3 Valley Secessionists Back Charter Reform
Leaders of Los Angeles’ charter reform effort, including several San Fernando Valley figures associated with the secession campaign, on Monday submitted their ballot arguments in favor of the proposed city constitution.
The list of those supporting the overhaul of Los Angeles’ constitution includes many of the city’s best-known civic leaders, including Mayor Richard Riordan, former Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher, City Atty. James K. Hahn, Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, City Controller Rick Tuttle and several members of the Los Angeles City Council. Leaders of the city’s two charter commissions, Erwin Chemerinsky and George Kieffer, also signed the argument.
Perhaps more surprising, however, are three San Fernando Valley residents who play prominent roles in the secession movement. Richard Close, David Fleming and Herbert F. Boeckmann all joined secession opponents in signing the argument. The charter reform campaign was launched in part to head off secession, and some advocates of that course have criticized the charter proposal.
But all three of the Valley leaders say they believe a new charter is needed, regardless of whether secession ultimately goes forward.
“I think the charter as it’s being presented is better than what we have,” said Boeckmann, who is a long-standing Riordan appointee to the city’s Police Commission. Boeckmann added, however, that the proposal “falls far short of what we could have had.”
Boeckmann said he did not believe the charter, if adopted, would change many opinions about secession one way or another.
Close also argued that the new charter would represent an improvement and stressed that he believes charter reform may actually advance secession, not hinder it.
“By delivering so little after promising so much,” the new charter will leave residents disappointed and therefore more eager to secede, he said.
If it is approved by voters in June, the new charter would strengthen the mayor’s executive authority over the government, recast the council as a more traditional legislative body, create a citywide system of advisory neighborhood councils and decentralize the government’s planning functions, among other things. It also gives voters the option of enlarging the City Council from 15 members to either 21 or 25.
Advocates say that the new charter would make government more efficient and improve representation. Some opponents say that it does not go far enough to reform the problems with Los Angeles government, while others argue that it wrongly empowers the city’s mayor at the expense of the City Council.