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Council to Consider Proclamation Opposing War With Iraq

Times Staff Writer

Following Chicago, Detroit and dozens of other cities across the country, a coalition of six Los Angeles City Council members introduced a measure Friday urging their colleagues to officially oppose a war against Iraq.

Councilman Eric Garcetti, who worked behind the scenes for days to muster support for the antiwar proclamation, initiated the effort. Although Garcetti said that a few of his 13 colleagues questioned whether it was appropriate for the council to get involved, he found enough allies to force a vote.

In addition to Garcetti, council members Ruth Galanter, Cindy Miscikowski, Ed Reyes, Nate Holden and Jan Perry signed the antiwar motion Friday. Councilman Nick Pacheco also has indicated that he would support the Garcetti motion.

Councilman Tom LaBonge, meanwhile, introduced a competing measure that called on President Bush to initiate a war only after diplomatic measures have failed. The council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will take up both measures Wednesday before sending the motions to the full council.

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“I think everyone felt that time was of the essence,” Garcetti said. “We are very close to war and it’s important to make sure tens of thousands of Angelenos who signed antiwar petitions and who have been demonstrating out on the streets have their views represented.”

But Councilman Jack Weiss said the council should spend its time ensuring that the city is safe against a possible terrorist attack, not taking votes on issues over which it has no control.

“I wouldn’t support Eric’s or Tom’s motion,” Weiss said. “It’s not the sort of work we should be doing.”

Other council members said it is important for Los Angeles to send a clear message about the war to the White House.

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LaBonge said that although he opposes war, he does not ask the council to oppose the option outright. “The United States should make every effort to work within the United Nations framework and leave war as an option of last resort,” LaBonge wrote in his motion, which is supported by council members Janice Hahn and Dennis Zine. His motion also expresses “unconditional support” for U.S. troops.

“War is a horrible thing,” LaBonge said. “I as an American do not want to see war. Many of people in our city are very concerned.... We need to make sure that we, as a city, are sending the right message.”

Miscikowski said she opposes the war as “an issue of conscience. The U.S. should not move unilaterally against Iraq.”

If Los Angeles votes to oppose the war, it will be the largest U.S. city to do so. More than 65 local governments have adopted similar antiwar measures.

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“What we are asking is for people to stop and take a deep breath,” Garcetti said. “Let’s not rush into war.” He expressed concern that the Bush administration planned to use nuclear weapons against Iraq.

“War in Iraq would take the lives of untold Iraqis, the vast majority would be noncombatants,” Garcetti wrote in his motion.

He added: “Our unquestionable pride in and support for the men and women of the Armed Services prevents us from supporting their deaths in an unjustified war.”


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