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A Man of Contradictions

It may be a case of too little, too late for Councilman Jack Weiss’ attempt to get his colleagues to weigh in against the Gray Davis recall. The councilman vocally opposed a resolution in February against the invasion of Iraq as being outside the city’s jurisdiction, but last week he urged members of the rules committee to oppose the Davis recall on grounds that it would cost the city millions of dollars.

“I’m very concerned about this recall from the standpoint of fiscal responsibility,” Weiss said.

City staff opposed the resolution, warning that it could be seen as a partisan measure. So did the City Attorney’s Office, cautioning that a wrong move on the council’s part could actually result in criminal prosecution. Staffers agreed to examine and fine-tune the wording.

Meanwhile, recall proponents won two key court rulings and appear to be on track for a recall election in a couple of months, leaving Weiss’ resolution unfinished in a City Hall file.

A Break for Mr. Davis

The city’s largest employee union planned a bus trip to Sacramento Saturday to demand action on the long-stalled state budget. But the trip was put off, Service Employees International Union Local 347 spokeswoman Andrea Adleman said, so that members could focus their efforts on working toward a state constitutional amendment that would allow budgets and new taxes to pass with 55 percent of the vote — not nearly 67 percent.

Union leaders are working to qualify the Budget Accountability Act for the March ballot. Some backers said privately that a union descent on the state Capitol in protest of the current budget fiasco would be the wrong message to send at a time that the generally pro-union Governor Gray Davis is being targeted for recall.

Chamber of Horrors

Los Angeles County lawyers agreed last week to guidelines intended to end a children’s mental-health-care system that critics say subjected young people to horrors far worse than what they would have faced had they simply been left alone.

In the settlement of In re Katie A., accepted by U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz, the county agreed to try to provide decent mental-health services to children in their own homes whenever possible. County workers had allegedly identified children needing mental-health services and removed them from their families, often placing them in foster care or group homes where they faced physical and mental abuse — and still never got mental-health services.

An advisory board will oversee the settlement. But many advocates were left unsatisfied, including the attorney whose 2001 state-court suit paved the way for the later class action. Sanford Jossen noted that no deadlines have been given. He said advisory-board members would be paid thousands of dollars for their work, “but the kids get nothing.”

Elusive Truth

It was a Rampart family reunion of sorts Tuesday for the newly named members of the Police Commission’s latest panel on the police-corruption scandal. The commission named Los Angeles civil rights lawyer Connie Rice in May to head what some calculate as the seventh Rampart study. Joining her will be USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who did an earlier study on behalf of the Police Protective League, and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson and civil rights attorney Carol Sobel, who assisted him — as did Rice. Also included are Jan Handzlik and Stephen A. Mansfield, both of whom served on the Police Commission’s Rampart Independent Review Board three years ago.

The LAPD presented a widely criticized report on Rampart in 2000, followed by Chemerinsky’s study, which in essence was a report on the report. The Independent Review Board, which Rice and others criticized for not being truly independent, ballooned to several dozen members before finally filing its report. The U.S. Justice Department also studied Rampart, as part of what eventually became a consent decree. The Los Angeles County Bar Association released a report earlier this year that was based on the Rampart scandal and suggested justice-system reforms. The Los Angeles County grand jury also did a study.

Only the LAPD’s internal probe was not dominated by attorneys. Rice’s panel consists of 10 attorneys and will file its final report with the Police Commission, which now is made up of five attorneys.

Up the Wrong Alley

Community activist Najee Ali helped organize opposition to plans to rename Crenshaw Boulevard for the late Mayor Tom Bradley, but he testified before the City Council last week in support of a Los Angeles Unified School District proposal to name a new high school for the longtime mayor. It’s not yet clear which one of five new schools will bear Bradley’s name.

Councilman Bernard Parks weighed in strongly on the side of renaming the street, but was out-lobbied by a group of Crenshaw residents and business owners. Ali also focused attention on the developer of the area, unknown to most Los Angeles residents. Parks responded, Ali joked to the council, by appointing him “president of the George Crenshaw fan club.”


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