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Bernson Spending Tops All 5 Rivals : Campaign: Finance reports show that the councilman has nearly six times as much cash available as his challengers combined.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Battling the largest number of rival candidates he has ever faced, Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson spent more money in the early weeks of his reelection campaign than his five challengers combined, according to campaign finance reports released Thursday.

And with six weeks remaining until the April 9 municipal primary election, the veteran San Fernando Valley lawmaker has nearly six times as much cash available for his campaign as all of his challengers together, the reports show.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Mar. 02, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday March 2, 1991 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Column 3 Zones Desk 1 inches; 20 words Type of Material: Correction
Candidate name--A chart on Friday incorrectly identified a candidate in the race for Hal Bernson’s City Council seat. His name is Walter Prince.

Also, all but two of Bernson’s opponents loaned their campaigns more from their own pockets than they raised from outside contributors. Bernson’s main challenger, school board member Julie Korenstein, loaned her campaign $15,000 while raising $13,000 from donors.

Bernson’s opponents, however, said the incumbent entered the race with a large campaign bankroll and insisted that their fund-raising yields will grow quickly in coming weeks.

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“We’re raising hundreds of dollars a day,” Korenstein said of her own fund-raising operation. “It’s picking up incredible momentum.”

Bernson, who is seeking his fourth term, said he raised nearly $40,000 during the period covered by the reports--Jan. 1 to Feb. 23--and spent $53,000. He also reported having $153,000 in cash on hand. Bernson had already stockpiled $167,000 in his reelection kitty by the end of 1990. He has raised a total of $235,000 since July 1.

“We’re prepared to run an all-out campaign. . . . We’re very pleased with our fund raising,” Bernson campaign manager Hal Dash said.

Korenstein said she raised $28,000, including three $5,000 loans drawn from her personal savings accounts. She spent $26,000, leaving her with about $2,000 in available cash.

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Candidate Walter Prince, a wealthy Northridge businessman, said he loaned his campaign $30,000 from personal funds and raised another $4,600 from outside donors.

Prince, who spent $55,000 of his own money on an unsuccessful 1989 recall effort against Bernson, spent $13,000, including $4,000 for a campaign consultant and $4,200 on campaign brochures.

Another candidate, printer Allen Hecht of Granada Hills, reported raising about $6,700, including a $2,000 loan from his own funds. Police Detective Arthur Kagele of Granada Hills raised about $2,000, including a personal loan of $1,700. Newsletter publisher Leonard Shapiro, also of Granada Hills, said he raised $2,200, including a personal loan of $400.

Among other expenditures, Bernson paid $7,700 to a Santa Ana polling firm and $7,000 to a direct-mail consultant. He also spent nearly $14,000 on costs related to printing and mailing of campaign brochures.

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Bernson, who is chairman of the City Council’s powerful planning and land use committee, collected at least $7,700 from real estate and construction interests, but his campaign report showed no donations from people or firms associated with the $2-billion Porter Ranch development.

Bernson has been heavily criticized by his opponents and some community leaders for his support of the sprawling project, which will cover 1,300 acres in the rolling hills north of Chatsworth. Since 1982, he had accepted more than $55,000 from ranch developer Nathan Shappell and his business associates.

Asked if Bernson’s campaign decided not to accept additional ranch-related donations in recent weeks so as not to give the councilman’s foes more grounds to accuse him of being a pawn of wealthy developers, Dash said:

“It was kind of an unwritten decision. It’s an obvious decision, is what it is. It clouds the real issues, and there’s no sense in clouding the issues.”

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Korenstein reported a number of contributions from doctors, lawyers and teachers and administrators with the Los Angeles Unified School District. She also received $500 from the Laborer’s International Union and $250 from the Beverly Hills Democratic Club.

Korenstein said she has scheduled six fund-raisers for the coming weeks and expects to raise $85,000 for the primary race. She said that in past campaigns, she has usually gotten off to a slow fund-raising start, but then rapidly picked up speed.

But one political observer familiar with the race said Korenstein’s fund-raising total to date is “certainly not a sign of strength.”

“If she had a lot of cash on hand, she could be building up to something. But apparently she had to put in her own money to keep the campaign going,” pollster Arnold Steinberg said.

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Korenstein said she knew before getting into the race that Bernson would have far more campaign money than she would.

“The various groups that have contributed to him, the developers and so forth, have a vested interest in keeping him on the council, and they will pour money into the campaign,” Korenstein said.

“But the community doesn’t like Mr. Bernson anymore,” she said, “and when people go to the polls, they’re going to vote him out.”

CAMPAIGN SPENDING REPORTS

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Raised Spent Remains Loaned Hal Bernson $39,875 $53,103 $153,645 $0 Hal Prince $34,654 $13,251 $21,402 $30,000 Julie Korenstein $28,286 $26,074 $1,974 $15,000 Allen Hecht $6,683 $3,260 $1,923 $2,000 Leonard Shapiro $2,209 $366 $1,842 $400 Arthur Kagele $1,986 $345 $1,551 $1,696

Source: Campaign finance reports filed Thursday with Los Angeles city clerk’s office


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