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Critics on Council Call Hahn's Panel Picks Elitist

June 16, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Still stinging from the defeat of his budget, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn is now facing public accusations by some City Council members that he is being elitist in his appointments to city commissions.

Many city panels, some council members say, have disproportionate representation from wealthy attorneys and businesspeople from the Westside and affluent areas of the San Fernando Valley.

Left out of important posts in famously diverse Los Angeles, they say, are people from the more heavily black and Latino parts of town.

The criticism surfaced recently when the City Council took up Hahn's appointment of Westside resident Paula Holt to the seven-member Cultural Affairs Commission. Eastside Councilman Ed Reyes stood up to object, noting that with the appointment, the commission's membership would comprise two people from Brentwood, two from West Los Angeles, one from Toluca Lake, one from Woodland Hills and one from Silver Lake.

"Where is South Los Angeles? Where is East Los Angeles?" Reyes asked his colleagues. The councilman called the omissions "cultural redlining."

More than half of the city -- eight council districts, including those that encompass Watts, Northeast L.A., downtown and the East Valley -- has no representative on the Children, Youth and Their Families Commission.

Julie Wong, a Hahn spokeswoman, defended the makeup of city commissions, which oversee departments and develop policy.

"While the mayor strives for geographic and ethnic diversity on commissions, we are also looking for the best-qualified people to serve on these voluntary commissions," she said.

Sanchezes Writing Book

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is enjoying a burst of media attention surrounding her newly released autobiography, and a pair of Southern California sisters from the political world can only hope they generate the same interest.

"Sisters in the House" is the working title for a dual memoir to be published next summer by history-making Reps. Loretta (D-Garden Grove) and Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), the first sisters to serve together in Congress.

Their tome will be published by ReganBooks out of New York. "It's going to be about 25% autobiographical, but the meat of the book is going to talk about issues and our view of the world," said Loretta Sanchez, who defeated Republican firebrand Rep. Robert K. Dornan in 1996.

For Sanchez and Sanchez, the big challenges now are finding the time to write the book -- it's due in December -- and staying friends when it's over. "We're having fun, believe it or not," Loretta said.

Teed Off at Clubs' Rules

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) doesn't play golf, but that hasn't stopped him from teeing off on the debate over how to treat clubs that refuse to admit women.

Sherman and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) have introduced a bill to eliminate tax write-offs for corporations that use the 24 all-male golf clubs in the United States for business purposes, including the Augusta National Golf Club.

The legislator modeled the federal legislation on a California law adopted in 1987.

"Surely, federal tax law would not give a deduction when a white male obtains a business advantage by using a business facility not available to his competitors," said Sherman, who was a tax attorney before he was elected.

The current tax code permits full deduction of business expenses associated with business conventions and accommodations, and it allows for 50% deductions related to business meals -- all of those being events or services commonly offered at golf clubs.

An Augusta spokesman said the legislation would eliminate deductions for business activity at any business that discriminates based on gender, so it also might affect women-only golf clubs, shooting clubs and gyms.

"Millions of Americans belong to single-gender clubs, and countless others believe they are a valid part of our social fabric," spokesman Glenn Greenspan said. "The country has spoken on this issue, and the fact is that they have rejected this pointless campaign."

Honoring Disney

The House of Representatives voted last week to name a post office after Walt Disney.

Not in Anaheim, home of Disneyland. Nor in Silver Lake, recognized by Los Angeles as the site of Disney's first studio. Nor in Burbank, home of the Disney corporate headquarters. But in Marceline, Mo.

Disney, who died in 1966 at age 65, grew up in the town.

And so, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced the measure, which was approved unanimously. "Walt Disney grew up in Marceline, but almost every child has grown up with his beloved characters," Graves said.

A similar measure is pending in the Senate, but California lawmakers didn't seem to mind.

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