Search for the New World Launches Modern Turf War : Protocol: The city and county are fighting over who gets the spoils from celebration of 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage.


Although the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World is still two years away, the city and county are engaged in what one official calls a “protocol war” over control of Los Angeles’ celebration.

Mayor Tom Bradley said it was insulting that a federal commission selected the County Board of Supervisors as the local coordinator for the 1992 celebration.

Unless the commission reconsiders, the mayor’s office said, the city will drop out of the celebration, whose main event will be a parade of tall ships, led by replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, which will sail into Long Beach Harbor and other ports around the country, but not Los Angeles Harbor, according to the mayor’s office.

City pride and tourist dollars are at stake, according to Bradley’s chief of protocol, Beatrice Canterbury Lavery. “This is not a silly fight between the offices of protocol,” she said.


But Supervisor Ed Edelman said, “Egos are involved.”

“These protocol wars should cease,” Edelman added. “Every time I talk to diplomats here, they tell me they’re always in the middle between the city and county.”

The supervisors established their own office of protocol in 1983 after receiving what they considered casual treatment during a visit to Los Angeles by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

While Bradley played host to the queen and repeatedly was photographed at her side, the supervisors had to remind city officials to include them on the invitation list for a small luncheon planned for her at the Music Center, a county-run facility.

Since then, the city and county offices of protocol have clashed over such things as who should be first to greet visiting dignitaries and seating arrangements at dinners, according to officials who were present.

In the latest dispute, Bradley said he was shocked by the selection of the county to coordinate Los Angeles’ celebration--especially after he traveled to Spain last year to discuss the city’s plans for the event with King Juan Carlos I.

The designation was awarded in April by the federal Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission, based in Washington.

The county’s volunteer chief of protocol, Sandra J. Ausman, said: “The commission wanted a governmental body that had the ability to bring together all the cities of the county.

“This (celebration) belongs to everyone,” she said. “It doesn’t belong to one city.”

But Bradley, in a strongly worded letter to the commission, pointed out that the city spent three years planning for the celebration.

“It was even more insulting that this decision was made without our knowledge or consultation,” he wrote.

The city should run the celebration because it was founded by the King of Spain, said Lavery, who is paid $56,104 a year.

“We are the Spanish city,” she said. “The county is not a Spanish county.”

Lavery complained that the county “never informed us they were going to compete with us. . . . The county keeps trying to come into our territory. I don’t interfere in their territory.”

County protocol chief Ausman said the county offered to coordinate the event after being approached by a commission official and a Spanish diplomat who complained that the city was not making enough progress. Supervisor Mike Antonovich added that members of Los Angeles’ Italian community also complained to him about the city’s efforts to honor the Genovese sailor Columbus.

Jana Joustra, the commission’s public relations director, said: “We felt the ball had been dropped by the city. I don’t know what they have been doing for three years, but they haven’t been doing it with us.”

Last month’s choice of the Republican-dominated Board of Supervisors over the Democrat Bradley had nothing to do with politics, Joustra said. The commission, although appointed by Republican President Bush, is bipartisan, she said.

The county has established a local committee to plan events and raise private funds for the celebration. At least $2 million is needed to pay for the ships’ visit, Ausman said.

The replicas will duplicate Columbus’ voyage across the Atlantic from Spain. They will sail into New York Harbor on July 4, 1992, then travel through the Panama Canal to arrive in San Francisco on Columbus Day, Oct. 12. On Sept. 27, 1992, they will berth at Long Beach, where visitors will be allowed to board.

Ausman said she is working on a way to include Los Angeles Harbor in the celebration and plans to invite city officials to serve on the organizing committee for the celebration. “I am hoping that all of this will be put behind us,” she said.

Lavery said the chairman of the federal commission recently suggested that “we might peel off one of the caravels” and let the ship visit Los Angeles Harbor. However, she said, city officials responded: “No way.”