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Prankster Finds Humor in Hahn's Budget Crisis

May 26, 2003|Patt Morrison | Times Staff Writer

It was Enron letterhead paper, all right, and signed by "Ken Lay," but with the ex-exec at the belly-up energy company making noises like he doesn't even have the cash to buy a first-class stamp, its provenance was doubtful.

Ron Deaton, Los Angeles' chief legislative analyst, was reaching for a sufficiently alarming parallel recently when he compared the city's fiscal planning to Enron's.

Not long thereafter, a letter arrived for Mayor Jim Hahn, with copies to City Hall reporters. Below the crooked-E logo, someone signing himself as Ken Lay commiserated with Hahn, who's being accused of fiscal irresponsibility. "I am sure," the letter read, "the accusation against you and your budget are as ill-based as the ones against me and my corporation."

Not the endorsement Hahn would have sought. But "Lay" didn't stop there, suggesting that new employees, like cops, be hired in an "off-the-book partnership. I could easily envision an entity called 'L.A. Cops' which would become the hirer and employer of all the new officers." And if the economy still stinks, "you can hide the cost from both the Council and the voters and not [affect] your reelection prospects."

"Lay" wrapped up generously, "Needless to say, if I can be of any further assistance, I am eager to help a kindred soul."

With all the flotsam from the Enron shipwreck for sale out there, hardly surprising that a scrap of stationery would find its way into puckish hands.

He's Praised in Ads and Surprised by Them Too

Never look a gift spot in the mouth.

Rep. Gary Miller was as surprised as anyone else when some very campaign-sounding ads began airing on Southern California radio, thanking the Diamond Bar Republican for supporting a bill to give prescription drug benefits to seniors under Medicare. The bill lost in the Senate.

The ads were a little gift from United Seniors Assn., an advocacy group financed almost entirely by drug companies. The spots singled out about 40 members of Congress; Miller was the only Californian.

The flattering ads prompted some of his colleagues to inquire just what he's running for. Said Miller: "It's news to me."

Well-Versed Legislator on Tight Word Budget

Economy of any sort, including economy of words, is supposedly a stranger in legislative bodies. Yet Assemblyman John Longville presents his bills in the spare 17-syllable Japanese poetic form called haiku.

One of his latest, AB 1438, would let business owners whose records are seized by a government agency get copies within 72 hours. Longville's summary:

Help fight Big Brother

State Chamber asks we let folks

See their own seized files.

The bill passed 69 to 0. "If you can get them smiling," the Rialto Democrat says of his fellow legislators, "they're closer to an aye to start with."

And you wonder why Shelley called poets the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

A Dixie Chicks Boycott? Not on Lawmaker's Wall

Politicians' offices are commonly wallpapered with pictures of themselves with other politicians, or actors, or others of the high and/or mighty classes, often hung at taxpayer expense.

Even as he was supporting impeachment, Illinois Republican Rep. Henry Hyde had a framed photo on his wall showing him shaking hands with President Clinton.

So why is the California GOP leaning on Sylmar Democratic Sen. Richard Alarcon for the same? Possibly because he's sharing the glossy with ... a Dixie Chick. The group's music was boycotted after one of the trio said she was "ashamed" that President Bush is from Texas. A Fox-affiliate TV reporter asked Alarcon about the framing, to which he said: "We have expended a very small amount when you compare it to -- to the budget as a whole." Maybe, the GOP suggested, "they swapped tips with each other about French wine."

Points Taken

* L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine, who spent years astride a motorcycle as an LAPD cop, leads the choir boys Sunday on a fund-raising ride to benefit domestic violence prevention programs. The Choir Boys Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, active and retired Harley-riding cops, will ride to the rescue of the Haven Hills Domestic Violence Shelter beginning at 9 a.m. in Woodland Hills.

* David Tokofsky was reelected to the LA Unified School District board last week, but it's a good thing spelling didn't count: a Tokofsky mailer with Ronald Reagan on its cover misspelled "decathlon" three times and "sheriff" once, and stumbled on tenses: "David Tokofsky lead Marshall High School ...."

* Texas Democratic legislators' recent flight from their state capital to avoid a quorum call on a Republican redistricting plan is reminiscent of the 1994 moment in Sacramento, when Republicans trying to dodge an Assembly quorum call on a Democratic matter hurried off the Capitol grounds to hole up briefly in the Hyatt Hotel.

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