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L.A. solar plan measure continues to trail

March 05, 2009|David Zahniser and Phil Willon

The Los Angeles solar energy plan known as Measure B was trailing Wednesday, surprising a coalition of politicians, labor leaders and environmentalists who still hope that uncounted ballots will push it to victory.

Unofficial election results showed 50.3% of voters opposing it and 49.7% favoring it.

But with 46,000 late mail-in and provisional ballots not tallied, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he believed that the measure could secure the simple majority needed to win.

"I can tell you, regardless of what happens, we're moving ahead on our solar initiative," said Villaraigosa, who appeared in a barrage of Measure B television commercials during the campaign's final days.

Opponents of Measure B were ebullient over the election results, saying that a network of unions, business groups and neighborhood councils had managed to convey their anger over the city's handling of the measure. Former Daily News of Los Angeles editor Ron Kaye, now a blogger and foe of Measure B, said that even if the solar proposal is passed, that message will have been received.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, March 06, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
Uncounted ballots: An article in Thursday's Section A about the reelection of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that election officials had 46,000 uncounted provisional ballots. The 46,000 uncounted ballots include provisional and late mail-in ballots as well as ballots that could not be read by voting machines.

Kaye said he hoped that residents would remain active in coming months on such issues as billboards and real estate development.

"I think this changes the political dynamic," he said.

The unofficial results for Measure B were such a surprise that labor leaders, environmentalists and H. David Nahai, general manager of the Department of Water and Power, declared victory by midnight in news releases and at an election party. Yet even if Measure B loses, Nahai can still present a similar solar plan to the five-member commission appointed by Villaraigosa to oversee the DWP.

One Measure B supporter said she never understood why voters were unhappy about the plan being placed on the ballot.

"We could have ramrodded that thing through with the mayor and the City Council, but we said, 'Let the voters decide,' " said City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. "It was an opportunity to vote, and they voted."


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