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Governor’s Race Candidates Trade Shots : Bradley Assails Rival’s Lack of Action in Liability Crisis

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, calling it “outrageous” that Gov. George Deukmejian has not interceded in the state’s worsening insurance crisis, said Tuesday that as governor he would force insurance companies to cover high-risk businesses or strip them of their right to operate in California.

No longer, he said, would insurance companies be able to cover low-risk individuals or industries and refuse to handle entities, such as cities and child-care centers, that are finding it difficult to obtain coverage.

“If they write a line for any kind of insurance coverage in the state, for anybody . . . they would be required to write for all,” he said.

‘Go Somewhere Else’

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“If they don’t want to write in California, go somewhere else.”

Bradley, speaking at a Salvation Army child-care center over the din of shrieking 3-year-olds, borrowed from his recent set of insurance-related radio commercials in scoring Deukmejian’s handling of the industry.

“You take farmers, or banks, savings and loans, boards of directors. Almost every facet of life is being affected by this insurance crisis, and yet the governor has said not a word about a solution to this problem. He has not responded to it. And I think it’s an outrage,” the mayor said.

Bradley’s comments marked a sharpening of his multipronged plan to combat rising rates and insurance cancellations by demanding a one-year freeze on premiums, automatic renewal of insurance for all but poor safety risks and stricter regulation of the industry by the governor-appointed insurance commissioner.

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That plan was announced two weeks ago as Bradley adopted a new strategy of stressing, in campaign appearances, the issue of insurance.

Change in Focus

Earlier in the campaign, Bradley frequently had focused on criticisms of the governor’s stance on toxic waste, but that topic has been played down recently as aides urged the mayor to broaden the barrage to other topics.

On Tuesday, flanked by two child-care center operators who cited their own difficulties in finding affordable insurance, Bradley also repeated his charge that Deukmejian has failed to clamp down on insurance firms because they are top campaign contributors.

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“In this state the insurance industry controls the governor and the Insurance Commission, and they run hog wild,” Bradley said. Such accusations have been blasted by Deukmejian Administration officials.

Bradley was scheduled to spend most of Tuesday huddled in meetings with San Diego-area campaign contributors, but he interrupted his plans and returned to Los Angeles after learning of a major fire at the city’s Central Library. He then flew to San Jose to speak at the annual dinner of the Santa Clara Committee on Political Education.

Much to the dismay of Bradley staffers, the San Diego leg of the one-day campaign swing was only sparsely covered by reporters here and garnered no television coverage.

Hastily Scheduled Appearance

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The child-care center appearance was scheduled hastily. The director of the Salvation Army facility where Bradley appeared said the mayor’s staff had contacted her only Monday to arrange a press conference.

The staff had also asked that children be brought out to play in the background as the mayor spoke, in an effort to provide good visuals for the cameras that failed to show up.

“I don’t know what you have to do to get TV cameras around here,” lamented Dee Dee Myers, the mayor’s press spokeswoman for the trip.


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