Harbor Board Seats Rate as Plums

As city commissions go, landing a seat on the mayorally appointed Harbor Commission is considered a plum.

Global travel and fancy dinner parties with foreign dignitaries and heavyweights of the shipping industry come with the job.

So does power. Harbor commissioners oversee one of only three city departments that are financially independent and do not depend on the city’s general fund for money. The other two are the departments of airports and water and power.

Most businesses in the harbor understand the commission’s clout over port operations and try not to rock the boat. An executive of Kaiser Steel, which operates a harbor coal-handling facility, recently began sending bouquets of flowers each week to the commissioners.


Here are the commission’s current members:

- Frederic A. Heim, 58, the board’s dean, appointed in 1973. Heim is a San Fernando Valley businessman who has launched several companies in the areas of electronics and computers. He currently is president of the Children’s Museum in Los Angeles.

- Jun Mori, 56, the board’s second-ranking member, appointed in 1977. The Japanese-American lawyer is considered the port’s chief link with Far East nations that provide the harbor with much of its business.

- Joseph Zaninovich, 71, a retired Star-Kist executive, appointed in 1981. The Yugoslavia-born Zaninovich represents San Pedro, an ethnically diverse area of the city most directly affected by what happens in the harbor.


- Dominick Rubalcava, 41, a criminal defense attorney, appointed last summer in Mayor Tom Bradley’s shake-up of city commissions. A former fire commissioner, the Latino Rubalcava has quickly distinguished himself as an activist on the board.

- E. Grace Payne, 67, the commission’s first black woman, appointed late last year. A longtime community activist, Payne heads the Westminister Neighborhood Assn., a successful social service organization in Watts.