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Battle Intensifies Over Control of Investigation Into Bradley Affairs

Times City-County Bureau Chief

The battle over control of the Mayor Tom Bradley investigation became intense Wednesday, with Bradley and his leading council backer, Richard Alatorre, fighting to keep the probe completely in the hands of City Atty. James K. Hahn.

Hahn himself rejected an offer from Council President John Ferraro for assistance, and turned down Ferraro’s request for a speedup of his probe.

He promised Ferraro in a letter to give the council a report “no later than mid-September.” He said his office and the Police Department are “proceeding as expeditiously as possible without sacrificing thoroughness.”

‘Answer . . . to the People’

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Then, clearly asserting that his public mandate was as strong as the council’s, he said “I answer only to the people of Los Angeles.”

Ferraro had moved earlier in the day to assert City Council control, introducing a motion giving two council investigative committees power to require witnesses to testify under oath and, if necessary, retain a special counsel with subpoena power.

But whether the measure was needed became a question. One deputy city attorney said the council already had such power, Ferraro said, while another said that his measure was needed. Ferraro said he expected the legal advisers to agree on an opinion by week’s end.

At the same time, he sent a letter to Hahn, saying that “the delay in the completion of your investigation and report is a matter of increasing concern to me, the public and to other members of the council.”

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Control of the investigation became a political dividing line in a City Hall shaken by the probe into whether Bradley violated his public trust by helping financial institutions which employed him as a board member in one case and as an adviser in another.

Those most critical of the mayor favor a stronger council role. Those tending to support the mayor want control in Hahn’s hands.

Bradley critics fear that Hahn, a promising political leader in his own right, might pull his punches in the investigation in hopes of winning support among the mayor’s backers, particularly in the black community, in the post-Bradley era.

Bradley supporters fear that council control means an investigation stacked against Bradley, since several council members have mayoral ambitions of their own.

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Alatorre emerged as the leading council voice in support of Hahn. The councilman, a member of the Finance and Revenue Committee currently holding hearings on the Bradley affair, also is considered by some of his colleagues to be the mayor’s leading and most skillful defender on the council.

“I think Richard is a great ally of the mayor in this whole process,” said Councilwoman Gloria Molina.

Satisfied With Pace

Alatorre, in an interview, said he was satisfied with the pace of the investigation by Hahn, who was given the task by the council four months ago.

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“We are prejudging and drawing conclusions about the investigation that are unwarranted,” Alatorre said. “We are trying to dictate the time it should take, and I think that is wrong.”

Asked if he would support Ferraro’s proposal, introduced Wednesday, to give council investigating committees the power to place witnesses under oath, Alatorre said, “I don’t think it is necessary. Nothing has shown me people have lied. . . . I have to be convinced it is needed.”

Bradley, at a brief press conference following an awards presentation at the council meeting, said Hahn should continue to lead the investigation.

Clearly wanting the council to stay out of it, the mayor said: “I hope the actions of the council will serve not to delay this process. I am anxious there be a full inquiry, that it be expeditious and I hope that nothing the council does delays that expeditious process.

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“I think the city attorney process is the proper way of handling the matter,” Bradley said. “He is conducting this inquiry and I have indicated my willingness to cooperate and I will do so.”

In his letter, Hahn told Ferraro that the council could “conduct its own investigation,” but it would be expensive. And he reminded Ferraro that if the council chose outside attorneys to help, he has the power to review the choices.

Hahn also said that any attorney selected from the Los Angeles legal community might be subject to charges of conflict “given the political activism of most law firms with the expertise, experience and staff to take on such an assignment.”


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