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Senate Confirms Covitz to Head Transportation, Housing Agency

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Senate on Saturday unanimously approved Gov. Pete Wilson’s appointment of Carl Covitz, a former Reagan Administration official, as secretary of business, transportation and housing.

Covitz’s confirmation had been delayed for a week by Senate Democrats in an apparent attempt to hold the nomination hostage against a possible veto by the Republican governor of the proposed legislative reapportionment plans.

However, the Senate is not expected to vote on its own reapportionment bill until this week. The decision to go ahead with approval of Covitz, a Beverly Hills developer, was regarded by some as a gesture of goodwill to the governor.

Covitz was a top administrator in the federal Department of Housing and Development during the Reagan Administration. His name never surfaced in connection with the influence-peddling and contract award scandals that have rocked the department.

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Covitz’s nomination to head the sprawling state agency was so lacking in opposition that the Senate did not take a separate roll call vote. Instead, it substituted a 36-0 roll call used on a previous noncontroversial action to confirm him.

However, Sen. Quentin L. Kopp (I-San Francisco), chairman of the Transportation Committee, said Covitz’s performance during the past eight months as secretary of the agency “reminds me of the Jerry Brown era when nothing was done in the transportation area.”

Kopp, who voted for the confirmation, also cited use by Covitz of an unmarked California Highway Patrol car as the secretary’s official vehicle. “There is no reason why he would be using an automobile with lights and sirens. No other agency secretary is permitted under the laws of the state (to do so),” he said.

Covitz came under fire last week from Kopp for using CHP officers and their cruisers to take about 40 trips, most of them between his Los Angeles home and Los Angeles International Airport, and for taking a family ride in a city helicopter. Covitz said the rides involved official state business, but indicated that he would use CHP chauffeurs and cars less often.

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