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Hahn Siblings Get Signals Crossed on Port Director

June 19, 2004|Jessica Garrison and Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writers

Most of the time, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn and his sister, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, stick together, supporting each other in public and in private, in ways large and small.

But on Friday afternoon, Los Angeles' most prominent political siblings got their signals crossed.

Councilwoman Hahn, long a critic of the port's executive director, Larry Keller, was cited on the Los Angeles Business Journal's website as saying her brother was moving to replace him.

Not true, countered the mayor's office. "We're not asking him to resign," said Deputy Mayor Doane Liu.

Port Commission President Nick Tonsich said he had not heard about any plans afoot to remove Keller. Keller had no comment.

Speculation about Keller's tenure in Los Angeles peaked two weeks ago when it was disclosed that he had sought a job as head of the Port of Oakland, but had not been chosen. Keller has headed the L.A. port for seven years.

Janice Hahn declined to discuss what she said to the Business Journal about where the mayor's office stands on Keller, but she told The Times: "It was my understanding that it would have been OK with them if he had taken the job."

The mayor declined to discuss his sister's comments, but Liu said he believes that his sister "meant that the city needs to be prepared for the possibility that Larry Keller might leave the city."

Speaking for herself, Janice Hahn said a bit more than that.

"I think it's time for new leadership," she said.

The councilwoman, who first called for Keller's resignation a year ago, said she believes Keller is not responsive to her brother's policies, or to the San Pedro and Wilmington communities she represents on the City Council.

But however close they may be, she said, she can't speak for her brother.

"At the end of the day, these are his decisions," she said.

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