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PR Execs Hold Fundraisers for Hahn’s Challengers

Times Staff Writer

Mayor James K. Hahn’s ban on public relations contracts at Los Angeles City Hall has been followed by a flurry of political fundraisers presented by PR executives for candidates who are not Hahn.

Mayoral candidates Bob Hertzberg, Bernard C. Parks and Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as City Council President Alex Padilla, are getting fundraising help from public relations executives.

Some of the execs are concerned that the industry has been unfairly tainted by allegations that the city was overbilled by Fleishman-Hillard, which led to the ban.

Pat Tobin, head of Tobin & Associates, said she held a fundraiser for Parks at the Regency West supper club Jan. 12 because he is looking out for her community.

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An African American woman, she said her firm was shut out of city contracts that went to big public relations firms, including Fleishman, during Hahn’s first term.

“Anything would be an improvement,” she said.

Padilla benefited from a fundraiser two weeks ago by Steve Sugerman, head of Sugerman Communications Group and a former Fleishman executive, and Lisa Gritzner, vice president of Cerrell Associates, which was one of the firms that lost a city contract when Hahn implemented the ban last April.

Ron Rodgers, who owns a PR firm, held a fundraiser for Hertzberg.

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And public relations firm owner Oralia Michel and Katherine Alvarado, with Michel’s company, held a fundraiser for Villaraigosa on Wednesday at the San Antonio Winery; another PR exec will co-host a Villaraigosa fundraiser Feb. 13.

Michel said she held a Villaraigosa fundraiser because she supports his policies and not because she thinks he will reopen the door for public relations contracts. She did say she found the Fleishman controversy and Hahn ban annoying.

“My concern comes from an overall perspective that public relations is getting a bad name,” Michel said.

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Governor Holds Off on Mayoral Endorsement

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he enjoys following the L.A. mayor’s race. But he told The Times editorial board Friday that he would not endorse a candidate until a runoff election.

One of the candidates -- Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat and former Assembly speaker -- was an informal advisor to the GOP governor, helping usher his agenda through the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Meantime, Schwarzenegger said he relishes the debates and asks his staff to tape them so that he can watch them when he has time.

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“I’m not endorsing anyone because I think it would be wrong to do that at this point,” the Brentwood resident said. “Come the runoff, then we will see. But at this point, I don’t want to get involved.”

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Hahn’s Website Award Prompts Some Sniping

After months of derision for having no campaign website while his four challengers established their Web presence, Hahn debuted on the Internet last month with a site worthy of an award -- or maybe not.

The Hahn campaign announced last week that its site had won a Pollie Award from the American Assn. of Political Consultants for best website by a municipal or regional candidate.

“I think www.jimhahn.org stands out not only for its design, but because it delivers the substance that voters need to make informed decisions,” Hahn said in a statement.

But his opponents say the award is for sale.

Parke Skelton, a consultant for Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, said anyone can get a Pollie by paying a fee and nominating himself or herself. He said about 130 awards were handed out, and are meant to give members something to brag about.

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“It’s an orgy of self-congratulations,” he said.

The website’s designer submitted the site for judging, but it was unclear when or how much of a fee was paid, according to Hahn representatives. Said Yusef Robb, a Hahn spokesman: “There were 1,600 entries, so it clearly wasn’t a pay-and-you-get-an-award kind of thing.”

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Actors Prod Governor on New Driver’s License Bill

Using the language of show biz, a group of Hollywood actors is putting pressure on Schwarzenegger to look favorably on the sequel to last year’s SB 60, the legislation he vetoed that would have granted driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

An advertisement in Daily Variety last week signed by more than 30 celebrities targets Schwarzenegger with a reference to the Academy Awards.

The ad includes a picture of a Latino woman with two children above the caption: “Nominated: Best Nanny in a Supporting Role.”

Celebrities including Ed Asner, Ed Begley Jr., Emilio Estevez, Shelley Fabares, Mike Farrell, Danny Glover, Tess Harper, Diane Keaton, Martin Sheen and Alfre Woodard signed the ad.

“You have promised and have the ability to help other immigrants.... We urge you to sign Senate Bill 60,” the ad states.

One opponent of SB 60 was unmoved by the Hollywood big shots.

“It shows how out of touch Hollywood is with the real world and the problems of illegal immigration,” said Mike Spence, founder of the anti-SB 60 group Save Our License.

“Their view of illegal immigrants is of nannies and people who take care of their mansions: cheap, exploitable labor.”

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Points Taken

* Gay Republicans are so encouraged by Schwarzenegger’s “inclusive vision” that the Log Cabin Republicans are opening their first California office. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to work closely with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,” explained the group’s president, Patrick Guerriero.

* Mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg has received the endorsement of the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. Another candidate, state Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Sun Valley), has won the backing of the Eastside Democratic Club.

* Republican mayoral candidate Walter Moore has filed a lawsuit challenging his exclusion from televised debates Feb. 7 and 28 sponsored by the Alliance of Neighborhood Councils. But alliance member Jim Alger said the group is not an official city body, so the courts cannot order it to include Moore in the debates.

* A popular Southern California public affairs radio show has found its new “Mr. Right.” Tony Blankley is joining the political week-in-review show “Left, Right & Center” on KCRW-FM (89.9). Blankley was the official mouthpiece of House Speaker Newt Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. The show airs at 2:30 and 7 p.m. Fridays.

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You Can Quote Me

“We’ll make another donation if you’ll stop!”

-- Overheard at a fundraiser for Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas after campaign chairman and former state GOP Chairman Mike Schroeder overstayed his welcome at the microphone.

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Contributors this week were Times staff writers Peter Nicholas and Jean O. Pasco.


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