Sharpening the tone of his attacks on his Democratic rival, Gov. George Deukmejian on Wednesday branded Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's proposal for putting a state prison on city-owned land in Saugus a "Halloween trick."
"He was to trying to divert attention away from the fact that his administration has not been cooperative and has not shown any leadership in trying to locate a state prison in Los Angeles," Deukmejian said of Bradley's offer.
Deukmejian's comments to reporters were the Republican governor's first direct response to Bradley's announcement on Oct. 31 that the state could save money by building the prison on city-owned land near the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park.
Until now, the governor, who supports a prison in an industrial area near downtown Los Angeles, has tried to remain aloof from the turf battle, allowing Rod Blonien, undersecretary of the state's Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, to comment on his behalf.
During a keynote address Wednesday to the 91st annual meeting of the County Supervisors Assn. of California, Deukmejian was restrained in his criticism of Bradley, carefully avoiding any mention of the mayor by name as he generally has done in previous campaign-style appearances throughout the state.
However, speaking to reporters later, Deukmejian stepped up his anti-Bradley rhetoric, accusing his expected rival in next year's gubernatorial race of staging a "publicity type of event" in announcing the Saugus site and of failing to consult with local residents or the state, which already had considered but rejected the property.
Bradley is in the Middle East, leading a trade delegation, and is not expected to return until Friday. A spokeswoman in the mayor's office accused Deukmejian of camouflaging "his prison construction debacle" with criticism of Bradley's proposal.
Referring to Deukmejian's plan for adding room for 19,000 inmates by 1989, Bradley aide Victoria Pipkin said the Administration "had three years to do it and it's a fiasco. . . . There has not been one prison constructed."
County supervisors and other top county officials sat impassively throughout must of the governor's speech Wednesday, a sharp contrast to the spontaneous applause Duekmejian drew last month when he lashed out at Bradley during a San Francisco speech to 2,000 mayors and city council members.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a Republican and close Deukmejian ally whose district includes the Saugus property, later praised the governor for his criticism of Bradley and said he expects the Legislature to approve the downtown prison site during its 1986 session.
Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, a Democrat who also attended Deukmejian's speech, said he is convinced that the prison issue spells political trouble for both Deukmejian and Bradley.
"I don't think it's as good a political issue as reducing taxes or completing freeways or building mass transit," Hahn said. "As a politician, I think it's a dumb issue, because it's negative; no one in their right mind says they want a prison."
Deukmejian, in response to a reporter's question, said he intends to continue his sharp remarks against the mayor, particularly "his lack of leadership in some vital areas, such as law enforcement, dealing with toxic waste problems and several others."