HAWTHORNE : Mayor Writes Clinton, Asks for Federal Aid

Mayor Larry Guidi has sent a plea to President Clinton asking for federal aid for the financially beleaguered city.

In a letter dated Feb. 9, Guidi asked for an emergency loan or grant from federal agencies to "avert a total shutdown of city operations or, at the very least, bankruptcy proceedings."

The city is facing a $10.5-million deficit in its $27-million general fund budget.

Council members also approved seeking a grand jury investigation of how the city got into the fiscal dilemma, but decided to wait until after the budget problems are solved.

The letter, said city spokesman Tom Quintana, shows Guidi's commitment to finding help for the cash-strapped city.

"He has made it clear that he will do whatever it takes, go wherever he can to get funds for the city," Quintana said.

But Councilman Steven Andersen said the letter sends the wrong message.

"To say we're going to declare bankruptcy, that's not true and it's not the official position of this council," Andersen said, adding that Guidi sent the letter on his own.

So far, city officials say, there has been no response from the Clinton Administration.

At a meeting Monday, council members also considered leasing Hawthorne's Municipal Airport. The airport is run by the city and owned in part by Northrop-Grumman, which is located just off the runway.

The 80-acre airfield generates about $200,000 in revenue, but selling the rights to develop and manage the airport could bring in millions of dollars quickly, officials say.

Developer Bob Comstock has offered to run and develop portions of the airport for $2 million while allowing the city to keep up to 15% of the profits.

But Santa Monica-based developer Ken Elias, who presented a similar idea to the council five years ago, told council members that Comstock's plan could be a conflict of interest. The manager and the developer of the airport must be separate, Elias said.

"If they are the same, (the manager/developer) could raise rents, raise fuel fees and control who gets in," Elias said.

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