7 of 15 Council Members Favor Reelection of Hahn

Times Staff Writer

As the contest for mayor of Los Angeles begins to move into the spotlight, sharp divisions are being exposed in the City Council.

After months of intense courtship, Mayor James K. Hahn has secured endorsements from seven of the 15 council members. But, with Councilmen Bernard C. Parks and Antonio Villaraigosa also running for mayor, three of Hahn’s erstwhile backers on the council have so far withheld their support, and other council members are lining up with his challengers.

“The fact that this is a council that is not overwhelmingly unified in support of the mayor’s reelection speaks for itself,” said Councilman Jack Weiss.

The Westside councilman quietly held two recent political fundraisers for Villaraigosa and is expected to join others, possibly including Reps. Howard L. Berman (D-North Hollywood) and Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), at a news conference today to formally endorse Villaraigosa.

“I think that Antonio has the vision, energy and leadership skills to be a great mayor,” Weiss said.


Added Councilman Martin Ludlow, a former aide to Villaraigosa: “I think he is the best of the candidates.”

The mayor has been endorsed by council members Eric Garcetti, Tom LaBonge, Cindy Miscikowski, Ed Reyes, Greig Smith, Dennis Zine and Janice Hahn, the mayor’s sister.

Still uncommitted are council President Alex Padilla, Tony Cardenas and Wendy Greuel, all supporters of Hahn in 2001. “I haven’t endorsed anybody yet. I’m focused on my reelection,” Padilla said when asked whether he would back Hahn again.

One city official close to Cardenas said the lack of an endorsement of Hahn “means that Hahn has not lived up to the councilman’s expectations or the mayor’s promises.”

The source said Cardenas could end up in the camp of mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg, who beat Cardenas for the Assembly speaker post several years ago but later appointed Cardenas as chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Councilwoman Jan Perry has not announced whom she will support.


Prop. 72 Ads Provide Some Comic Relief

The “yes” and “no” campaigns fighting over one state ballot measure are providing some unintended comic relief.

Opponents of Proposition 72, who are against requiring biggish businesses to offer healthcare coverage to workers, aired a TV spot showing a restaurant owner complaining about the measure.

Within days, the San Francisco Chronicle had “outed” the “owner” as an actress and the eatery as a Los Angeles Mexican restaurant that wouldn’t be affected by the measure anyway.

In response, the yes-on-72 folks assembled their own ad. In it, Richard Corlin, a Santa Monica doctor and recent president of the American Medical Assn., talks about the measure and the fake “restaurateur” and shows a bit of the no-on-72 ad.

Now the campaign has received an e-mail from the agent of two actresses appearing in the no-on-72 ad, insisting that they be paid for their “appearance” in the yes-on-72 ad.

“They used the talent without permission,” said Brandon Olech, the agent for L.A.-area actresses Diana Herren and Brenda Ballard.


Foie Gras Law Wins 2004 Nosey Award

The state’s new foie gras law won the 2004 Nosey Award, given each year by Assemblyman Ray Haynes to highlight legislation that he feels unnecessarily sticks the state’s nose into private affairs.

Normally a lighthearted affair, the ceremony left one lawmaker with his nose out of joint this year.

Haynes, a Republican from Murrieta, created the award to point out the state Legislature’s penchant for minding other people’s business.

Outgoing state Sen. John Burton (D-San Francisco) had enough of a sense of humor to send his chief of staff to accept the Nosey Award. Burton wrote the foie gras bill, which bans the force-feeding of ducks and geese to enlarge their livers to make the delicacy. The governor has signed the bill into law.

Haynes stressed: “It deals with a food item that few people can pronounce, few can afford, and even fewer actually eat.”

“Essentially,” he mused, “we are now regulating how our dinner eats its dinner!”

David Sebeck, a Burton spokesman, said the practice is inhumane. So why accept the award? As different as they are politically, Burton and Haynes have a history of joshing each other.

Some years ago, Burton was speaking in favor of environmental legislation on the Senate floor and said he didn’t want children born with feet protruding from their heads. The next day, Haynes sent Burton a plastic doll with feet glued to its head. “There is a little history of give-and-take here,” Sebeck said.

But not everyone enjoys Haynes’ humor.

The first runner-up for the award was an Assembly resolution that would allow the state building code to accommodate projects that use principles of feng shui, the Chinese practice of designing buildings to create a harmonious environment.

“Only a half-step shy of burning incense and placing Buddhas by the front door for good luck,” Haynes said, “the state has no business burdening our state’s builders with Eastern mysticists writing our design standards.”

That comment angered Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Leland Y. Yee, the San Francisco Democrat who sponsored the resolution.

“His remarks are culturally insensitive,” said Adam Keigwin, a spokesman for Yee.

Keigwin said the resolution actually gets the government’s nose out of people’s private business by allowing construction with feng shui principles when residents choose to use them.

“That’s the irony,” he said.


Points Taken

* When he was a member of the Los Angeles City Council, Art Snyder knew how to stir the pot. Still, it was a bit of a surprise to see Snyder’s new title on a Villaraigosa campaign finance report last week. The document listed Snyder as a “restaurateur” with Royal Star of Nevada Inc. Snyder is an attorney and former City Hall lobbyist.

* The Smithsonian Institution has agreed to include documents and other examples of the work of state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) in its gender-equity archives. In particular, the archives will include records of Speier’s drive to get the University of California to hire more women as professors and grant more of them tenure.

* Political rainmaker Mark Chapin Johnson, known for co-founding the state’s GOP fundraising gorilla, the New Majority, gave $1,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Navy vets who have been hounding Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry. Johnson, who served six years in the Army, said he respected Kerry’s service record in Vietnam but gave the money out of contempt for Kerry’s antiwar activism after returning home.


You Can Quote Me

“Small microphones tend to pick up my voice in a large room. If you understand what I’m talking about, you’re over 45.”

-- Former Watergate figure and author John Dean, speaking -- via microphone -- to a crowded room at the Brentwood home of Stanley and Betty Sheinbaum at a benefit for the California Clean Money Campaign. Dean was referring to the tape-recording of Oval Office conversations that showed President Nixon knew of the cover-up of the Watergate break-in.


Contributing this week were Times staff writers Patt Morrison and Jean O. Pasco.