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Signing Petition Was a Mistake, Hahn Says

March 26, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

A day after Mayor James K. Hahn drew criticism from veterans' leaders for signing a petition calling the war in Iraq "unjust," he said Tuesday that he had made a mistake.

"Yesterday I signed a petition prepared and presented to me by sixth-graders at Florence Nightingale Middle School," Hahn said. "I regret that I did not read it word for word before I signed. I do not agree that this is an 'unjust' war. This is the time to support our troops and pray for their swift and safe return."

Hahn signed the petition during a visit Monday to the school in Cypress Park, joining about 700 students, parents and school neighbors. The mayor's signature sparked outrage among veterans' leaders and was criticized on talk radio in Los Angeles.

But Hahn's change of heart was not welcomed by David Meyerhof, the teacher of the math and science honors class that presented him the petition.

"I am disappointed because I thought that the mayor had read and understood the petition," Meyerhof said, adding that a student read the short petition out loud to the mayor before he signed.

The mayor's statement drew a mixed reaction from Tony Camarena, senior vice commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2323 in Granada Hills.

"I'm glad he's taking it back, but he shouldn't have signed it in the first place," Camarena said.

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