Business Leaders Urge Full Funding for D. A.'s Office

San Fernando Valley business leaders Wednesday urged county supervisors to fully fund the district attorney's office or face dire economic consequences.

Members of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. made their pitch during an hourlong meeting with Ed Edelman, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. The board is scheduled to begin deliberations next week on a $13.1-billion budget that falls at least $1.6 billion short of what is needed to maintain current services.

Under the present proposal, the district attorney's office would suffer an 8% cut. Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti has warned that he would have to lay off up to 188 prosecutors and stop prosecuting the more than 250,000 misdemeanors filed each year in areas that do not have their own city attorneys to handle those crimes.

"That's about as negative a business climate as we can create," said Ben Reznik, chairman of VICA, which represents 360 companies. "What it says is that L. A. is in chaos, in disarray. Can you imagine any business wanting to locate here if that happens?"

But Edelman said supervisors are concerned about funding all county services that have an impact on public safety, including health clinics and lifeguards. He said Garcetti can continue to prosecute misdemeanors by reassigning his staff, including four attorneys who have been devising crime prevention programs for schoolchildren since March.

Garcetti said disbanding the crime prevention unit would only save about $350,000 annually--far less than the $19.1 million he is requesting.

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