POLITICS AND MONEY : Cerritos Election Has Lame Ducks Wading in Debt

Times Staff Writer

Money does not always spell victory. Just ask those who spent a bundle last fall in an unsuccessful bid to defeat Proposition H, a measure that prevents council members from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms.

Final campaign financing statements filed last week show that the Committee Against Proposition H outspent those backing the two-term measure nearly 25 to 1, and still came up short in the Nov. 4 election. Voters easily approved the amendment to the City Charter, rendering four of the current council members lame ducks.

Mayor Don Knabe and Councilman Daniel K. Wong will be the first casualties of the measure when their terms expire in April, 1988. Council members Diana Needham and Barry A. Rabbitt also will be forced from office when their terms end in 1990.

Committee Spent $25,035


Those four led the fight to defeat the two-term measure and are listed as the only officers of the Committee Against Proposition H. According to contribution records in the city clerk’s office, the committee received $23,620, including $16,720 in cash contributions, and $6,900 in loans. It also spent $25,035, most of it going for a series of flyers urging residents to vote no, and for a political consultant who was hired to engineer their campaign, records show. The committee still owes $8,650 in unpaid loans and expenses.

Proponents of Proposition H received $839 in contributions and spent $835. All of the contributions were less than $100.

To retire the debt, Knabe said the four council members have agreed to divide the amount and pay an equal share out of their own pockets. But Wong, who said he reluctantly loaned the group $3,500, believes he should be paid back in full. He said he made the loans with the understanding that he would be repaid.

“From the start, I wanted to keep this thing low-key, not spend much money or hire a political consultant,” Wong said. “But I gave in, and decided to go along with the rest and loaned the money. . . . Now they talk about splitting the debt. That was not the deal.”


Besides Wong, the council owes Norwalk-based political consultant Ralph Pacheco $1,750. Hired to engineer the opponents’ campaign, Pacheco has already been paid $4,500.

Also unpaid is a $2,000 loan from Krausz Enterprises, a Northern California developer. The company also contributed $3,000 in cash to the campaign. Krausz developed Best Plaza and restaurant row along 183rd Street and the company built the city’s tallest building, a nine-story office tower along Studebaker.

Needham and Knabe each lent the committee $500, while Rabbitt loaned the group $400, all of which have not been repaid, according to records.