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Valley Mayoral Candidates Offer Proposals, Endorsements

One contender suggests deporting illegal immigrants suspected of minor crimes. Another gets a little help from his elected friends.

October 31, 2002|Sue Fox and Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writers

Candidates hoping to become mayor of a San Fernando Valley city stepped up their campaigning Wednesday with a flurry of new proposals and endorsements, including a hotly debated plan by one contender to deport illegal immigrants who commit minor crimes.

Bruce Boyer, a candidate who sported a white cowboy hat (and a black eye from a football game), said if elected he would urge police to crack down on "illegal alien criminals," even those caught tagging a wall with graffiti. "Instead of arresting the same guy 10 times and letting him go, let's get him out of the country," Boyer, an alarm company manager, said at a news conference outside the Van Nuys courthouse.

Boyer took issue with a Los Angeles Police Department policy adopted in 1979, known as Special Order 40, that prohibits officers from questioning people just to determine their immigration status.

The policy also bars officers from turning over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service people accused of misdemeanors and other minor violations, such as loitering. The police can notify the INS when an illegal immigrant is booked on suspicion of committing felonies or multiple misdemeanors.

Boyer's proposal to water down Special Order 40 drew strong opposition from other Valley mayoral candidates and civil libertarians.

"You are going to have individuals in the community who would be afraid to approach the police," said candidate David Hernandez Jr., adding that Boyer's plan is "not realistic" because jails could not accommodate every illegal immigrant stopped for minor violations.

Mayoral hopeful Benny Bernal said Boyer was "going extremely too far." Mayoral candidates Leonard Shapiro, Gregory Roberts and Marc Strassman agreed, saying they would leave Special Order 40 in place.

But mayoral candidate Henry Divina said he supports allowing police to notify the INS on illegal immigrants charged with misdemeanors.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Dan Tokaji said diluting Special Order 40 would hinder crime-solving because witnesses who face misdemeanor charges would be afraid to come forward with information.

At another Van Nuys news conference Wednesday, Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge) announced that several lawmakers from Santa Clarita and Simi Valley have endorsed his run for Valley mayor. Richman represents both cities at the state level.

"I have the privilege of seeing how these smaller cities work," Richman said. "There's a big difference between how city services are provided in Los Angeles, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita."

The comparison is somewhat strained, however, by the vast difference in the size of the cities. Simi Valley has a population of 115,000 while Santa Clarita has 160,000. A new Valley city would have 1.35 million residents.

Simi Valley council members Paul Miller and Steven Sojka joined Simi Mayor Bill Davis in supporting Richman and Valley cityhood, as did Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry, Mayor Pro-Tem Cameron Smyth and council members Robert Kellar and Laurene Weste.

Mel Wilson, another Valley mayoral candidate, convened a news conference Wednesday in Van Nuys to decry the influence of developers on the secession debate.

Mayor James K. Hahn's anti-secession campaign has raked in more than $5.5 million, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from major developers such as Majestic Realty Co., Castle and Cook Inc. and Beverly Hills Construction Management.

"What are they going to get in return for giving money to defeat Valley independence?" said Wilson, a Realtor. "When you can write a check for $250,000 ... this far exceeds what we know is reasonable. It really flies in the face of local control."

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