By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“I don’t see that as flip-flopping,” says supporter Earl Ofari Hutchinson. “I see that being in the flow of things.”
Still, there was also her desertion of longtime ally James Hahn during the 2005 mayor’s race, when she switched her support to a resurgent Antonio Villaraigosa. Critics view this U-turn in the same light as her change of mind about closing King/Drew’s trauma center.
It couldn’t have pleased her then, on May 6, when Parks pushed through a City Council resolution calling on the federal government to reopen King/Drew and provide funding for all county medical facilities that are facing closure. His motion was seen by some as an admission that a state of emergency existed in the supervisorial district of his biggest endorser.
ON A GRAY SPRING MORNING, the Board of Supervisors meets at the Hahn Hall of Administration to hear public comments on the proposed new budget. Outside on Temple Street, jacaranda trees are in purple bloom — the last time they will blossom during Yvonne Burke’s tenure on the board.
On June 3, voters will choose between Bernard Parks and Mark Ridley-Thomas — a fight that might prove more bitter than the 1992 smack-down between Burke and Diane Watson — in what could become the last black incumbency in a district becoming more Latino each month.
“Whoever wins this election,” Burke tells L.A. Weekly, “I would try to make it an orderly transition. I will not get in anyone’s way. I will not be on the scene at all.” Indeed, her only retirement plans are to work part time as a freelance mediator.
Today, Burke is smartly turned out in a dark-plum pantsuit and gold blouse. She is the first to arrive and sits in the big president’s chair; when Don Knabe shuffles to his seat next to Burke in his shirtsleeves, he, too, looks a little like a garden gnome.
Room 381B’s spectators’ gallery is nearly deserted, and, one by one, the supplicants come forth to speak: Sheriff Lee Baca, union members representing court-appointed guardians and an organization of Pacific-Asian Islanders. (“We are often overlooked,” complains its president.) They all want more money of course, reminding the supervisors, as if they need reminding, that most of their work on the board involves tearing crumbs off a diminishing budget.
There is very little chance for glory in such a job. As the hearing winds down, Zev Yaroslavsky testily complains that $5 million was “redirected” from one county agency to another without any consultation with the board. A round of lecturing ensues, dominated by Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina, followed by acts of contrition from county CEO William T. Fujioka and heads of several departments.
Burke sits back regally, above it all, stepping in only to soothe the bruised egos in the room.
Damien Goodmon is not in attendance, but then, he’s had enough of Burke, the community icon and role model. “She said, ‘King/Drew will close over my dead body,’” Goodmon recalls. “Yet King/Drew closed. And she lives and breathes.”
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