Candidates for City Council Offer Glimpse of Fiscal Lives : Primaries: A businessman challenging Hal Bernson spent more than $10,000 to store dune buggies and an airplane.


Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson lost money on a stock sale. An election opponent, Northridge businessman Walter Prince, spent more than $10,000 on storage space for dune buggies he races and his airplane. Another opponent, retiree and City Hall habitue Leonard Shapiro, earned more than $10,000 in bank interest.

Bernson and the seven candidates running against him in the April 9 city primary election revealed these and other details of their financial lives in economic interest statements filed last week with the city clerk’s office.

Bernson is seeking his fourth four-year term in the 12th Council District, which covers northwestern portions of the San Fernando Valley. If no candidate wins a majority in April, the two top vote-getters will face off June 4.

School board member Julie Korenstein of Northridge, considered Bernson’s most formidable foe, said she had no reportable investments or income. Council candidates are not required to list their homes on the statements and public officials need not report their salaries as income.


The exact wealth of candidates is impossible to ascertain from the statements, which require that the dollar value of assets be described only in broad ranges, such as "$10,001 to $100,000" and “over $100,000.”

However, the candidate with the most numerous assets appeared to be Prince, the owner of a Northridge janitorial and landscaping company who spent $55,000 of his own money in a failed attempt to recall Bernson in 1989.

Prince said he owns a Sherman Oaks home valued at more than $100,000 and a Northridge condominium, also worth more than $100,000. In addition, he owns stock valued at between $10,001 and $100,000 in Goodyear, and stock worth between $1,000 and $10,000 in both American West Bank and USX Corp. (formerly U.S. Steel).

The businessman said he rented two aircraft hangars at Van Nuys Airport to store desert buggies and his personal airplane, a Cessna 206. The lease cost between $10,001 and $100,000, he said.


Prince also owns a 30,000-square-foot industrial building in Northridge--where his firm is located and where he rents office space to several other businesses--worth more than $100,000. He owns 5.5 acres of land in Calabasas, where he is building an equestrian center, and another 3.5 acres adjacent to the Porter Ranch area in the Chatsworth hills. Both of those properties are also valued at more than $100,000, he said.

Other challengers reported significant holdings as well.

Attorney Ronald E. Michelman of Chatsworth said he has a property in Chatsworth and another Palm Springs, each worth more than $100,000. He said he also earned more than $100,000 on investments last year.

Allen Hecht, who owns a Northridge printing firm, said it is worth more than $100,000. He also said he owns stock in two computer-related companies. Each holding is valued at between $1,000 and $10,000.

Bernson said he holds U.S. government securities worth between $10,001 and $100,000. In addition, his wife earned between $1,001 and $10,000 from her travel-agent job. Bernson also said he received two car loans of between $1,001 and $10,000 from the Bank of Granada Hills. Bernson said he had not repaid either loan during 1990.

He said that last August he sold stock he owned in a small Los Angeles firm, Aura Systems Inc., which produces advanced computer software. The stock was valued at between $1,000 and $10,000, he said.

“As a matter of fact, I lost money on it,” Bernson said, declining to say how much.

The other candidates reporting were Shapiro, Los Angeles police detective-supervisor Arthur (Larry) Kagele and Robert Birch, a Northridge community activist.


Shapiro, a retired health-aids distributor who often speaks at City Council meetings and publishes a small newspaper about city issues, said he received interest income of more than $10,000 from a Granada Hills bank.

Kagele said he had no reportable income except payments to him on two loans of more than $10,000 apiece. Birch reported income of between $1,001 and $10,000 from his graphics-design firm.

In other Valley-area City Council races, 2nd District Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents portions of the East Valley, reported receiving more than $10,000 from a sale to a Santa Monica art gallery. Wachs, a noted art collector, also said he received a $350 honorarium from the sponsors of a conference on “art, politics and democracy” in San Francisco.

One of his opponents, City Hall lobbyist and planning consultant Peter Lynch, said he holds trust deeds valued at more than $100,00 apiece on three Los Angeles-area properties. A retired city planner, Lynch also received pension payments of more than $10,000.

Wachs’ two other opponents, North Hollywood homeowner-activist Tom Paterson and Mary Lou Holte, who described herself as a Van Nuys activist-crime fighter, said they had no reportable interests.

Councilman John Ferraro, one of the council’s wealthiest members, reported a wide variety of investments in stocks, bonds and real estate. He is running for reelection in Council District 4, which covers portions of North Hollywood and Studio City.

One of his opponents, North Hollywood activist Gregory Roberts, said he had no reportable interests. Another, truck driver Fabian Asensio of North Hollywood, reported a salary of more than $10,000.

Los Feliz-area investor Barney Feldman was disqualified from running in the 4th District race by city officials last week for failing to file a financial disclosure statement.