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L.A.’s War of Words

THE CITY COUNCIL'S resolution fell one vote short of the required eight-vote majority this week, but only after defying all sorts of expectations.

For one, the resolution, authored by Eric Garcetti, got unexpectedly enthusiastic support from Tom LaBonge (who’d offered a pale alternative just a week before) and Janice Hahn (who’d supported LaBonge’s alternative and had said little). All of a sudden Hahn orated against war like a modern Cicero: “There are times in the history of Los Angeles when we are called on to let the voice of the people be heard.” And “We’re debating this issue because those we have elected to debate this issue [in Congress] have abdicated.”

Nate Holden, with a fever of 102 degrees, rose, like Joe DiMaggio from his sickbed, to hit a rhetorical home run — the same Holden who’s made a philosophy of little else than filling potholes. “I consider this to be one of the most important resolutions that I’ve had an opportunity to vote on in my 16 years on the City Council,” he thundered. “The City of Angels would vote for peace today.”

Meanwhile, Jack Weiss, a former assistant U.S. attorney and self-described liberal critic of Bush, responded limply that “In my view, we ought to focus on sidewalks, not Saddam.”

The pro-war conviction came from Hal Bernson, who chastised the anti-war demonstrators who packed the chamber: “If our country had to depend on people like you, God help us.”

Jan Perry confused the entire assembly before taking the floor a second time to define herself as a “no,” almost in retaliation, it appeared, for what she implied was the council’s neglect of crime victims and homeless veterans in her district. Council president Alex Padilla hid behind the gavel before voting no, carefully avoiding any expression of opinion.

Still, the motion would have passed except that Nick Pacheco, who said he would vote yes, failed to show up. His staff said he was “attending community meetings.” Because the resolution was neither rejected nor approved, it will get another vote, as soon as Friday of this week.


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