Saying he wants to be the “environmental mayor,” state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) accepted the endorsement Friday of the Sierra Club and accused Mayor Richard Riordan of ignoring the environment.
Hayden’s charges touched off a daylong flurry of allegations between the two mayoral candidates that involved Hayden’s voting record in Sacramento and Riordan’s environmental record in Los Angeles.
“The present mayor represents a mentality where the environment is simply not on the agenda,” Hayden said at a news conference in the Santa Monica Mountains.
But Riordan campaign aide Todd Harris, who attended the event, attempted to steal some of Hayden’s thunder by saying the senator was missing a vote Friday on “important environmental legislation” in Sacramento.
That legislation turned out to be a bill to eliminate some of the environmental requirements in the construction of a baseball stadium for the San Francisco Giants, according to Sen. Quentin L. Kopp (I-San Francisco), who sponsored it.
Randal Henry, a spokesman for Kopp, called the legislation “not that big of a deal” and added that there was no vote on it Friday.
Later in the day, Riordan’s campaign fired another broadside at Hayden, accusing him of missing a vote to provide emergency funding to keep trial courts operating.
“As a paid representative of the people of this city, Hayden has a responsibility to show up for work in Sacramento,” Riordan’s campaign said in a news release.
Hayden shrugged off the charge, saying “nothing happens in Sacramento in January and February.”
Hayden’s campaign spokesman, Rocky Rushing, however, acknowledged later that the senator had missed a vote on the court funding bill but said it was unanimously approved and Hayden’s vote wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
The charges and countercharges typify the increasingly heated mayoral campaign that will come to a head on election day, April 8.
In the last week, Hayden has held daily news conferences to launch charges at Riordan, who holds a commanding lead in fund-raising and in the polls, according to a Times poll.
In addition to winning the Sierra Club’s support, Hayden was endorsed Friday by actor Ed Begley Jr., an avid environmentalist appointed by Riordan to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
Begley said he sees no conflict in endorsing the mayor’s opponent, saying he believes Hayden has a stronger environmental agenda.
Tim Frank, regional vice president of the Sierra Club, said his group has endorsed Hayden because he has proved his “leadership to protect the environment.”
He added: “Richard Riordan has demonstrated an inadequate concern for the environment.”
Hayden also attacked Riordan for lobbying the South Coast Air Quality Management District in 1994 to put off measures combating pollution caused by diesel vehicles until more analysis could be done. Riordan called for a plan that protected jobs and the environment.
Air quality officials eventually eliminated or delayed some of the anti-smog rules that Riordan opposed, despite protest from environmentalists.
Hayden also released a five-page environmental plan for Los Angeles that calls for manufacturing cars powered by electricity or natural gas, tougher air quality standards, more trees and open space and restoration of the Los Angeles River as the city’s “natural urban watercourse.”