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Mayor may get gang efforts

Councilman Tony Cardenas signals he may be willing to support Chick's idea.

April 09, 2008|David Zahniser | Times Staff Writer

The logjam over how best to manage anti-gang programs in Los Angeles showed signs of movement Tuesday, with City Councilman Tony Cardenas saying he is open to the idea of transferring the programs into the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- at least temporarily.

Cardenas and City Controller Laura Chick have been arguing for weeks over the proper organizational chart for the initiatives, a debate that has been waged for years by city officials and outside consultants alike.

While Chick has called for gang intervention and prevention programs to be placed under the mayor's oversight, Cardenas has pushed for creation of a new city department. A dozen city agencies administer the anti-gang programs, making it difficult to judge their effectiveness, according to Chick.

With the council expected to discuss the matter today, Cardenas offered signs that he was moving toward Chick's position.

"I am introducing a plan that incorporates the mayor's office while at the same time ensures future mayors don't shift their responsibility and focus away from the persistent crisis of gang violence," he said in a statement.

Cardenas' comments were viewed by some as a face-saving measure. Still, Chick remained combative, saying she would spurn a compromise that failed to meet her goals.

"Any attempt to make the move to the mayor's office only temporary is a notion that is counterproductive and one which I will fight with every fiber in my being," Chick said in her own written statement.

The two politicians' continuing squabbling comes just days before Villaraigosa is scheduled to give his State of the City address, which will have the fight against gangs as its centerpiece.

Monday's speech is expected to include the mayor's proposal for running the city's gang prevention and intervention programs.

Since Villaraigosa was elected, none of the players involved in the debate -- Chick, Cardenas and the mayor -- have evaluated the performance of the programs.

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david.zahniser@latimes.com

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