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Lobbyists Exert Their Influence on Lobby Reform

November 15, 2004|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

They claim to be misunderstood, unfairly maligned.

But a new trade group formed by City Hall lobbyists has used its collective muscle to fight back, halting proposed new restrictions on the profession in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Lobbyist and Public Affairs Assn. was formed in January by 20 legislative advocates working City Hall.

When the Los Angeles Ethics Commission recently recommended for the second time in eight years that city commissioners be banned from paid lobbying, the group sprang into action. The association issued a letter of opposition, and influential members descended on the City Council.

The result: When the ordinance reached the council, it was continued once and then dumped back into the rules committee, which had passed it a month earlier.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 19, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
City commissioners -- An item in the Inside Politics column in Monday's California section listed Harbor Commissioner James Acevedo as one of the Los Angeles city commissioners who is also a registered lobbyist. Acevedo ended his lobbying practice in March.

"It's been our belief that this is an attack on lobbyists," said Steve Afriat, a founder of the group. "The intent of this is to convey to the public that lobbyists are not to be trusted."

Council President Alex Padilla confirmed that he and his colleagues heard from lobbyists before he sent the proposal back to the committee, which he heads.

"Some council members said they wanted to look at it a little more," Padilla said, adding that he wants to consider the restriction along with other reforms recommended by the Ethics Commission but not expected to reach the full council until next year.

A few council members suggested the issue should go back to the Ethics Commission for reconsideration as part of the larger package of reforms.

That angered members of the Ethics Commission, who agreed last week to write a letter to the City Council reminding the elected officials that the commission has recommended the ban twice.

Only four of the city's 200 registered lobbyists serve on city commissions, and three of them would be affected by the ban. They are: Dominick Rubalcava, chairman of the city Board of Water and Power Commissioners and a lobbyist for Wal-Mart; Mike Roos, a parks commissioner and lobbyist for URS Construction and PPM Energy; and James Acevedo, a harbor commissioner and lobbyist for New Century Financial Corp.

Acevedo has more than a dual role. He has also served as a political consultant for some council members, including Padilla.

Texas Also Votes In a Vietnamese American

Looks like Orange County Assemblyman-elect Van Tran will share the honor of being the first Vietnamese American to be elected to a state legislature.

Tran was easily elected to the 68th Assembly District on Nov. 2 after ousting the incumbent, Assemblyman Ken Maddox (R-Garden Grove), in the primary.

Tran's fellow Vietnamese American legislator, Hubert Vo, a businessman from Houston, had a tougher time. Vo captured a seat in the Texas House by just 31 votes.

Vo's opponent, 22-year veteran Talmadge Heflin, chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, is expected to ask for a recount of the 42,000 votes cast.

Parks Touts List of Celebrity Supporters

Just weeks after Councilman Bernard C. Parks announced that his campaign had the backing of Bill Cosby, Parks came out with the rest of the cast of entertainment industry figures endorsing his campaign.

They include "Soul Train" host Don Cornelius, comedian Arsenio Hall, singers Billy Davis and Nancy Wilson, and actors Angie Dickinson ("Police Woman"), Vivica A. Fox ("Independence Day"), Marla Gibbs ("The Jeffersons"), Brooke Shields ("Suddenly Susan") and Cicely Tyson ("The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman").

"Our campaign continues to grow like a sleeper movie that is quickly becoming a blockbuster," Parks said. "I am thrilled to have received the green light for mayor from such a distinguished group of entertainment industry leaders."

Setting the film metaphors aside, does parading around with Hollywood actors and singers really help a candidate get elected?

Let's ask Sen. John F. Kerry.

You Say Fundraising, I Say Fundraiser

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn was quick to defend his former airport commission president when The Times revealed that Ted Stein had hosted a fundraiser at his home two years ago that drew numerous companies that had recently won business from Stein and the commission.

Stein, who helped raise thousands of dollars for Hahn's campaign against San Fernando Valley secession in 2002, was not fundraising, the mayor said.

To explain his contention that hosting a fundraiser is not the same as fundraising, Hahn cited his own involvement in fundraisers at the city's ceremonial residence for the mayor, Getty House.

"You know, I let people have fundraisers at the Getty House," the mayor said in the Sept. 10 Times article. "It's my house, as the mayor. I'm the host. Am I fundraising for those organizations? No. I'm letting someone use my house for a fundraiser."

Hahn never identified the fundraisers he was talking about.

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