The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the appointment of attorney Melanie Lomax to the Airport Commission, despite earlier concerns about allegedly anti-Semitic remarks attributed to her.
Lomax, who was nominated by Mayor Tom Bradley to replace Commissioner Jerry Epstein, assured council members at a hearing that she is not anti-Semitic and that the comments attributed to her in a book and newspaper were inaccurate and taken out of context.
"I want to make it clear that I am not now nor have I ever been anti-Semitic," said Lomax, who was formerly a vice president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. "In fact, anti-Semitism is contrary to all that my life has stood for and is about."
Councilman Michael Woo said that he was initially troubled by Lomax's comments in two publications. But upon hearing her clarification of those remarks, he said, "I'm satisfied that (Lomax) would be a constructive force" on the Airport Commission.
At issue was a story in the Sept. 14, 1985, edition of the New York Times about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in which Lomax was quoted as saying, "There is a strong sentiment in the black community and among black leadership that the Jewish community has too much dominance, influence and control."
And in the book "Broken Alliance--The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America," Lomax was quoted as saying, "Jews see blacks as an underclass. Theirs is a patronizing, condescending attitude."
While the council members were willing to accept Lomax's explanation on the published comments, they were tougher in questioning her on Airport Commission policies--particularly the Minority Business Enterprise and Women-Owned Business Enterprise programs that have been criticized by council members for helping only a few politically well-connected minority people.
Lomax said she was not familiar with those programs, even though Yaroslavsky pointed out that her law firm has similar contracts with the city's Community Redevelopment Agency.
Lomax told the council members, "I intend to look into it. . . . I have both the time and the inclination and the interest on this particular subject."