* The Times is 180 degrees off base in its criticism of Los Angeles County Assessor Kenneth P. Hahn and its refusal to endorse him for reelection (May 25). As assessor, Hahn has done a very fine job. Four years ago there were over 2.7 million errors on the assessment roll and calls poured into the offices of the Board of Supervisors and other elected officials from constituents complaining about the assessor’s office. Now that flood of complaints has been reduced to a trickle.
All five supervisors--both Democratic and Republican--have endorsed Kenneth Hahn. Most state legislators from Los Angeles County have endorsed Hahn, as have all 15 members of the Los Angeles City Council. The presidents of both the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and the Los Angeles Taxpayers Assn. have endorsed Hahn.
The silly and ill-advised practical jokes Hahn played on his former rival were entirely separate from Hahn’s official duties and in no way impacted the functions of his office.
We plan to vote for Kenneth Hahn.
Former Assessor, Los Angeles County
JOHN J. CURTIS, President
Los Angeles Taxpayers Assn.
* I have worked in the legal profession for over 20 years and during that time have witnessed the overall deterioration in the caliber of judges sitting in the Los Angeles County courts and have heard more disparaging remarks about judges than I care to admit. I read with interest your May 29 endorsement of judicial candidate Ronald Coen, the incumbent, rated “qualified,” as opposed to Charles Fleishman, the challenger, who was rated “well qualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.
Why would you endorse a judicial candidate rated less qualified over a candidate rated more qualified by the very legal professionals who yearn to try cases before the best judges possible? I would not want to have a lawsuit of mine tried before a judge known to be “rigid, even impatient”!
L. J. THOMSON
* In your endorsements of Superior Court candidates (May 29), you needlessly impugned the integrity of Susan Bryant-Deason, a candidate for Office No. 93.
After correctly observing that Ms. Bryant-Deason is one of only two candidates for this office given the L.A. County Bar’s highest rating, you suggested that, as a prosecutor, she exercised “poor judgment” that in some unexplained manner led to an allegation that the U.S. attorney’s office improperly targeted individuals selling drugs near schoolyards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although criminal defense attorneys made allegations of improper targeting by law enforcement agencies and the office itself, there has never been a judicial finding that this occurred. Moreover, as the U.S. attorney who oversaw the office’s schoolyard law prosecutions, I can state categorically that the allegation of improper targeting is untrue. Far from using poor judgment, Ms. Bryant-Deason did an extraordinary job as a prosecutor enforcing the federal schoolyard law, a law requiring heavier penalties for dealers selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school. Indeed, her efforts led to enactment by the California Legislature of a similar tough state law.
As a federal prosecutor, Ms. Bryant-Deason also put away some of the biggest drug traffickers around. She is a tough, but fair prosecutor who has consistently used good judgment and who will make an outstanding Superior Court judge. You gave the slight edge to her opponent, evidently based on allegations that are not true. Therefore, it seems to me that you should have endorsed Ms. Bryant-Deason, clearly the best candidate for this position.
ROBERT C. BONNER
* Regarding your voter’s guide and endorsement editorial (May 29) on the race for the County Board of Supervisors, Third District: To set the record straight, I announced my candidacy on Dec. 1, the same day Ed Edelman announced his retirement. Zev Yaroslavsky, your endorsed candidate, didn’t announce until weeks later.
I know from personal experience that the residents are starved for information about the candidates in this race, and for new ideas at the County Board of Supervisors. During 30 community forums, and nearly 200 additional meetings, the people expressed disgust and dismay at the lack of news coverage of the campaign. The Times covered only one forum (April 29), and that was because Yaroslavsky finally deigned to appear in the same room with the other candidates. Of course, he had set strict conditions on his appearance--no debate.
What is particularly galling is the fact that The Times editorializes that Yaroslavsky’s theme of “openness in government” is what swayed you to endorse him. If Yaroslavsky is so committed to openness, why has he avoided community forums? Why has he refused to debate any challenger?