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Turning to a Newspaperman for Ethics

The appointment of former Los Angeles Times columnist and city editor Bill Boyarsky to the City Ethics Commission continues a recent trend of tapping well-known figures for the five-member political-watchdog panel.

It was City Controller Laura Chick who selected Boyarsky, who regularly commented on candidates and City Hall affairs as a columnist and also directed local coverage as the Times’ city editor. He replaces outgoing commission President Miriam Krinsky, executive director of the Children’s Law Center.

Through most of its 13-year history, the Ethics Commission had been made up of people off the radar of most voters and City Hall insiders. This detachment allowed them — arguably — to provide an independent perspective on campaign-finance and lobbyist regulation and enforcement. That changed with Richard Riordan’s 1999 appointment of television commentator and former Michael Dukakis presidential campaign manager Susan Estrich. Last year, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo picked the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, whose local candidate endorsements carry considerable weight. Murray ultimately declined the nomination.

Council President Alex Padilla selected ex–District Attorney Gil Garcetti, the father of a sitting city councilman and the first-ever Los Angeles ethics panelist to have solicited campaign funds as a candidate. The officials who each get to nominate one commissioner are the mayor, the city attorney, the city controller, the council president and the council president pro tem.

The Name Game

The City Council sidestepped the last-minute and suddenly controversial Nate Holden proposal to rename Crenshaw Boulevard for the late Mayor Tom Bradley. Councilwoman Jan Perry finessed the matter, saying her motion was to approve naming a street for Bradley. Just which street it would be is subject to further discussion.

Last Friday was the last council meeting for departing members Nick Pacheco, Ruth Galanter, Hal Bernson and Nate Holden. But former Councilman Mike Hernandez, who was termed out two years ago only to snag a job on Holden’s staff, will stay on, doing work for Bernard Parks and Jan Perry.

Big Macs and Big Offices

Incoming Council Member Martin Ludlow electrified the crowd with a stunning list of promises at his swearing-in ceremony. “Until we see new child-care centers, banks and housing, this council member refuses to accept or approve one more liquor license for any facility in this community,” said Ludlow, who was sworn in by his mother at Rancho La Cienega Park near Dorsey High School in a violence-plagued section of the Mid-City 10th District. “Until we build quality family restaurants that provide dignity to middle-class residents and improve nutrition to our children, I will not approve one more construction of a McDonald’s, Jack in the Box or Burger King in this community, so help me God.”

The other new members sworn in over the weekend were Antonio Villaraigosa and Greig Smith. Tony Cardenas took the oath on Tuesday, when Alex Padilla retained his gavel as president in a unanimous vote. The office derby, however, was won by Wendy Greuel, who agreed to drop her challenge to Padilla’s presidency and was awarded with the building’s most spacious quarters, formerly held by Ruth Galanter.

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