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Most City Incumbents Opt Out of Spending Limits

Times Staff Writer

Most of the Los Angeles city pols up for reelection in March have opted out of taking public matching funds, which means they don’t have to abide by spending limits, sparking concern from backers of the program.

Six of the 10 city officials on the ballot, including City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and council members Ed Reyes, Jack Weiss and Jan Perry, filed papers this month rejecting matching funds and spending limits. Councilmen Alex Padilla and Eric Garcetti, who are unopposed, also opted out.

Four months before the election, Delgadillo has already raised $1.06 million, which, if he spent it all, would exceed the spending limit of $1.01 million in the city attorney’s race. His lone challenger, Etan Lorant, has not reported raising any money.

Delgadillo wants to be able to spend whatever it takes to get his message to voters citywide, said Larry Grizalano, his campaign consultant.

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“He doesn’t want to be constrained by spending limits,” Grizalano said.

Some city officials speculate that Delgadillo decided not to abide by the spending limit so he can spend the money to raise his visibility in anticipation of a possible run for mayor in four years.

Others said rejecting the spending limits approved by voters in 1990 sends the wrong message.

“I would much prefer they would all take part because it shows confidence in the program, and by accepting matching funds, they don’t have to raise as much money,” said Robert M. Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles who played a role in putting together the program.

LeeAnn Pelham, executive director of the Ethics Commission, also said voters wanted to see the brakes put on campaign spending.

Weiss has raised $265,000, while his nearest challenger has reported raising one-tenth that amount. The spending limit for council races is $330,000.

Larry Levine, a campaign consultant for Weiss, said Weiss did not want to take taxpayer funds.

“It just didn’t feel right,” Levine said. “There is no question he can raise the money he needs for the race.”

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County Labor Group to Vote on Pick for Mayor

Dec. 16 is a key date in the Los Angeles mayor’s race. That is when the five major candidates will appear before a couple hundred delegates of the county Federation of Labor’s political arm.

The endorsement by the group’s Committee on Political Education could bring with it hundreds of thousands of dollars and an army of union volunteers, but it is not at all clear that anyone will win the required two-thirds vote this year.

The committee endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor in 2001, but Miguel Contreras, who heads the federation, said Hahn has served working men and women well as mayor.

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Dave Arian, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, confirmed that he had been called and lobbied by most of the candidates.

“They would all like to get it,” said Arian, whose union has endorsed the mayor for reelection. He, too, said, “Hahn has done a good job here in the harbor. He has kept the port moving.”

Some candidates are working to block Hahn from getting the endorsement. “The best that I can hope for is that Hahn doesn’t get a two-thirds majority,” said state Sen. Richard Alarcon.

Republican Candidate Feels Left Out of Debate

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Republican mayoral candidate Walter Moore is looking to make what he calls “a big stink” over why only Democrats are being invited to a broadcast debate planned for Thursday by the League of Women Voters and KNBC-TV.

It just so happens that the five major candidates, those who have experience in elective office and have extensive campaign organizations, are Democrats.

That, Moore said, is not a debate.

“Instead, it’s merely a Democrat infomercial,” he said.

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Moore, a 45-year-old trial attorney, called on supporters to telephone and e-mail radio stations to complain.

He said it appears the decision was made because Republicans are only a quarter of the voters in the city.

Nonsense, says Scott Redberg, who is producing the debate.

“It’s a nonpartisan election,” Redberg said. “The fact that he is a Republican is not relevant.”

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Instead, invitations were extended to candidates based on criteria such as levels of financial support, the existence of campaign headquarters and committees, and whether they have qualified for matching funds.

He noted that 20 people have filed declarations of intent to run for mayor. “We can’t have everyone in,” he said. “There would be no debate.”

Anti-Schwarzenegger Website Gets Support

A week after a group set up a website to oppose changing the U.S. Constitution to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to become president, more than 3 million people have visited the site, and more than $10,000 have been pledged to the campaign.

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The money will go toward a campaign by nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Alex Jones and his group Americans Against Arnold to air commercials on radio and cable television to rally opposition to the proposed legislation.

Jones, who lives in Austin, Texas, hopes to put the cable ads on television in California to counter commercials supporting a constitutional change that would allow foreign-born citizens, including Schwarzenegger, to seek the highest office in the country.

“I personally am against a foreign-born person being president,” said Jones, a former Republican who is now a Libertarian. “People want their president to be born in this country.”

He is also troubled by Schwarzenegger’s past, which includes allegations that he groped women, used steroids and schemed about his eventual rise to power. “The guy has all of the classic symptoms of a megalomaniac,” Jones said.

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A Schwarzenegger spokesman declined to comment.

But Schwarzenegger supporters have sent e-mails to the anti-Arnold site to warn that they are messing with the wrong man.

Said one e-mail: “He will smash you like the girlie men you are.”

Points Taken

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* Pat McOsker has been reelected as president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City for another two years, and his brother Mike was elected as secretary of the union board, officials said last week. Their brother, Tim McOsker, is the chief of staff to Mayor James K. Hahn, and another brother, John McOsker, is a member of the Harbor Area Planning Commission.

* A study released last week by the Election Verification Project found nearly 900 reports of electronic voting machine irregularities throughout the United States on election day. “This election shows there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve electronic voting systems and build voter confidence in our elections system,” said state Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), the incoming chairwoman of the Senate committee on elections.

You Can Quote Me

“This is our call for prayer, renewed faith, and a demand for driver’s licenses and visas for our families.”

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Nativo V. Lopez, national president of the Mexican American Political Assn., calling for people to attend pilgrimages for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 to protest Schwarzenegger’s veto of legislation that would provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.


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