

The review said there is no evidence that secession will benefit the industry and that a new Valley city might not have revenue to help reduce runaway production, which is when studios take movie and television production out of the Los Angeles region.

"With a more difficult production environment in Los Angeles, producers will be likely to shoot elsewhere until the Valley and Hollywood have stabilized," said Bruce Doering, national executive director of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600.

Secessionists said the unions and the study are wrong.

"It's totally without foundation," Brain said. "Los Angeles has chased the entertainment industry out of the city already."

Brain noted that secession leaders and most major candidates for office in the proposed Valley city support business tax cuts and a streamlined process for film permits.

"The Valley city is going to make it more welcome for the film industry," he said.

Brain also complained that it appeared city workers helped close streets and direct parking for the anti-secession rally. He said the Valley cityhood campaign will file a complaint with the state attorney general, alleging illegal use of city resources to fight secession. City officials did not return calls for comment.

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