Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Northridge) may find himself dropped from Caltrans’ VIP list after his speech at a carpool lane opening on the 118 Freeway.
Instead of mouthing the usual platitudes and cutting a ribbon, McClintock cut the carpool lane concept to ribbons, then refused to join the other dignitaries for a jaunt down the new freeway lane.
“It needed to be said,” McClintock said in an interview.
The lanes are folly because they exclude 94% of the cars on the road, said McClintock, a leader of the Valley revolt against a carpool lane on the Ventura Freeway in the mid-80s.
McClintock said he got a chilly reception from the dignitaries who had to stand by as he lambasted their pet project.
“In reality, it simply provides the illusion of relief to the small percentage of traffic which can use the lane, while artificially gridlocking the 94% of traffic that cannot,” he said.
McClintock pooh-poohed the notion that the lanes encourage carpooling, saying most people can’t do it because of scheduling issues.
And, McClintock said later, a Caltrans official “confided to me they are no longer contending, at least internally, that diamond lanes promote carpooling.”
The assemblyman’s parting shot:
“I . . . will work for the day when every diamond is sandblasted from the pavements of our highway system.”
Many of the officials who spoke after McClintock defended the lanes.
MTA board member Larry Zarian said later he planned to spend time with McClintock in hopes of changing his views.
Good luck, Larry.
A Bad Rap
Speaking of McClintock, he reports his phones have been jingling steadily since he stood up on the Assembly floor this week to denounce a move to adjourn the session in memory of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G.
The calls, which have come in from all over the state, support McClintock’s outrage at the prospect of bestowing such an honor on “a convicted drug dealer and thug whose glorification of rape, murder and drugs had made him famous.”
McClintock has also been interviewed by media outlets as far away as Denver.
In an interview, McClintock said: “What truly shocked me was that 33 members voted for this thing. . . . Who would have thought that anyone in his right mind would believe this conduct was worthy of civic honor?”
Assemblyman Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) proposed the honor for the rapper because of his large and loyal following. He has vowed to try again at next week’s session.
McClintock said he is equally determined to block it.
“We’d be besmirching the memories of fine civic leaders in whose memories we normally adjourn,” McClintock said. “We’d be making a mockery of the state Assembly.”
City Council candidate Cindy Miscikowski has suspended campaigning for the next few days in order to care for her husband, attorney-lobbyist Doug Ring, who suffered a mild stroke Wednesday.
Ring, who was partially paralyzed on his left side by the stroke, will likely be released from Cedars-Sinai hospital within a day or two, said Rick Taylor, Miscikowski’s campaign manager. Ever the lobbyist, he was arguing with his doctors on Thursday that he wanted to go home that day, and as of about noon it looked like he might be released early.
Taylor said that Miscikowski, a former aide to Councilman Marvin Braude who is running to replace her former boss when he retires, would not appear at a debate with opponent Georgia Mercer Thursday night. But Taylor said Miscikowski will probably resume campaigning next week.
Mercer, a former aide to Mayor Richard Riordan, does not plan to stop campaigning, said Samantha Stevens, her campaign manager.
“Our sympathies are with them,” Stevens said. “We hope there is a very quick recovery and Cindy can return to the campaign trail as soon as possible.”
Charting a Course
A delicate issue arose this week when the appointed Charter Commission created by the Los Angeles City Council met for the first time with its new executive director, Raphael Sonenshein.
The delicate issue was whether the panel will cooperate with the other charter reform commission.
The other commission is the reform panel that voters will be asked to create under Proposition 8, a measure that Riordan has backed with his money and political clout.
Both panels will focus on overhauling the 72-year-old charter that outlines the balance of power in City Hall.
Riordan is supporting the initiative measure to create a 15-member elected panel because he says the panel must be independent of City Hall influences and have the power to submit its recommendations directly to voters.
But the council, worried that Riordan’s effort was an attempt to use charter reform to increase his authority, created its own panel, a 21-member appointed commission that will submit its recommendations to the council.
So on Wednesday, the council’s panel wrestled with how to deal with the other commission, assuming voters approve its creation.
Sonenshein, a political scientist from Cal State Fullerton, tried to be diplomatic, saying panel members should cooperate with the other commission but should also focus on their own responsibility toward reforming the charter.
Several other commission members agreed that Sonenshein’s diplomatic approach was best.
But Commissioner Andrew Friedman said his cooperation with the other commission would depend on who is elected to it.
If voters elect “robots who echo exactly what the mayor wants, cooperation will be much less,” he said.
The Republicans in Congress were tweaking President Clinton this week by offering a resolution calling on him to submit a second balanced budget--one based on less optimistic economic forecasts.
Amid the babble of earnest speeches by members of both parties, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) strode to the front of the House chamber, armed with props.
The owlish freshman had two minutes to make his point. And, as usual, he relied on the dry humor that colors much of his public discourse.
“This chart shows where we were headed in terms of a deficit before President Clinton took office. We see this line exceeding $100 trillion. I’ve only served in Congress a short time. I remember when a billion dollars was a lot of money, and we used to explain it as a line of $100 bills going from Washington all the way across the country or a stack of $1 bills going all the way to the moon.
“We were headed for a $100-trillion-dollar deficit. That’s a stack of $100 bills going all the way to whatever planet Yoda lives on,” Sherman said.
“Instead of passing resolutions, we should start by writing a budget in the Budget Committee [on which Sherman sits]. And I wondered why hasn’t the Republican majority put forward a budget, and I thought maybe it was the absence of pen and paper. . . .
“So I brought this here,” Sherman said, revealing his next chart.
A pen dangled from some string. The chart was blank.
“I would hope that . . . some of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle would come down here and give us some numbers because a journey toward a $1-trillion budget starts with the first digit.”
There were, of course, no takers.
QUOTABLE: “For Hayden to have won, he had to have scored a knockout. I don’t think he even scored a knockdown.”
--Political consultant Harvey Englander,
on the debate between Mayor Richard Riordan
and challenger Sen. Tom Hayden
This column was reported by Times staff writers Nancy Hill-Holtzman, Hugo Martin, Sharon Bernstein and James Bornemeier.