Election Section

Mayor, ex-mayor join campaign against Los Angeles breakup

The Associated Press
Friday May 24, 2002

Hahn, Riordan speak out against plan to separate San Fernando Valley from second-biggest U.S. city 


LOS ANGELES – Battle lines were drawn Thursday in what may become a $10 million fight to decide if the San Fernando Valley will break away from the nation’s second-largest city. 

Current Mayor James Hahn, a Democrat, and former Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican, joined forces a day after a local commission voted to put a secession measure on the Nov. 5 city ballot. 

A legal challenge to the measure had been considered a possibility, but at a City Hall news conference the mayor said he had no plans to sue. 

“We think we can win this battle at the polls,” he said. 

Secession advocates have said they expect to spend $3 million to $5 million. They also have talked about combining forces with secession advocates in Hollywood and the San Pedro harbor area. A decision on whether to place those breakup measures on the ballot will be made this month. 

Hahn and Riordan will be part of a privately funded campaign that hopes to raise $5 million, campaign consultant Bill Carrick said. 

Riordan, a multimillionaire businessman, pledged to walk precincts and to write “a good-sized check” for the anti-secession movement, although he didn’t provide a figure. 

“I’ll match what I made as mayor,” he joked. Riordan spent about $6.3 million of his own money for his two mayoral campaigns but accepted a salary of only $1 a year. 

Billionaire developer Eli Broad said he already had contributed $100,000 to the effort and would contribute more. Broad, who supported Hahn’s rival in the last election, said he and the mayor, along with Riordan, wealthy developer Ed Roski and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher met for breakfast and agreed that secession “would be God-awful for the city.” 

“I think we’ve got a great city and we’re gonna go out there and talk about how great our city is, and wage a very positive campaign,” he said. 

The anti-secession campaign will use TV and radio ads along with door-to-door contacts to reach “those people who are watching this from the sidelines,” Carrick said. 

The secession fight may overshadow the gubernatorial race because the issue is closer to home, he noted. 

The battle will be non-partisan and is “devoid of personalities,” Carrick said, predicting that the two sides will focus on information barrages rather than personal attacks. 

“The whole universe of voters (is) up for grabs,” he said. “People aren’t gonna make a choice because they’re Democrats or Republicans. They’re gonna make a choice on the issues.” 

A union representing 9,000 city garbage collectors, sewer workers, mechanics and other employees was planning a summer get-out-the-vote campaign to defeat the measure. 

“This is our top priority this year,” said Julie Butcher, general manager of Service Employees International Union Local 347. “Their jobs are endangered. There’s no guarantee that they’ll work in the new city. We’re talking a few thousands jobs.” 

The proposed schism would create a new city of 1.3 million on July 1, 2003. The remaining Los Angeles would have about 2.5 million residents. 

Secessionists claim too much of the valley’s taxes go to use elsewhere in the city. Hahn and Riordan argue that splitting the city probably would mean higher taxes and reduced services for everyone. 

“We share the goal of keeping Los Angeles united,” Hahn said. “Our strength has been our diversity, and to lose that diversity, to lose any part of this great city is like cutting off an arm or cutting off a leg.” 

“Breaking this city apart will not accomplish anything. It will only hurt our communities. It will detract from the greatest city in the world,” Riordan said.