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What's in Store for the City's Departing Officials?

June 09, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The revolving door is spinning at Los Angeles City Hall, where a crowd of appointed and elected officials -- including four City Council members -- is heading for the door.

Ethics Commission President Miriam Krinsky, who ruffled many feathers recently by accusing City Council members of delaying and watering down ethics reforms, ends her five-year term on the panel June 30, the same day she steps down as president of the County Bar Assn. Sanitation Bureau chief Judith Wilson, who played a central role in the city's decision to expand Sunshine Canyon Landfill, and City Engineer Vitaly Troyan both said last week that they had decided to retire from their jobs this year.

While some of those departing will probably return to relative obscurity, others, including Councilman Nate Holden, have ideas for new careers that could keep them in the spotlight.

Holden's possible post-council plans are already creating a stir in Pasadena, where city officials have begun discussions with Holden associates about helping to finance a housing development on land Holden owns on Marengo Avenue.

What has some people talking about the project is that it is tentatively proposed to involve $750,000 in city funding, according to city records. Holden's son, Chris, sits on the Pasadena City Council.

"Anything Nate Holden does is likely to raise eyebrows," said Brady Westwater, an urban planner with an office in Pasadena.

The other departing council members -- Hal Bernson, Ruth Galanter and Nick Pacheco -- will also probably stay active in civic affairs. Bernson and Galanter are considering consulting work, while Pacheco, an attorney, said he is probably going to hang up a shingle and go into private practice after he leaves office this month.

Recalling an Old Quote

Backers of a campaign to recall Gov. Gray Davis from office are quoting an influential state official in offering a rationale for the effort. The official: Davis himself.

A full-page advertisement in the Sacramento Bee launching the nascent gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Darrell Issa begins with a quote from Davis, the guy Issa would like voters to recall and replace with himself.

"When an NFL coach has one losing season after another, he gets replaced. Period. End of story," the ad quotes Davis from his "State of the State" address in January 1999.

"Davis made a mess of California and I'm going to work to clean it up," proclaims Issa in the ad, paid for by Issa for Governor. The Vista-area Republican energized the tepid recall movement last month when he pledged to put up his own dough to help fund it -- nearly $500,000 so far.

In turn, Davis supporters are going on the attack against Issa. Democratic strategist Bob Mulholland put out an e-mail call last week for a 1972 Maserati to be used in a press conference to remind voters that Issa was indicted on charges of stealing such a car when he was 18, although the charges were later dismissed.

Issa's arrival on the recall scene also hasn't meshed all that well with the official recall effort, launched by Ted Costa of People's Advocate. Costa is the only one who is legally able to submit signatures in support of the recall.

Issa's folks want signatures gathered and counted this summer to qualify for a special election in November, which could cost $35 million. Costa believes taxpayers might be better off voting in March 2004, a date that makes Issa's side nervous because it's also a statewide primary when he presumably would already be on the ballot for reelection.

Boxer Stays on Offensive

Vice President Dick Cheney presides over the U.S. Senate now and then, but California's Barbara Boxer persuaded her colleagues to approve unanimously a call for an accounting by the Bush administration if Aug. 31 rolls around and the government doesn't end its sole-source contract to a subsidiary of Cheney's old Halliburton Co.

Boxer said the no-bid, billion-plus contract awarded March 8 to Kellogg Branch & Root was "first explained as an emergency contract to extinguish oil fires," but, with few fires to extinguish, it's now being used to restart Iraq's oil industry.

The amendment to the bill Boxer sponsored with Virginia Republican John Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, insists that the Defense Department show cause why the exclusive contract should continue, and do so every two months until there is a competitive contract.

Boxer has baled great political hay on military bidding and procurement: In 1984, she hit the headlines as a member of Congress, hammering on the Pentagon for buying $780 hammers, $7,622 coffee pots and the like. Don't be surprised to see the Pentagon contract issue revived and updated in her 2004 reelection campaign.

White Suits the Season

Thermometers hit 99 degrees in downtown Sacramento last Monday, so at least a dozen members of the Assembly looked appropriately dressed when they showed up in crisp white suits.

Since 1997, the first Monday after Memorial Day has been "White Suit Day" in the Assembly.

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